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Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on this week’s confirmation from the Broadbent Institute that Canadians severely underestimate wealth inequality – as well as the strong popular support to reduce the wealth gap.

For further reading…- The Norton/Ariely study of the views of Americans on wealth inequality is found here, and discussed further here, here and here.- And Danielle Kurtzleben writes that actual wealth inequality in the U.S. has only been getting worse since 2010.

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Cons’ secretive giveaway of what’s left of the Canadian Wheat Board can only be explained by their desire to eliminate collective marketing in favour of total corporate control.

For further reading…- Janyce McGregor reported on the Cons’ refusal to consider allowing the Farmers of North America to bid on the Wheat Board’s remaining assets. And Karl Nerenberg followed up on the Cons’ excuses in Parliament.- Dougald Lamont rightly sees the Cons as forcing producers toward the “bozo zone” of racing to the bottom in quality and price.- And even the Globe and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, taking a quick look at Canada’s options for electoral reform while arguing that an MMP system would create far better incentives for our political leaders than the alternatives.

For further reading…- Alison wrote about our options in advance of yesterday’s vote on the NDP’s electoral reform proposal. – Eric Grenier discusses the possible outcomes under the three main alternatives based on current polling. And I’d argue that the current party standings offer a useful litmus test as to one’s weighting of representativeness versus defaulting toward majority government – as a preferential system would put the Libs within (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the growing (and increasingly interconnected) movement to save our local and global environment alike from fossil fuel extraction.

For further reading…- The latest pipeline under discussion is of course TransCanada’s Energy East. And it’s worth countering the message from Brad Wall (amplified by Murray Mandryk here) that our only choices are to approve one pipeline to facilitate tar sands extraction, or to use even more dangerous means to do just as much damage to our planet.- Meanwhile, Mitchell Anderson discusses how public resources are being used to favour Kinder Morgan’s interests over those of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the City of Regina has learned a painful lesson about the Saskatchewan Party’s habit of accepting credit but not responsibility on P3 projects.

For further reading…- Emma Graney reports on how the province forced the City to foot the bill for immediate site development costs here.- For background on how decisions about education have been taken out of the hands of elected school boards, Joseph Garcea and Dustin Monroe examine the history of education funding in Saskatchewan (and other provinces) here (PDF).- And finally, I’ll point back to my earlier columns as to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how user reviews and the wisdom of crowds don’t do us much good if businesses are able to silence anything that raises concerns about them.

For further reading…- Laura K makes a similar point here. – CBC reports on libel chill here, including a discussion of the Ottawa property manager which managed to intimidate a tenant into pulling an unfavourable review. – Again, Mike De Souza discusses Exxon Mobil’s attempts to silence his reporting on ALEC here. Jenny Uechl and Warren Bell expose Canada’s links to the Western Energy Alliance – including its dirty war (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, arguing that while Stephen Poloz is indeed thoroughly out of touch in suggesting that people entering the workforce should take on unpaid internships as matters stand now, we should in fact make sure that unpaid work (or study, or other activity) is a viable option for young workers.

For further reading…- The CP reports on Poloz’ comments here, while Tavia Grant expands on the story here. CBC follows up with a Saskatchewan perspective here. And Elizabeth Lane looks at the issue as one of the workers who’s been unable to find a job despite ample training (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, asking what we can do to make sure that individuals who seek help for their mental health and addictions issues through the criminal justice system find more support than Michael Zehaf-Bibeau did – both for their own well-being, and for the safety of the Canadian public.

For further reading…- CBC reported on Zehaf-Bibeau’s interaction with the criminal justice system. And again, Ian Mulgrew also weighed in on the failure to offer any help to somebody who was crying out for it. – Karl Nerenberg writes that the Cons’ expected response to last week’s shootings – consisting of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how precarity is a serious concern in far more areas than the workplace alone – and how we should think about public policy as a means of eliminating precarity (whether it be in work, housing, food or other necessities of life) wherever possible.

For further reading…- Once again, there’s been plenty of discussion about the hazards of precarious work. But for a few examples see pieces from Emily Fister (interviewing Andrew Longhurst), Margaret Simms, and Nora Loreto. – And it’s also been well documented that other aspects of poverty also cause enormous and avoidable personal (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the similarities between the federal political scene now and in the lead up to the 1988 federal election – and how the Liberals may soon face the NDP’s hard-learned lesson that personality politics may not go far in a sharp policy debate.

For further reading…- The NDP unveiled its child care plan here. And the commentators taking a close look at the plan – and its contrast against the Cons’ anti-government nihilism – include Karl Nerenberg, Jeffrey Simpson, Chantal Hebert and Linda McQuaig. – Meanwhile, Les Whittington reports on the Cons’ latest tax baubles, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Cons’ presumption that any individual who breaches the social contract must be punished with a total lack of freedom – and their curious lack of any similar principle when it comes to corporate wrongdoing.

For further reading…- I’ve dealt with issues relating to mandatory minimum sentences plenty of times before, while the likes of Dan Gardner and John Moore have taken them on directly. But see examples of the Cons’ unduly strict individual sentencing being struck down here and here.  – Richard Blackwell reported on the SNC-Lavalin’s demand to be held above the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how leaders who stand up to hysterical calls to abandon peace and human rights in the name of fleeting threats tend to be vindicated by history – and how Thomas Mulcair is carrying on the NDP’s legacy on that front even in the face of criticism from Very Serious People.

For further reading…- The two prime examples of media attempts to strong-arm Mulcair into writing a blank cheque for war in Iraq (based a combination of threat hype and a general affinity for hippie-punching) come from John Ivison and L. Ian MacDonald.- Meanwhile, Janyce (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the politics and economics of energy production are changing around the world – and how Canada is being left behind due to governments focused solely on pushing oil interests.

For further reading…- Again, Vivek Radhwa discusses the progress that’s being made in developing – and broadly implementing – renewable alternatives to fossil fuel energy. And Clean Energy Canada studies how we’re missing the boat. – Aaron Wherry reminds us that Stephen Harper was at least once willing to talk about climate change – but only apparently when he saw no political choice. And again, there’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on Justin Trudeau’s remarkable demand that Stephen Harper set up a federal shun registry to make life easier for Trudeau politically.

For further reading…- Trudeau’s Question Period interview is here, with the key passage starting at about the 3:15 mark. And some Libs went so far as to trumpet the demand for a public enemies list as a show of political talent.- Carlos Tello reports on the RCMP’s interest in stigmatizing the environmental movement – which of course matches the Cons’ rhetoric. And Alex Boutilier reports that hundreds of public events have already found themselves (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the corporate sector is taking advantage of Brad Wall, Michael Fougere and their respective administrations at the expense of citizens who both fund and rely on public services.

For further reading…- Murray Mandryk and the Leader-Post editorial board each weighed in recently on the latest developments from the smart meter debacle.- CBC reported on the province’s decision to let Deveraux Developments walk away from its commitment to build affordable housing, as well as Donna Harpauer’s subsequent declaration that she’s entirely sympathetic toward Deveraux (and by implication, not so much toward people who need homes), (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, questioning whether Canadians share Stephen Harper’s newly-professed aspiration to spend tens of billions of dollars more every year to prop up U.S. and U.K. military contractors.

For further reading…- David Pugliese reported on this week’s NATO summit. – NATO’s most recent spending calculations are here (see PDF link), showing that Canada currently spends about 1% of GDP on its military. Note that while this number pegs Canada’s current spending at about $18.4 billion per year, I reference the $19 billion figure used by both government and outside sources in the previous link.- While (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Brad Wall is kicking Ontario while it’s down by demanding that it let stimulus funding leak out of a province which actually needs it – and how Saskatchewan and other provinces stand to suffer too if Wall helps the Cons impose similar restrictions across the country.

For further reading…- The Leader-Post reported on the Sask Party’s own rejection of the TILMA here, while Matthew Burrows noted Saskatchewan’s overall consensus not to pursue it here. – I posted here on the absence of any substantive differences between the TILMA which Wall rejected based on public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Reused column day

For those wondering, my Leader-Post column was on hiatus last week, but will return this week.

In the meantime, I’ll point back to this post and column as introductory reading for Janet French’s new report on SaskTel’s disclosure of customers’ personal information to government authorities. (And I’ll add here one comment which didn’t make it into the report: as a provincial Crown corporation, SaskTel is subject to additional provincial privacy laws which give consumers some extra means to challenge the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Harper Cons’ kabuki consultations can’t mask the fact that their budgets utterly neglect what’s most important to Canadians.

For further reading…- Dean Beeby has previously reported on the disconnect between the public position on policy issues and the Cons’ budget choices, while Andy Radia also comments on the lack of public interest in tax baubles.- And both CBC and Bill Curry note that the same pattern is playing out once again, as the Cons’ anti-government orientation is taking precedence over any interest in listening to good ideas. – James Baxter writes about the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the need to take downside risks into account in discussing industrial development – especially when our water, land and lives are at stake.

For further reading…- The CP and Jenni Sheppard report on the many warning signs which should have identified the causes of the Mount Polley spill before it turned a town’s water toxic. Stephen Hume rightly concludes that the spill can be traced to a lax regulatory culture. Alison Bailey’s report points out that similar ponds set up for larger mining projects could cause even more damage. And Nature Canada discusses the deliberate choice (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how we should take Germany’s rightful concern over investor-state dispute settlement provisions as an opportunity to reevaluate what we expect to accomplish through trade and investment agreements such as CETA.

For further reading…- Peter Clark, Michael Geist and Scott Sinclair discuss Germany’s objections to new trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. in particular, while reminding us why we should be wary of handing undue power to the corporate sector as well. And Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder and Rhea Tamara Hoffmann discuss (PDF) Germany’s past experience with ISDS in detail.- Meanwhile, Patricia Ranald notes that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, looking at the sad similarities between Regina and Detroit, and noting that the crucial step we should take to avoid the latter’s humanitarian tragedy is to fund our commitments to workers and residents while we have the means to do so.

For further reading…- Tom McKay and Wallace Turbeville each discuss how the decision to run Detroit under corporate principles made a bad financial situation far worse. – Jon Swaine reports on the recent move to shut off water for up to 100,000 residents. Monica Davey writes about the vote to slash already-meager pensions. And Dominic Rushe (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the recent spate of Saskatchewan women being fired for getting pregnant represents only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gender inequality.

For further reading…- The Leader-Post reported on the increase in pregnancy-related firings here. And its editorial board weighs in here. – Oxfam’s report referenced in the column is here (PDF). And again, Shannon Gormley’s column on how we project to be a lifetime away from wage equality is worth read. – Finally, Clive Crook discusses the need for early and consistent social support to end inequality of opportunity.

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the importance of coming together and putting people first in a time of crisis – contrasted against Stephen Harper and Brad Wall’s apparent view that the real tragedy is that the oil sector might find it tougher to extract profits when it’s causing humanitarian disasters.

For further reading…- Harper’s statement on the Lac-M├ęgantic oil-by-rail explosion is here. In addition to the callous focus on economic messaging, you’ll also note a conspicuous lack of words like “oil”, “rail” and “explosion”.- Similarly, here‘s Wall lamenting the fact that massive flooding might affect the accessibility of oil (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how personal and institutional stress make it more difficult for people to defend their interests – and on the need to respond to political strategies increasingly aimed at exploiting that principle to reduce public participation.

For further reading…- Again, Chris Mooney discussed the effect of stress on voter turnout here. And here’s a reminder that the desire to suppress voter participation tends to be the result of underlying discrimination.- See here, here and here for just a couple of the many reports on the devastating connection between poverty and personal stress.- And without (Read more…)