Here, asking whether growth and stable employment are part of the deal when the Saskatchewan Party offers massive handouts to the resource sector – and if so, how to handle the fact that PCS is pocketing tax incentives while slashing jobs.
For further reading…- The Wall government’s own press release touting its potash giveaways is here. Needless to say, there’s no mention as to why we’d want to keep giving royalties away if they’re not linked to growth.- Simon Enoch’s list of Saskatchewan Party corporate subsidies is always worth a look.- Murray Mandryk is duly skeptical (Read more…)
Here, on how this week’s federal by-elections seem to confirm that another minority Parliament is a real possibility in 2015 – even as the main parties all rule out any discussion of what would happen under that scenario.
For further reading…- I make reference in the column to John Ivison’s rough calculations as to how a 2015 seat count might look. But his greater thesis seems to utterly miss the point that if the Cons finish with just a few more seats than each of the NDP and Libs (and far less than the two combined), they’ll be (Read more…)
Here, on what Saskatchewan can learn from some significant developments in privacy law in Manitoba and Alberta.
For further reading…- Paul Broad and Daniel Michaluk introduce Manitoba’s new private-sector legislation.- Alberta’s similar legislation is here, while the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision striking it down is here. In particular, see paragraphs 37-38: PIPA imposes restrictions on a union’s ability to communicate and persuade the public of its cause, impairing its ability to use one of its most effective bargaining strategies in the course of a lawful strike. In our view, this infringement of the right (Read more…)
Here, on how governments are outsourcing policy decisions to employers in areas ranging from immigration to employment insurance – and on why that may not be any more desirable for employers than for the people affected.
For further reading…- The relatively fine print surrounding the new immigration nominee program is here, with the key takeaways being that only 250 skilled worker applications and zero student applications will be considered “without an offer” from an employer.- Details on the federal government’s perpetually-shrinking list of eligible family class immigrants can be found here and here. – Finally, the (Read more…)
Here, on how P3 structures create a divergence of interest between short-sighted governments and the general public – and a few policy fixes to ensure we don’t lose value or accountability as a result of politically-motivated choices to use them.
For further reading…- The Saskatchewan NDP introduced its P3 accountability legislation (PDF) here.- And Murray Mandryk has some questions of his own about the Saskatchewan Party’s reluctance to subject P3s to any oversight or accountability.
Here, on the combination of institutional and personal flaws that’s combined to create the Stephen Harper Senate scandal.
For further reading…- CBC reproduces the documents tabled by Mike Duffy in the Senate here. – The Senate debates featuring the defences of Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau can be found here. – PressProgress reminds us what the Cons said about the residency of Duffy and Wallin just a few months ago, while Jordan Press and Kirsten Smith offer a partial timeline (if one which ignores the fact that the controversy dated back to 2008). And it was Press (Read more…)
Here, on the tendency of both the Saskatchewan Party and the federal Cons to pretend a problem doesn’t exist for years on end, then suddenly proclaim there’s no time to do anything other than force through the most regressive “solution” possible.
In shorter terms, the Shock Doctrine has evolved into the Schmuck Doctrine. And we shouldn’t be accepting a government’s own incompetence as reason to accept its rushed decisions.
For further reading…- CBC reports on the Sask Party’s sudden hurry to lock the province into P3 school construction contracts. And the NDP caucus responds to the announcement.- (Read more…)
Here, on how Michael Ignatieff’s empty vessel politics might become the norm if voters don’t respond with due skepticism to increasingly sophisticated vote-swaying tactics.
For further reading…- The year’s two must-reads on the evolution of politics are Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab (referenced in the column) and Susan Delacourt’s Shopping for Votes. And both provide clear narratives to the effect that consumer-focused politics are becoming more and more pervasive. – Links to the commentariat’s take on Ignatieff’s political memoirs can be found here. And I deal with a few additional implications of empty vessel politics here. – Finally, (Read more…)
Here, discussing what elements of Saskatchewan’s referendum law look to have worked properly in Regina’s wastewater treatment plant referendum process – and where there’s some obvious room for improvement where future issues call for a vote among citizens.
For further reading…- While I note in the column that the 10% signature threshold seems to serve its intended purpose nicely, that of course requires that a municipality apply it fairly. And I’ll point back to Paul Dechene’s timeline of questionable City steps which attempted to avoid a referendum even though the standard was met by any fair measurement.- (Read more…)
Here, on Brad Wall’s choice to bring the Southern Strategy north with a dog-whistle appeal to prejudice against First Nations.
For further reading…- Rick Perlstein puts the Southern Strategy (and Lee Atwater’s description of it) in context here. – The Saskatchewan Party ad in question is here.- The NDP’s 2011 platform costing is here (PDF), featuring significant investments in housing, health care, child care, full-day kindergarten, tuition relief and other social causes. For those keeping score: total mentions of the beneficiaries of those proposed policies in the Sask Party’s 30-second attack ad, zero; total mentions of (Read more…)
Here, on how the real question in Regina’s P3 referendum vote is that of how to operate the City’s vital infrastructure – and why we should vote “yes” to maintain some control.
For further reading…- CBC reports on last night debate between Jim Holmes and Michael Fougere.- Brent Sjoberg’s interview with Paul Dechene referenced in the column is here. – Ryan Deschamps’ commentary on rent-seeking in the context of the wastewater referendum is well worth a read (particularly given that the entire operational phase of the P3 model has been set up as a giant, 30-year pool (Read more…)
Here, on how “we must increase stock prices!” – or worse yet, “we must increase company X’s stock prices!” – makes for a thoroughly regressive public policy goal.
For further reading…- The examples referenced in the column include Carol Goar’s column threatening a revolt over telecom share prices, and Andrew Leach’s piece about oil sands production costs (which at least acknowledges royalties as another concern beyond the hope that some profits might find their way into pension funds).- The wealth distribution data mentioned in the column is found in Armine Yalnizyan’s The Rise of the (Read more…)
Here, on the dangers of accepting advice from self-interested advisers – and the obvious conflict of interest of the consultants hired to push a wastewater P3 on Regina’s citizens.
For further reading…- The Museum of Hoaxes offers some background on the now-notorious movie reviews of Dave Manning. – Matt Taibbi documents the role of self-interested bond ratings agencies in precipitating the 2008 financial crisis. featuring these quotes from agency employees which seem all too relevant in light of the alchemy behind P3 promotion: “As you know, I had difficulties explaining ‘HOW’ we got to those numbers since (Read more…)
Here, on how the two Con appointees at the centre of Stephen Harper’s Senate are exactly the two who should have known better than to abuse the public trust.
For further reading…- Brian Bergman and Dale Eisler offer the background on the Saskatchewan PCs’ scheme here, while CBC updated the amounts still owing to the public here. – Those interested in the judiciary’s take on the PC MLAs involved will want to see Lorne McLaren’s sentencing, as well as these three decisions on Eric Berntson.- Finally, the revelation of the Cons’ “boot camp” instructing new (Read more…)
Here, on the tendency of both political decision-makers and the general public to give too much credence to secret information – and the need for citizens to scrutinize leaders all the more closely if they rely on bare declarations that we’d agree with their actions if only we knew what they choose to hide.
For further reading…- The White House’s NSA review panel announcement is discussed here and clarified here.- The study on public perceptions of classified information is discussed by Leaf Van Boven, Charles Judd and Mark Travers here.- Joan McCarter’s take on creeping secrecy (Read more…)
Here, on how the City of Regina’s wastewater treatment referendum campaign is based on either a major omission as to the costs of privatizing services, or a dangerous assumption that the City doesn’t need to have any idea how its own treatment plant works.
For further reading…- I take my math and assumptions from the report (PDF) endorsed by City Council – which includes the following privatized payment model (emphasis added): h. In principle, a commitment to providing a performance-based payment for operations, maintenance and availability of the facility, compensating for a range of DBFOM service over the (Read more…)
Here, on the questions raised by a sudden drop in potash prices – and why we should reconsider our economic and social priorities so that a minor fluctuation in a still-ample level of wealth isn’t seen as reason to push the panic button.
For further reading…- My discussion of Robert and Edward Skidelsky’s How Much Is Enough? shouldn’t be taken to suggest the book goes beyond a rough outline of the alternative to a growth-obsessed society. But I’ll certainly recommend it as a starting point for discussion.- For those interested in some recent reports on the effects (Read more…)
Here, on Regina’s wastewater referendum as just the first step in encouraging regular citizen engagement in the decisions that affect us all.
For further reading…- Again, Hugh Mackenzie’s analysis of the cost of private financing is here (PDF). And Barrie McKenna’s take on the hidden price of P3s is here. – The Star Phoenix’ editorial board points to Regina’s wastewater options as a prime example of higher levels of government limiting the freedom of action of municipalities.- The City’s information on the sewage treatment plant is here – with no indication that the referendum is about to (Read more…)
Here, on what the Cons’ response to the Lac-Mégantic rail explosion says about their wider concern (or lack thereof) for the safety of Canadians.
For further reading…- My earlier posts addressing Con-style arguments from Andrew Coyne are here and here.- Andrew Griffith’s book excerpt on the difference between political and official decision-making is here, and is discussed by Susan Delacourt here. – CTV reports on growing frustration in Lac-Mégantic itself, while the ever-community-minded MMA is laying off staff and covering up the exact amount of oil it spilled. – Finally, a couple of reports nicely highlight (Read more…)
Here, marking yet another year of broken Conservative promises when it comes to climate change.
For further reading…- CBC reports on the the continued lack of regulations for the oil and gas sector, while offering the questionable theories about the Cons’ lack of interest in actually getting work done.- Linda McQuaig rightly notes that there are forces beyond the Cons trying to stifle such work on a global scale, while Jane Mayer highlights the Koch brothers’ efforts to block any environmental legislation in Congress. But it’s still worth noting that the Cons have been comparatively more willing (Read more…)
Here, on some of the next steps Saskatchewan should consider along the path toward the preservation of human rights – including adding “social condition” as a prohibited ground of discrimination, and making private-sector actors accountable for breaches of fundamental freedoms.
For further reading…- Leading cases on the “social condition” ground of discrimination include WCB v. Mercer et al, 2012 NWTSC 57, where it was held to require fair treatment for seasonal truckers under Workers’ Compensation legislation, and Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse v Wal-Mart Canada Inc, 2003 CanLII (Read more…)
Here, on the CCPA’s recent report (PDF) on child poverty in Canada – and the affordable options which could eradicate that poverty based on a few simple choices.
For further reading…- Campaign 2000′s report card showed where Canada stood in 2009 when it came to its commitment to ending child poverty. – Sources as to the revenue implications of policy choices include Mike de Souza’s report on existing oil and gas subsidies, the PBO’s estimate on the GST (PDF), and Kevin Milligan’s calculation as to the long-term costs of TFSAs.- And for reporting on the CCPA’s study, (Read more…)
Here, on how Canada’s federal privacy law actually prohibits our own federal government from conducting secret surveillance (so long as it’s actually followed) – as well as how little that law means if countries don’t recognize that privacy applies beyond their borders.
For further reading…- Michelle Shepard reported here on Canada’s history of surveillance activities. – The federal Privacy Act is here. See in particular section 11′s obligation to public lists of personal information collected by each government institution, as well as the treatment of exempt data banks in section 18. – CSEC allows Canadians to (Read more…)
Here, on how the recent Munk Debate has helped to highlight Canadians’ preference for a fairer, more progressive tax system – and on a couple of the most important steps we can take toward that end goal.
For further reading…- Ipsos Reid’s polling on public views toward taxing the rich is here. – Stephen Gordon’s response to the Munk Debate (referenced in the column) is here. And I’ll note that there seems to be some difference in determining the tax rate applicable to high-end income: while KPMG’s numbers roughly match Gordon’s, the CRA’s figures actually show Ontario as (Read more…)
Here, on how Tom Mulcair’s effective cross-examination of Stephen Harper serves as only one step toward the government we should want – i.e., one thoughtful and responsible enough to actually withstand answering real questions.
For further reading…
- Plenty of other commentators are rightly pointing out Harper’s predictable retreat into obfuscation and deflection, including Chantal Hebert, John Ivison and Dan Lett.
- Andrew Coyne traces both the entire Clusterduff and the Cons’ increasingly laughable talking points to an obsession with expediency over truth: People don’t make ethical choices in isolation. They take their cues from those (Read more…)