The Sixth Estate: Inside Canada’s Basketcase, Charity-Dependent Inspection System

Recently evidence surfaced, quietly and unobtrusively, of the ways in which other inspection regimes suffer from the same sort of lackadaisical approach that the Harper government has applied to food plants — under which the XL foods E. coli outbreak and the Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis outbreak have occurred, with doubtless more to come. This ...

The Sixth Estate: CBC Can’t Stop Spinning, Even When It “Fact-Checks”

I view the rise of so-called “fact-checking” in the mainstream corporate news with mixed emotions. First of all, it is nice to see them, you know, doing their jobs for a change. But second of all, why do they need a fact-checking column? Does this mean that they’re not, um, checking the facts in their ...

The Sixth Estate: New Media Spin: Right-wing Tax Increases Good. NDP Tax Increases Very, Very Bad.

Here’s a puzzle for my readers: try and guess which one of the following two editorials, each of them discussing a slight bump in the tax rate for the wealthiest individuals, comes from the Globe & Mail, and which one comes from the local leftist rag: An extra two per cent is a form of ...

The Sixth Estate: A Specious “Compromise” for Future of Parliamentary Budget Office

In a way it’s a sign of how sick our democracy is, and how pliant our national media has grown, that the future of the Parliamentary Budget Office (and especially its soon-to-retire manager, Kevin Page) is more in doubt than the future of the government whose routine accounting mismanagement he has regularly exposed since gaining ...

The Sixth Estate: Globe & Mail Takes on Canada’s Income Inequality, “Borrows” Quotes in the Process

Yesterday, the media fell all over a new report from Statistics Canada which found that since 1982 Canada’s wealthiest 1%, and especially Canada’s wealthiest 0.01%, have enjoyed massively disproportionate increases in their income. They pay the same percentage of their income in taxes now as they did then, but somehow that fact didn’t stop the ...

The Sixth Estate: Things You Won’t Read in Mainstream Coverage of Statistics Canada’s Wealth Inequality Report

Well, at least they’ve come out and said it: income inequality is a growing problem in Canada. The Globe & Mail said it. The Toronto Star said it. CBC said it. Even the National Post managed to get it out, interspersed amongst gripes about how Canadian income inequality isn’t nearly as bad as American income ...

The Sixth Estate: They Can’t Stop Spinning

Even when it doesn’t matter. Recently an Ottawa botany professor has suggested that the Bank of Canada erred by using a Norwegian species of maple tree as the basis for the leaf on the new $20 bill. This gave us, first of all, a glimpse into the competence of the national media. CBC printed a ...

The Sixth Estate: Sixth Estate’s Christmas Message: There is No Santa Claus, And People Are Starving.

It’s Christmas time, and even Margaret Wente was feeling unusually charitable in Saturday’s column (and pretty much plagiarism free, for the time being). So if you’re hoping to get your regular dose of venom and bile from the chattering classes, you’ll have to settle for me. I’d like to juxtapose a couple of stories from ...

The Sixth Estate: Harper Doublespeak Leaves Door Open for More Acquisitions by Foreign Dictatorships

Well, try that on for size. Let me be clear, says Stephen Harper: “Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead. It is not an outcome any responsible government of Canada could ever allow to happen.” ...

The Sixth Estate: Spending Like Drunken Cons, Part 5: Conservatives Commit to Spending $165 Billion They Don’t Have

As I pointed out in my last post, the fact that the Conservatives have admitted they will miss their budget projections next year isn’t news. There hasn’t been a single annual budget yet that actually reached the projected balance it was supposed to, and, as a result, the date at which the Conservatives promise we’ll ...

The Sixth Estate: Spending Like Drunken Cons, Part 3: Conservatives Miss Budget Projections. Again.

Last week, the media delivered its resounding judgement on the Conservatives’ fall budget update. Jim Flaherty, they say, has unfortunately allowed the projections to slip. The deficit has grown. Canada may not balance its budget on time. Curiously, this fact does nothing to change the obvious cognitive dissonance now in play in the right-wing media. ...

The Sixth Estate: Chinese Opposition to Sale of Canadian Company Creates Bizarre Standoff

Try this one on for size. The Canadian media, which for the most part hasn’t met a Canadian corporation they think shouldn’t be sold to foreign interests, has latched on to what they claim is evidence of Chinese “hard-ball” with respect to the purchase of our Nexen oil company by the government of China. The ...

The Sixth Estate: CBC Stands for Conservative Biased Commentary

For those of you who don’t know, retired Harper Cabinet minister Stockwell Day now has two jobs: political “counseling” and journalism. Mr. Day has taken a position as occasional contributing columnist to CBC. This is presumably yet more evidence of the far-left agenda in our national media. Today, Mr. Day has published a half-baked column ...

The Sixth Estate: Hollowing Out, Part 2: Who Buys Canadian Companies?

Last time, in my new Hollowing Out series, I began taking a look at the Globe & Mail’s list of Canada’s largest 1000 companies back in 1996. (This list is not freely available online to my knowledge, so I cannot link to it.) I found that around 30% of the largest 100 companies on that ...

The Sixth Estate: How Multinational Corporations Evade Canadian Income Tax Law

In the wake of the recent Ted Opitz case, in which the Supreme Court of Canada issued a bizarrely partisan split ruling, written by two Harper appointees to the nation’s highest bench, accusing Liberals of trying to undermine democracy, I thought it would be useful to take a quick look at another recent ruling by ...

The Sixth Estate: Hollowing Out, Part 1: 30 of Canada’s Top 100 Companies in 1995 Have Since Been Taken Over by Multinational Corporations

In honour of the recent controversy over the proposed takeover of Nexen by the government of China (since only foreign governments are allowed to make money off of Canada’s oil patch, not our own government), I thought it might be nice to start a major new project, devoted to studying the hollowing out of the ...

The Sixth Estate: Media May Have Missed the Story on MP Pension “Reforms”: MPs Unanimously Vote Themselves Pension Bonus for Next Year?

Being neither a lawyer nor an accountant, I have to stress I may be missing something here. I do invite correction. However, I don’t think I’m wrong here. Here’s a simple question: what percentage of their income are MPs paying into their pension fund this year, and what percentage of their income will MPs be ...

The Sixth Estate: Next Failure of Harper-Style Corporate Self-Inspections May be a Major Airplane Crash

A few years ago, when the Harper regime was young and idealistic, they had a grand plan for the future of regulatory inspections in Canada — inspections of meat processing plants, aircraft maintenance, etc., etc. No longer would the government field an army of inspectors, trotting around the country peering under the hood. Corporations could ...

The Sixth Estate: Somehow the Conference Board is Less Immune to Industry Pressure than the Federal Senate

In recent months the Canadian airline industry has been pushing, hard, for lower costs. Not content with having the Harper regime order its employees to work under threat of legal sanction (so much for small government, eh?), Air Canada apparently wants to have that same government give it a variety of other under-the-table handouts, too. ...

The Sixth Estate: Globe & Mail Takes Conservative Bait on MP Pension Reform…

… Although given how readily they swallowed it, it might be a bit of a stretch to call it bait in the first place. Apparently one of the items in the next Conservative omnibus bill will be reforms to MP pensions. The “reforms” are, in a word, horseshit. They’ll make MPs wait a few extra ...

The Sixth Estate: How to Decide Whether Public-Sector Employeers Are Overpaid

Recently I took a Globe & Mail columnist to task for arguing that Ontario’s public school teachers are overpaid. As a humble blogger I hardly expect a response from such a great luminary as Margaret Wente, but I do want to return to the topic anyways, because a couple of people raised some important points. ...

The Sixth Estate: Harper Regime May See Quebec EI Demands as Opportunity, Not Problem

When the Parti Quebecois announced that one of their strategies as a new government — if they ever form one — would be to provoke a fight with the federal government over who runs the Employment Insurance system, I don’t mind telling you, it worried me. Not because of anything related to the PQ, but ...

The Sixth Estate: Race-Baiting, National Post Style

The National Post has an interesting article arguing that over the past couple of years CSIS has been monitoring relationships between the First Nations and the government of China. The evidence is flimsy but plausible. The major Chinese corporations now active in the oil patch are part-owned by the Chinese government. If you were sinking ...

The Sixth Estate: Petro-State Politics Threaten Democracy, Sovereignty, Common Sense

Another day, another Canadian oil company swallowed up by its foreign competitors. Oh well, right? Here’s a fun fact from history: Stephen Harper used to be a Liberal activist, even after he moved to Alberta. He abandoned Trudeau over the National Energy Policy, and the NEP still provokes howls of outrage from right-wingers across the ...

The Sixth Estate: National Post Proposes Privatization of Market Index That is… Already Private!

There’s been a great deal of nonsense in the press about the ongoing price-fixing scandal in the banking sector — in which, in case you haven’t heard yet, there is mounting evidence that for the past several years somewhere between 2 and 20 of the world’s largest banks colluded to manipulate a key interest rate ...