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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jonathan Freedland discusses how the UK’s Conservative government is forcing its poor citizens to choose between food and dignity: Cameron’s statement rests on the repeatedly implied assumption that the only people going hungry are those who have opted for idleness as a lifestyle choice, who could work but don’t fancy it. This assumption is false. The majority of poor households include at least one person who works. As Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, put it this week: “People who are using food banks are not scroungers who are cynically trying (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, questioning the Saskatchewan Party’s belief that meeting the province’s constitutional duty to provide correctional centre inmates with the basic necessities of life isn’t a “core” government function.

For further reading:- CTV reports on the label the Sask Party has applied to correctional food services (and the resulting privatization process) here.  – And once again, CBC reports here on the cautionary tale of Ontario’s highway maintenance – where public safety has been compromised in the name of outsourcing provincial services.

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Heather Mallick discusses what Canada stands to lose as Canada Post is made both more expensive and less functional. Ethan Cox suggests that what’s missing from Canada Post is a postal bank – which makes postal services elsewhere both more profitable, and more valuable for citizens. And the Star points out that the Cons have stood idly by while allowing the institution to fall apart.

- But then, post offices are the least of what the Cons have gone out of their way to portray as beneath them – as made clear by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Krugman writes about the right-wing belief that “freedom’s just another word for not enough to eat”: (Y)ou might think that ensuring adequate nutrition for children, which is a large part of what SNAP does, actually makes it less, not more likely that those children will be poor and need public assistance when they grow up. And that’s what the evidence shows. The economists Hilary Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach have studied the impact of the food stamp program in the 1960s and 1970s, when it was gradually rolled out across the country. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jacob Goldstein discusses how one-time, no-strings-attached funding for the poor in developing countries can produce lasting improvements in their standard of living – while also highlighting the need for longer-term development: A charity that gives away money, as opposed to, say, offering agricultural training or medicine, does seem a bit unusual. That’s partly because governments and philanthropists have emphasized solving long-term economic problems rather than urgent needs. But in the past decade it has become increasingly common to give money right to the very poor. After Mexico’s economic crisis in the mid-1990s, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Chrystia Freeland writes about the dangers of increased concentration of wealth – particularly when it bears at best a passing relationship to any worthwhile contribution to society at large. And CBC’s report on Peter Sabourin’s investment fraud highlights the fact that the tax havens which have allowed for extreme accumulation of wealth have also facilitated crime against anybody aspiring to join the elite.

- Toby Sanger provides a handy list of 12 problems with the Cons’ anti-union legislation.

- Pat Atkinson questions the Cons’ complete failure to ensure that Canadians can trust that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jason Fekete reports that the Harper Cons are taking the side of international tax evaders against other G8 leaders trying to implement an effective enforcement system. And CBC reports that the Canada Revenue Agency has repeatedly turned down the opportunity to access information about tax cheats based on a policy of not offering enforcement rewards.

- In the wake of revelations about the U.S.’ PRISM surveillance system (summarized by Mathew Ingram), Michael Geist warned that Canadians should be equally concerned about their privacy. And that observation looks particularly apt in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Sunny Freeman reports on the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights’ study into the effects of anti-labour legislation: The CFLR argues that [right-to-free-ride] laws would contribute to greater income disparity by undermining union strength and rights to collective bargaining, which they say leads to improved wages and benefits for employees.

The authors cited statistics suggesting that the wage premium for Canadian unionized workers over non-unionized employees in comparable jobs is between seven and 14 per cent. Workers in U.S. states that have adopted the laws earn an average of $1,500 less annually

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Cory Doctorow duly blasts the Harper Cons for meekly complying with an onerous copyright treaty which isn’t even in force. Which raises the question: if the Cons were really interested in demonstrating some independence as a response to the U.S. declining to rubber-stamp Keystone XL, wouldn’t this be the best time to show some backbone?

- Mike Blanchfield reports on the conclusions of the UN’s right-to-food envoy – including that the Harper Cons have managed to make food less accessible for Canadians through means ranging from the destruction of the long-form census

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Michael Moss writes about the amount of time and money spent by corporate conglomerates to push consumers toward eating unhealthy food: The public and the food companies have known for decades now — or at the very least since this meeting — that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Saturday reading.

- Hamida Ghafour writes about the effect of tax avoidance by the world’s wealthy on the lives of the rest of the population – particularly when coupled with austerity pushed based on a lack of revenue: The OECD is a fierce defender of free-market capitalism. But Saint-Amans says politicians are realizing that rules set up in the 1920s need reform because allowing corporations and the very rich to hang on to huge amounts of wealth is bad for the economy. “When you have a political crisis, I am sad to say it, you . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: On abdications of duty

Shorter Gerry Ritz:If unscrupulous businesses want to fleece Canadian suckers consumers, far be it from we Conservatives to stand in their way. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On abdications of duty

Accidental Deliberations: On continued control

I’d certainly be interested to see some evidence that Conservative MPs are doing anything more than dispensing party talking points. But while there may be some better examples available, the contents of Jason Warick’s report this morning look to me to fall far short.

Let’s go point by point…

- At last notice, Con MPs weren’t allowed to present private members’ bills which hadn’t been vetted by Harper’s staffers. And from the fact the Cons are publicly lining up behind Rob Clarke’s bill to trash the Indian Act with nothing to replace it (as well as the fact that

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On continued control

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Barrie McKenna discusses the cost of public-private partnerships: Disturbing new research highlights some serious flaws in how governments tally the benefits of public-private partnerships versus conventional projects. Too little is known about how these contracts work, who benefits and who pays.

This week, public-private partnerships will take centre stage when the House of Commons operations committee resumes a series of hearings on P3s, stacked with witnesses who like them.

A P3 works essentially like leasing a car or TV, rather than paying cash up front. At the end of the day, governments pay

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted material to end your weekend.

- Chrystia Freeland comments on the self-destructive nature of elite protectionism: (E)ven as the winner-take-all economy has enriched those at the very top, their tax burden has lightened. Tolerance for high executive compensation has increased, even as the legal powers of unions have been weakened and an intellectual case against them has been relentlessly advanced by plutocrat-financed think tanks. In the 1950s, the marginal income tax rate for those at the top of the distribution soared above 90 percent, a figure that today makes even Democrats flinch. Meanwhile, of the 400 richest taxpayers in

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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- No, the aftershocks of an e. coli outbreak which has unfortunately given both Canadians and export markets reason for concern about the safety of some of our major food sources aren’t about to end simply because the Cons are again pretending everything’s fine. And the president of the union local representing XL Foods workers points out one of the major steps needed to ensure problems aren’t allowed to fester due to managerial neglect: Under the UFCW’s collective agreement, O’Halloran said, line workers can inform a supervisor only if they spot a safety issue,

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Murray Mandryk and Bruce Johnstone both thoroughly slam Gerry Ritz and the Cons for their food-safety negligence. But Johnstone hints at the larger issue: Ritz, for all his faults, is not the cause of this latest debacle. He’s merely a symptom of a bigger problem with the Harper government: specifically, it’s (sic) ideological fixation on smaller government, it’s (sic) blind faith in self-regulation and its tendency to micromanage every aspect of government policy.

- And Lana Payne reminds us why we should know better than to think there’s any merit to anti-regulatory

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mitchell Anderson’s final report on Norway’s highly successful management of its oil resources puts Canada’s current philosophy to the test: Seen through this lens, how is Canada doing? Abysmally…:

1. Dependency. Even with our vast oil wealth, Canada currently relies on other countries for about 50 per cent of our supply — so-called “unethical oil” from the volatile Middle East. Proposals to pipe unrefined bitumen from western Canada to Asia will increase this dangerous dependence since Alberta will have to import vast amounts of condensate from the Middle East to dilute

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- David Olive comments on the world food crisis, making the point that what we’re lacking is some link between more-than-sufficient productive capacity and the nutritional needs of less wealthy people around the globe: (A) permanently higher price for oil spurred successful innovation to reduce our reliance on petroleum products in realms outside of transportation and energy, along with a determined effort to find new sources of oil in increasingly remote places.

The global food crisis, by contrast, has not made us think differently about how we produce and use the fruit of the

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Yes, the usual caveats about trying to predict future commodity prices apply. But Stephen Maher’s warning about the effect of rising fuel and food prices is still worth keeping in mind: That shift doesn’t mean that North Americans are about to take meaningful steps to reduce the amount of carbon we put in the atmosphere, because politicians know that anything they might do to reduce carbon emission will hit consumers in the pocketbook.

Over the long run, though, if the scientists are right, we will have more extreme weather, food prices will go

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford discusses how Canadian right-wing parties are picking up on the most extreme anti-labour stances of the U.S. Republicans. But I do have to wonder whether the comparison between union dues and taxes is one that they’d particularly shy away from: isn’t much of the point to try to eliminate both as means of providing resources to achieve social ends?

- Meanwhile, Linda McQuaig explains why baby hippos and others have plenty of reason to be concerned about debt hysteria. And David Climenhaga points out that even from an economic

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review – May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 9 saw the first Committee of the Whole discussion of the Cons’ budget bill – with the opportunity for hours of direct questions about military spending giving rise to little more than even more tedious repetition of F-35s talking points in place of responses.

The Big Issue

Jack Harris opened the committee of the whole by asking a simple question as to which other planes had been considered aside from F-35s as specifically referenced in the Auditor General’s report. And Julian Fantino set the tone for the discussion to come by refusing to offer even those basic facts

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review – May 9, 2012

Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review: May 3, 2012

Thursday, May 3 saw yet another debate over the Cons’ use of time allocation – this time respecting the omnibus budget bill which features so many radical changes that demand serious discussion. And not surprisingly, the opposition parties raised plenty of entirely valid concerns, while the Cons obfuscated and ran out the clock.

The Big Issue

The Cons’ talking-point-dispenser for the day was Ted Menzies. And Menzies highlighted the absurdity of the Cons’ constant deflection tactics by answering the simple question of what path the bill would follow with the answer that he didn’t bear any responsibility for the choice.

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review: May 3, 2012

Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review – April 26, 2012

Thursday, April 26 saw ample discussion of private members’ business – and if the Cons are now cracking down on such debate, the results of the day’s proceedings might give us some clues as to why.

The Big Issue

While it didn’t receive as much media attention as another issue which was debated for substantially less time, Irene Mathyssen’s motion to reverse the Cons’ attacks on OAS produced plenty of noteworthy discussion. Mathyssen pointed out how the move would increase poverty rates among senior women in particular. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe noted that private pension plans might not be designed to account

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review – April 26, 2012

Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review – April 23, 2012

Monday, April 23 was the first day back in the House of Commons following the Easter break. And it featured some of the most lively and telling discussion we’ve seen yet on the Cons’ anti-refugee legislation as the second-reading debate reached its end.

The Big Issue

As part of the refugee bill debate, Craig Scott made his first speech as the NDP’s MP for Toronto-Danforth. And he wasted no time in showing what he’ll add to the NDP’s caucus: One huge difference is that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires that a person be a permanent resident before the

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review – April 23, 2012