Assorted content to end your week.
- Manuel Perez-Rocha writes about the corrosive effect of allowing businesses to dictate public policy through trade agreements: (C)orporations are increasingly using investment and trade agreements — specifically, the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in them — to bring opportunistic cases in arbitral courts, circumventing decisions states deem in their best interest. And now investor-state dispute settlement provisions may be enshrined in two new treaties: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently under negotiation between, respectively, the United States and the European Union, and the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific nations. If (Read more…)
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- Martha Friendly highlights how families at all income levels can benefit from a strong child care system: Isn’t it the Canadian way to include people from diverse groups and social classes in community institutions like public schools, community recreation facilities, public colleges and universities so all can learn to live, play and work together? Indeed, research shows that early childhood is the ideal time for beginning to learn to respect differences and diversity by engaging with and getting to know children and adults of all varieties.
Childcare as an inclusive community institution (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- The Star criticizes the Harper Cons’ selective interest in international cooperation – with war and oil interests apparently ranking as the only areas where the Cons can be bothered to work with other countries. And Catherine Porter reports that the Cons have demonstrated their actual attitude toward global cooperation and development by making huge cuts to foreign aid.
- Geoff Dembicki interviews Corinne Lepage about France’s rightful resistance to oil lobbyists. But while it’s well and good for individual countries to register their willingness to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, that (Read more…)
Ready, Aye, Ready! Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird whips up the War Party in the House of Commons. Below: Stephen Harper, the prime minister, and Edmonton Centre MP Laurie Hawn.
Stephen Harper, John Baird, Laurie Hawn and the rest of the boys yesterday finally got the war in Iraq they’ve been pining for since 2003.
“We should have been there shoulder to shoulder with our allies,” Prime Minister Harper, who was still the leader of the opposition, complained back in April 2003. At the time, the United States had just invaded Iraq to punish it for having nothing to do (Read more…)
Having earlier dealt with Stephen Harper’s attempt to justify war by building up hatred and hype toward ISIS, I’ll note the other main rationale on offer from the Cons – which can generally be described as government by wrong answer to a rhetorical question: If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world…and we should since so many of our challenges are global…being a free rider means you are not taken seriously.…And when our allies recognize and respond to a threat, that would also harm us, we Canadians do not stand on the sidelines. We do our part.
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Linda Tirado writes about life in poverty – and the real prospect that anybody short of the extremely wealthy can wind up there: I haven’t had it worse than anyone else, and actually, that’s kind of the point. This is just what life is for roughly one-third of Americans and one in five people in Great Britain. We all handle it in our own ways, but we all work in the same jobs, live in the same places, feel the same sense of never quite catching up. We’re not any happier about exploding (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.
- Lana Payne examines the Cons’ economic record and finds it very much wanting: Inequality has deepened under Mr. Harper’s watch, job quality has declined, wages have stagnated, economic growth has been anemic, social protections have been reduced while corporate profits and CEO pay soar.…(E)mployment and labour force participation rates are lower today than they were in 2006, part-time employment is up, corporate taxes are significantly lower (22.1 per cent in 2006, 15 per cent today) business capital investment saw no increase and has been static at 19.1 per cent of (Read more…)
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Linda McQuaig discusses how a politically-oriented audit of the CCPA fits with the shock-and-awe part of the right’s war against independent (and public-minded) though: In the conservative quest to shape public debate in recent years, no tool has proved more useful than the think tank. Nobody understood this better than the director of the ultra-right wing U.S.-based ATLAS Foundation, who once stated that his mission was “to litter the world with free-market think tanks.”
Mission accomplished. Certainly the Canadian landscape is cluttered with right-wing think tanks — the Fraser Institute, (Read more…)
This and that for your weekend reading.
- Andrew Jackson writes that public investment is needed as part of a healthy economy, particularly when it’s clear that the private sector isn’t going to put massive accumulated savings to use. Bob McDonald notes that we’d be far better off using public money to fund basic research instead of funnelling it toward the business sector. And Ed Keenan looks to Ontario for examples of how far more money is flowing into questionable corporate handouts than toward basic human needs.
- Meanwhile, Lana Payne exposes the Cons’ efforts to both downplay and reduce (Read more…)
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…)
Stephen Harper has been in power for the high side of a decade. That’s a long time.
Most Prime Ministers by this point in their careers have figured out that the foreign affairs portfolio is a tricky one. When you are a smallish nation like Canada, you get much better results by influencing rather than playing the puffed up pugilist.
Harper hasn’t figured this out. Does he really think that Putin notices his pronouncements in the wake of sanctions? Is he really daft enough to believe that his military posturing is going to convince Putin to back out of Crimea?
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Brian and Karen Foster question why steadily improving productivity has led to increasing stratification rather than better lives for a large number of people: (W)ith all the optimism, why hasn’t technological progress actually opened up a world where we all work, and we all work less? Why do we still have some people working overtime while others sit idle, wishing for employment? Why are we not seeing the spread of work-sharing schemes, where the duties of one job are divided into two or more jobs?
We have a government program that helps companies (Read more…)
Nothing in Sochi did more to honour and advance the Olympic ideals than the worldwide fight for equality unleashed by Russia’s infamous homophobic law. My post-Olympic analysis in the Toronto Star.
Over at Huffington Post, one of their columnists, JJ McCullough, is pontificating on Harper’s trip to Israel. In the comments, we find HP blogger Mitch Wolfe making the following daft statement:
This article is an excellent summary of Harper’s pro Israeli policies. It also provides an excellent summary of the so-called pundits’ views of Harper’s pro Israeli position. The pundits, the Laurentian Consensus, Tony Burman of the Star and Simpson of the Globe, all fail to deal with Hamas, ” the camel in the room”. This is a terrorist organization that rules by violence and intimidation. There is no democracy, (Read more…)
Few things make me angrier than the propensity of the far right to twist things. In today’s speech to Israel’s Knesset, we find this lovely little gem:
“A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history,” he said.
“That is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening.”
Harper allowed that criticism of Israeli government policy isn’t in and of itself “necessarily anti-Semitic.”
When it comes to matters of Foreign Policy, Harper is neither subtle or particularly smart. As with all things in Harper’s world, it’s all about partisan position and absolutes.
Yesterday’s announcement of Vivian Bercovici’s appointment as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel fits that pattern exactly.
Ms. Bercovici is one of those who is completely uncritical of the regime in Israel, and about as nuanced as Harper himself in her musings on the subject. In a Jan. 28, 2013, column in the Toronto Star, Bercovici praises Netanyahu and criticizes Palestinian leaders.
“Many western governments, judging from their comments, hold (Read more…)
Yesterday, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women spoke on the recent decision for Canada to restrict funding related to War Rape and Forced Marriage victims to organizations and programs that exclude abortion. As a pediatric surgeon, she said she’s confident Canada has chosen to target its aid where it will do the most good.
“We have to pick a targeted area, where we’re going to be able to have an impact,” Leitch said in a phone interview from New York.
“As a physician, I’m very confident in saying that we have chosen the right one, that pre- (Read more…)
Since 2006, Harper has repeatedly “refused” to open the abortion debate in Canada … or at least so he claims.
But then again, there’s the old saw about “actions speak louder than words”. Once again, the Harper Government has taken actions which very clearly articulate where they stand. On Huffington Post, the headline reads “Tories Won’t Fund Overseas Projects Allowing Abortion For War Rape, Child Brides“ International Development Minister Christian Paradis says the government will not fund overseas projects that allow war rape victims and child brides to obtain an abortion.
But Paradis says the government’s policy would (Read more…)
Once again, we find The Harper Government (which, I am more and more convinced is not a Canadian government), squabbling over the UN’s initiatives to review Canada’s treatment of our Aboriginal population. Countries have their rights records reviewed every four years by the Geneva-based UN forum, but the Harper government has been skeptical of it in part because it allows countries with dubious rights records to criticize Canada.
Recommendations from Iran, Sri Lanka and Cuba were among the 40 out of 162 that Canada chose to reject.
Frankly, Canada’s relationship with its Aboriginal peoples is less than ideal, and arguably (Read more…)