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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Thomas Frank writes that a progressive party can only expect to succeed if it places principles of equality and workers’ interests at the core of everything it does – rather than serving mostly as the voice of a wealthy professional class: Somewhere in a sunny corner of the . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Don Pittis writes that it will take far more than words and sentiments to reverse the trend of growing income inequality. Elaine Power points out that Ontario’s social assistance programs – like those elsewhere – far fall short of meeting basic human needs. And Christopher Mackie reminds us that the effects of poverty go well beyond immediate financial consequences:

Canada has free, high-quality healthcare for everyone. So why do the richest 10% of people live seven years longer than the poorest? Deep poverty can be associated with a drop in life expectancy of 20 years or more. If we look at both life expectancy and years lived with disability, the rich are 39% healthier than the poor.

Income affects health in several ways, including the direct impact on the resources needed for healthy living, access to healthy physical environments and access to healthy social environments.

Poverty limits access to nutritious food, recreation opportunities, adequate housing, and the education needed to pull oneself out of poverty. Each year, the Middlesex-London Health Unit issues a report that compares the cost of nutritious food to income received from minimum or welfare wage. This Nutritious Food Basket Report consistently shows that it is impossible for people on low income in London and Middlesex County to afford healthy food once basic costs such as rent and utilities are paid.

The benefits of policies that address poverty go far beyond simply helping the poor. Research has consistently shown that everyone is better off in societies that are more equal. Comparisons of countries which are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) consistently show that in societies that are most equal, even the poor are healthier than the rich in societies that are the least equal. In other words, greater income equality means better health for everyone – including the rich.

This paradox – that my income is linked with my health, but that my society’s income equality is also linked with my health – is not fully understood. One theory is that it is linked with the social environments we live in. More unequal societies tend to be more competitive, with fewer opportunities for upward mobility. This can be associated with stress and hopelessness. Stress is linked with a number of health problems from heart disease to cancer. Hopelessness can be devastating, reducing motivation to seek employment and leading a person to neglect their health or even engage in self-harming behaviours like addiction to alcohol and drugs.

In more equal societies, a feeling that friends, neighbours and fellow citizens will offer help when needed can be motivational, even leading to an increased sense of self-worth. Reduced stress can allow us to see past day-to-day challenges and make better decisions for the long term.

– Christopher Adams exposes how employers are exploiting millenial workers. And Evelyn Kwong and Sara Mojtehedzadeh report on a temporary employee’s workplace death in Toronto, while Adam Hunter discusses the appalling trend of people being killed on the job in Saskatchewan.

– Tonda MacCharles reports on the Libs’ discussion paper on security laws. And Jeremy Nuttall notes that there’s ample reason for concern that they want to make matters even worse by reviving dubious “lawful access” provisions rather than correcting even the overreach found in Bill C-51.

– The Star’s editorial board writes that we should be strengthening our universal public health care system rather than destroying it as Brian Day and others want to do.

– Finally, Kathy Tomlinson details how Canada’s tax laws are being flouted by the investors making millions off of the explosion of Vancouver’s real estate market. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Hakan Bengtsson offers some useful discussion about the challenges facing Sweden’s social democratic system – as the same factors being used to prevent the development of a more equitable society in Canada and elsewhere are being cited as excuses to tear down the model many countries aspire to . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links Geist: Setting the Stage for the Next Decade of Open Access

A group of researchers from around the world have been discussing a plan for ‘open access’. Their goal is one that would remove barriers to obtaining educational materials online so that the worldwide community could benefit from shared research and knowledge.

Education is one of the many reasons that the pro-Internet community . . . → Read More: Geist: Setting the Stage for the Next Decade of Open Access

Impolitical: Benchquest: The what to do with Vic Toews saga rolls on

Just reading Tim Harper’s latest, hot off the internets: “Vic Toews and his quest for the bench.” This part jumped out: The Court of Appeal post is a federal appointment and Harper is believed to have told Toews that he would not appoint his minister directly to the bench.

Instead, he would be expected . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Benchquest: The what to do with Vic Toews saga rolls on

Impolitical: Harper’s extra-Parliamentary internet surveillance committee

This news is a new low in the Harper government’s ongoing debasement of Parliament’s role in Canadian democracy: In the months leading up to the introduction Bill C-30, Canada’s telecom companies worked actively with government officials to identify key issues and to develop a secret industry-government collaborative forum on lawful access.

The working group . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Harper’s extra-Parliamentary internet surveillance committee

Impolitical: The #TellVicEverything sequel: #TellDaveEverything

I was half joking in my post yesterday about the need for a #TellDaveEverything hashtag in the U.K. on the occasion of the U.K. Tories introducing their own intrusive internet surveillance legislation. Turns out, the fine citizens of the U.K. have got one up and going. Good for them! Hope Dave Cameron and the gang . . . → Read More: Impolitical: The #TellVicEverything sequel: #TellDaveEverything

Impolitical: Routine cellphone tracking in the U.S.

There is a must read as context for the Canadian C-30 legislation that is pending, the lead from the New York Times today: “Police Tracking of Cellphones Raises Privacy Fears.” The American Civil Liberties Union has put together records from police departments across the U.S. showing widespread cellphone tracking that has become an ordinary thing: . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Routine cellphone tracking in the U.S.

Impolitical: A short C-30 video

“OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis and Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian debate whether the powers proposed in Bill C-30 are needed to battle cybercrime. More at:”

Impolitical: A House of Commons marker laid down for the C-30 rewrite

This was the text of a motion passed in the House of Commons last night. The motion was brought by Liberals with a view to the coming debate at committee over C-30, the Conservatives’ proposed and invasive internet surveillance legislation: That the House recognize: (a) the fundamental right of all Canadians to the freedoms of . . . → Read More: Impolitical: A House of Commons marker laid down for the C-30 rewrite

Impolitical: The right thing to do

Case closed: Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae says one of his staffers was responsible for a series of anonymous Internet attacks aimed at Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

“I was advised yesterday that an employee of the Liberal research bureau in fact is responsible,” the chagrined Liberal leader told the House of Commons.

“I want . . . → Read More: Impolitical: The right thing to do

Impolitical: A pause on the internet surveillance bill?

So reports the Globe late last night: “Ottawa hits pause on Web surveillance act.” The Harper government is temporarily parking controversial legislation that would grant new powers to authorities to police the Internet while it consults on how to rewrite it to assuage privacy concerns among Canadians and within caucus.

This report is mostly based . . . → Read More: Impolitical: A pause on the internet surveillance bill?

Impolitical: Late night

“The state has no business in the hard drives of the nation.” You go, Rick Mercer!

Impolitical: Keeping an eye on the ball that is C-30

More on C-30 here. On the one hand, there was this presentation from a Vancouver police official yesterday: “People need to focus and keep their eye on the ball,” said Warren Lemcke, Vancouver’s deputy chief constable.

“We can’t monitor your e-mails. We can’t monitor your phone calls. We can’t monitor your surfing unless a judge . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Keeping an eye on the ball that is C-30 Border deal between Canada and U.S. raises privacy concerns

A recently unveiled border security agreement between Canada and its neighbour to the South requires Canada to step up security measures, and share more information on Canadians with the U.S.

The new border deal will take the problem of the Canadian government spying on its citizens one step further, by adding the . . . → Read More: Border deal between Canada and U.S. raises privacy concerns

Impolitical: Family Day drive-by blogging

Well it’s a holiday of some kind in Ontario today, that Family Day thingy. Whatever you may be doing, have a good one. Here’s a bunch of reading material, for lack of better terminology, for your day off. Most of it is a break from Canadian politics.

1. This seems like a biggie: “Canada threatens . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Family Day drive-by blogging

Impolitical: Conservatives against online spying & other notes

There is a letter cross-posted at that has been sent to the members of the conservative Free Dominion site. It’s essentially an appeal for the Conservative base to contact their MPs and encourage them to speak out against C-30. This online spying legislation is antithetical to core conservative principles of freedom, privacy rights, and . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Conservatives against online spying & other notes

Impolitical: Hilarious spin

Well now, he is the omniscient one: “Harper sensed cyber outrage was looming.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper had already made the decision to kick a controversial cyber crime bill to committee even before Opposition howled because he sensed a public backlash was rolling his way, QMI Agency has learned.

Harper sent the bill to the . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Hilarious spin

Impolitical: Backtracking on #C30?

A quick post on the day’s events….in the wake of the tremendous backlash to the Conservative internet surveillance legislation, the Harper crew are making noises about amendments to C-30. See “Government willing to consider changes to online surveillance bill,” for example, where Conservative MPs Williamson, Anders and Tilson are cited as expressing concerns. Anders is . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Backtracking on #C30?

cmkl: Michael Geist on the Harper government’s new “Lawful Access” law: it’s bad

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist has a really good summary and critique of the Tories’ new bid to give police “Lawful Access” to ISP data and to require ISPs to install snoopware. It’s fact-based and low-to-no hyperbole.

Impolitical: El busto

Opinion is lining up firmly against the Harper government’s internet surveillance legislation.

Harris: “Bill aimed at internet predators empowers Big Brother government.” The only thing that separates a democratic state from a police state is the notion of accountability. Police powers are restrained under the due process of our judicial system to reflect the protection . . . → Read More: Impolitical: El busto

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Mike de Souza’s report on the Cons’ attempts to hide both the oil industry’s involvement and its own lack of credibility is well worth a read in full. But let’s focus on a more basic revelation: Harper has set up a publicly-funded lobbying team to make sure . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Impolitical: Disgraceful

A Conservative minister stated this in the House of Commons: But when Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia attacked the Conservatives for “preparing to read Canadians’ emails and track their movements through cellphone signals” – which does appear to be a severe distortion of the bill’s powers – Mr. Toews’s counterattack was fierce.

“As technology evolves, many . . . → Read More: Impolitical: Disgraceful

Accidental Deliberations: On constructive alternatives

Yes, plenty of key websites will be going dark today – and for good reason based on the U.S. legislation being protested.

But today also marks one month from the February 18 membership deadline in the NDP’s leadership race. So today may be a good time to sign up to elect the leader of Canada’s . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On constructive alternatives

Impolitical: (Un)Lawful Access

This looks like a great event for those in Vancouver on January 12th: (Un)Lawful Access: Premiere & Panel Discussion. It’s a premiere of a mini-documentary on the Harper government’s coming lawful access legislation. Additionally, the BC Civil Liberties Association is releasing a report they’ve done on the proposed law. Here’s hoping that both will . . . → Read More: Impolitical: (Un)Lawful Access