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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Pat Atkinson writes that governments at all levels should be setting up realistic fiscal plans to deal with a large group of retiring boomers – not artificially slashing revenues and increasing costs. And Rick Smith laments the fact that the Harper Cons are squandering an opportunity to address Canada’s existing problems due to their insistence on creating new ones: “Seizing” the moment would mean tackling the challenges that today’s Canada faces: stagnant or falling wages for middle- and lower-income Canadians; crises in Aboriginal education, food, housing, and missing and murdered women; high youth (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Coyne sees the disproportionate influence wielded by the representatives elected by a minority of voters in Canada and the U.S. as evidence that both countries should move toward proportional representation: Two systems, both dysfunctional, in opposing ways. Is there nevertheless a common thread between the two? I think there is. Both have become hostage to small groups of voters, the objects of vastly disproportionate amounts of the parties’ time and attention. In both, the parties are sharply divided on regional lines. And in both, politics has become increasingly, corrosively nasty. I (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Today is of course voting day in Regina’s wastewater treatment plant referendum – and you can get voting information here. And Paul Dechene explains his personal Yes vote by pointing to the need for public control over our infrastructure, while Brian Webb highlights the importance of the treatment plan for water quality in Regina and elsewhere.

- Frances Russell traces the decline of democracy and equality in Canada over the past few decades to free trade agreements designed to limit both. And Miles Corak confirms that Canada has seen the same type of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Frances Russell laments the state of Canada’s Potemkin Parliament (and the resulting harm the Cons are inflicting on our political system and our country alike): Poll after poll show a majority of Canadians regularly confuse their parliamentary system with the American presidential-congressional system.

This inaccurate but endemic assumption has allowed successive governments to gradually toss out the foundations of Canada’s British parliamentary heritage, one by one. By stealth and incrementalism, they have turned upside down the British traditions of parliamentary democracy where the government of the day answers to Parliament and is effectively (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Tim Harper writes that Stephen Harper’s “lone gunman” argument – already implausible in light of the number of Senators and staffers required to cover up the Clusterduff – is falling apart at the seams. But Gloria Galloway notes that the Senators can bail out with their pensions as long as they resign before being being convicted – meaning that Mike Duffy may not be the only one who comes to see his self-interest conflicting with the Cons’ attempt to throw all available non-Harper bodies under the bus. And Pat Atkinson offers some lessons (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jenny Carson asks what governments are doing to lift poor workers out of poverty. (Spoiler alert: the Cons’ answer is “why would we want to do that?”).

- Meanwhile, Kemal Dervis and Uri Dadush discuss the desperate need to rein in inequality in the U.S.: As it turns out, high and rising levels of inequality may well be a cause of increased macroeconomic instability. But the negative spiral doesn’t end there: High inequality also contributes to a fraying of the political consensus, is associated with boom-bust credit cycles and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Mark Leiren-Young shares Corky Evans’ perceptive take on how the B.C. NDP has lost its way – and the message is one which we should apply elsewhere as well: I remember when one of the Leaders I worked for asked some guys many of us know to purge our Party of the troublemakers (that was not the word he used.) They did a good job. We got Slates so the people we didn’t like couldn’t serve in Executive positions. We got Mike Muffins (members with nothing to say who stand (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Bruce Livesey discusses how offshoring undermines government – and how it happens with the approval of those same governments claiming we can’t afford to provide for citizens: Today, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) claims that offshore banks globally hide some (US) $5-trillion to (US) $7-trillion from tax authorities, or about 8 per cent of the world’s assets under management. Moreover, an estimated (US) $11.5-trillion is being stashed in offshore accounts worldwide for one reason or another.

Now governments talk about the so-called “tax gap” — the difference between (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: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- I’ll quickly link to a few Robocon stories which I han’t yet blogged. Karl Nerenberg noted that the Federal Court decision finding widespread election fraud using the Cons’ voter database was only the beginning, and Jean-Pierre Kingsley was hopeful that the ruling would lead to needed improvements in Elections Canada’s authority. But the continued obstruction of the Cons themselves makes it clear that the public interest couldn’t be lower on the Harper government’s priority list.

- Meanwhile, as a stark contrast to the Cons’ determination not to let anybody get to the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, featuring my suggestion to minimize the damage done by the Senate even if constitutional change isn’t on the table.

The column was intended largely to respond to the camp whose every reaction to Senate issues is to declare there’s nothing we can do but put up with the status quo.

But there may well be more of a push for abolition than I’d anticipated: Tom Mulcair and the NDP are leading the charge, Democracy Watch is also launching a campaign, and Pat Atkinson makes the case in the Star-Phoenix. And Antonia Maioni points out how the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels – reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn’t stopped the Sask Party from “modernizing” the province’s rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons’ push for temporary foreign workers is the “temporary” part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- George Monbiot discusses the fallout from decades of corporate-controlled governments abdicating their responsibility to consider the public interest: In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults on their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off.

This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending (Read more…) the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way.

Just as taxation tends to redistribute wealth, regulation tends to redistribute power. A democratic state controls and contains powerful interests on behalf of . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Nicholas Shaxson annihilate the claim that perpetually lowering corporate and upper-income tax rates offers any competitive advantage: Tax “competition”, it turns out, is always harmful. First, while people rarely move in response to tax changes – flighty financial capital does move. Governments “compete” for it by cutting tax rates on mobile capital (which means, in effect, cutting taxes on the rich.) And if you’re not taxing the rich, you’ve got to make that up elsewhere. How do you do that? You tax people who can’t afford to

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

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- John Greenwood and CBC News both report on the offshore tax avoidance being revealed through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. And Susan Lunn observes that Canada’s federal parties are all at least paying lip service to the issue – though of course the Cons’ cuts to tax enforcement speak louder than their spin.

- Meanwhile, Paul McLeod notes that income inequality will also receive at least some much-needed attention in Parliament. And Danyaal Raza’s discussion of the damage done to public health by inequality looks to offer one important point worth

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

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tim Harper reminds us why Brad Wall is thoroughly off base in claiming that it’s the duty of every Canadian politician to demonstrate constant fealty to his resource-sector puppet-masters: The Conservatives, of course, would like the entire country to come together behind their view of resource extraction, but the nice thing about democracy is it accommodates dissonant voices.

Keystone faces credible and determined opposition in both countries.

There is a longstanding protocol in the U.S. that politicians do not criticize the government while abroad, but if that ever was the convention in

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

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- There’s plenty of reason for concern about the departure of some of the few independent officers who have successfully held the Cons to account at times – with departing environment commissioner Scott Vaughan serving as only the latest example.

- But the more important story is less the presence of watchdogs than that of effective regulators – and the fact that the Cons have limited environmental enforcement to sporadic letter-writing campaigns gives us plenty of reason for concern no matter who’s in a position to point it out.

- Meanwhile, Luigi Zanasi

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

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Daniel Wilson discusses how Stephen Harper’s antipathy toward First Nations is making a failure of his time in office: On the global stage, he stood almost alone in opposition to 144 other countries in voting against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Domestically, he has tabled bills that diminish First Nations jurisdiction to that of administrative agencies of the federal government.  His party has consistently claimed that First Nation governments are corrupt or mismanaged.  He killed the Kelowna Accord. His steadfast refusal to fund First Nation child

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

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Wednesday reading.

- Pat Atkinson highlights what should probably be the story of the year for 2012: the continued degradation of Canadian democracy under a government which views Parliament and the public with an alarming degree of contempt: Harper’s Conservatives see Parliament as a nuisance. Committees meet in secret, and opposition MPs aren’t to reveal what is learned. And it is clear that most of Parliament’s power has been centralized into a prime minister’s office that is determined to control governing party MPs and even its cabinet ministers.

Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of politics at

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Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the need for the labour movement to reach beyond currently-unionized workplaces to address the needs of unrepresented workers – and the positive signs on that front.

For further reading…- Thomas Walkom recognizes the same common interests between workers in different types of workplaces, but worries that the labour movement hasn’t yet done enough to bridge the gap.- Meanwhile, We Move to Canada documents a few of the more promising signs in recent months; Laura Clawson discusses the Black Friday protests; Josh Eidelson reports on the New York City fast-food strike; and David Dayen notes that

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Pat Atkinson discusses the need to make sure that Saskatchewan’s boom-time spending actually sets us up for long-term prosperity, rather than fiscal disaster: Even though the OECD report, the burgeoning federal government deficit, China’s economic slowdown and America’s political deadlock all advise us that now is the time for caution, the Wall government is trapped. Its political image is completely dependent upon constant economic growth or the appearance of it.

It is so cemented in its own message of a New Saskatchewan, that any deviation from it is unlikely.

From its first

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

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.- There’s always been reason for skepticism about the pundit-class theory that the 2011 federal election should simply be deleted from the history books as an aberration. But Abacus provides a compelling example … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

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: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Pat Atkinson discusses the importance of unions in ensuring a fair deal for all workers: It’s because of unions and their tenacious advocacy on behalf of their members that workers not only in this province but also in other jurisdictions enjoy legislated workplace benefits gained through negotiation: the 40-hour work week, the eight-hour work day, equal pay for equal work for women, occupational health and safety, paid vacations, overtime pay and more.

These laws did not come easily. We now take many of these workplace rights for granted, but should we?… If the

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

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- There wasn’t much doubt from the recent storm of astroturfed Twitter messages that NDP candidate Catherine Fife stood to do well in tomorrow’s Kitchener-Waterloo provincial byelection. But I’m not sure anybody anticipated she’d have a sixteen-point lead over all comers – and the stunning result should offer reason to doubt that vilifying workers (as the McGuinty Libs have done with teachers) is a remotely popular position when there’s a credible alternative on the ballot.

- It takes some effort for anti-environment minister Peter Kent to do worse than his party has done in

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