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Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- James Bloodworth discusses the most important challenge facing Ed Miliband and Labour in the UK – which largely matches the task for progressives around the globe: People have never put all that much stock in politicians of course, and the expenses scandal did a great deal to erode trust further. But to some extent voter apathy (not the ‘frauds and liars’ sort, but the more common sort of fatalism) might also be blamed on the limits within which today’s managerial politicians operate: voters are only too aware that there is only so (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Frances Russell rightly asks whose freedom is supposed to be protected by free trade agreements such as CETA: Once Canada signs CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with Europe, federal, provincial and municipal governments will suddenly find their hands and feet tied. Suddenly, they will experience real push-back from foreign multinationals should they try to use their historic right to maintain civic, provincial and national autonomy in governmental decision making.

Simultaneously, Canada’s sub-national governments will suddenly discover they have lost the ability to protect the environment, create well-paying, long-term jobs and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the tendency of both the Saskatchewan Party and the federal Cons to pretend a problem doesn’t exist for years on end, then suddenly proclaim there’s no time to do anything other than force through the most regressive “solution” possible.

In shorter terms, the Shock Doctrine has evolved into the Schmuck Doctrine. And we shouldn’t be accepting a government’s own incompetence as reason to accept its rushed decisions.

For further reading…- CBC reports on the Sask Party’s sudden hurry to lock the province into P3 school construction contracts. And the NDP caucus responds to the announcement.- (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your day.

- Bloomberg reminds us of the nest egg Norway has built up by taking ownership of its own natural resources (and the consensus among conservative parties and business groups in favour of social spending is also worth highlighting). And Canadians for Tax Fairness point out the growing global movement calling for tax justice as part of a more fair distribution of wealth.

- But sadly, Jimmy Gutman notes that Saskatchewan is following a rather different path – with piracy taking the place of stewardship.

- And our local regressives certainly have their peers elsewhere (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: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Thomas Walkom sees Stephen Harper’s approval of dove hunting as an ideal metaphor for the gratuitous violence of his government: The wildlife service also estimates that new hunting rules will result in about 18,000 Ontario doves being shot each year. But, say hunt aficionadas, so what? There are plenty more.

As the Conservatives would tell you: This is our world. Other species are born into it at their own risk.

To Canada’s governing party, killing doves is a metaphor for sound thinking, fiscal sobriety and doughnut-shop values. It is where the Harperites want (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb and Jordan Himelfarb comment on Canada’s dangerously distorted conversation about public revenue and the purposes it can serve: As we argue in our new book, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word, the Canadian tax conversation has become dangerously distorted. Any reasonable discussion of taxes must take into account the highly valued public services they buy. But in Canada, and throughout much of the Anglosphere, these inextricably linked concepts — taxes and public services — have somehow become divorced. We now live in an environment in which the first question we (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jordon Cooper writes about the need to understand poverty in order to discuss and address it as a matter of public policy.

- John Greenwood reports on Cameco’s tax evasion which is being rightly challenged by the CRA – though it’s worth emphasizing that the corporate income tax at stake would figure to include hundreds of millions of dollars at the provincial level. And CBC does an undercover investigation of the types of tax evasion schemes available for a price.

- Speaking of shady practices, a witness before the Charbonneau commission has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The CP reports on Suzanne Legault’s much-needed warning about the Cons’ secrecy in government: In a closed-door session with dozens of bureaucrats Thursday, Suzanne Legault cited a series of novel measures she says are damaging an already tottering system.

“I am seeing signs of a system in crisis, where departments are unable to fulfil even their most basic obligations under the act,” Legault told the group.

As an example, she cited a directive in April this year from the Treasury Board warning bureaucrats to steer clear of ministers’ offices when looking for documents (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on Brad Wall’s choice to bring the Southern Strategy north with a dog-whistle appeal to prejudice against First Nations.

For further reading…- Rick Perlstein puts the Southern Strategy (and Lee Atwater’s description of it) in context here.  – The Saskatchewan Party ad in question is here.- The NDP’s 2011 platform costing is here (PDF), featuring significant investments in housing, health care, child care, full-day kindergarten, tuition relief and other social causes. For those keeping score: total mentions of the beneficiaries of those proposed policies in the Sask Party’s 30-second attack ad, zero; total mentions of (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…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Climate Change According to Sask Party Government

This government page will almost certainly disappear at some point on the original website, so here is a backup:

Climate change is a long term shift in weather patterns. Since the industrial age the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere. These types of emissions are also known as greenhouse gases (GHGs) and they contribute to increasing global temperatures.

Our province’s greenhouse gas emissions were 72.7 million tonnes in 2011 according to Environment Canada. Saskatchewan’s Climate Change Plan is designed to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions by setting annual (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Canadian Labour Congress calls out Jim Flaherty for stalling on his promise to work on boosting the Canada Pension Plan. Meanwhile, in attempting to keep profits flowing to the financial sector, several Fraser Institute drones find that increased CPP contributions…substantially increase the total amount saved for retirement by the middle class notwithstanding any substitutional effects. (Which leaves them stammering “ummm…choice!” “er….markets!” “aaah….FREEDOM!” in a desperate attempt to pretend workers are somehow better off with less of a secure public pension.)

- Alison is (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: All Eggheads In One Laundry Basket #skpoli

The Sask Party is putting all of the province’s health related laundry into one laundry basket, in Regina. If you don’t know Saskatchewan geography, this borders on insanity. We’re going to be trucking bed sheets 1000km round trip in some cases. Besides costing jobs for the existing employees, a single laundry plant failure in the future will impact every hospital in the province. “A structural failure in 2011 at the Saskatoon laundry plant caused its closure.”

Maybe it would surprise the Sask. government that there are hospitals outside of Regina and Saskatoon, yet still in Sask.?

If there’s (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Coal Hard Truth #skpoli

“We depend too much on coal” — @MayorMandel #p2syyc; glad someone said that too— Chris Turner (@theturner) May 29, 2013

.@MMandryk IEA says we have ~3 years left (worldwide) to stop building coal power to avoid 450ppm. SaskParty renewables investment is poor.— Saskboy K. (@saskboy) May 29, 2013

The Leader-Post may be giving kudos to the Sask Party’s singular focus on Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), but I won’t be. The primary reason CCS (clean coal) is getting so much Conservative and Sask Party government funding, is because it’s a hidden subsidy to the oil (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Duncan Cameron is the latest to weigh in on the Cons’ distorted sense of priorities in directing public research money toward private profits: Publicly available research is important. Since no one knows where discoveries or advances in knowledge will lead, the entire scientific community needs access to new research. There is no other way to maximize potential societal benefits. Learning is cumulative, innovative thinking flows from research building on public research.

Now with the privatization of research findings, discoveries and knowledge become industrial secrets, unavailable to Canadians who have paid for it, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On private policy

Last month, I wrote about the Sask Party’s choice to redefine “privacy” to apply to corporations under Saskatchewan’s securities legislation: Until now, privacy has been recognized under Canadian law as being an individual right. As Justice La Forest wrote, “An expression of an individual’s unique personality or personhood, privacy is grounded on physical and moral autonomy – the freedom to engage in one’s own thoughts, actions and decisions…” These core concepts – an individual’s unique personality, physical and moral autonomy, and freedom related to personal thoughts and actions – have no place whatsoever in discussing corporate interests.…(A) redefinition (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan makes the case as to why wealth equates to far too much power in Canada: The problem is not that the wealthy are too powerful. The problem is that, with rare exception, as their power has increased, it has not been matched by an increase in their sense of responsibility. On the contrary, the wealthy have been using their power for decades to reduce their responsibilities to anyone but themselves.

The litany, en bref: Taxes are too high. Governments are too big. There are too many rules. Workers feel way too (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On implausible assumptions

I’ve made the case questioning gratuitous privatization of SLGA’s liquor sales (as well as a controlling stake in ISC) based on the actual profit levels associated with real Crowns. So what kind of contrary argument is there for pushing privatization rather than public investment? Let’s ask the Leader-Post’s editorial board: (M)ore private liquor stores means less profits for SLGA to give to government. It’s (sic) familiar argument, but not universally accepted: critics say this ignores the income taxes private firms and their employees pay, and the taxes generated by the construction of new stores.

Now, the apparent critics (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Distinction without a difference

Erin is right to question Doug Elliott’s attempt to split hairs between a “slowdown” and a “deceleration”. But Elliott’s parsing ranks a distant second behind Russ Marchuk in the field of evasive dissembling.

Shorter Marchuk: It’s outrageous that anybody would suggest we’re imposing a disastrous policy like universal standardized testing on students. Instead, our policy is one of (flips through thesaurus) unified province-wide (flipflipflip) regular (flipflip) assessments for individual pupils. Which I’m sure you can see is something totally different.

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Sadly (if perhaps unsurprisingly), the Trudeau Libs’ vote with the Harper Cons against civil rights has received relatively little notice compared to the two parties’ attack ad posturing. But there’s still plenty worth reading on the subject – including another post from pogge, a discussion led by David Ball, and Michael Harris’ assessment as to the likely targets of Con-fueled hysteria in the years to come: (W)ith S-7 the law of the land, some dark possibilities present themselves in this country.

The federal government already has established five Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On regressive choices

Yesterday, I offered a quick, off-the-cuff response to the Sask Party’s decision to restrict municipalities in applying property taxes to commercial and industrial land. But let’s look in a bit more detail at the warped economic theory Jim Reiter is spouting in defence of the move: “A very, very small minority of municipalities have been using mill rate factors to, in my view, excessively charge commercial and industrial properties,” Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter told reporters at the legislature this week.… 

He noted that in some cases, such as with a pipeline, it would not be possible for a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Andrew Simms and Stephen Reid note that the corporatist dogma that everything is done more efficiently in the private sector has no apparent basis in reality: The myth of private sector superiority says that the private sector is efficient and dynamic, the public sector wasteful and slow; that the more we can get the private sector to run things the better. That the head of a massive public enterprise like the Olympics can so blithely discount what underpins it demonstrates its reach. In fact, while billboard adverts said we had commercial sponsors (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On selective equity

Boy, it’s reassuring to see the Sask Party lamenting the unfairness of a 15-fold difference in treatment between groups of landowners.

I’m sure they’ll be getting to Saskatchewan’s contribution to the 235-fold difference in salary between CEOs and the rest of us any day now.

Accidental Deliberations: On giveaways

CBC reports some of the numbers surrounding the Wall government’s planned giveaway of the majority of Saskatchewan’s Information Service Corporation. But let’s take a closer look at exactly what Wall intends to do – and what the province is losing in the process.

Let’s make the generous assumption that a share sale will result in the higher valuation mooted by Don McMorris. Conveniently, that would mean that a 60% share of ISC would cost $120 million – establishing a nice, round $200 million valuation for ISC as a whole.

At the moment, the roughly $20 million in annual profits would (Read more…) that Saskatchewan’s citizens are getting a 10% return on our ownership of ISC. Which, needless to say, represents an absolutely stellar return on capital compared to any evaluation of borrowing costs or normal rates of profit – something to be preserved, not to be discarded at the first . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On giveaways