Saturday, August 22, 2015


Stephen Harper plays chess:
Sources say Conservative planners did factor in testimony by Wright and Harper’s former legal counsel Perrin.
Once the testimony was over, they calculated, the sting would fade, and those voters who were inclined to believe Harper’s version would continue to do so. Those who never believed him would never vote for him anyway.
Just one problem with his strategy:
The vast majority of Canadians do not believe Stephen Harper is telling the truth about the Mike Duffy Senate expenses scandal, a new poll has found.

Some 56 per cent of respondents do not think Harper has come clean about a controversy that is dominating news coverage in the federal election campaign, according to the Forum Research survey.
Only 22 per cent said the Conservative leader has told the truth about his role in the Duffy affair, while 22 per cent don’t know.
So the Cons' entire campaign plan was based on pursuing a pool of voters inclined to believe him regardless of what came out in the Duffy trial. And that pool now consists of...22 per cent of Canadians.

We can only hope the Cons were right in figuring that "(t)hose who never believed him would never vote for him anyway".

On guiding influences

Adam Radwanski points out in his latest column that several weeks into the election campaign, it's hard to see what message might be used against Tom Mulcair and the NDP to any meaningful effect. But let's note that the factors working in the NDP's favour - and the challenges for the competing parties - are even stronger than Radwanski's column might suggest.

For example, for all the talk of a polarized electorate when it comes to policy, all indications are that Mulcair has a huge advantage over his competitors over a range of issues.

On every single one of the 15 issues polled by Abacus, Tom Mulcair's judgment is seen as at least more acceptable than that of Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. And more voters see him as more likely to make good decisions than both of his opponents on 9 of those issues, including the budget, tax levels, ethics and the manufacturing sector. So on policy, the theme is that the NDP is stronger both in terms of core support and broad acceptability.

How about potential party growth? The NDP's voter universe and combined first/second-choice support each extend to well over half of the voting public, offering significantly more plausible target voters than any of the other parties can claim.

And the NDP's positioning at the top of the party standings leaves the Libs with no hope of using their typical strategic voting appeals to any substantial effect.

Mulcair's approval then represents just one more element of the same picture. He enjoys higher positives and lower negatives than either or any of his opponents, and there's no significant previously-established line of messaging for the Cons or Libs to draw on in trying to take him down at this point.

Of course, there was one trap set for Mulcair from the moment he won the leadership. But as I noted then, the "Angry Tom" theme was always one which could be avoided easily through plans which Mulcair was likely to pursue anyway. And he's has indeed managed to make his opponents look foolish for continuing to harp on what's at best an obsolete concept.

With all that in mind, the largest problem for the other parties is this: while the NDP enjoys a slight lead in voter support, it has even larger advantages in the other factors which tend to shift voter support during an election campaign. And while we should always allow for the unexpected (and should never take for granted the amount of work the NDP has to do to build on where it stands now), it's hard to see who can overcome those advantages before election day absent some major external events.

On twisted outcomes

At the moment, plenty of Canadians are looking forward to waking up on October 20 and finding that Stephen Harper's Conservatives have lost the election, to be replaced by a government determined by the MPs elected by voters. And we should certainly be hoping for, and working toward, that outcome.

But imagine if the electoral process worked differently, potentially rendering all of our efforts useless.

Imagine if the Conservatives could dictate that incumbents would keep their seats unless they were defeated by some amount which was never stated in advance. Stephen Harper could then retroactively set the required opposition margin of victory in just the right place to nullify any desire for change even while his candidates were defeated by competitors in a majority of seats based on raw vote totals.

What's more, imagine if the Conservatives could determine after the fact that there hadn't been a clear ballot question, so nothing would be permitted to change regardless of how the vote turned out.

I trust we can see how asinine and undemocratic that system would be when it comes to voting for a government. Which raises the question: why do the Libs insist on defending it, and indeed attacking the NDP for proposing an alternate model, when it comes to a possible future vote on sovereignty?

As others have pointed out, the real question we might face in the event of a future referendum is what it means to negotiate if a vote meets a threshold to trigger negotiations. But there's nothing to be gained (other than entirely-justified resentment) by playing silly bugger in determining what threshold will apply in bringing the federal government to the table.

It's utterly counterproductive to declare in advance that a major vote will be subject to Calvinball rules - that nobody except the people currently in office will have any say in determining what, if anything, the vote means, and that they'll be under no obligation even to hint at what standards might be decisive until after they know how they want to spin the results.

We wouldn't want Stephen Harper to be able to change election rules and standards after the fact to nullify our votes. And based on that recognition, we shouldn't pretend that model is acceptable in a referendum either.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson discusses how increased development of the oil sands fits into Canada's economic future - and how it's foolhardy to assume that one necessarily equates to the other:
A new and effective global climate agreement to avoid hitting the 2 degree increase would mandate a large, phased in shift away from carbon fuels through greater energy efficiency, and a major transition to renewable sources of energy. But there would still be a role for carbon fuels in the transition.

Here in Canada, a 2009 study (funded by the TD bank) by Mark Jaccard and Associates for the Pembina Institute modelled the economic and emissions impacts of a comprehensive set of policies as part of a global effort to avoid the catastrophic two degree temperature rise. The package included putting a high and rising price on carbon, tough energy efficiency regulations for buildings and cars, and major public investments in transit and in the electricity grid so as to transition away from power generation from coal and natural gas.

The key finding of the study was that there would be no overall impact on job growth or the overall economic welfare of Canadians. While growth would be slightly lower in Alberta than under a business as usual scenario due to a reduction in the rate of growth of the oil and gas industry, petroleum extraction output would actually continue to grow before tapering off.
The truly “crazy economic policy” for Canada would be to double down on fossil fuel led development at a time when the world is finally starting to take seriously the need to deal with climate change, and at a time when the downside of our over reliance on crude resource extraction  is becoming ever more apparent.

There is a role for the oil and gas industry in Canada's economic future. But a comprehensive plan for environmentally sustainable development must give priority to the needed transition to a post carbon world.
- Adnan Al-Daini explains how Jeremy Corbyn's campaign offers a full social democratic response to failed laissez-faire dogma. And Matt Kieltyka reports on the success of one aspect of an effort to ensure broader prosperity through public policy, as New Westminster's living wage plan has managed to raise wages for city workers and contractors with virtually no difficulty.

- Marvin Ross laments how the symptoms of mental health problems all too often result in people getting dealt with as a matter of criminality rather than health.

- Brian Kelcey rightly slams the Cons' regulation-slashing gimmicks which figure to endanger the public without doing anything to help responsible businesses.

- Finally, Lana Payne discusses how the Cons' lies are piling up over the course of the federal election campaign, while Robert Benzie highlights the fact that even a substantial portion of the Cons' voting base isn't buying Stephen Harper's spin. And Susan Delacourt rightly notes that the obligation to testify under oath at Mike Duffy's trial has forced Harper's staffers to give accurate answers where they never did before - though one can hardly blame Parliament as a whole for Harper's refusal to either be responsible for his office or tell the truth when questioned.

On incomplete assessments

Yes, there's plenty of reason to be outraged by the fact that the National Energy Board is delaying its review of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion - and perhaps setting the review back significantly - so a lobbyist for the project can take over as a board member.

But it's worth noting that the delay itself could have some extremely dangerous effects:
Bill C-38 imposes new time limits on some federal environmental assessments. Assessments conducted by independent panels must be completed within two years and, by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, one year. As well, the National Energy Board’s review of pipeline projects must be completed within 15 months – including an environmental assessment, if one is required
That's right: the Harper Cons' choice of an oil lobbyist to regulate oil developments won't just put a thumb on the scale for future assessments, but could also directly limit what evidence can be provided in existing assessments. And depending on the length of the delay, the result could be to run out the clock on any meaningful review at all.

Of course, the panel dealing with the Trans-Mountain application can't be entirely faulted for addressing a difficult choice between impartiality and thoroughness. But the fact that the Cons are once again doing their best to limit both should remind us why we need a more credible government to oversee Canada's future development.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Musical interlude

Esthero - That Girl

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Ian Welsh rightly points out how our lives are shaped by social facts far beyond individual's control:
If you are homeless in America, know that there are five times as many empty homes as there are homeless people.

If you are homeless in Europe, know that there are two times as many empty homes are there are homeless.

If you are hungry anywhere in the world, know that the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone, and that the amount of food we discard as trash is, alone, more than enough to feed everyone who is hungry today.

It is very difficult to argue that the current refugee crises are anything but social facts: War and famine are social facts, straight up.
If you don’t have a job, well, that comes down to how many jobs there are. If your job is shitty, it has less to do with you than the time and place in which you live: 40 years ago, the largest employers in the US were car companies, who paid much better than the largest employer today: Walmart.

Even most environmental facts are social facts. Climate change, the collapse of ocean stocks, the terrible pollution in China: These are all a result of human action.
We can remain victims of social facts, including our dominant technology, or we can decide that social facts are choices and make choices.

This is becoming more possible, not less, because of the rise of global culture. I’ll discuss this later. But for now, remember, while biology determines we all die, society generally determines how and when. 
- And Gordon Cleveland discusses the ethics and economics of affordable child care for everybody as one social fact that's within our control to improve.

- Paul Barber writes that both Stephen Harper and Kathleen Wynne are playing with fire by spending the federal election campaign needlessly attacking leaders at other levels of government. That said, I'm pretty sure the NDP isn't complaining to the extent those attacks are aimed at Harper and Wynne themselves, building even more public fatigue with two dubious figures while allowing Tom Mulcair to stand out as the reasonable adult in the room.

- Dan Leger notes that a campaign built on leadership is turning into a disaster for an increasingly-distrusted Harper. And Warren Bell highlights the effect of the Duffy Senate payoff on a Con base which has less and less reason to care about keeping a discredited leader in power.

- Scott Reid comments on the foolishness of deliberately lying to the public as the Harper PMO did in covering up the Duffy payoff - even as a matter of strategy if not of ethics. But Michael Harris writes that the Cons' standard practice is to replace one debunked lie with another. The Star is stunned by the surreal spin from the Cons. Aaron Wherry points out that the Senate scandal can be traced all the way back to the long-questioned entitlement of Duffy and others to be appointed from provinces where they didn't live. And finally, the Globe and Mail sees it as largely reflecting the increasing unaccountable power of the PMO which dates back past Harper's time in office.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New column day

Here, summarizing these posts on the dangers of setting up past advocacy as a barrier to a place in public life.

For further reading...
- Again, Sean Fine's report on the Cons' general ideological screening for judges is here
- Glenn Kauth reports on Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin's lack of concern about Justice Russell Brown's past comments.
- Rachel Aiello reports on how political parties vet candidates through their social media histories, while John Baglow follows up on the NDP's vetting policy. And Jamie Weinman argues that we should expect more than to play "gotcha" with candidates' past tweets. 
- And finally, John Selmey offers an appropriate reaction to the quotes the Cons have seen fit to highlight in their attacks on the NDP:
The Meet the NDP website is a hilarious example of party miscalculation. In its attempt to smear the New Democrats, the Conservatives only end up bolstering their support among certain demographics. Many of the would-be embarrassing quotes come across (to my eyes, at least) as self-evident and even insightful. Friends of mine have been sharing the link on the Internet as a way of saying, “Look at all the cool stuff these NDP MPs have said!”

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alex Munter discusses the connection between public health and economic development, along with the need to take a far longer-term view of both. And PressProgress points out Matthew Stanbrook's message (PDF) that the Cons are undermining Canada's medical system through malign neglect.

- Doreen Nichol comments on the relationship between low-wage, precarious work and food insecurity. Michal Rozworski points out how the NDP's plan for a $15 federal minimum wage will have an impact far beyond the people who receive that wage directly, while James Armstrong reports that there's serious reason to question whether the Libs' apparent counteroffer to workers (limited to the ability to request flexible schedules) would help anything at all.

- Andrew Coyne notes in order to consider Stephen Harper's continued spin on the Mike Duffy payoff to be true, one would have to conclude that his staff was systematically lying to him at every opportunity. And Jeffrey Simpson examines just a few of the laughable claims being made by the Cons.

- Christopher Waddell sees the Cons' defining "lying piece of shit" moment as the natural outcome of the stage-management of events to overpower reporters and their questions. And Aaron Wherry raises the question of whether we'd be better served as an electorate if our campaigns were less scripted.

- Finally, George Monbiot takes Labour's leadership race as an opportunity to discuss why progressive parties and candidates need to articulate and defend their own values rather than reinforcing opposing viewpoints:
Across three decades New Labour strategists have overlooked a crucial reality: politicians reinforce the values they espouse. The harder you try to win by adopting your opponents’ values, the more you legitimise and promote them, making your task – and that of your successors – more difficult. Tony Blair won three elections, but in doing so he made future Labour victories less likely. By adopting conservative values, conservative framing and conservative language, he shifted the nation to the right, even when he pursued leftwing policies such as the minimum wage, tax credits and freedom of information. You can sustain policies without values for a while but then, like plants without soil, the movement wilts and dies.
Rebuilding a political movement means espousing what is desirable, then finding ways to make it feasible. The hopeless realists propose the opposite. They assemble a threadbare list of policies they consider feasible, then seek to persuade us that this package is desirable. If they retain core values, they’ve become so muddled by tacking and triangulation as to be almost indecipherable.

So great has the damage been to a party lost for 21 years in Blair’s Bermuda triangulation that it might take many years until it becomes electable again. That is a frightening prospect, but the longer Labour keeps repeating the same mistakes – reinforcing the values it should be contesting – the further to the right it will push the nation, and the more remote its chances of election will become.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Philip Berger and Lisa Simon discuss the health and social benefits of a guaranteed annual income:
At the community level, poverty also has deep and lasting impacts — some visible, some not. We've seen these visible impacts in Simcoe County Ontario, where one of us works. One in four single-parent families experience moderate or severe food insecurity at some point every year. A family of four receiving Ontario Works would have to spend 93% of their monthly after-tax income on rent and nutritious food alone, leaving little remaining for all other necessary expenses.

We see the population health impacts too, where those living in the fifth of neighbourhoods with the lowest income had a death rate from preventable causes more than 50% higher than those living in the fifth of neighbourhoods with the highest income. Self-rated mental and physical health were also significantly worse among those living in the low-income neighbourhoods.

None of this is surprising, given the strong impact that income has on health at all ages, demonstrated over decades of research. For example, it has come to be understood that the experience of poverty in early childhood can lead to what is termed "toxic stress", with profound implications for physical and mental health from childhood to adulthood.
In addition to providing an effective policy response to poverty and inequality, a basic income guarantee would be a key societal support in the face of rising precarious employment in Canada. Given the trend towards fewer opportunities for secure, permanent jobs providing living wages and benefits, a basic income guarantee could help to buffer the effects of precarious employment by protecting people from slipping into poverty during challenging times.
- Meanwhile, Bryce Covert discusses how citizens can get trapped in neighbourhoods facing concentrated poverty - and how we all stand to gain from avoiding that type of concentration.And Emily Badger contrasts the depth and concentration of poverty by race.

- The Star calls for a crackdown on temp agencies who serve to eliminate stable jobs in favour of precarious ones.

- Zoe Williams argues that Jeremy Corbyn is offering a needed antidote to austerian politics.

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg reminds us about Stephen Harper's broken promises surrounding the Senate, while Paul McLeod and Emma Loop expose his plan to take complete control of the supposedly-independent upper chamber. And James Sprague points out that Harper's long campaign may result in his losing the parliamentary privilege which would otherwise shield him from being required to testify in the Mike Duffy trial.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On trust issues

Susan Delacourt's take on what we should expect to see happen if there's a minority Parliament following this fall's election covers most of the bases. But it's worth expanding on one point:
It’s true that Harper, by constitutional convention, would have first shot at forming a government if the Conservatives win the largest number of seats. But there’s a hurdle Harper has to leap first: he has to win a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.

Try as I might, I can’t imagine how that would happen.
The extra-long campaign was clearly designed to drain the bank accounts of the opposition parties, making them reluctant to kick off another campaign immediately after this one. But that reality also could create a powerful incentive for them to work together — to deny Harper a confidence vote and make the case to the Governor General for a coalition or an accord instead of another election.
Delacourt rightly recognizes that the Cons' attempt to bleed the other parties dry represents a reason for them to cooperate with each other rather than leaving any ambiguity as to how stable the parliamentary arrangements will be. (And that applies no matter how desperately Justin Trudeau claims that the option isn't on the table.)

But it's worth noting that it also represents a reason not to cooperate with the Cons, even to the extent of letting a throne speech pass.

After all, we know from 2008 that Stephen Harper is perfectly willing to call or demand a second election in short order if it suits his political purposes. And if part of his plan is to catch the other parties without sufficient resources to run another campaign, then it would be outright folly to leave him with the ability to pull the plug and call an election at any time - an option which would be available to him if he gets a single vote of confidence.

In contrast, for all the questions about policy gaps between the NDP and the Libs, both parties could surely agree on the need not to hold another election immediately. And even if there were no other basis for cooperation, that factor alone might be the tie-breaker in determining whether Harper is left at the controls.

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Media centre cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- John Thornhill talks to Mariana Mazzucato about the importance of public investment in fostering economic growth - along with the need for the public to benefit as a result:
As Mazzucato explains it, the traditional way of framing the debate about wealth creation is to picture the private sector as a magnificent lion caged by the public sector. Remove the bars, and the lion roams and roars. In fact, she argues, private sector companies are rarely lions; far more often they are kittens. Managers tend to be more concerned with cutting costs, buying back their shares and maximising their share prices (and stock options) than they are in investing in research and development and boosting long-term growth.

“As soon as I started looking at these issues, I started realising how much language matters. If you just talk about the state as a facilitator, as a de-risker, as an incentiviser, as a fixer of market failures, it ends up structuring what you do,” she says. But the state plays a far more creative role, she insists, in terms of declaring grand missions (the US ambition to go to the moon, or the German goal of creating nuclear-free energy), and investing in the early-stage development of many industries, including semiconductors, the internet and fracking. “You always require the state to roar.”
There is a similar challenge with green technologies: how to create “systems of innovation” that provide a clear, publicly mandated direction and incentivise private-sector companies to jump on board. Mazzucato believes that Steve Jobs’ famous injunction to budding entrepreneurs — “Stay hungry, stay foolish” — should apply to the public sector, too. Why is failure worn as a badge of honour in Silicon Valley but viewed as a source of shame in government?

“We are living in a depressing era in which we no longer have courage. We no longer think governments should have missions. But the market never chooses anything. IT wasn’t chosen by the market. Biotech wasn’t chosen by the market. Nanotech wasn’t chosen by the market. So why should green technology be chosen by the market? It comes back to the austerity craziness that we’re in today where governments are not allowed to dream; and green is a dream.”
- Monia Mazigh slams Stephen Harper for his tiresome fearmongering. And Doug Saunders writes that governments more thoughtful than the Cons are realizing that the main risk lies in people looking for a set of beliefs as an excuse to put destructive tendencies into action - not in people who hold a particular set of beliefs to begin with.

- Amy Dempsey reports on the John Howard Society's findings as to how Ontario's justice system is doing nothing but harm by looking to punish people for mental health problems. And Bill Graveland reports on Kathleen Ganley's recognition that access to justice generally is a serious problem in Alberta (as it is elsewhere).

- Finally, Andre Picard argues that a strong civil service is necessary to building a healthy society. And Ryan Meili offers his take on what we've lost as a result of a decade of the Cons' government by wilful ignorance:
(I)n order to guide policy in ways that will improve our lives the most –that improvement being best measured by improvements in our health and wellbeing – we need to understand what is happening in a wide variety of fields. We need to be gathering new data, interpreting that information, and communicating its implications to decision-makers and the public.

In the last ten years decisions have instead been made to keep Canadians ignorant of the reality of our circumstances. The most obvious and egregious of these has been the cancellation of the long-form census, which has left a glaring gap in our ability to collect the data needed to make smart decisions. Even if a future government should reinstate a proper census, there has already been an irreplaceable loss of essential knowledge.

Dozens of agencies that interpret data and perform original research have been eliminated or deeply cut. These have been in varied fields, including women’s health, Aboriginal health, environmental surveillance and many more, prompting protests from the typically politically reticent scientific community, including the grim Death of Evidence funeral march on parliament, and the birth of organizations like Evidence for Democracy dedicated to highlighting how important scientific information is if citizens are to make well-informed decisions.
Along with the decrease in information being gathered or analyzed have come deliberate barriers to communicating what we do know. From muzzling of government scientists to deep cuts to the CBC, the story of science and knowledge is being increasingly silenced. The strategy is simple, and sinister: if there is no data, there is no way to be held accountable. If people don’t see the way in which decisions being made are worsening the quality of their lives, they can be convinced to continue to vote in favour of policies that hurt them.

The war on knowledge is a war on the health of Canadians. We need a government that will embrace the information age and use evidence to improve our lives. We need a government that has the health of Canadians as its greatest priority. Ten years in, it’s clear that that government is not Stephen Harper’s.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On campaign divisions

If it wasn't obvious already, the last decade of resource politics in Canada should offer us a reminder that the immediate development of resources without meaningful consideration of externalities and risks is all too often a default position.

But if there's anything that can shatter the consensus of developing resources based on the bare hope that people will benefit as a result, it's a sufficiently laughable attempt to push it past what people can reasonably accept - particularly by explicitly prioritizing the resources themselves over the people who are supposed to support their development.

Which is to say: thank you, Craig Chandler, for reminding us just how selfish and antisocial the mindset behind unfettered tar sands development really is. And the more voters recognize that Chandler is merely saying what the Harper Cons actually believe, the better the chances we'll end up with a strong NDP government able to ensure that Canada's natural resources serve the public rather than the other way around.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Martha Friendly examines what a "national child care program" actually means. And Jim Stanford makes a compelling economic case as to why Canada needs one:
In the case of early childhood education, however, this standard claim of government “poverty” is exactly backwards.  Because there is overwhelming and credible economic evidence that investing in universal ECE programs is actually a money-maker for governments.  In this case, the argument is truly not whether government can afford to provide universal quality care.  In reality, especially at a moment in history when economists worry about long-run fiscal capacity and future labour supply, it is clear that governments cannot afford to ignore any longer this pressing economic and social priority.

The economic benefits of a universal public child care program can be grouped into four broad categories:
  1. Positive impact on women’s labour force participation and employment.
  2. Direct and indirect job-creation associated with the provision of child care services.
  3. Improvements in household and family financial well-being.
  4. Superior child development, resulting in better health, employment, income, and community outcomes in future years.
Various economists have considered each of these classes of economic benefits, and attempted to measure the positive employment, income, and GDP effects generated through all of these channels.  Their combined effect makes it undeniable that providing quality, accessible child care services leaves the economy, society, and government in better shape.
- Christopher Hume comments on the loss of ability to act in the public interest when governments privatize public assets and operations. And Michael Geist weighs in on the enormous concessions the Cons made in an unsuccessful attempt to foist the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Canada before the election campaign began.

- Warren Bell worries about Stephen Harper's dystopian vision for our country, while Michael Harris points out that Harper doesn't have much to pitch to supporters other than to ask them to suspend their disbelief. And Linda Solomon Wood and Jenny Uechl report on secret hearings being held in response to revelations about coordinated interference with environmental groups. 

- Paul Willcocks argues that campaign coverage should better inform voters about the big picture behind their electoral choices, rather than being limited to repeating lines from scripted political theatre. And Kalina Laframboise reports on one effort by Concordia students to get young voters to the polls.

- Finally, Crawford Kilian takes note of the rise of left populism around the world, and argues that Canada's progressive parties would do well to adopt that theme rather than apologizing for inequality and corporate control.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Scott Clark and Peter De Vries discuss the need for a Canadian economic plan which involves investment in the long term rather than politically-oriented payoffs only within a single election cycle. And Joseph Stiglitz points out the obvious need for a global system of investment and financial regulation which better puts existing resources to work:
(D)eveloping countries and emerging markets have demonstrated their ability to absorb huge amounts of money productively. Indeed, the tasks that these countries are undertaking – investing in infrastructure (roads, electricity, ports, and much else), building cities that will one day be home to billions, and moving toward a green economy – are truly enormous.

At the same time, there is no shortage of money waiting to be put to productive use. Just a few years ago, Ben Bernanke, then the chairman of the US Federal Reserve Board, talked about a global savings glut. And yet investment projects with high social returns were being starved of funds. That remains true today. The problem, then as now, is that the world’s financial markets, meant to intermediate efficiently between savings and investment opportunities, instead misallocate capital and create risk. 
Private investment is important, too. But the new investment provisions embedded in the trade agreements that the Obama administration is negotiating across both oceans imply that accompanying any such foreign direct investment comes a marked reduction in governments’ abilities to regulate the environment, health, working conditions, and even the economy. 

The US stance concerning the most disputed part of the Addis Ababa conference was particularly disappointing. As developing countries and emerging markets open themselves to multinationals, it becomes increasingly important that they can tax these behemoths on the profits generated by the business that occurs within their borders. Apple, Google, and General Electric have demonstrated a genius for avoiding taxes that exceeds what they employed in creating innovative products. 

All countries – both developed and developing – have been losing billions of dollars in tax revenues. Last year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about Luxembourg’s tax rulings that exposed the scale of tax avoidance and evasion. While a rich country like the US arguably can afford the behavior described in the so-called Luxembourg Leaks, the poor cannot.
- Doug Cuthand argues that western Canada needs to start paying far more attention to how resource policy affects our climate among other issues of long-term sustainability.

- Justin Miller discusses the importance of a $15 minimum wage in a banking sector which has been slashing wages for ages - offering an analysis which applies similarly to the federal minimum wage in Canada. Lydia DePillis and Jim Tankersley point out that the $15 level (unlike increases at substantially lower levels) would have a ripple effect large enough to grow the middle class. And Julie Alderman refutes the latest Republican anti-labour talking point by documenting how unionized workplaces offer far more fair wages for women.

- The CP lists the people who were in the loop about Nigel Wright's payoff to Mike Duffy at the time Stephen Harper previously claimed only two people were involved, while CBC compares what Harper said before to what's being proven now. And Justin Ling, Karl Nerenberg, Tonda MacCharles and Bruce Campion-Smith, Althia Raj look in more detail at the role of the inner circle of the PMO. [Update: And Andrew Coyne notes that the Duffy payoff can be explained only by the desire of Harper and his handlers to avoid having an unbiased audit look into his other expenses.]

- Finally, Anna Mehler Paperny reports that a growing number of Canadians want to see change in this fall's election and are happy to see parties cooperate toward that end. And Kyle Duggan examines a high level of voter interest which bodes well for turnout this October.