Thursday, November 23, 2017

New column day

Here, on how the Saskatchewan Party's climate obstruction is entirely out of touch with the province's citizens.

For further reading...
- Abacus Data's national poll of attitudes toward climate change policy is here, with the separate chart pointing out the views of Saskatchewan and Alberta respondents looking to be particularly significant.
- And again, James Wilt has discussed the public's appetite to fight climate change here.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Karl Nerenberg writes about Bill Morneau's conflicts of interest - with particular attention to the NDP's justified criticism of legislation aimed at privatizing pension management to benefit forms like Morneau's. And Brent Patterson discusses a push back against the Manitoba PCs' plan to privatize public services through social impact bonds.

- Marc Lee comments on the need for investments in British Columbia's public transportation infrastructure.

- Donna Ferguson interviews Diane Reay about how the UK's education system is set up to perpetuate social status rather than to give working-class students a fair opportunity to succeed. 

- Anna Tims reports on the constantly-changing and unmanageable terms of work being imposed on workers in the gig economy. And Sara Mohtehedzadeh reports on the much-needed passage of improved employment standards in Ontario.

- Nathan Robinson writes that the left is winning the battle of ideas as U.S. conservatives in particular have stopped having anything constructive to say.

- And finally, Tammy Robert highlights the small number of big corporate donors who are exerting disproportionate control over the Saskatchewan Party's leadership campaign.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Larry Elliott interviews Joseph Stiglitz about the rise of Donald Trump and other demagogues in the wake of public anger over inequality and economic unfairness. And Stiglitz also joins a group of economists calling for an end to austerity in the UK.

- Phillip Mendonca-Vieira highlights how rent controls provide some needed stability for tenants who would otherwise face a constant risk of housing upheaval. Emily Mathieu and CBC News each report on some of the elements of the impending federal housing plan - though it looks to be noteworthy mostly for falling short of any intention to treat housing as a human right. And Kate Wilson writes about BCGEU's much more ambitious plan to ensure that housing is available and affordable in British Columbia. 

- Jessica Lindsay discusses the connection between poverty and mental health. And David Baxter reports on new research showing that over 24% of Saskatchewan's children are living in poverty.

- James Wilt writes about the widespread public support in Canada for strong action to rein in climate change. And Louise Dickson reports on Michael Byers' suggestion that the corporations who have profited by polluting our planet should be on the hook for the resulting costs.

- Finally, Richard Wood offers seven reasons to scrap the distorted results of first-past-the-post in favour of a proportional electoral system.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Corralled cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David Climenhaga writes that Canada needs a lot more of Jeremy Corbyn's critical analysis of an unfair economic system, and a lot less Justin Trudeau-style cheerleading for it. And Bill Curry reports on a new push to cut down on poverty at the national and provincial levels.

- Dave Kamper discusses how anti-union actors in the U.S. are focusing on draining organized labour of any ability to push for structural change. And Mindy Isser comments on the importance of deeper organizing to keep workers engaged while strengthening the union movement.

- David MacDonald, Cole Eisen and Chris Roberts study how private-sector defined benefit pension plans have been systematically underfunded, resulting in shareholders extracting deferred wages while endangering workers' pensions.

- Finally, Benjamin Fong writes that the excesses of capitalism are at the root of our climate crisis:
The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault.

As an increasing number of environmental groups are emphasizing, it’s systemic change or bust. From a political standpoint, something interesting has occurred here: Climate change has made anticapitalist struggle, for the first time in history, a non-class-based issue.
When a company makes a decision that is destructive to the environment, for instance, it is not because there are bad or unintelligent people in charge: Directors typically have a fiduciary responsibility that makes the bottom line their only priority. They serve a function, and if they don’t, others can take their place. If something goes wrong — which is to say, if something endangers profit making — they can serve as convenient scapegoats, but any stupid or dangerous decisions they make result from being personifications of capital.

The claim here is not that unintelligent people do not do unintelligent things, but rather that the overwhelming unintelligence involved in keeping the engines of production roaring when they are making the planet increasingly uninhabitable cannot be pinned on specific people. It is the system as a whole that is at issue, and every time we pick out bumbling morons to lament or fresh-faced geniuses to praise is a missed opportunity to see plainly the necessity of structural change.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- George Monbiot writes that the erosion of government for the public good stands to lead to an authoritarian state:
All that remain as widely shared, commonly accepted sources of national pride are our public services: the NHS, the BBC, the education system, social security, our great libraries and museums. But all have been gutted, disciplined and undermined by those who roundly assert their patriotism.

When the enabling state, providing robust public services and a strong social safety net, is allowed to wither, what remains is the authoritarian state, which must coerce and frighten. Consider the decline of neighbourhood policing – essential for preventing crime and gathering intelligence on everything from vandalism to planned terror attacks – and its replacement with ever more draconian laws.

As the enabling state shrinks, the flags must be unfurled, the national anthem played, schoolchildren taught their kings and queens, and more elaborate pieties offered to dead soldiers, because nothing else is left with which to hold us together. National pride becomes toxic, and is used as a weapon against anyone who seeks to express their love for the country by reforming it. The institutions charged with defending the national interest become its deadly enemies.
- Jonathon Rothwell examines the connection between sheltered industries and economic inequality. And Howard Gold discusses how the U.S. Republicans are looking to make matters far worse with a tax giveaway to the wealthy. 

- Meanwhile, Branko Milanovic makes clear that degrowth isn't an option to address global inequality.

- Nicholas Kristof highlights how moralistic public policy only tends to lead to exactly the social breakdown it's intended to prevent, while investments in public services allow people to make choices which better suit their needs.

- Finally, Umair Haque writes about the dopamine economy which leaves consumers constantly seeking instant gratification.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Brent Patterson discusses how the Libs are putting the hands of their already-dubious "infrastructure bank" in the hands of people with a track record of turning public services into private cash cows.

- David Suzuki takes note of another U.S. government climate report on the dangers of climate change. And the Guardian reports that Norges Bank - manager of Norway's trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund built initially on oil royalties - is recommending a move away from reliance on fossil fuel investments.

- But James Wilt writes that Canada is fighting its own evidence as to the effects of oil extraction, arguing that leaking tar sands tailings ponds don't exist even though its own studies confirm their contamination of drinking water.

- Warren Bell highlights how a proportional electoral system ensures balance between the views and interests of multiple political parties.

- The Star's editorial board argues that Canada's federal government should go beyond reversing the Harper Cons' targeted attacks on charities to clarify that issue advocacy is a valid function.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand discusses the racism behind Bronwyn Eyre's desire to segregate Indigenous people and stories in Saskatchewan's provincial curriculum, and her dishonesty in trying to create a basis for that position. And Cam Fuller serves up the non-apology to end all non-apologies - which sadly figures to be used as a template by the Saskatchewan Party in response to outrages to come.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Leadership 2018 Links

The latest from the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign - though it's noteworthy at the outset how little of the activity in the race is taking place in the public eye. (One key exception there is the policy front, where both candidates have been very active - and which I'll address in future posts.)

- I haven't focused much on endorsements so far due to the reality that both Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon figured to have ample support behind them. And I'll note that the start of the campaign has confirmed that expectation - with Meili unveiling endorsements from Cathy Sproule, Sheri Benson and Ron Fisher, and Wotherspoon enjoying the backing of Nicole Rancourt, Warren McCall, Carla Beck, Danielle Chartier, Buckley Belanger, Doyle Vermette and Lorne Scott.

- Chris Vandenbreekel reports on the candidates' time at the Saskatchewan Teachers' Association's member forum. And Alex MacPherson's weekly notebook series has offered a useful roundup of what's been happening in both the NDP and Saskatchewan Party leadership campaigns.

- Finally, Dennis Raphael argues that Meili's focus on a healthy society is reminiscent of Tommy Douglas' vision and leadership.

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Peter Goodman examines how a basic income could relieve against some of the most harmful effects of capitalist economics. And Sarah O'Connor discusses the plight of towns which have been left behind by economic change.

- Meanwhile, Matt Bruenig offers a reminder that most extreme high incomes are the result of capital ownership rather than labour.

- Alex Hemingway points out that a more progressive tax system is a key element of the fight against inequality. James Wilt looks into the use of tax havens by Canada's fossil fuel sector as yet another means by which public wealth has been hijacked for private profit. And Roberto Saviano notes that the techniques now used to withhold corporate wealth from public revenues were developed first to protect criminal enterprises:
The mechanisms are the same. Only the consulting firms involved and the islands where the news originated have changed. In the Paradise Papers there’s a bit of everything: from the legitimate—though ethically questionable—creation of offshore companies to lower tax liabilities to shell companies that could hide assets of a criminal origin.

Tax havens are where criminal capitalism and legal capitalism meet and merge. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. So is the fact that mafia organizations were the first to create and facilitate money-laundering mechanisms through tax havens.
I am convinced that the Panama and Paradise Papers represent only the tip of the iceberg and that we have no idea of the true shape or size of this problem. What has come to light in both the Panama and Paradise Papers leak proves that in tax havens, cocaine money, money from tax evasion, and legal money all live together, legitimizing one another.

Legal capitalism has learned from criminal capitalism that in the world of money, only rule-breakers survive. Drug traffickers were the pioneers of a free market model that has been slowly adopted by the legal economy.

Cocaine combined all of the pillars of contemporary capitalism: speed, globalization and economic power. Nowhere is this synthesis better in display than in offshore tax havens
- Gordon Hoekstra reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars in fines administered by the B.C. Securities Commission which have thus far gone unpaid, as fraudsters have been able to retain the fruits of their wrongdoing. 

- Finally, Jill Treanor reports on new research showing that the UK consumers who can least afford additional debt are disproportionately likely to have their credit limits increased without requesting it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Musical interlude

Blue Stone - Waters Flow

Friday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to end your week.

- Laurie MacFarlane points out how increases in land values have resulted in massive and unearned disparities in wealth.

- Kevin Page, Claudette Bradshaw, Geoff Nelson and Tim Aubrey write that a national housing strategy needs to focus on the availability of both affordable housing, and social supports to allow people to stay in it. And Charles Gauthier highlights the importance of viewing people in homeless shelters as neighbours rather than outsiders.

- Michael Plant and Peter Singer discuss the folly of failing to provide mental health supports which would substantially improve well-being at no net cost. And Jim Guy comments on the need for pharmacare to complete Canada's health care system.

- But Alex Matthews-King reports on a new study showing the connection between austerian governments and a disregard for human life, as upwards of 120,000 people may have died from the UK's cuts just since 2010. And Frances Ryan notes that austerity politics are designed to do the most damage to the people who can least afford it:
I can’t decide what’s worse. That for the best part of a decade, this government and its predecessor have brought in a relentless string of cuts, and lined up the most marginalised members of society to take the burden; or that they are doing so while deliberately failing to monitor the damage it’s causing.

Setting a fire and then walking away doesn’t mean no one is going to get burned. Nowadays, for some, the flames are increasingly hard to avoid. This week alone, academics released research establishing austerity can be linked to 120,000 extra deaths between 2010 and 2017, with cuts to the NHS and social care dubbed “economic murder”. Meanwhile, as more than 40,000 children prepare to be left with no money over Christmas because of the rollout of universal credit, the Trussell Trust estimates that food banks will need an extra 2,000 tonnes of food because of the hunger this will cause.

It’s little wonder ministers are doing all they can to avoid a chain of evidence linking what’s happening in this country to the policies they’re bringing in. The Conservatives may not want the public to know, but thanks to the EHRC, it is there in black and white: while the wealthy are being protected, seven years of austerity is inflicting gross hardship on Britain’s poorest.
- Finally, Thomas Walkom comments on the massive gap between the Libs' rhetoric and actions on climate change and human rights. And Jordan Press fact checks Justin Trudeau's false claims about his response to tax evasion.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Canadians for Tax Fairness discusses the appallingly small tax contributions made by Canada's largest companies, the vast majority of whom have foreign subsidiaries to avoid paying their fair share.

- Meanwhile, Robert de Vries and Aaron Reeves point out the unfortunate reality that far too many people are prepared to overlook how the wealthy manipulate our tax systems while holding people living in poverty to a spotless ethical standard.

- Martin Regg Cohn writes about the Ontario Libs' purely political choice to hand free money to businesses as the price of increasing the province's minimum wage.

- And Sara Mojtehedazeh reports on the Wynne Libs' decision to open the door to massive loopholes to allow employers to impose unpredictable scheduling on workers.

- Josh Gordon discusses the need for a property surtax in British Columbia to ensure both a modicum of tax fairness, and sufficient funding to provide public services.

- Finally, Tim Quigley asks whether Saskatchewan voters can reasonably trust a Wall government which has repeatedly broken its promises on Crown corporations - and rights argues that if not, then an immediate repeal of Bill 40 is in order to protect our Crowns. 

New column day

Here, on the Trudeau Libs' willingness to favour the concentration of money, power and privilege.

For further reading...
- Peter Zimonjic reported on the fallout from Bill Morneau's profit off of his own decisions as Finance Minister, while Kathleen Harris discussed his belated attempt to distance himself from his own choices. And in the example of appalling coverage discussed in the column, Donovan Vincent managed to allow Morneau to portray himself as Bruce Wayne while glossing over or outright ignoring the ethical lapses which have put him in the headlines.
- Harvey Cashore, Chelsea Gomez and Gillian Findlay reported on Stephen Bronfman's involvement in Cayman Islands tax sheltering, then followed up with both their own confirmation and the response from Bronfman and Trudeau.
- Finally, Peter Mazereeuw reports on the Libs' credibility gap in talking to the middle class while serving as a government of, by and for the privileged few. Justin Ling weighs in on Trudeau's immodesty - most recently in attempting to substitute his personal mandate letters for the Libs' election promises. And Andrew Coyne points out how even an effort at self-promotion is only highlighting the Libs' broken promises.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Dani Rodrik writes that politicians looking to provide an alternative to toxic populism will need to offer some other challenge to a system biased in favour of the wealthy and powerful:
(P)oliticians who want to steal the demagogues’ thunder have to tread a very narrow path. If fashioning such a path sounds difficult, it is indicative of the magnitude of the challenge these politicians face. Meeting it will likely require new faces and younger politicians, not tainted with the globalist, market fundamentalist views of their predecessors.

It will also require forthright acknowledgement that pursuing the national interest is what politicians are elected to do. And this implies a willingness to attack many of the establishment’s sacred cows – particularly the free rein given to financial institutions, the bias toward austerity policies, the jaundiced view of government’s role in the economy, the unhindered movement of capital around the world, and the fetishization of international trade.

To mainstream ears, the rhetoric of such leaders will often sound jarring and extreme. Yet wooing voters back from populist demagogues may require nothing less. These politicians must offer an inclusive, rather than nativist, conception of national identity, and their politics must remain squarely within liberal democratic norms. Everything else should be on the table.
- Meanwhile, Marco Chown Oved reports on the widespread use of tax havens by Canadian businesses - and the tens of billions of dollars lost to the public purse as a result.

- Reuters reports on Credit Suisse's finding that millenials are worse off than the generation before them. And Samantha Beattie reports on new research showing that nearly half of Ontario students have missed school due to anxiety.

- Alissa Tedesco, Katie Boone, Chetan Mehta and Jim Deutch argue that a fair basic income funded by progressive taxes would work wonders to alleviate the health and social consequences of poverty.

- Finally, Tzeporah Berman offers a reminder of the environmental devastation wrought by the extraction of Canada's tar sands.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Bagged cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Rupert Neate reports on a new Credit Suisse study showing that the 1% owns half of the world's wealth. And Heather Long notes that hundreds of U.S. millionaires are pushing not to have their taxes cut when it will only serve to exacerbate inequality.

- Mark Townsend reports on new research from the Lancet showing how excluded groups face massively increased mortality risks, while Chukwuma Muanya examines how the risk of heart attacks in particular is exacerbated by financial and work stress. Russell Jackson discusses the widespread stress faced by workers. And Lucy Pasha-Robinson reports that once-eradicated diseases such as tuberculosis and rickets are returning to poorer areas of the UK.

- But on the bright side, Phillip Inman notes that a national living wage has managed to drastically reduce the number of UK workers living in poverty. And Steven Greenhouse points out how the work of unions has helped to keep people safe and families whole.

- Cara Ng and RJ Aquino argue that the construction of new social housing may not only provide homes for people who need them, but also better integrate otherwise-isolated people into their communities.

- Finally, Tony Smith writes about the benefits of publicly-funded and open-source innovation - while noting that private rent-seeking is the primary obstacle to making the best use of the knowledge that's been accumulated.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Steve Burgess points out that we shouldn't be the least bit surprise by the latest news of politically-connected billionaires managing to tilt the tax system in their favour. Ed Broadbent calls for a much-needed end to tax policy that favours the wealthy in efforts to avoid contributing to the public good. And Tom Parkin suggests that Murray Rankin's bill to better regulate international cash flows would offer an important starting point.

- Andy Beckett tells the story of UK Labour's left, and how it has managed to outlast multiple strains of neoliberal leadership to earn a promising opportunity to win power. And Jessica Elgot reports on John McDonnell's call for billions of pounds to be redirected from corporate giveaways to public purposes.

- The Standard discusses how the latest incarnation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't a meaningful improvement over the previous versions.

- Alex MacPherson reports on the utter lack of any analysis or consultation before the Wall government decided to trash the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.

- Finally, Geoff Leo reports on the Saskatchewan Party's disappearing e-mails and other efforts to hide what they've done while in office. And Bill Waiser writes that there's plenty more to be discovered and concerned about in the Wall government's avoidance of accountability.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Gabriel Zucman discusses how the wealthy currently avoid paying their fair share of taxes - and how to stop them by properly attributing income and ensuring registers of wealth. And Micah White is optimistic that the public response to the Paradise Papers may be to develop lasting solutions, rather than merely expressing momentary outrage.

- Andre Picard calls for data-driven decision-making on health care, while noting that plenty of important information isn't yet being properly tracked.

- Brittany Andrew-Amofah highlights three key areas where the Libs' immigration plans are in glaring need of improvement. And in a prime example of how Justin Trudeau's party is falling far short of its supposedly inclusive brand, Daniel Leblanc reports on the split developing within the federal Libs when it comes to Quebec's anti-Muslim Bill 62.

- Meanwhile, Brent Patterson calls out the Libs' broken promise of transparency on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate-friendly trade deals.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk writes that Bronwyn Eyre's ignorance of Saskatchewan's history - including the relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples - renders her utterly unfit to be education minister. And Liz James documents just how wrong Eyre is about the curriculum under her ministerial portfolio.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

On suspended animation

It would be nice to be able to share Michael Geist's view that the latest TPP by another name represents a substantial improvement over the original. But to my mind, the real story of the CPTPP is how little it changes.

In principle, I'd have hoped to see a group of parties which didn't include the U.S. (supposedly the driving force behind some of the most draconian provisions of the TPP) actually discuss and reach agreement on alternative language for issues which had been pushed solely by a party which has left the table. But instead, the result of the CPTPP is merely to adopt the same problematic language, while suspending its operation for the moment.

Needless to say, that moment is sure to end as soon as the U.S. decides it wants in again - which the same corporations who lobbied so hard to dictate the terms of the first TPP will surely push whenever the opportunity arises.

At that point, in the absence of some alternative structure which can be seen as having any multilateral agreement  - not to mention in light of the insistence of the parties to the CPTPP that the original was an acceptably "balanced outcome" - there figures to be little prospect that the original terms won't then snap into place at the U.S.' insistence.

As a result, the predictable outcome of the latest round of negotiations is to give the Libs a chance to claim they've meaningfully improved the existing TPP, while potentially locking us into a course which will see its worst terms come into effect. And so the public response to the CPTPP needs to take aim at not only what would immediately be imposed, but what would be far too likely to follow.

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Abacus Data has polled the Canadian public on climate change, and found far more appetite for meaningful action than we generally hear from the political class (and particularly right-wing parties):
Twenty years ago, when the world’s leaders were debating the Kyoto Accord, a case could be made that politicians who chose to be early champions of action to reduce emissions were running a certain amount of political risk.  The public consensus on the need to act was not fully formed, the risks of inaction not as widely perceived, and the alternatives to producing high levels of carbon seemed elusive and expensive.

Today, in Canada, the risk equation has changed. The bigger political peril lies in appearing indifferent to a matter of widespread and growing public preoccupation.

Half of Canadian voters (49%) won’t consider a party or a candidate that doesn’t have a plan to combat climate change.  Only 6% prefer a party or a candidate that ignores the issue.  The rest (44%) are “willing to consider” a party that doesn’t make the climate a priority.
Canada’s political parties do not all see eye to eye on climate change, but our numbers reveal that many Conservative voters share the sentiments of other voters: 85% believe there is a moral responsibility to act, and two thirds (67%) see a looming financial disaster if we fail to do more.  It is inaccurate to imagine a “conservative base” that broadly rejects the need to act on the climate issue.  Most 2015 Conservative Party voters believe the world faces a catastrophe if we do too little and that action will create new opportunities for the economy.
- Meanwhile, Michael Harris criticizes the Libs for being asleep at the switch when it comes to the potential environmental calamity arising from neonic pesticides. 

- Lana Payne writes about the sense of entitlement behind the offshoring of wealth to avoid taxes. And Thomas Walkom notes that governments are finally being forced to pay attention to the problem - but seem all too likely to leave plenty of loopholes to be exploited by the wealthy.

- Martin Regg Cohn discusses the politics behind perpetual poverty. And Trish Garner rightly argues that social supports should be sufficient to provide for basic human dignity.

- Colin Phillips points out the need for a national housing strategy backing by meaningful investments.

- Finally, Kevin Schnepel studies the connection between work opportunities and recidivism rates among people released from prison, and finds that stable jobs with fair wages are crucial in reducing the likelihood of repeat offences.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Thomas Frank asks how we've allowed billionaires to escape any responsibility for the maintenance of civilization by moving their wealth offshore:
I know that what the billionaires and the celebrities have done is legal. They merely took advantage of the system. It’s the system itself, and the way it was deliberately constructed to achieve these awful ends, that should be the target of our fury.

For decades Americans have lashed out against taxation because they were told that cutting taxes would give people an incentive to work harder and thus make the American economy flourish. Our populist leaders told us this – they’re telling us this still, as they reform taxes in Washington – and they rolled back the income tax, they crusaded against the estate tax, and they worked to keep our government from taking action against offshore tax havens.

In reality, though, it was never about us and our economy at all. Today it is obvious that all of this had only one rationale: to raise up a class of supermen above us. It had nothing to do with jobs or growth. Or freedom either. The only person’s freedom to be enhanced by these tax havens was the billionaire’s freedom. It was all to make his life even better, not ours.

Think, for a moment, of how this country has been starved so the holders of these offshore accounts might enjoy their private jets in peace. Think of what we might have done with the sums we have lost to these tax strategies over the decades. All the crumbling infrastructure that politicians love to complain about: it should have – and could have - been fixed long ago.

Think of all the young people saddled with catastrophic student-loan debt: we should have – could have – made that unnecessary. Think of all the decayed small towns, and the dying rust belt cities, and the drug-addicted hopeless: all of them should have – could have – been helped.

But no. Instead America chose a different project. Our leaders raised up a tiny class of otherworldly individuals and built a paradise for them, made their lives supremely delicious. Today they hold unimaginable and unaccountable power.
- Matti Kohonen discusses how tax-avoiding businesses have stayed ahead of regulators and governments. And James King highlights the consequence that only the privileged few are seeing any gains in wealth.

- Jerry Dias rightly argues that Canada shouldn't be wasting time on trade deals like the TPP which serve only to further the grip of the corporate sector at the expense of citizens. But needless to say, the Trudeau Libs couldn't be less concerned about that prospect.

- Voices-Voix offers a report card on the Libs' time in office to date. And Laurin Liu comments on the dog-whistle politics Jagmeet Singh will need to fight in order to offer a governing alternative.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board weighs in on the need for improved parental leave for everybody - not merely the wealthier families who can take advantage of a longer leave period without extra income.

Musical interlude

Phantogram - Don't Move

Thursday, November 09, 2017

New column day

Here, on how beyond the scandals and failures we've seen to date, the Global Transportation Hub was always built on a dangerous desire to allow businesses to escape rules and democratic oversight.

For further reading...
- Geoff Leo reports here on Brightenview's use of benefits for "rural" investors to try to fill a warehouse mall integrally connected to the City of Regina.
- The GTH's bylaws and standards are here, including the adoption of the City of Regina's tax bylaw. And the City's listing of GTH land among its own industrial zones can be found here.
- And the GTH's controlling statute is here, featuring this as to the relationship between its unelected board and affected municipalities:
19(1) Notwithstanding The Cities Act, The Municipalities Act or The Planning and Development Act, 2007, the authority has the exclusive authority to grant all approvals required for a development within the transportation logistics hub, and neither the city nor any other municipality within which the transportation logistics hub is located shall restrict or in any way control development within the transportation logistics hub.
Update: Needless to say, the fact that GTH spaces are being marketed through flat-out fictions also speaks volumes about the Wall government's level of respect for the public.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Star's editorial board argues that the Paradise Papers prove the need for a crackdown on offshore tax avoidance. Zach Dubinsky and Harvey Cashore report on one nine-figure scheme cooked up by BMO. And Oxfam offers its list of suggestions to end the UK's tax scandals.

- Meanwhile, Nick Hopkins reports on tax evaders' proud claim they'd secured enough access to top politicians to avoid anything of the sort. Marco Chown Oved exposes how the Harper government similarly gave privileged access and special treatment to tax avoidance lobbyists. And Linda McQuaig comments on the role of Leo Kolber as a fixer for offshoring with the Libs and Cons alike.

- Vitor Mello discusses the rise of neoliberalism and its development as an all-too-rarely questioned starting point for economic debate. And Dani Rodrik writes about the various degrees of neoliberalism - while noting that the more extreme versions fail even on their own terms. 

- Similarly, Noah Smith points out that true supply-side economics include recognition of the value of infrastructure, research spending and other public investments - while the ideological insistence on presenting demand-side solutions solely in terms of tax giveaways misses the opportunity to generate broader growth.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board offers its take as to how to end the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Canada's prisons.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Andrew Jackson writes that widespread precarity in work is keeping wages down even as unemployment stays relatively low:
(W)age pressures and inflation might remain persistently low even with a low unemployment rate due to the seemingly inexorable rise of precarious work. Marx's reserve army of the unemployed has become a reserve army of the precariously employed.

Consider this: Of the 247,000 new jobs created over the past year (October to October), almost one in three (29.7 per cent) were temporary positions. The overall incidence of temporary work is now 13.8 per cent or about one in seven jobs, and it is much higher among young workers, women and recent immigrants.

The rise of temporary work suggests that many employers, particularly in private services, do not need to offer secure employment to attract workers. Nor do they need to offer decent wages to the precariously employed.
Employment has become more and more polarized as middle-class, middle-skill jobs have been lost to globalization and technological change. At the low end of the job market, there is fierce competition for even insecure and badly paid employment. But even those in more secure, high-skilled jobs are affected.

It seems that more secure jobs are being lost throughout the economy as many of the permanent, full-time positions vacated by retiring baby boomers are replaced by the temporary and contract jobs on offer to new entrants to the work force.
- Josh Bivens offers a reminder that corporate tax giveaways do nothing at all to improve wages for workers. And Nouriel Roubini points out that the U.S. Republicans' plan to further enrich the Trump class represents a slap in the face to the 99%, while Jared Bernstein is examining its effects piece by piece.

- Tom Parkin discusses how the Libs' plans on issues ranging from pensions to infrastructure are aimed at enriching the corporate sector at the expense of workers. And Christo Aivalis writes about the golden opportunity for Jagmeet Singh to own the issue of tax fairness, while PressProgress is compiling a growing list of Libs and Cons who have made use of tax havens to avoid paying their fair share.

- Finally, Carl Meyer points out the need for far more work in assessing and acting on the health effects of environmental damage. And Jodi McNeill notes the especially toxic legacy of the tar sands.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Surrounded cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Wanda Wyporska writes that increasing inequality is the main factor behind public distrust and discontent with our politics:
Rising inequality is not inevitable, it is largely a result of the political and economic decisions taken by governments. This is clear from the varying levels of inequality in EU countries, and the processes by which these have come about.
Perhaps the most obvious area in which countries have been more or less effective in keeping inequality in check is taxation and fiscal redistribution. While many European countries have seen top income tax rates fall in recent years, with expected subsequent increases in inequality, more equal countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland have retained top income tax rates of well over 50 per cent. Fiscal redistribution drastically reduces inequality in all developed countries, including the UK and US, but there are significant differences between them. Predictably, the Nordic countries have higher rates of redistribution than the UK, but so do other more equal countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and Ireland.

Taxation and redistribution of income are not the only effective methods by which to tackle inequality. Japan’s redistribution rate is low compared to many other developed economies, but starting from a much lower level of market inequality, it results in a lower overall level of economic inequality. This points towards important measures to reduce inequality beyond ‘tax and spend’ approaches.
In much of Europe and the rest of the developed world, we are at a crossroads. For many, the dividing line is between protectionist nationalism and a globalised, liberalised approach to politics and economics. However, this misses a more important, older divide – between those who wish power and wealth to remain concentrated in the hands of a few, and those who wish to see control and prosperity enjoyed by the many. The lesson from Europe is that there are measures that can reduce inequality that do not involve retreats into nationalist agendas or reduced worker’s rights. If governments are to survive ongoing turmoil and build legitimacy, they will need to look at these and new ideas to build more equal, fairer societies. 
- Drew Brown discusses how the Paradise Papers revelations show the contrast between Justin Trudeau's "middle-class" messaging and his government of, by and for the wealthy and entitled few. Alex Boutilier and Robert Cribb report that the Canada Revenue Agency has been fighting efforts to even calculate how much revenue is being lost offshore. And David Cay Johnston writes that tax rules haven't kept up with the wealth and influence they need to be able to regulate.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh examines the widespread violence and abuse faced by health care workers.

- Dirk Meissner reports on Jagmeet Singh's much-needed message that drug addiction, poverty and mental health be treated as social issues rather than criminal justice ones. And Anne Kingston discusses the lack of logic and compassion in omitting dental care from our public health system.

- Finally, Ethan Cox writes that Valerie Plante's successful campaign for mayor of Montreal should offer an example as to how progressive parties and candidates can win by shifting the frame of political debate.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy studies the large-scale use of offshore tax avoidance in the corporate sector, just in time for the Paradise Papers to reveal another set of tax avoidance loopholes being kept open for the benefit of Justin Trudeau's insiders. And Matthew Klein proposes that governments take non-voting equity stakes of corporations up front, rather than having to try to navigate a myriad of tax avoidance techniques to ensure a business pays its fair share.

- Eric Levitz argues that gross imbalances of wealth and influence within the U.S.' political system are more of a threat to a functional democracy than any outside intervention. And the Equality Trust weighs in on the need to encourage civic engagement by placing people on a more equal footing:
With the rungs on the ladder this far apart it is little wonder that social mobility is severely lacking according to the government’s own Social Mobility Commission. Citizenship is a two-way process; in order for people to engage in a positive way with the state, then the state must engage with its citizens in a positive way and protect and respect them. This vast material inequality is now beginning to seep through to matters of life and death with life expectancy levels stalling and infant mortality rates beginning to rise.

The fact that so much of the nation’s wealth is (and is very acutely perceived and felt to be) concentrated in London and the South-East also aggravates this sense of being left behind in other parts of the UK. This is also compounded by disparities in income and wealth between old and young, urban and rural, white and BME communities as well as between men and women – all of which are component parts of our overall economic and social inequality. The only way to overcome all these divisions between us is to actively plan to reduce them. We need the government to commit to a national mission of economic and social renewal based firmly on reducing the gap between rich and poor in the UK.
- Maggie Gillis reports that the simple step of opening up a school for community use can tap into a desire for social connection - making it all the more egregious that governments like that of Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party are trying to shut down or privatize the spaces which can be used for that purpose.

- Meanwhile, Paul Dechene discusses the poverty which remains as a blight on Saskatchewan even through what was supposed to have been a period of prosperity.

- Finally, Beatrice Britneff reports on the Libs' use of a proposed bill which hasn't even been passed yet to limit public access to information.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Andre Picard argues that Bernie Sanders' trip to highlight Canada's health care system shouldn't be taken as an indication we lack plenty of room for improvement. And Margot Sanger-Katz writes that Sanders indeed learned lessons about the holes in our health coverage.

- David Suzuki discusses the importance of ensuring that we're governed by people working toward the public interest, not the profit motive of the fossil fuel sector (or other exploitative industries). Patrick Metzger highlights how we're already paying a price - even beyond the harm to our planet - for a lack of meaningful climate change policy. And Janice Paskey discusses the "creative sentencing" that has allowed polluters to further their own interests even after having being responsible for environmental atrocities.

- Hayley Bennett notes that messages to promote environmental action might be more effective if they're framed to fit within social dominance theory - though it's worth noting that decoupling climate change from other important narratives about unfairness and exploitation may repel many essential allies in the fight.

- Meanwhile, Ian Welsh offers up a theory of change which explains that while changing set minds may be prohibitively difficult (especially in the absence of an imminent shock), longer-term change is downright inevitable. And Jessica Vomiero reports on a new study showing how pollution is linked to stress and anxiety.

- Finally, Chris Murphy offers a brief look at the privilege he recognizes for himself - while Hadiya Roderique goes into much greater depth about the disadvantages and wrenching choices facing minority students trying to find their way into the legal profession.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michal Rozworski writes that the bidding war surrounding Amazon's second headquarters is just a symptom of a grossly dysfunctional relationship between governments and businesses:
We shouldn’t be surprised that Amazon can get away with using a few billion dollars of private investment as bait for public billions in return. Investment in the US, both private and public, is in a sorry state. Taken as a proportion of overall economic activity, businesses and governments are investing a fraction of what they did in the postwar years or even a few decades ago.

The business sector does not lack for means — profits margins, while down from record highs, are no longer in the doldrums. But rather than invest in new production facilities and new technology, corporations, under pressure from shareholders, are spending big on dividends and share buybacks or letting cash lay idle. Amazon is in fact one of the few major outliers to this trend, refusing to pay dividends and aggressively using profits to fund continuous expansion.

While private investment has given way to shareholders gorging themselves on profits, public investment has simply given way to rot. Last year, civilian net public investment in the United States amounted to a paltry 0.5 percent of GDP.

Exaggerated worries about debt and deficits and a pervasive ideology that the private sector can do everything better leave the public sector doing the minimum, barely keeping up as things fall apart.
(C)apital needs the public sector as much as the other way around. For all its glorification of enterprise and entrepreneurship, there is much that the private sector will not do: whenever the risks are too big or the benefits too diffuse to capture, the public sector has stepped in. From antibiotics to hydroelectric dams, from public buses to sewage plants, much of the infrastructure that makes life under contemporary capitalism possible is public or publicly funded.
Capital may be the force that ultimately socializes production and distribution, but it needs the state all along the way. Today’s public extortion racket is only the tip of the iceberg.
- And Linda McQuaig argues that the corporate raiders who strip money out of corporations such as Sears should be on the hook for the pensions earned by employees. 

- Toby Sanger examines the federal fiscal update and notes that there's plenty of room to expand public services. The CCPA offers a mid-term report card comparing the Libs' big progressive promises to their minimal action. And Seth Klein and Iglika Ivanova offer some suggestions as to how British Columbia's NDP government can take immediate action to reduce poverty while conducting its wider review of the problem.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports that the Wynne Libs are falling far short of their promises of addressing precarious work - including by watering down equal pay provisions to exclude the workers who need them most, and failing to address the use of temp agencies to avoid employment standards. Stefani Langenegger highlights PATHS' report on the lack of employment protection in Saskatchewan for workers trying to escape domestic abuse. And Nicholas Keung reports on a push to ensure that migrant farm workers have an opportunity to pursue permanent residency.

- Finally, Matthew Taylor takes note of the Environmental Justice Foundation's study on the imminent surge of climate change refugees. And Mia Rabson reports on the massive gap between the goals set in the Paris climate accord, and the plans actually being made to address greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and elsewhere.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Thursday, November 02, 2017

New column day

Here, summarizing a few of my earlier blog posts on the state of the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign - and the choice between two positive and appealing leaders that played out in the first debate.

For further reading...
- Jason Hammond offered his take on the debate and the provincial convention.
- And Murray Mandryk commented on the debate and leadership campaign somewhat in his post-convention column - though the comparison between candidates operating in a debate setting and Nicole Sarauer's (undoubtedly impressive) speech gives an unfair impression about the leadership contenders.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats with costumes.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Ashifa Kassam writes about the elements of Canada's health care system which call for ambitious improvement rather than imitation:
“I think privatisation is a major threat to public health care in Canada,” said Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Earlier this year, her organisation released a report documenting 136 private clinics across the country and highlighted that 71 of these were selling faster access to services covered by the country’s health care system. What’s more, the report suggested that many of the clinics were charging patients while also billing the public health care system – a practice that runs contrary to Canadian law.
Raza pointed to jurisdictions that most resemble Canada, such as Australia, where the introduction of private providers diverted doctors’ time and attention, resulting in longer wait times in the public system. “The only people who benefitted were people who were able to buy their way to the front of the line,” said Raza.

An alternative solution may lie in the growing support among Canadians to expand the country’s coverage – which currently only covers hospitals and physician care – to areas such as pharmacare and dental, he said.

The merits of doing so were hinted at in a recent ranking of health systems in wealthy countries by the Commonwealth Fund.
As the Vermont senator touts plans for a far more comprehensive and equitable system south of the border, Picard is among the many in Canada who hope it will prompt Canadians to revisit the glaring gaps in their own system.

“I don’t think we’re ambitious enough,” he said. “Canada has limited ourselves to doctors and hospitals, and there’s no reason like the rest of the developed world that our public plan couldn’t cover all kinds of things, from dental care, home care to long term care.”
- Andrew MacLeod reports on the Horgan government's first steps toward reducing poverty in British Columbia. And the Canadian Press notes that a basic income could be a substantial part of the solution.

- Judith Lavoie reports on a new study from the United Nations Environment Programme showing that Canada is responsible for more mining tailings pond spills than any country other than China. And Ashley Renders examines the obscenely low royalty rates which allow mining companies to make a killing in the north while contributing virtually nothing.

- Jonathan Watts discusses the new records in greenhouse gas emission pollution being set every year. And the New York Times' editorial board weighs in on the alarming prospect of an insect armageddon.

- Finally, the Canadian Press exposes the Libs' plans to let the airline industry self-regulate when it comes to pilot training rather than even continuing standard regulatory oversight.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Tom Parkin writes that the Trudeau Libs have proven themselves to be far more interested in protecting Bill Morneau and his wealthy friends than the Canadian public. And Christo Aivalis discusses Jagmeet Singh's opportunity to own the issue of tax fairness:
This is Singh’s opportunity to make a big splash on the tax debate, which hasn’t been so open for discourse since perhaps the late 1960s, when the Carter Report made sweeping recommendations to reform the tax system with a view to limiting the privileges of the wealthy and powerful. Further, Singh won’t have to start with a blank slate here, because one of the more developed portions of his policy suite during the leadership race surrounded tax reform. Indeed, Singh’s proposals would do more than the Trudeau/Morneau plan to address various forms of income. First, Singh would raise income taxes by 2% for income above 350,000, and by 4% for income above 500,000. In addition, Singh will bump the corporate tax rate to 19.5% from 15%, and would implement taxation for corporate perks that effectively increase someone’s income. But in addition to giving the Canada Revenue Agency more tools to root out tax evaders, and promising to implement a commission to review “all existing tax credits, deductions, and the TFSA,” perhaps the most important proposals from Singh deal with wealth taxation, something the Liberal reforms don’t in any way address.

The problem with a tax plan that fixates on income or corporate profits is that it fails to address larger issues around entrenched inequality, and disparities in how different income sources are taxed. As it stands, Canada has no real policy to address massive intergenerational transfers of wealth, and Canada gives a massive tax break to those who earn income through investment as opposed to labour. With a capital gains inclusion rate at only 50%, a person who flips 100,000 dollars of stock profits will pay significantly lower taxes than a person who worked a 9-5 job for the same amount. This system flies in the face of the 1968 Carter Report recommendations, which argued that all income should be taxed equally regardless of source.

But Singh has a couple plans here. First, he pledged to implement a rather bold estate tax plan which would, after excluding the primary residence, tax 40% of all assets in excess of four million dollars. This will ensure that the family home isn’t affected, but does address the reality that insufficient estate taxation is a barrier to equality of opportunity. Put another way, if we want a society where everyone has something approaching an equal shot at success, you have to challenge the ability to entrench wealth across generations. And while Singh would only increase the capital gains inclusion rate to 75%, meaning that there would still be tax benefits for earning income as investment versus labour, this would get us on the path toward a just system.

If Singh and the rest of the caucus can put this plan into the public discourse, it could not only generate interest, but demonstrate the ideological limits of Liberal tax reform. It would also be a unifying effort to reach out to the party’s left, many of whom backed Niki Ashton on similar, though more strident, efforts to improve the tax system. Finally, it is likely a bridge the Liberals wouldn’t cross in 2019, making it the sort of policy they won’t poach to entice progressive voters.
- The OECD points out how the combination of an ageing population and increasing inequality will affect younger generations. Conor Gaffey notes that even the wealthiest few are realizing that their level of privilege is unsustainable. And the Equality Trust offers its recommendations to more fairly distribute wealth and ownership rights.

- Andrew Hosken exposes five major UK businesses which are managing to shift the profits from large P3s to avoid paying tax. And Bill Curry reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars the Libs have earmarked for buying into a Chinese development bank while planning to sell off infrastructure in Canada. 

- Finally, Miya Tokomutsu writes about the importance of renewing the fight to reclaim more personal time for workers.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jonathan Ostry comments on the emerging recognition that inequality represents a barrier to economic development:
I argue that greater attention should be paid to the consequences that economic policies have for income distribution (inequality). The reasons are four-fold.
  • First, excessive levels of inequality are bad not only for social and moral reasons but also for growth and efficiency: higher levels of inequality are associated, on average, with lower and less durable growth. Hence, even from the perspective of the goal of fostering growth, attention to inequality is necessary.
  • Second, high levels of inequality may lead to latent social conflicts that ultimately translate into political backlash against the pursuit of free market polices, including globalization.
  • Third, the fear that income redistribution would have an adverse impact on growth turns out to find little support in the data — implementing policies to reduce excessive inequality tend on average to support growth (by reducing inequality) rather than retard growth.
  • Fourth, many policy choices made by governments have a direct effect on inequality outcomes. Hence, inequality outcomes are not, as is sometimes argued, exclusively due to technological changes (such as robotization or digitalization) and other global trends that are beyond the control of any one government.
- Andrew Jackson writes about the need for a more accessible and comprehensive employment insurance system.

- Haroon Siddique reports on a new study showing that hundreds of thousands of people are driven out of the UK's workforce each year by mental health problems. 

- Patrick Clark discusses how rising rents are putting intolerable stress on U.S. tenants. And Jim Silver rebuts (PDF) a KPMG report intended to lay the groundwork to hope the private sector will deliver affordable housing in Manitoba.

- Finally, Stephen Tweedale responds to a couple of criticisms of proportional electoral systems - particularly ones which are based solely on wilful neglect as to how concerns can be addressed. 

[Edit: fixed typo.]

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Leadership 2018 - #skndp17 Debate Liveblog

With the first candidates' debate taking place at the Saskatchewan NDP's provincial convention, I'll take the opportunity to do a bit of liveblogging. Again, you can find my reference page for the leadership campaign here.

- Highly entertaining opening bit with multiple-choice questions. Not sure if the candidates knew it was coming, but both showed plenty of humour and quick thinking in dealing with them.

- Wotherspoon's opening starts with a critique of the Sask Party, but shifts into a fair bit of his own policy. (And yes, I'll be dealing with the candidates' policies in more detail later.)

- Meili opens with an appeal to members and volunteers before pivoting to his own policies.

- First question to Meili on his quick pitch on the economy - he says there are people hurting because of Sask Party decisions, including reliance on austerity and corporate tax cuts which together harm the economy.

- On the same question, Wotherspoon says economic progress is part of the social democratic vision, including benefits for all rather than precarity and austerity.

- On a followup as to how to put unemployed people back to work, Wotherspoon says he'd fix the procurement model to keep money with Saskatchewan employers, and implement renewable energy and retrofitting.

- Meili notes the candidates' agreement on local procurement and green jobs, but points to unemployment in Indegenous communities in particular as a top priority. 

- Next question is on carbon emissions - Meili frames it as a generational issue, and says people are ready for leadership including a made-in-Saskatchewan price on carbon to incentivize decreased use.

- Wotherspoon points to Saskatchewan's previous leadership in wind power under the Calvert government, and notes the need for a provincial plan in response to the federal carbon price.

- In response to a follow-up question as to how to respond to the federal mandate, Wotherspoon discusses the need to talk to people to ensure protection for people and sensitive industries.

- Meili reiterates the need to design Saskatchewan's own plan, while recognizing the need to respond to fearmongering about a carbon price and present the opportunities it could generate.

- We've reached the first candidate question. Meili asks Wotherspoon about his willingness to forego corporate and union donations in light of his statements about getting big money out of politics; Wotherspoon notes that he has introduced a bill in the Legislature and approves of Rachel Notley and John Horgan's plans, but would only make the move as an act of government given the rules now in place.

- Meili follows up that his question is directed toward the internal race and to corporations as well as unions; Wotherspoon says he'll play within the rules that are there, and asks whether Meili can reasonably reverse course in the general election.

- The next question deals with a strategy to win rural seats. Wotherspoon mentions STC among other policy issues which resonate for rural residents.

- Meili says the NDP needs to recognize the value of representing the whole province, and reflect back the issues being raised by rural leaders, including Crown lands and agricultural research.

- The follow-up question addresses electing 20 female MLAs in 2020. Meili points to the work of the SNDW, and discusses amplifying the voices of women within the party while developing stronger policies as well as safe spaces for participation.

- Wotherspoon discusses the caucus' current gender parity, and points out the need to encourage and support more women to run for office.

- Patterson asks about keeping Crown corporations public. Wotherspoon (who just announced his policy on the point of amending the Saskatchewan Act to entrench constitutional protection) points first to the Sask Party's attacks before pivoting to his plan.

- Meili points to the activists already at work in keeping Crowns public, and talks about stronger legislation requiring any changes to go to the citizenry as shareholders before noting the need to allow Crowns to grow inside and outside the province.

- The followup question deals with STC. Meili discusses how people are having to move to cities for want of transportation, businesses are being affected and public safety is at risk, and proposes to build a new STC based on current transit needs.

- Wotherspoon says not to give up the fight to hold onto STC's assets, but broadly agrees as to the need to rebuild anew if that doesn't work.

- Wotherspoon asks Meili about the government's procurement model. Meili says we need to get back to building things ourselves, maintaining public ownership of services and hiring local businesses and workers, then ends by noting that wealth produced in Saskatchewan should stay in the province.

- Wotherspoon generally agrees before presenting his proposal on Crowns. Meili says it's a great idea and in line with the work of SaskCrowns.

- In response to a question about reconciliation, Meili says it's the second crucial priority alongside climate change, noting both the advanatages of a large young population and the risk of failing to give it an equal opportunity. Meili follows up by saying jurisdiction and geography should not be a barrier to equal access to services, and proposes to follow Australia's model of a "closing the gap" address and accountability model.

- Wotherspoon talks about building relationships with Indigenous leaders and communities, as well as fair access to services including closing the education funding gap and properly teaching students about the treaties.

- The final followup goes to Saskatchewan's leadership in social programs. Wotherspoon points to his plans for universal mental health care and universal $15/day child care.

- Meili notes the unfinished components of health care, including mental health, vision and dental care, as well as pharmacare.

- Meili's closing statement focuses on a fundamental belief in equality, community and love, then turns to the need for a change in approach to achieve better results.

- Wotherspoon closes with an alternative analysis that the party is already on the ascent, and frames his campaign in terms of fighting back against the Sask Party.

I'll close with a few of my own thoughts.

Both candidates were highly impressive throughout the debate: Wotherspoon held his own in a detailed policy debate (though he was slightly more prone to veer off topic), while Meili's sense of humour showed through in banter with Patterson. And it helped that the format and moderator created an upbeat mood without undermining the seriousness of the issues.

Meanwhile, the crowd didn't give a strong indication of favouring one candidate or the other. Wotherspoon's camp had more visible signs, but Meili seemed to earn a slightly stronger crowd response during the debate - leaving little basis to conclude either had an advantage among the members in attendance.

Of course, many more people will have a say in the vote - and the candidates will have plenty more opportunities to present their vision before then. And today's debate seems only to have confirmed that there are two extremely strong choices.

[Update: added link.]