Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Leadership 2017 Reference Page (Pinned)

A one-stop source for general links on the 2017 NDP leadership campaign, to be updated as the race progresses. Please feel free to add additional suggestions in comments. (And note that new posts will appear below this one.)

General Information
NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF) - Voting Process
NDP Leadership 2017
Leadership Debates: Ottawa (March 12) - Montreal (March 26) - Sudbury (May 28) - Halifax (June 10) - Saskatoon (July 11) - Montreal (August 27) - Vancouver (September 10)

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Analysis Ranking
Charlie Angus CharlieAngusNDP.ca @CharlieAngusNDP Profile

Niki Ashton NikiAshton2017.ca @NikiAshton Profile

Guy Caron GuyCaron.ca @GuyCaronNPD Profile

Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury n/a n/a

Peter Julian PeterJulian.ca @MPJulian Profile

Pat Stogran n/a @PatStogranNDP Profile

All Posts By Label

Babble threads: 1 - 2 - 3
Peter Julian Forum
Twitter: #ndp - #ndpldr

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Coupled cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Andre Picard talks to the Current about the need to start demanding more from our universal health care system, rather than being persuaded to put up with less. And Canadian Doctors for Medicare offers its support to the Ontario NDP's pharmacare plan, while Chris Selley writes that it looks to be a winner both in terms of policy and politics.

- Richard Lewontin points out that inequality is far from natural or inevitable - no matter how much pseudoscience is assembled to pretend otherwise.

- Meanwhile, Tara Garcia Mathewson reminds us that poverty results in entirely unnatural changes to the developing brain, while Dawn Foster recognizes its link to mental health issues. And in the wake of British Columbia's election campaign, Katie Hyslop rightly asks how anybody can trust a government to deal with poverty if it remains idle when it has money to burn.

- Kevin Carmichael discusses the risk of a Canadian financial crisis, most recently due to the lack of any meaningful policy response to real estate bubbles in Vancouver and Toronto. And Richard Florida highlights how progressive city planning is needed to avoid segregation by income.

- Finally, the Star calls for the federal government to reverse the Harper Cons' punitive policy on criminal pardons. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Krugman notes that after promising to bring some outside perspective to politics, Donald Trump is instead offering only a warmed-over version of the Republicans' typical voodoo economics. And John Cassidy highlights how Trump's plan appears to be nothing more than to wage class warfare on behalf of the rich.

- Meanwhile, Phillip Inman offers a reminder as to one of the ways in which our economy is already rigged against workers, noting that the cost of child care in the UK in some cases forces families ot effectively pay to work.

- Geoff Leo exposes the terms of the Saskatchewan Party government's land deal with CP - which features the public giving away land for free even as it was overpaying to buy it through Sask Party donors.

- Jason Hammond lists a few of the lessons Elwin Hermanson and the rest of the Saskatchewan Party could learn if they visited a library rather than merely threatening to cut funding. And CKRM highlights the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association's recognition that the Sask Party's contempt for local government is unprecedented. 

- Finally, Duncan Cameron points out how Justin Trudeau has followed in Stephen Harper's footsteps with a top-down, PMO-controlled government. And Tom Parkin writes that Trudeau's model for the Senate is managing to prove even more regressive than Harper's version by imposing roadblocks to a government bill intended to facilitate union organization.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nick Bunker points out that the worst of the U.S.' growing inequality since 2000 has come from the growing share of income going to capital concentrated in the .01%. And Lynn Parramore highlights Peter Temin's case that the U.S. is regressing into a developing country for the majority of residents:
America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.
We’ve been digging ourselves into a hole for over forty years, but Temin says that we know how to stop digging. If we spent more on domestic rather than military activities, then the middle class would not vanish as quickly. The effects of technological change and globalization could be altered by political actions. We could restore and expand education, shifting resources from policies like mass incarceration to improving the human and social capital of all Americans. We could upgrade infrastructure, forgive mortgage and educational debt in the low-wage sector, reject the notion that private entities should replace democratic government in directing society, and focus on embracing an integrated American population. We could tax not only the income of the rich, but also their capital.
Along with Thomas Piketty, whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century examines historical and modern inequality, Temin’s book has provided a giant red flag, illustrating a trajectory that will continue to accelerate as long as the 20 percent in the FTE sector are permitted to operate a country within America’s borders solely for themselves at the expense of the majority. Without a robust middle class, America is not only reverting to developing-country status, it is increasingly ripe for serious social turmoil that has not been seen in generations.
- Meanwhile, Daniel Tencer discusses the spread of precarious work in Canada - along with the temp agencies and other actors who profit from it.

- Paul Wells examines the early development of the Libs' infrastructure bank, while pointing out the risk that infrastructure designed to facilitate profits rather than benefit the public will serve only to bring lower standards to public services. And Percy Downe discusses the need for political and organizational will to match new federal funding to combat overseas tax evasion.

- Tim Fontaine reports on the multiple social factors which contribute to illnesses for indigenous people both on and off reserve. And Joshua Tepper comments on the health challenges for people living in northern Ontario.

- Finally, Natalie Bennett comments on the role a more fair electoral system could play in ensuring stronger environmental policy in the UK - and the lesson applies equally to Canada.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Eva Schaherl offers her take on how to fight against climate change:
  • Stop being distracted by the “Sad!” theatre of the Greatest Show on Earth across our southern border. In Canada our leadership debates should be focused on how to save the world’s life-support systems, not imitating the hateful squabbles of our U.S. neighbours.
  • Make climate the central issue in every byelection, election, leadership contest and international powwow. If our only sandbox falls apart, every other issue from migration to the economy becomes unsolvable.
  • Ask young people what they think. They’re going to be stuck with this overheated planet, rising seas and unstable climate. Maybe we should lower the voting age to 16. It’s their future we are deciding now.
  • We need to build a sustainable, renewable energy infrastructure that’s needed today and for the future. Not pour any more resources into extracting and burning fuels that will have to be phased out by the time our kids are having their kids.
- Meanwhile, in the "what not to do" department, Carl Meyer reports on the Trudeau Libs' decision to let oil lobbyists dictate environmental policy yet again, this time by delaying the implementation of methane emission rules past the next election. And Brent Patterson rightly points out that meeting a target 8 years down the road doesn't do anything to remove the added pollution which the Libs plan to allow in the meantime.

- Michael Harris writes that under Christy Clark's regime, the domination of policy choices by big and dirty business is equally apparent in B.C. And Laila Yuile points out the massive gap between the effort the B.C. Libs put into spin and empty promises, and their utter lack of interest in following through on anything that could benefit people.

- Similarly, Trish Hennessy notes that Kathleen Wynne is in election-year mode - which means trying to get Ontarians to forget how she's sold them out since taking majority power.

- Finally, Nick Falvo calls out Brad Wall for delivering a reverse Robin Hood budget which takes from the poor to give to the rich.

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the NDP's federal leadership campaign.

- The Canadian Press reports on Pat Stogran's official campaign launch. And Alex Ballingall highlights Stogran's criticism of Justin Trudeau's empty-suit governance, while Jeremy Nuttall focuses on his message about challenging politics as usual.

- Charlie Smith interviews Peter Julian about his "just transition" energy policy and its appeal to MPs from Quebec and elsewhere. Niki Ashton writes about the importance of economic justice - both as a campaign theme, and a focus for activism. Ben Leeson talks to Guy Caron about his plan for the NDP to set a different path and deliver on the change promised (but not delivered) by the Trudeau Libs. And Liam Casey reports on Charlie Angus' continued work to ensure a safe home for the Kashechewan First Nation in the wake of another evacuation.

- Tom Parkin argues that there's a need for the leadership candidates to tell a stronger story as to how many Canadians are being left behind by economic structures designed to benefit the few.

- And finally, Ian Capstick talks to Libby Davies about her experience working with Jack Layton as the NDP's leader, as well as her hopes for the new candidates to match both his authenticity and his interest in working with others.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Musical interlude

Suncatcher & Exolight - Memory of You

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the problems with increased corporate concentration of wealth and power - including the need for a response that goes beyond competition policies.
In the 1960s, institutional economists like John Kenneth Galbraith described a world of oligopoly in which a few firms, such as the big three in auto, set prices in order to achieve profit targets. This cozy world was disrupted by increased international competition, and by deregulation and privatization of the utilities, transportation and financial sectors, but corporate concentration has staged a major comeback

Mr. Galbraith advocated countervailing power rather than competitive markets as a way to constrain large dominant firms. In his view, corporate power had to be balanced by the power of organized labour so that profits were shared by workers, and by the power of democratic governments to regulate prices, service quality, and product and environmental standards in the public interest.

A similar argument has been advanced by Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in a publication of the Roosevelt Institute, Rewrite the Rules. Mr. Stiglitz believes that extreme income and wealth inequality in the United States is indeed closely associated with the increased market power of large corporations, and argues for increased regulation (especially in the finance sector), support for trade unions and stronger labour standards, and corporate tax reform.
In this new age of corporate concentration, we certainly need a much broader response than competition policy alone.
- Janine Berg and Valerio De Stefano discuss the need to provide regulatory protections for workers in the gig economy, while Rebecca Greenfield points out how a shorter work day can produce better results for workers and employers alike. And Laurie Monsebraaten highlights some of the hopes for Ontario's basic income pilot project in providing basic financial stability for people who currently lack anything of the sort.

- Meanwhile, Ivona Hideg points out how the Libs' plan to draw out maternity leaves only helps families who can afford to have a parent out of the workplace for an extended period of time. And Evan Johnston rightly rebuts the anti-worker proposals being made by corporate groups participating in Ontario's workplace consultations.

- CBC reports on this week's new research study showing how Christy Clark's Site C debacle represents a waste of billions of public dollars. And Carol Linnitt highlights five particularly egregious realities about the project.

- Finally, Geoff Leo exposes the shady connections between Saskatchewan Party MPs and holding companies whose purposes haven't been publicly disclosed. And Murray Mandryk notes that tolerating glaring conflicts of interest is business as usual for Brad Wall and his party.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Martin Patriquin takes Saskatchewan's increasing recognition of the Wall government's institutional corruption to the national stage:
Politicians who navigate a corrupted political system have some of the easiest jobs in the world. With the weight and legitimacy of the state behind them, they need not sell anything more than access to themselves. And it is a seller’s market.
To be fair to Quebec’s political parties, it took over 30 years to perfect the scheme. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and the party he leads have figured it out in about 10 years — and they didn’t have to break a single law to do it.

Political parties are generally discreet about fundraising on the backs of their leaders. The Saskatchewan Party, which has ruled over the Land Of Living Skies since 2007, does so with the cheeseball gusto normally reserved for televangelists and used car salesmen.
In Quebec, companies and corporations had to break the law to donate to political parties. In Saskatchewan, it is entirely out in the open, and there is no limit to the amount an individual or a corporation can give. Hell, even companies based outside of the province can donate — and they have, including Calgary-based Trans Canada Pipelines and Vancouver-based Telus Inc., among dozens of others.

Wall himself is so nonplussed at the rather disastrous optics of all of this that he could barely muster a shrug when it was revealed that he owned shares in an oil company his government was lobbying to come to the province.
In politics, you eventually become what you profess to hate. The Saskatchewan Party was born out of a sense of austere populism in 1997 — the hardscrabble laypeople rising up against the entrenched establishment. After barely a decade in power, it has become quite the opposite: a political entity that proudly sells access to its leader, just as it does to the naming rights on its golf carts.
- Jordon Cooper recognizes that the most alarming part of Eric Olauson's plan to document and attack constituents who dare to question government actions is the fact that it seems to be standard practice for the Saskatchewan Party.  And the Treaty 6 Justice Collective reminds us of the importance of fighting back against austerity and antisocial policy. 

- Jim Sinclair rightly pushes back against the desire of Brian Day and other corporate health care promoters to scrap equal access to care in favour of pay-for-play health. And CTV reports on Mohammed Hajizadeh's research documenting the unfairness which already exists in favour of the wealthy in seeking out care, while Jane Gerster points out how "prominent" Manitobans are able to jump the queue.

- Meanwhile, Peter Goffin discusses Health Quality Ontario's study showing the lack of adequate care in northern Ontario. And the CP reports on the Canadian Human Rights Commissions' latest annual report - which deals particularly with how children are being left behind on many crucial rights issues.

- Finally, Neil MacDonald comments on the absurdity of the Trudeau Libs continuing to jail people for marijuana-related offences while (supposedly) charting a path toward legalizing its use. And Rob Gillezeau examines how the Libs' planned changes to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's mandate will insulate dubious policy choices from important checks and balances.

New column day

Here, pointing out that the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (PDF) serves no useful purpose even on the terms of its advocates following the unveiling of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (PDF) - and asking whether we'll see any action to eliminate its downsides.

For further reading...
- I've previously discussed how the TILMA (which was of course rebranded as the NWPTA later on) in fact includes none of the balance or interest in harmonized and high regulatory standards promised when it was introduced.
- And it will particularly be worth comparing the Wall government's willingness to allow corporations to sue for damages against its refusal to allow municipalities to do the same in the face of breaches of contract.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Blanketed cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bill McKibben highlights Justin Trudeau's disingenuousness in pretending to care about climate change while insisting on exploiting enough fossil fuels to irreparably damage our planet.

- Juliet Eilperin examines how Donald Trump is letting industry lobbyists trash any protections for U.S. workers. And Dave Jamieson reminds us of the human cost of the human cost of deregulation.

- Matt Stoller looks at the airline industry as an example of how reduced government involvement only ensures that other powerful actors make choices which affect - and predictably harm - the public. And Erica Johnson reports on Canada's financial industry as another example in which customers' interests take a back seat to employer demands.

- John Geddes interviews Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault about her unsuccessful attempts to get the Trudeau Libs to keep their promise to modernize access to information.

- Finally, the Courage Coalition has released the results of its survey as to the future of progressive Canada, notably featuring this view of the NDP's role:
“Things I'd like to see the NDP do”:
Mobilize members between elections: 84%
Engage in non-electoral campaigns: 83%
Hold educational events: 69%
Attend protests: 69%
Training and leadership development: 64%
Give more control to EDAs: 39%

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star's editorial board writes that it's long past time for governments to stand up for people facing precarious work:
(P)recarious workers, many of them millennials, have been largely left behind by legislators who say the shift is inevitable and there’s nothing much that can or ought to be done about it.

But the consequences of this complacency are cruel. Two new studies paint bleak portraits of the economic circumstances of young workers and others struggling to get by in the new economy. Together, they suggest that while governments may not want or be able to stop the evolution now underway, they must move quickly to address widening gaps in worker protections, lest the better part of a generation fall through the cracks.
Ontario’s current experiment with a basic annual income is a welcome acknowledgement of this need, whether or not it’s the right policy. Ottawa, meanwhile, deserves credit for its investments in affordable housing, though it should reconsider its apparent aversion to universal daycare, pharmacare and dental-services programs, all of which have the power to protect workers from the worst threats of precarity.

The choice between workers and progress is a false one. Of course, governments can’t and shouldn’t want to stop innovation. But neither are they powerless to shape it or to protect workers from its worst consequences.
- Meanwhile, Michael Corkery reports on the disappearance of tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S.' retail sector as another area where workers are losing out. And Bill Curry reports on the Senate combination of Cons, Libs and independents who have teamed up to block workers in federal jurisdiction from organizing.

- Helen Ries and Jihan Abbas discuss the poverty traps designed to ensure Ontarians with disabilities can never achieve any personal financial security. And Emily Mathieu writes about a new study on the risk of homelessness among seniors.

- Stefani Langenegger reports on the Saskatchewan Party's unilateral decision to slash funding to community-based organizations with no regard for either health impacts or longer-term costs. And the CP reports on Ryan Meili's call to instead close our existing health gaps by providing proper funding both for health programs and community supports.

- Finally, David Reevely comments on the Trudeau Libs' insistence on keeping in place (or even expanding) every irrational element of the war on drugs while pretending to work on legalizing marijuana.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Neil Irwin writes that many progressive policies - including child care and income tax credits - serve the goal of facilitating economic participation far better than their right-wing "supply side" counterparts.

- Ann Pettifor examines the future of globalization, and warns that a failure to properly regulate financial markets may be stoking public resentment toward the flow of people and goods.

- Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo study the effects of automation in cutting into both available employment and wage levels. And Vili Lehdonvirta writes about the role a basic income could play in countering the problems with the gig economy.

- Poppy Noor suggests that we treat housing as a human right rather than primarily a market good - and discusses the far more fair society that would result. And Gary Younge points out how austerian politics lead to a direct humanitarian toll.

- Ezra Klein discusses new research showing that the U.S.' political polarization is worse among older people (who make less use of social media, and rely more on television or radio echo chambers) than younger ones who are exposed to at least some different viewpoints.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig calls out Justin Trudeau's refusal to participate in talks on unclear disarmament, taking Canada well outside its self-perceived role as a leader in multilateral peacemaking.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the NDP's federal leadership campaign. (As always, see the reference page for general information.)

- Mylene Crete reports on Alexandre Boulerice's endorsement of Peter Julian - which offers another important piece of evidence that the party's contingent of Quebec MPs and organizers sees Julian as a viable candidate to succeed in the province.

- Cory Collins talks to Niki Ashton about the need to build Canada's progressive social movement as one of the NDP's key priorities. And in the process, Ashton answers some of the foreign policy questions which Yves Engler still wants included in the party's debates.

- Meanwhile, Eleanor Davidson interviews Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury about his outsider perspective on the state of Canadian democracy.

- Elliot Ferguson reports on Charlie Angus' rallying for pay equity (among other elements of fair employment). Guy Caron participated in OCAP's debate on a basic income - and his side seems to have moved opinions in its favour. Jagmeet Singh introduced legislation to better protect temp agency workers in Ontario. Ashton stopped into Alberta (including Red Deer) on her Economic Justice tour. And Julian has been encouraging supporters to work on helping British Columbia's NDP win the ongoing provincial election.

- Finally, Engler also wonders whether there should be more bold ideas being discussed in the NDP's campaign - though I'd hardly share his view that the Cons' example of being offensively extreme for its own sake is one worth following.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your long weekend reading.

- Cole Stangler interviews Raquel Garrido about the political critique behind Jean-Luc Melenchon's emerging presidential campaign - and it sounds equally applicable in Canada:
One of the reasons why the current regime is lacking consent in French society is because the process for electing officials allows them to behave inconsistently with their campaign promises. The main cultural characteristic of the current political class is impunity. They do whatever they want because they are absolutely unaccountable.

That culture of impunity starts with the president himself. We’re the only self-identified democratic country where you have one man who has such concentrated power — elections of hundreds and hundreds of people in different institutions and he actually decides what the parliament will be talking about, the parliamentary agenda. The president behaves in such an unaccountable fashion that it actually spreads like a cascade across the entire political class.

Most elected officials in France today lack legitimacy, are elected with very low turnouts. There’s a deep sense of disgust among citizens with this political class. That creates chaos and instability.
There are other big themes of the campaign — wealth redistribution and social justice — which are classic proposals in a situation of great inequality. Then you have climate change and protecting the only ecosystem which allows life for human beings. But before we address those issues, we need to gain the power to actually have an impact. 
- And in a prime example of Canada's culture of impunity, Chantal Hebert writes about the Trudeau Libs' cynical political choices around marijuana legalization - and how those fit with Trudeau's repudiated promise of electoral reform.

- Jon Stone reports on UK Labour's plans to ensure that public money doesn't subsidize bad corporate behaviour (including a refusal to recognize collective bargaining). And Larry Bartels studies (PDF) the gap between the policies which would result from an accurate representation of U.S. citizens' preferences, and those which are in fact seen due to the influence of wealth in politics.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh writes about the Ontario miners who were used as guinea pigs for untested - and ultimately harmful - powders intended to serve as substitutes for reasonable health and safety precautions.

- Finally, Henry Farrell examines the circumstances in which economists have - and haven't - been able to move the needle on public policy. And George Monbiot discusses Kate Raworth's doughnut model as a means of conceptualizing the desirability and sustainability of our economic choices.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Musical interlude

Kyoto Skies - Homesick

On redundancies

Scott Sinclair offers a useful summary of the latest sop to the anti-regulation lobby in the form of the new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (PDF). And as usual, there's a fundamental problem with any deal which deems public policy to be presumptively invalid to the extent it affects actual or potential corporate profits.

But I'd think it's particularly worth watching what will happen among the provinces who have already agreed to worse deals.

Unlike the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (formerly known as the TILMA), the CFTA does back up the usual spin about harmonizing rather than gutting regulations with processes which might actually encourage provinces to reconcile conflicting rules. And as noted by Sinclair, it avoids the trap of turning trade challenges into corporate windfalls.

With the CFTA in place, it would thus seem that all of the even arguably valid purposes behind the NWPTA have now been addressed at a national level - without some of the most glaring flaws.

So with that in mind, we should ask: is there any purpose to keeping the NWPTA around other than to give corporations multiple ways to attack policymaking at the provincial level? And if not, then isn't it about time to terminate the NWPTA?

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jordan Brennan and Kaylie Tiessen write that it's long past time to set a level of federal revenue sufficient to support the social programs Canadians want:
In the decades since [corporate-driven] reforms were undertaken, Canada experienced a significant deterioration in its macroeconomic performance: business investment has worsened and the rate of job creation and GDP growth have both decelerated. If there is no solid economic evidence to suggest that budgetary and tax reform succeeded in elevating investment levels or increasing the rate of economic growth, how are we to understand the commitment to balanced budgets and shrinking government?

The answer is, unsurprisingly, political. The Canadian welfare state grew out of the wreckage of the Great Depression. In the early postwar decades many of the federal programs that Canadians enjoy were created. As a share of GDP, budgetary revenue grew from 10 per cent in 1939 to 20 per cent by 1974 — an effective doubling of the size of the federal government during a period of exceptionally strong economic growth.

Today, after decades of proportional reductions in revenue and spending, the federal aspects of the welfare state have been significantly diminished. The political program of undoing the New Deal model of governance has largely succeeded in Canada, at least at the federal level.

But here’s the problem: cutting taxes or reducing spending will not facilitate reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples, who experience a vast funding shortfall when it comes to infrastructure, education and health care. It will do nothing to make housing more affordable in Vancouver, nor will it expedite the transition to a low-carbon economy in Alberta. A balanced budget will not ease gridlock in the GTA, nor will it provide the health care resources Atlantic Canadians require to cope with an aging population.

Perhaps that’s why, after decades of the “smaller government is better” mantra, Canadians have opened themselves up to the utility of deficit financing. The next step would be to extend the conversation into the domain of taxation, to determine what level is required to solve some of Canada’s most pressing policy challenges.
- Lizanne Foster highlights how any promise of future benefits from the B.C. Libs is limited to the province's wealthy few, while Douglas Todd notes that there's broad public agreement with that expectation. And Martyn Brown offers a simple but vital formula to ensure change from Christy Clark's corrupt corporatism at the polls. 

- Meanwhile, William Yardley traces British Columbia's path from being ahead of the curve on climate change to clinging to fossil fuels. And Aurora Tejeida writes that there's been no followup at all on promises to protect the environment from inevitable oil spills.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on a push for Ontario to follow Iceland's lead in ensuring employer transparency to further the cause of pay equity. And Forum Research finds massive public support in the province for a $15 minimum wage - contrasted against not a single group polled which stands opposed to the possibility.

- Finally, Taylor Bendig questions the Wall government's choice to throw STC under the bus without any apparent planning or analysis.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

New column day

Here, expanding on this post about New Brunswick's failed attempt to become a corporate tax haven - and why Brad Wall's attempt at a similar scheme for Saskatchewan is similarly doomed.

For further reading...
- Again, the outline of Shawn Graham's scheme to win over corporations as a tax haven is found in Daniel McHardle's report. And CBC reported on the eventual demand from the New Brunswick Business Council to reverse the cuts (which, like Wall's, seem to have been purely the product of government ideology rather than any meaningful analysis or consultation).
- Statistics Canada has provincial GDP numbers here (CANSIM table  379-0030), showing New Brunswick's stagnation after Graham's 2009 announcement. And Heide Pearson reported on New Brunswick's population drop in the most recent census.
- Finally, Alex MacPherson's report on multi-million-dollar payments to CEOs in Saskatchewan's slumping resource sectors offers yet another example of how the people at the top never seem to sacrifice when everybody else is told to pitch in.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Dani Rodrik argues that it's too late to try to compensate the people being deliberately left behind by trade deals - and that instead, we need to make sure their interests are actually taken into account in how trade is structured:
Today’s consensus concerning the need to compensate globalization’s losers presumes that the winners are motivated by enlightened self-interest – that they believe buy-in from the losers is essential to maintain economic openness. Trump’s presidency has revealed an alternative perspective: globalization, at least as currently construed, tilts the balance of political power toward those with the skills and assets to benefit from openness, undermining whatever organized influence the losers might have had in the first place. Inchoate discontent about globalization, Trump has shown, can easily be channeled to serve an altogether different agenda, more in line with elites’ interests.

The politics of compensation is always subject to a problem that economists call “time inconsistency.” Before a new policy – say, a trade agreement – is adopted, beneficiaries have an incentive to promise compensation. Once the policy is in place, they have little interest in following through, either because reversal is costly all around or because the underlying balance of power shifts toward them. 

The time for compensation has come and gone. Even if compensation was a viable approach two decades ago, it no longer serves as a practical response to globalization’s adverse effects. To bring the losers along, we will need to consider changing the rules of globalization itself.
- David Cay Johnston looks at the public records available about Donald Trump's wealth to highlight how he and his fellow .01%ers have been benefiting financially at the expense of most Americans.

- Rachael Pells points out how U.K. funding intended to help poorer students is in fact being used to paper over general funding shortages - resulting in cuts to exactly the schools which most need support.

- Bill Curry exposes the Trudeau Libs' secrecy when it comes to reports on airport privatization in the name of protecting Credit Suisse as a potential profiteer. And Geoff Leo reports on the Sask Party's repeated concealment of documents about the Global Transportation Hub scandal to cover up for CP.

- Finally, CBC reports that the privacy of mere citizens isn't so much a concern, as evidence by Eric Olauson's apparently-unquestioned demand to do a "background check" on people who dared to e-mail him a comment about the budget.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Clingy cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Daniel Munro highlights how Uber and other service apps manipulate their workers. And The New York Times' editorial board warns about the false promises of the gig economy:
In reality, there is no utopia at companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart and Handy, whose workers are often manipulated into working long hours for low wages while continually chasing the next ride or task. These companies have discovered they can harness advances in software and behavioral sciences to old-fashioned worker exploitation, according to a growing body of evidence, because employees lack the basic protections of American law.
Gig economy workers tend to be poorer and are more likely to be minorities than the population at large, a survey by the Pew Research Center found last year. Compared with the population as a whole, almost twice as many of them earned under $30,000 a year, and 40 percent were black or Hispanic, compared with 27 percent of all American adults. Most said the money they earned from online platforms was essential or important to their families.

Since workers for most gig economy companies are considered independent contractors, not employees, they do not qualify for basic protections like overtime pay and minimum wages...
...Over time even bigger companies like Uber, many of which lose money and rely on investors to keep pouring in billions of dollars of capital, might find that it pays to treat workers better and even make some of them employees.

But so far, experience with these companies shows that without the legal protections and ethical norms that once were widely accepted, workers will find the economy of the future an even more inhospitable place.

- Meanwhile, Daniel Tencer reports on Canada's stagnant wage levels (even as raw job numbers increase). And Clare Hennig reports on Andrew Cash's work to ensure reasonable protection for contract workers.

- Manasi Deshpande studies the effect of taking welfare benefits away from low-income youth, and finds that it results in the people affected (and their families) being far worse off.

- Rhys Kesselman points out that a capital gains tax on housing prices would go a long way toward reining in Canada's worrisome urban housing bubble.

- Mike Hager exposes the millions of dollars the Christy Clark B.C. Libs have vacuumed up through case-for-access events. And Tammy Robert posts about the similar cash-for-access problem in Saskatchewan.

- Barry Saxifrage writes about the alarming increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. And James Munson reports on new research showing that Canada is lagging behind other developed countries in decoupling economic development from carbon pollution.

- Finally, Michael Harris rightly tears into Justin Trudeau for choosing to become Donald Trump North on Syria and other issues.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Katha Pollitt reviews Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, and identifies the problem that profiteers have a vested interest in perpetuating poverty:
What if the dominant discourse on poverty is just wrong? What if the problem isn’t that poor people have bad morals – that they’re lazy and impulsive and irresponsible and have no family values – or that they lack the skills and smarts to fit in with our shiny 21st-century economy? What if the problem is that poverty is profitable? These are the questions at the heart of Evicted, Matthew Desmond’s extraordinary ethnographic study of tenants in low-income housing in the deindustrialised middle-sized city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

You might not think that there is a lot of money to be extracted from a dilapidated trailer park or a black neighbourhood of “sagging duplexes, fading murals, 24-hour daycares”. But you would be wrong. Tobin Charney makes $400,000 a year out of his 131 trailers, some of which are little better than hovels. Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher who is one of the only black female landlords in the city, makes enough in rents on her numerous properties – some presentable, others squalid – to holiday in Jamaica and attend conferences on real estate.
Desmond lays out the crucial role housing plays in creating and reinforcing white privilege. In Milwaukee, one of the most segregated cities in the US, all black people suffer from housing discrimination and all white people benefit at least a little from the racial dividend – a landlord who will rent to them but not to black people, for instance, or offer them a nicer apartment. Black people have the worst housing in the worst neighbourhoods – the great fear of the trailer-park people, who are all white, is that they will end up on the black side of town. Eviction hits black women hardest of all, and the bleak benches of housing courts, which deal with disputes between landlords and tenants, are full of black women and their children: “If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighbourhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.”

What are the social costs of eviction? It puts incredible stress on families. It prevents people from saving the comparatively small sums that would let them stabilise their situation. They are always starting over from scratch, losing their possessions in the chaos of removal, or putting them in storage and losing them when they can’t pay the fees. An eviction on your record makes the next apartment harder to get. Eviction damages children, who are always changing schools, giving up friends and toys and pets – and living with the exhaustion and depression of their parents. We watch Jori go from a sweet, protective older brother to an angry, sullen boy subject to violent outbursts who is falling way behind in school.

Eviction makes it hard to keep up with the many appointments required by the courts and the byzantine welfare system: several characters have their benefits cut because notices are sent to the wrong address. Eviction destroys communities: when people move frequently, they don’t form the social bonds and pride in place that encourage them to care for their block and look out for their neighbours.
- Christina Starmans, Mark Sheskin and Paul Bloom examine the relationship between fairness and inequality, and find that people's more intuitions are aimed more toward the former than the latter.

- Frank Fear discusses how "progressive neoliberalism" is undermining the progressive movement by opening up even more space for neoliberal management theories to dominate politics. And Jared Bernstein argues that we'll achieve better policy results by directly providing for the outcomes we want, rather than hoping for market mechanisms or other complex structures to achieve them indirectly. 

- Meanwhile, Tyler Cowen points out that trade over long distances as a proportion of total trade hasn't changed over the past three decades - meaning that the growing dominance of capital in that time can't be explained solely by globalization as a value-neutral principle. 

- Finally, Steve Lambert reports on Wab Kinew's entry into the Manitoba NDP's leadership race.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Abi Wilkinson writes about the importance of making social benefits universal in order to reflect a sense of shared interests and purpose:
Universal aspects of the welfare state tend to be thought of as the fruit of common endeavour. The NHS tops the list of things that make people in this country proud to be British, ahead of the royal family and armed forces. The suggestion that some patients should be charged for hospital visits is likely to make most shudder. Such a reform is widely understood as contrary to everything the NHS is about. Once you’ve introduced a universal provision, it is politically difficult to remove it. Voters are fiercely protective of the entitlements that come to be understood as basic rights.

Means-tested benefits, on the other hand, are seen more as a form of charity. As such, it’s frequently argued that they should go only to the “deserving poor”. The specific definition of “deserving” is a subject of constant public debate. Those further towards the left of the political spectrum are more likely to argue that income level is the only relevant factor. Those on the right tend to see welfare as a tool to control the behaviour of recipients and often insist on additional moral tests. This is the logic that drives the benefit sanctions regime, and the recent cut to child tax credits for families with more than two children.
It’s true that money spent on middle-class kids’ dinners could theoretically be directed at poorer pupils in more targeted ways, but that misses the point. Maximising cost-effectiveness isn’t what universality is about. Children who receive free school meals report being bullied and stigmatised, and many families who are entitled to claim them avoid doing so for this reason. Others earn just above the £16,190 income threshold but still struggle with the cost of food. Families with an income below the threshold are excluded if a parent works more than 16 hours per week. In some cases, children go hungry not for financial reasons but because of parental neglect. Providing a hot meal to every child ensures that nobody falls through the net.

There’s a solid, practical argument for Labour’s proposal, but focusing only on direct outcomes fails to capture the true challenge facing the party. The welfare reforms introduced under New Labour were largely means-tested. For this reason, the Conservatives have found it easy to roll back much of the progress that was made. The most resilient aspects of our welfare state are the universal provisions which were introduced decades ago.
Of course the problems with our education system won’t be solved with a single policy, but this could represent a symbolic turning point. Expanding universal provisions could be at the centre of a genuinely exciting vision for the future of the country. More radical options, such as a universal basic income, have also been discussed, but there are all kinds of possibilities. To convince disillusioned voters it has something to offer, Labour needs to be brave and think big. Fiddling with numbers on a spreadsheet won’t cut it.
- Meanwhile, Henry Mintzberg comments on the dangers of trying to run government like a business.

- Jordon Cooper discusses how important public institutions and vulnerable people are bearing the brunt of Brad Wall's cutbacks, even as corporations are handed goodies with no prospect of any public benefit. And Murray Mandryk highlights how this year's extreme austerity budget has made clear that the Saskatchewan Party's supposed concern for people with disabilities has proven illusory.

- CBC reports on new research showing the strong effect of rent subsidies on the well-being of lower-income citizens of Waterloo. But Shawn Jeffords notes that the Ontario Libs and Cons shot down an NDP attempt to ensure that rent is more affordable.

- Finally, Adnan Al-Daini writes that even the dirtiest government Donald Trump can think to administer won't stop the spread of clean energy around the globe. And on that front, Natasha Geiling reports on the imminent end of new coal power in Europe.

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the federal NDP's leadership campaign...

- Marie-Danielle Smith reports that Jagmeet Singh is laying the groundwork to join the race. And Steve Paikin offers his take as to what that might mean for the current candidates - while also raising the (seemingly unlikely) prospect that Thomas Mulcair might join the fray.

- Meanwhile, Eleanor Davidson reports on the much lower-profile entry of Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury. And anybody looking for some background on El-Khoury's view of the NDP can find it on the site set up when he was seeking the party's nomination in Papineau.

- Cory Collins interviews Guy Caron about both his basic income proposal, and the political strategy needed to win power to implement it. Charlie Angus writes about the need to question CEO perks (and the public policies that facilitate them) in order to ensure fairness for workers. James Kelly talks to Niki Ashton about her work to build a Bernie Sanders-like movement in Canada. And Ian Capstick's On the Road podcast features conversations with the MPs in the race about their experiences in school.

- Finally, Ed Broadbent highlights the need for the NDP to set the political agenda no matter who emerges as leader, while Kristy Kirkup interviews Broadbent about his take at the Progress Summit. Kenneth Dewar discusses what he sees as tension between strong principles and a path to power - though he doesn't provide much evidence that one is actually a barrier to the other. And Thomas Woodley wonders whether an amicable leadership campaign will allow NDP members to test which candidates can best challenge Justin Trudeau's political skills and policy choices.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ethan Cox reports on new polling showing that Canadians are highly concerned about inequality - even if our governments aren't doing anywhere meaningful to address it:
Of Canadians surveyed, 73 per cent said their and their family’s economic situation had stayed the same or gotten worse over the past two years, while 68 per cent did not expect it to improve over the next two years.The poll, conducted by Strategic Communications, was made public at the Broadbent Institute’s Progress Summit in Ottawa.

Asked who benefits from today’s economy, 67 per cent fingered the wealthiest Canadians. Despite the Trudeau government’s rhetorical focus on the middle class, only 11 per cent of respondents identified the middle class as benefiting from today’s economy.

Eighty-two per cent of Canadians think the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing, and 84 per cent think that’s a problem.
Large majorities supported closing tax loopholes and tax havens, a new tax bracket for high-income earners, a more progressive income tax system and restoration of corporate taxes to pre-Harper levels. Over two-thirds of Canadians also backed a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“Canadians are feeling the impacts of increasing inequality and want to see the government address the cost of living and the growing gap between the rich and everyone else,” said Stratcom president and CEO Bob Penner in a release. “They are worried about Trump, and how good a job the government will do standing up to him. While Trudeau remains popular, our polling shows there are chinks in that armour, and growing income inequality and how the government deals with the U.S. President are two of them.”
- Sarah Mojtehedzadeh reports on the CCPA's research showing that the gig economy is built around young workers who lack better options. Mike McCarthy and Micah Uetricht point out how the precarious state of the U.S.' pension system is undermining workers of all ages. And Theophilos Argitis observes that increased job numbers in Canada aren't doing anything to improve wages.

- Kate McInturff discusses how the beneficiaries of the wage gap between men and women stand in the way of closing it. And Agence France-Presse reports on Iceland's worthwhile step to make pay equity the norm required of all employers. 

- Gordon McIntyre interviews Jean Swanson about the growing problem of homelessness in British Columbia - and the political choices which have needlessly made it worse.

- Meanwhile, Laurie Monsebraaten reports on a worthy effort by Ontario to stop imposing destructive reviews on people receiving welfare benefits due to disabilities.

- Finally, Amina Zafar examines the cost of unnecessary health testing and treatment across Canada both in dollars, and in stress on our health care system.

The race to nowhere

Following up on in the Saskatchewan Party's budget plan to benefit the rich with tax cuts (with the explicit aim of making corporate taxes lower than any other province) while soaking everybody else, it's worth offering a reminder what happened to the last Canadian province to try the exact same gambit.

New Brunswick's 2009 budget included both severe cuts to the public sector, and a much-trumpeted intention to undercut other provinces on corporate taxes. And of course, the latter were supposedly justified by the claim that lower corporate taxes would lead to more growth and jobs.

So how did that work out?

Well, neither the offer of immediate tax slashing nor the promise of more to come actually did anything to improve the province's economy. In fact, within a few years, even the New Brunswick Business Council - a group consisting effectively of the corporations who gained the most from the cuts - publicly admonished the province to raise corporate taxes back to a more sensible level. (That's exactly what it eventually did.)

And that wasn't even the worst-case scenario. At least the fact that nobody else followed New Brunswick's reckless lead meant that there was no particular fallout when the province went back to a more typical rate. But if other provinces had felt compelled to implement the same cuts, the result would have been less revenue for all of the affected provinces in perpetuity.

Of course, providing less for people and more for corporate donors seems to be the primary goal of the Wall government. And we shouldn't believe for a second that slashing corporate taxes will have any other effect.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Musical interlude

Pale - Too Much

On bodily integrity

It was bad enough when the Saskatchewan Party declared its intention to put as many barriers as possible in the way of access to social services, particularly by making excuses about whether people are "able-bodied".

But it's even worse that the responsibility for applying that standard lies with a minister who apparently doesn't know the difference between a budget surplus and a capital asset - resulting in her impliedly suggesting that libraries sell, say, their books in response to the Sask Party's budget cuts.

Which raises the question: under Tina Beaudry-Mellor's philosophy, will Saskatchewan people be required to auction off their organs before being able to count on any public assistance?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- In advance of this year's Progress Summit, Ed Broadbent writes that burgeoning inequality threatens our democracy:
Inequality matters. Promises must be kept. It’s not enough for our government to celebrate the diversity of our country but not enact policies that head off growing inequality. Mr. Trudeau, it’s time to deliver.

The underlying causes that produced the harsh politics of resentment and exclusion in the United Kingdom before Brexit, and in the recent U.S. election, are stirring here at home. According to a recent EKOS poll, the percentage of Canadians who identify themselves as middle class has dropped from 67 per cent to 46 per cent. And 70 per cent of Canadians believe – quite accurately – that almost all recent economic growth has gone to the top one per cent. Almost 60 per cent of Canadians said that they would not be surprised if violence broke out unless inequality was addressed.

This accurate perception of unfairness, that some make great gains but most do not, undermines democracy. As the statistics suggest, many Canadians feel the sense of alienation from the political process and from the economic system, which has fuelled the rise of the nationalist and intolerant political right around the world: Donald Trump in the U.S., UKIP in the UK, and the Front National in France.
A country’s true worth is not measured by how it enables the few but by how it provides for the many. Our country needs all the restless, creative energy we can bring to bear to create a brighter future.
- Meanwhile, George Monbiot warns against accepting a definition of "freedom" which is limited to allowing the wealthy and well-connected to exploit the public. And Matt Stoller discusses Simcha Barkai's research showing how bigger corporations are making workers poorer.

- Jessica Vomiero looks at the Conference Board of Canada's research showing that residents of Atlantic provinces are significantly happier than people elsewhere in Canada - based in large part on a stronger sense of community and greater affordability. And discussing the same study, Peter Zimonjic reports that Canada ranks fairly highly among comparable countries in overall life satisfaction, but near the bottom in terms of gender equality.

- Armine Yalnizyan discusses the importance of focusing on gender equality in developing and analyzing budgets. And Heather Cleland explains why the Libs' plan to extend maternal leave benefits only for those who have money to spare doesn't answer the real disparities which need addressing.

- Finally, Michal Rozworski interviews Charles Smith and Ian Hussey about the contrast between Brad Wall's destructive austerity and Rachel Notley's maintenance of needed services.

New column day

Here, following up on this post as to the Libs' cynical repudiation of the very concept of ideas and values in politics.

For further reading...
- Fair Vote Canada's list of National Advisory Board members is here - and as noted, it hardly reflects the spin of being "anti-Liberal". And FVC's statement as to the importance of being involved in electoral politics is here.
- I've covered most of the policy points mentioned in the column before, but will add David Hulchanski's post on the Libs' illusory housing spending.
- Joanna Smith reports on the Libs' attempt to strip opposition parties of their ability to hold a government to account (as well as the necessary response). Paul Wells discusses Justin Trudeau's contempt for question period - which is as obvious when he's failing to answer every question posed as when he's choosing not to bother showing up. And Andrew Coyne points out how the unaccountable concentration of power in the PMO is only undermining any perception of legitimacy in federal decision-making.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Owen Jones writes that excessive reliance on corporate profiteers is the reason why the UK's trains don't run on time. And Nora Loreto argues that postal banking is needed (among other reasons) to rein in abuses by Canada's biggest banks.

- Shannon Daub examines what British Columbia's voters want going into their provincial election next month - including a more progressive tax system and improved public services. Carol Linnitt points out that the Christy Clark Libs are instead running a slate of corporate lobbyists to further leech off the province. And Derrick O'Keefe discusses the desperate need for a change in government.

- Stefan Stern highlights the strong positive impact of an increased minimum wage on both general economic growth, and personal security for workers. And Josh Eidelson notes that U.S. voters have done their utmost to approve of higher minimum wages through direct ballot initiatives - only to have (mostly Republican) legislators try to undermine them at every turn.

- Meanwhile, Elise Gould and Celine McNicholas discuss the role unions play in ameliorating the gender wage gap.

- Finally, Samantha Craggs reports on the Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team's efforts to provide health services to vulnerable populations, which pointing out how much more work needs to be done in taking into account the social determinants of health.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Decorated cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mark Holmgren writes that there's no reason why we should allow poverty to continue in a country which has plenty of wealth to reduce it, while Patrick Butler notes that the conservative view of poverty as being solely the result of personal (lack of) merit is oblivious to the real obstacles facing people. Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on an effort to bring employers together to provide fair wages and a stable living based on both business and social benefits. And Daily Bread Food Bank offers a reminder that the need to navigate the tax system may result in people receiving far less than the benefits they need (and are entitled to).

- Richard Denniss points out the rank hypocrisy of big businesses demanding $48 billion in tax cuts in Australia while also complaining about public deficits. Andrew Coyne highlights how Bombardier is paying out millions of bonuses on a business model of taking in public money. And John Michael McGrath discusses how small towns suffer from corporate benefit-chasing - particularly as the promise of tax revenue from chain retailers proves illusory.

- Regan Boychuk raises a question as to who should be liable to clean up the mess made by Alberta's oil industry. And Geoffrey Morgan reports on the example of Lexin Resources as a model for how large companies have tried to offload costs onto smaller operators which can't possible afford them.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron takes note of the Libs' broken promises when it comes to openness and accountability. And Meghan Sali writes that secrecy and a lack of public inclusion are among the key warning signs for trade deals and other insider-based policy choices.