Posts from our progressive community

Are there no workhouses?

Creekside - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 23:59
Some holiday cheer from the Canadian neo-liberal think tank, Frontier Centre for Public Policy :

 Transcript :
"Labour laws in Canada are supposed to protect workers from exploitation and ensure their safety. But they are not always helping teenagers who are entering the workforce for the first time. Most provinces require that anyone younger than 16 or 14 obtain a permit to work or have written permission from their parents. Children under 12 are almost never allowed to work unless they might be helping on a family farm.  Teens who do work face many restrictions, including how many hours and which hours they're allowed to work. Some of these rules seem rather unnecessary. In Alberta, 12 to 14 year olds are forbidden from working more than 2 hours on a schoolday. Two hour workshifts four days a week are more disruptive than 4 hour shifts two days a week.
Minimum wage laws also make it more difficult for young people with no experience to find their first job. In the UK there's a lower minimum wage for people between the ages of 18 and 20 and for those under 18.  Teenagers who live at home are often able to accept lower wages than adults.
It's time for governments to show more consideration for the needs of young people when developing labour policies."Yes, why aren't more 12 year olds working four days a week for less than minimum wage?

I first got interested in FCPP back in 2007 when the Cons tapped them for policy advice on electoral reform. This was amusing because FCPP didn't seem very keen on electoral reform, although they were pretty big on private health care, denying the existence of climate change, disbanding the Canadian Wheat Board, and promoting bulk exports of water to the US.
Harper liked them well enough to give a guest speech at one of their fundraisers in Winnipeg in 2009 . This was the same year FCPP and the Fraser Institute co-sponsored the first Canadian tour of Lord Christopher "Global Warming is a Hoax" Monkton 
Currently on their main page they are featuring one of their research fellows, Wendell Cox,  also a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute, and author of The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big-Box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy.
These free marketeers are pretty ubiquitous in our media. From just the past few days :
CBC : 'Greenpeace dropout' Patrick Moore defends Kinder Morgan pipeline   Climate change denier and not founder of Greenpeace Patrick Moore is environment chair at FCPP
Financial Post : When emissions disappear, so do jobs by a senior FCPP research fellow
Global News is running a half-hour weekly podcast on Alberta politics with the VP of FCPP 

So, who are you getting your news from lately?.

Deep thought

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 19:29
In general, we should be appalled by the idea of letting catastrophic climate change run amok and force people to abandon their homes and communities.

But for a few self-selected people, it's tough not to see some poetic justice in the possibility.

December 6, 2014

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 18:46
It’s the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. Everyone knows the name of the misogynist bastard who did this. Perhaps readers might want to take the time to memorize, say, three of the names of his fourteen victims.... Dr.Dawg

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 17:51
Activa - Antimatter

Thug life in Edmonton

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 13:59
Officer Darren Wilson of Ferguson, MO, has reportedly made his first million by gunning down an unarmed Black kid. In Edmonton, AB, Constable Mike Wasylyshen has just become a Sergeant. Who is Mike Wasylyshen? He’s the son of a former... Dr.Dawg

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 06:37
Assorted content to end your week.

- Manuel Perez-Rocha writes about the corrosive effect of allowing businesses to dictate public policy through trade agreements:
(C)orporations are increasingly using investment and trade agreements — specifically, the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in them — to bring opportunistic cases in arbitral courts, circumventing decisions states deem in their best interest. And now investor-state dispute settlement provisions may be enshrined in two new treaties: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently under negotiation between, respectively, the United States and the European Union, and the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific nations. If the final agreements contain these mechanisms, we can expect a flood of cases like Pacific Rim v. El Salvador.

Investor-state dispute settlement provisions feature in many significant pacts, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, and nine U.S.-E.U. bilateral investment treaties. Foreign investors can sue over alleged violations of myriad “investor protections,” including public-interest regulations that would reduce their profits. But it doesn’t cut both ways: Governments or communities affected by foreign investors cannot bring claims. Equally troublesome, tribunal operations are often opaque....The investor-state dispute settlement mechanism is like playing soccer on half the field. Corporations are free to sue, and nations must defend themselves at enormous cost — and the best a government can hope for is a scoreless game. As the T.T.I.P. and T.P.P. negotiations continue, Pacific Rim vs. El Salvador should remind us not to privilege foreign investors to the detriment of the national — or global — good.- And that corporate privilege stands in particularly stark contrast to the limited rights of citizens - as evidenced by the Ontario Court of Appeal's recent decision that individuals can't even make out an arguable case for a Charter right to housing.

- Joseph Heath examines the reality that dirty and hard-to-extract oil reserves should be seen as stranded assets for the sake of our planet, rather than relied on as a source of future wealth.

- Keith Neuman and Ian Bruce comment on the growing consensus that we need to take strong action to fight climate change. Martin Lukacs suggests that public ownership within the energy industry would go a long way toward getting greenhouse gas emissions in check. And the Fraser Institute helpfully points out that the alternative to mitigating climate change is to abandon cities built in locations which will suffer its most extreme effects.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom discusses the Cons' habit of cultivating foreign enemies in order to paper over their lack of interest in governing in the interest of Canadians.

The Real Villain Is Stephen Harper

Northern Reflections - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 05:20

The opposition parties are calling for Julian Fantino's resignation. It's true that Fantino has bungled every cabinet position he's held. But he has never run any ministry for which he has been held responsible. Michael Harris writes:

No Harper cabinet minister runs his or her department. Fantino does what every other cabinet minister does — exactly what he’s told to do by the PMO. He did what he was told as minister of state for Seniors, as associate minister of Defence, as minister for International Cooperation, and as the dud champ of the vets. A click of the heels, a salute — and then its off to fire another snowball made by Stephen Harper.

Harper doesn’t fire people for doing what they’re told — which is why Fantino still has his job. Nor has the PM ever had a problem with sending a bricklayer to repair a Rolex. In fact, Harper has used Fantino’s tough-guy/ex-cop image in every one of his postings to “scare the ‘crats” internally, as one insider put it — the “‘crats” being bureaucrats. Since Harper is still persuaded the public service is an enemy, Fantino performs a very useful service.
It's Harper who has dismantled Veterans Affairs. Consider the numbers:

It’s Harper who is downsizing Veterans Affairs. It’s Harper who removed $226 million from VA, or nearly 30 per cent of its operational budget, in just two years. It’s Harper who thinks massive job cuts at VA — 1,000 so far — amount to nothing more than the culling of backroom nobodies.

Finally, it’s the PM who has such a shallow understanding of the nature of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that he thinks any vet suffering from it can get help at Service Canada Centres — the places you go to apply for Employment Insurance or maternity benefits.
And to cover the damage, there is the usual response -- advertise:

Those ads will have to be pretty good this time. They’ll have to make people forget all about the unspent $1.13 billion the Harper government has siphoned from Veterans Affairs since 2006. They’ll have to convince Canadians to overlook the fact that Harper has cut 25 per cent of the workforce at Veterans Affairs in the past five years. As reported by Paul McLeod of the Chronicle Herald, half of those cuts were made to a program called Health Care and Re-Establishment benefits.
Fantino may be a tough talking fool. But the real villain is Stephen Harper.

The Parliament Hill Shooting: What is the RCMP Hiding?

Montreal Simon - Fri, 12/05/2014 - 03:29

Almost as soon as the shooting stopped, and not long after he emerged from his closet, Stephen Harper declared that Canada was under attack by the dark forces of ISIS.

And starting calling the dead gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, an ISIS terrorist. Even though he was a mentally ill crack addict.

And a few days later the RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson claimed the RCMP had a video that showed that Zehaf-Bibeau had acted for ideological motives.

But now it turns out we may never see that video, and as Tim Harper points out, that's a real threat to our democracy. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper Sells Us Out To China. Again.

Montreal Simon - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 23:35

Well now it's official. Now you can call him comrade Harper. Or Great Yum Yum or Dumb Dumb Leader.

Or just Mr Sellout.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government quietly signed a customs-sharing agreement with China without announcing it to the public, Global News has learned. And the move has experts worried about the consequences to Canada’s security.
Read more »


Cathie from Canada - Thu, 12/04/2014 - 23:32

Ann Telnaes writes
White Americans don’t understand the racial profiling black Americans deal with on a daily basis.The New York Times quotes protestors across the country saying "No justice. No peace. No racist police." Yes, they're finally calling police racist, in spite of the pearl-clutchers at Fox News.
As Charles Blow writes
Racism is a real thing, not because the “racial grievance industry” refuses to release it, but because society has failed to eradicate it.
Racism is interpersonal and structural; it is current and historical; it is explicit and implicit; it is articulated and silent.
Biases are pervasive, but can also be spectral: moving in and out of consideration with little or no notice, without leaving a trace, even without our own awareness. Sometimes the only way to see bias is in the aggregate, to stop staring so hard at a data point and step back so that you can see the data set. Only then can you detect the trails in the dust. Only then can the data do battle with denial.. . .
The activism that followed Ferguson and that is likely to be intensified by what happened in New York isn’t about making a martyr of “Big Mike” or “Big E” as much as it is about making the most of a moment, counternarratives notwithstanding.
In this most trying of moments, black men, supported by the people who understand their plight and feel their pain, are saying to the police culture of America, “We can’t breathe!”


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