Showing posts from May 30, 2014

An astonishing record – of complete failure

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[Economists are always saying "We don't get it perfectly correct, but we're better than any of the alternatives." Yet "In 2008, the consensus from forecasters was that not a single economy would fall into recession in 2009." *RON*] 

By Tim Harford, Financial Times, May 30, 2014

In the 2001 issue of the International Journal of Forecasting, an economist from the International Monetary Fund, Prakash Loungani, published a survey of the accuracy of economic forecasts throughout the 1990s. He reached two conclusions. The first was that forecasts are all much the same. There was little to choose between those produced by the IMF and the World Bank, and those from private sector forecasters. The second conclusion was that the predictive record of economists was terrible. Loungani wrote: “The record of failure to predict recessions is virtually unblemished.”

Now Loungani, with a colleague, Hites Ahir, has returned to the topi…

Who really benefits from Canada's tax giveaways?

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[The Harper government is the 1%. No surprise here, but the results are disappointing in how blatantly regressive and contributory to inequality Harper's policies are. *RON*]
By Kayle Hatt,, May 30, 2014

On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Budget Office released their long-awaited costing and distributional analysis of the tax measures implemented since the Harper government has been in power. In essence, they asked what is the cost of these tax cuts, who benefits, and to what degree.

The price tag of the tax cuts

The total cost of the tax cuts implemented by this government is $30.4 billion in 2014 ($17.1B on the income tax side and $13.3B from the GST/HST cuts). This is in addition to the cuts to the federal corporate income tax, which the PBO report did not look at but Jim Stanford has estimated to cost around $13 billion in annual revenue.

For comparison, reducing post-secondary tuition fees to 1992 levels (as proposed by this year's

Government repeatedly shuts out witnesses from citizenship and immigration debate

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[Canada, the land of Freedom From Information: "It is perfectly representative of the attitude that prevails both in the House and in committee." Earlier this month, expert witnesses were outraged after they were invited to Ottawa to speak to the citizenship committee, only to be shut out as the meeting went on behind closed doors. Other witnesses have come forward to say they have experienced this exclusion as well. "It's very disappointing, not only to myself but others -- especially those who come from away to testify as expert witnesses," Desloges said. *RON*]
Matthew Millar, Vancouver Observer, May 30th, 2014
Expert witnesses were shocked and "insulted" when the federal government recently flew them to Ottawa to speak to the Citizenship committee regarding a major new citizenship bill, only to muzzle them at the last minute.

“Do they think citizenship legislation is a joke?” historian Melynda Jarratt said a…

Why did Sun News Network censor my comments on the CBC?

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[Funny! I'll post the video once he answers my email! "That’s an excellent point Adrienne, unions didn’t get us worker safety regulations and a ban on child labour. Those things were generously offered by rich men who were visited by ghosts and filled with the Christmas spirit." Comedian Scott Vrooman appeared on the Sun News Network and lampooned right-wing critics of the CBC. When the video was taken down, he got mad. *RON*]

Comedian Scott Vrooman appeared on Sun News Network last week to discuss the recent round of layoffs at the CBC. During the interview, he played a Colbert-like caricature of a right-wing critic. It’s not clear whether the interviewer or the program’s producers were aware of what was going on. Later, after the video had gained some traction online, the network removed it from its website and everywhere else on the Internet. Here is Vrooman’s response:

Dear Sun News Network,

Your removal of our recent interview…

Liberal MLA Pat Pimm called on carpet over ‘downright racist’ comments

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[The most honest statement made by a Liberal politician in BC so far: "Here is an opportunity to actually muster up some support for our team but instead we will ignore it and go out and find some way to give the Indians more money which doesn’t get me one vote!" *RON*]

By Cassidy Olivier, The Province, May 29, 2014

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is calling on the B.C. government to issue a written apology for the “downright racist” comments made by a Liberal MLA during an email exchange with his colleagues.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the UBCIC, also wants Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace River North, stripped of his status as a member of the government’s select standing committee on Aboriginal Affairs and a public repudiation of his “shocking” remarks.

“The comments from MLA Pat Pimm, especially as an appointed member of the selection standing committee on Aboriginal Affairs, are completely repugnant, reprehensible and downrigh…

The Senate Loses One of Its Best as Romeo Dallaire Departs

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["...the tendency of institutions and offices perceived as corrupt and dysfunctional is toward the self-fulfilling prophecy, driving away the very people who would alter [that] perception." Exactly, this is a real loss for Canadian politics at a time when we can scarce afford to lose any good people. *RON*]

Wayne K. SpearWriter and host of The Roundtable Toronto, Huffington Post, 05/29/2014

The date was Thursday February 15, 2007, and I was on my way to a parliamentary Senate breakfast on Ottawa's Wellington Street. With me was the former long-time CBC national reporter Whit Fraser, a man who is never lacking for a quip of the moment. As I opened the door to the Senate building, keen to escape Ottawa's notorious winds, he remarked: "eighty per cent of these people are useless. But the other twenty make up for it."

In these post-scandal years, many will doubtless object, judging the math too generous and the conclusio…

A thumbnail sketch of federal privacy commissoner nominee Daniel Therrien

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[So, he served long under right-winger and staunch Harper loyalist Peter MacKay in Defense and helped supervise the utter abandonment of Canadian information sovereignty to the NSA and CIA. Sounds like a real "keeper" for a privacy commissioner. *RON*]

CP on Huffington Post, 05/29/2014

OTTAWA - A sketch of federal privacy commissoner nominee Daniel Therrien:

CURRENT JOB: Assistant deputy attorney general for public safety, defence and immigration at Justice Department since 2005.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts and law degrees, University of Ottawa. Called to Quebec bar in 1981.

PAST ROLES: Began career as counsel to solicitor general's department, Correctional Service of Canada and National Parole Board. From 1990 to 2001, served as senior general counsel and director, Citizenship and Immigration legal services, at Justice. Later became director general, refugee policy, at Citizenship and Immigration. In 2002, took on the role with of…

Maternal Health Summit: Harper's Office Criticized For Restricting Journalists

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[One of the HuffPost readers had a good comment, "The opposition not allowed, now the media. If this is a private Conservative Party function then they should be the ones paying for it and leave the Government of Canada brand out of it." I believe he is doing this because he knows people will talk about reproductive health, and he doesn't want to see this covered. *RON*]

The Huffington Post Canada, 05/29/2014

The Prime Minister's Office is facing criticism for restricting journalists from covering certain aspects of an international maternal health summit in Toronto.

Maclean's science reporter Kate Lunau wrote Wednesday that, at the launch of the three-day conference, reporters were banned from attending sessions about immunization and nutrition.

Lunau said journalists also learned they could not attend the next day's sessions on newborn and maternal health.

On Thursday, reporters were told they could not attend a speec…

Big Carbon’s Big Liability

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[A new strategy. Environmental groups have warned directors of fossil fuel companies that they may be held personally liable for misleading the public about climate change. *RON*]

Dan Zegart, The Nation, May 29, 2014
A new and potentially potent weapon is being unleashed in the climate wars. Yesterday, three major international environmental organizations warned the corporate executives of some of the largest fossil fuel companies that they could be personally liable for damages for funding climate change denialists and working against efforts to slow climate change.

The notice came in the form of a letter, signed by Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for International Environmental Law, that was sent to the directors and officers of thirty-two of the “carbon majors”—the ninety companies that a recent groundbreaking study (see “Paying the Price,” The Nation, May 12, 2014) demonstrated may be responsible for some two-thirds of the …