Tag Archives: Canada

(119) Ed Broadbent on inequality

It’s quite heartening to see Ed Broadbent reemerging into Canada’s public realm through the creation of an institute with a major focus on economic inequality.  Even those adhering to neo-conservative thought must surely find it refreshing to come across perspectives other than their own.  Of course, that may be asking too much but  Mr. Broadbent appears intent on backing up his take on inequality, and the harm it does, with strong arguments, research and statistical evidence.  Not just the right has a tradition of vehemence, argumentativeness and truthfulness don’t you know!

At suburban-poverty.com we have high hopes that Mr. Broadbent will be successful getting the word out.  A reversal of the brain-washing, the opinions-disguised-as-the-truth, the elistist contmept and laissez-faire social policy that have been so much a part of the national life for the last three decades is long overdue.  Indeed, we remember in our teens some three decades ago, that in Canada Scandinavia-style social democracy was viewed as a perfectly rational option for the nation by a great many people.  Things turned out rather differently it would seem.  The inequality we have here now and, above all, the way it is viewed as inevitable by so many tells us that.

But efforts like that of economicinequality.ca and now Mr. Broadbent, however, show us that perhaps Canada is not a complete write off yet?  “Ready, aye ready …already!”

Broadbent Institute

(116) F-35s, inequality & Ed Broadbent

Look at this stupid thing!  They call that a fighter plane?  For starters, it looks like a toy carved from a dirty bar of soap with a set of bus wheels stuck underneath.  Naming this glorified laptop after the American P-38 Lightning of the Second World War shows just how desperate the military industrial complex has become.  The cost overruns are not even really the problem, they are apparently quite normal where this type of project is concerned.  The lack of competitive bidding is also secondary to suburban-poverty.com.  There will even be jobs if the purchase goes through, always a good thing, and Canada needs defence gear in a dangerous, resource-hungry world.  What pisses us off, besides how lame looking this thing is when put up against the diversity of flying machines the world has come up with over the last hundred years, is the relationship between this weapon system and poverty and inequality.  How can we have the money for this and precious little else?  If we have Yankee wars, Yankee ghettos and Yankee justice then we might as well have Yankee fighter planes screaming through the skies protecting the glory of it all, yah, is that it?
Linda McQuaig mentioned the F-35s today in her column in the Toronto Star.  She seems dead against them across the board and she mentioned how the $10bn in cost overruns (so far!) have left the Tories blubbering despite their projection of an image of fiscal sensibility.  The latter is a ticket Tories and Reformers and Republicans have been cashing at election time for decades now.  We’ll forever wonder why.
Ms McQuaig, a lefty, also mentioned the Tories’ recent demolition of a modest program of financial support to a partly volunteer-run initiative that maintains internet access in public libraries.  This was done in the name of austerity and financial sensibility.
Not only were the Super Hornet, SAAB and Eurofighter products left out of consideration but their planes are totally hot looking and some of them have two engines!!  The latter is somewhat important when you are flying over the second largest country in the world.  The toy above only has one.  What happens when you are thousands of kilometers from a runway and you lose an engine?  Goodbye zillion dollar killing machine, that’s what.  Certainly, suburban-poverty.com finds itself mostly in agreement with Ms. McQuaig, who established herself as a package of intelligence, wit and truthfulness in our books some time ago.
Reaching even further back in time was an article on the very same page of the same newspaper, Canada’s largest, from Ed Broadbent.  We remember our childhood when Mr. Broadbent was leader of the opposition and our working class Scottish parents would nod approvingly whenever he was on the news and would vote for him.  He never got to be PM, perhaps back then the people felt they were still going somewhere and didn’t really need him.  Either way, Mr. Broadbent came out swinging at economic inequality in Canada.  His take is backed up by public opinion research.  It seems inequality has begun to worry Canadians on a number of levels.  It seems they are sober about realizing they have to remain willing to pay taxes to preserve fairness and the quality of life. Like Ms McQuaig’s piece it makes for interesting reading.  Does it take a genius, or a Toronto Star editor, to place inequality and F-35 Lightnings on the same page?

(113) Economic Inequality forum at Metropolitan United

Economic Inequality held another public forum yesterday at Metropolitan United Church.  Three speakers weighed in on the matter, Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers was first with an early highlight in which he referred to FOX-style business “journalist” Kevin O’Leary as an asshole.  John Ralston Saul, president of PEN International and author made being a serious, history-minded public intellectual look so easy that even we are thinking of applying for such a position.

Tanya Zakrison, a surgeon from Doctors for Fair Taxation also weighed in on the realities of inequality.  Her phrase, “trauma is a political disease” will remain with us among our impressions of the two hour event. John Sewell and Liz Rykoff were there to act as hosts and are from the organzation’s steering committee.  Mike Ford handled the music.

Suburban-poverty.com attended the last forum, in Etobicoke.  Monday’s forum involved a larger crowd and there was less audience participation.  We found it educational and were heartened by the brain power on display and by the calibre of the arguments made against the aging bromides of neo-conservatism.  John Ralston Saul’s sense of Canadian history and the value he places on the relationship between democracy and the intelligence of the people is so nice to hear.

Metropolitan United Church was a good choice of venue.  Its community services efforts in the basement include a drop-in and meal program.  Open that day, it fed the homeless, provided referrals and other services to those in deep social difficulty, facing low income, personal problems, social exclusion …the very effects of inequality.

Doctors for Fair Taxation
Economic Inequality
nb: expired links 🙁

image: Metropolitan Methodist Church, (United), Toronto, 1896

(110) Inequality forum

LAMP has been a social services presence in Etobicoke for some time now and so it makes sense that they would help bring an Economic Inequality forum to Toronto’s west end.  The forum, one of three so far, is designed to get dialogue and action going in regard to the way societies like this one have just become giant machines for making the rich richer.  This is the considered, brainy, indoors, post-Occupy response I think a lot of us have been looking forward to seeing for a while now.   The suburban character of poverty, everything from aging highrises to the need for public transit spending, was fully acknowledged. Kay Blair, John Sewell and David Hulchanski spoke on behalf of the need to develop a broad popular agenda in favour of changing inequality.  The event was quite audience friendly and the reasonable array of ideas, the well-considered social awareness in evidence was a lovely contrast to the kind of reactive nonsense we hear from right wing critters in public office and in the media too often.
We told them so on their Facebook page!  They gave out some literature about inequality, gathered suggestions and the Etobicoke Guardian covered the event.  Hopefully this is going somewhere.

The next related event is at Metropolitan United Church on March 26.

Economic Inequality home page
Economic Inequality Facebook

(100) Canadian housing bubble?

Last fall, The Economist published a piece that put Canada on a list, with a few other smaller countries, of those eligible for a significant correction of real estate prices.  Hasn’t quite happened yet.  The country gains a quarter million immigrants a year and is set to become even more of a petro state in the future.  Both things keep traditional ideas and indicators of growth cooking along.  A number of large resource extraction projects are also on the books and these will likely bring in the cash, too.  Thing is, if real estate prices remain jacked up it makes things tough for the working poor.  It’s a mixed blessing for the beleagured middle classes, too.  Home equity makes a lot of them feel richer and smarter than they really are.  A real estate wipe-out would hurt, but we can already see there’s pain in this long boom, it just depends who you are.  For the suburban poor, high prices for real estate mean the rents are jacked higher than wages and for the middle class homes remain overpriced.  Hard to say what will happen.  We heard on the radio today that, according to the governor of the Bank of Canada, the bad economy in the United States costs Canada as much as $30bn a year in lost export trade.  Wow!  Will we crash the way the Americans have, just a bit later, or will we skate through this era of debt and disaster to whatever era arrives afterward?
Economist bubble piece
Bank of Canada comments 
Huffington Post Canada
Bubble case studies: Ireland & Canada Automatic Earth, 2010

Photo credit: Marceltheshell via Wikimedia Commons

(99) Mississauga is broke

Canadians count themselves a fortunate people.  Perhaps that’s why they are such squanderers as well?

Case in point, the vast suburban project directly west of Toronto.  Mississauga enjoyed a true golden age of property development, a California-esque era of low taxes, easy services, smugness, and growth, growth, growth.  The cornfields went down.  The houses went up.  The money changed hands.  Now, it looks like the party is over in the city whose official tag line is the frighteningly vacuous “Leading today for tomorrow.”  If the private and public economy alike can’t be kept up by a massive flow of development-based revenue then what will happen?  Nobody seems to know but denial isn’t really an option any more.  This year, the city that bragged about never laying off staff and not needing tax increases levied a whopping 7.4% increase on its property tax payers.  Imagine the pain in a true blue Tory place that kind of thing brings on!

Architecture and urban affairs columnist Christopher Hume pulls punches in the item linked below.  Even if you hate the kind of sprawling megasuburb Mississauga is you can’t read a demolition job like this without a fearful feeling of apocalypse to come.

Hume: Mississauga waking up to a new reality Toronto Star

(98) York

Between Lake Simcoe and the northern border of Toronto lies York Region.  It has just a shade over one million people and has been the venue of some very high intensity real estate development since the 1980s.  It would appear to represent the pinnacle of fast growth and high-profit, up-to-the-minute suburban mega-success.  Guess what?  They have poverty and homeless people.  The proof is available from the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness.  Still photos and voiceovers tell the story overlooked amidst all the commercial activity, monster homes, and cars, cars, cars.  You know, they probably should have just kept growing corn up there…
Hidden In Plain Site

(86) Wages in Canada

This weekend in the mass media in Canada there will be tons of worthless human interest bullshit about those whacky, maxxed out Americans going nuts, getting pepper sprayed and trampled to death storming strip malls for Black Friday bargoons.  Getting less attention will be fresh Statistics Canada data showing the failure of wages in Canada to keep up with inflation.  Considering wages have been sliding in real terms in this country since the 1970s we have to ask who the idiots really are.  Happy Thanksgiving America!
Wages not keeping up with cost of living Halifax Chronicle Herald