When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in June 1914, no one thought, "Uh-oh, World War I is starting..." We only recognize the significance of events in the context of history. I recently had a day like any other except it made me wonder if we're on the verge of historical change.
The world's top one per cent own more than 50 per cent of the world's wealth. The ability to make policy and to enforce it at the national level is essential to combat the slide towards plutocracy, under which society is controlled by the wealthiest citizens. Mr. Obama and Ms. Freeland, please listen to your own rhetoric. Pull the plug on the TPP and CETA.
With the defeat of the New Democratic Party last month, it's clear that the Canadian left must adjust their strategy. Part of this new strategy needs to support the development of progressive, grassroots immigrant power to counter the presence of more conservative and moderate elements within these communities.
Although city planning is well-intentioned it can add costs and complications to residential development. These complications often culminate in months, or even years, of waiting for city hall's approval -- if these delays cause the supply of new homes to lag behind demand, new housing may become scarce, driving prices higher across the region by creating a perpetual seller's market.
The federal government will not help Ontario in any way in implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). "Take a hike," was the federal government's basic message. We will not help you improve pensions unless you do it our way. And our way is simple: Canadians should do it themselves. Just figure it out. There is no retirement crisis, says the Harper government. Never mind that our mutual fund industry has among the highest fees in the world, while our best public pension funds have among the lowest costs despite excellent performance. Never mind that the capital markets are increasingly tilted against the interests of ordinary people. Never mind that employers have been abandoning defined-benefit plans for decades. Never mind that some of the most credible researchers in the country have called for a significant enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan.
People need income, and if given real choices, most would opt to earn a living by helping others rather than by harming them. Humane jobs afford people with good working conditions, doing jobs that help animals, or that help both people and animals. Humane jobs feed people's stomachs and their sense of pride.
It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The Prime Minister of Canada is deliberately stirring up prejudice against one group of Canadians for one reason only -- political advantage. The sad reality is that many Canadians and Quebecois seem to be vulnerable to embracing an anti-Muslim sentiment. We are all appalled by the brutality of ISIS, with their voyeuristic killing of innocent victims. The tragic murder of two soldiers in Canada has added a sense of vulnerability inside our own country. Stephen Harper's response is to declare that Canada is under attack by "global Jihadists" and introduce sweeping legislation giving new powers to CSIS.
Of course, we fully support the right of any individual to stop working if he (or she) so chooses. If he quits his job, his employer can hire someone else. But that's not what strikes are about. Strikes are about collective work stoppages, enforced in some provinces by law and in others by sheer intimidation, with the expectation that the employer will still hold strikers' jobs open for them no matter how long they disrupt its business.
Most government sector employees do a fine job and are a critical part of a civilized society. But pension liabilities are ultimately paid for by taxpayers, either through special payments or increased contribution rates. The sheer size of the government sector means it is in everyone's interest to ensure compensation is fair and affordable for all.
Policies that restrict competition ultimately act to the detriment of Canadian firms and their workers. Free trade agreements like CETA open new markets for Canadian companies, but also force them to compete against foreign entities at home. It is that competition that spurs innovation and productivity.
Kathleen Wynne raised the minimum wage -- yet another clear case of politics trumping evidence in the setting of government policy. Minimum wage legislation has been studied ad nauseam so there's plenty of evidence to draw upon. And the vast majority of that evidence shows increasing the minimum wage does little to help impoverished families and often hurts the most vulnerable workers.
In December, when Kellogg's announced that it would be closing its doors, London's economy was hit with a devastating blow. In February 2012, more than 450 workers found themselves out of work when Electro-Motive Diesel closed. In 2013 alone, more than 33,000 factory jobs were lost and this trend is likely to continue.
"Pick your battles" is a familiar refrain for anyone involved in politics, advocacy or any endeavour wherein opposing points of view will be competing for public attention. Most organizations will review issues and determine which are critical and which are not, and then fight for the most precious while conceding that others are perhaps not as important.