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The economy excuse that tears at Canada

NDP leader Jack Layton during the filibuster against back-to-work legislation being imposed on postal workers.
The NDP's parliamentary debate instigated last weekend leads to a wider debate. Whose economy is it? What is the economy for? How do we improve economic well-being? Conservatives want to avoid this.

Related rabble.ca story:

Housing on the knife's edge

At long last, the federal government has decided to seriously address the housing price bubble that has increasingly concerned Canadians.

On the heels of multiple warnings from the Bank of Canada that Canadians have taken on too much household debt for comfort (we hold the dubious distinction of having the worst consumer debt to financial assets ratio among 20 OECD nations), the federal government announced three moves. It will reduce the maximum insurable amortization period from 35 years to 30 years as it scales back both home equity loans and the amount homeowners can refinance. With these changes, we are about half way back to where the CMHC lending standards stood in 2006 when the Harper government significantly loosened them.

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Looking into the crystal ball: 2011 predictions from the CCPA

Happy new year rabble readers! As we round out another decade, thoughts turn to the future, and our partners at the The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have weighed in on the issues facing Canada in the years ahead. They flag the economy, social unrest, drift, democracy, dirty oil and corporate Canada as things to watch in 2011 and beyond.

Hugh Mackenzie, CCPA Research Associate

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Canadian welfare system outdated: National Council of Welfare

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, December 13, 2010 - A new report from the National Council of Welfare (NCW) shows that welfare can be harder to get today than 20 years ago. This means more people were forced into destitution to qualify for welfare in 2009, when the recession's casualties were mounting.

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Columnists

Improving social well-being would reduce health-care costs

Governments are still reeling from recession-induced deficits, but now their attention is turning to another fiscal elephant marching into the room: the coming renegotiation of federal-provincial transfer payments. The Canada Health Transfer (CHT) expires in 2014, and must be extended soon. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty plans to clamp down on transfers to reduce his own deficit. But that just passes the buck to the provinces, whose fiscal position is even worse.

As this debate heats up, there's a new piece of knowledge that should be considered carefully as finance ministers arm-wrestle. Since the CHT was implemented in 2004, researchers around the world have established a whole new field of scientific knowledge regarding the social determinants of health.

Canada and the next world financial crisis

How will the next financial crisis erupt? (Or perhaps we should describe it as a further chapter of the ongoing financial crisis.) It's like figuring out which piece of tinder will ignite after a sizzling heat wave. We know it's bad out there, but just where will the next spark hit? What follows is one of many- potential financial crisis scenarios that Canada could face.

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Columnists

Ireland proves banking is too important to be left to the bankers

Concern for the plight of others is normal; it is part of being human. People recognize what it means for someone else to be cold or wet, or face thirst or hunger. Accounts of what we should do as a society have a place for empathy. The over-arching political philosophies, conservatism, liberalism and socialism are built around ideas of what responsibilities citizens have (and do not have) to each other, though this does not mean it is easy to reach agreements about how to provide shelter, and sustenance to those in need.

CCPA at 30: A guide to best practice for progressive policymakers

Organized around the theme "Advancing Democracy and Social Justice in Canada: The Next 30 Years," the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives celebrated its 30th anniversary with a conference featuring progressive activists, thinkers and organizations on Nov. 18.

The gathering was an opportunity to mark three decades of advancing progressive ideas and to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead. After spending the day taking in presentations from a line-up of insightful speakers, here are some themes that resonated with me.

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Columnists

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at 30

Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher, a stoic who believed in translating thought into practical action. When he became Emperor of Rome in the second century A.D. he wanted all of Rome to embrace philosophical ethics. Instead, Rome came under attack from many sides, and Emperor Aurelius was forced to give his full attention to making war on his enemies.

Fight like the Greeks

After months of proclaiming all was good in the Canadian economy, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced at the start of October that "boom times are over."

The Harper government has spent the past two years arguing that Canada was a model for escaping the depth of the recession that has hit Europe and the U.S. so hard.

Now the Tories, after claiming that they had steered Canada through a recession, are speculating that they might have to continue stimulus funding to keep the economy from sinking.

But the talk of a robust recovery conceals the reality of what workers in Canada have already suffered through for the past several years.

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