Quaint as it now seems, not long ago this was considered a good basic plan: Work hard all your life and then retire with a comfortable pension.
In recent times, a new plan has replaced it: Work hard all your life and then all bets are off.
The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work -- a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the postwar years -- has been effectively tossed aside, as corporations have become more insatiable in their demands and governments have increasingly abandoned workers.
Stephen Harper's government hiked the eligibility age for Old Age Security benefits to 67, effectively depriving all future Canadian retirees of two years of basic retirement income.
In mid-July the Harper government quietly released a campaign-style video called Through Fire and Water. In it, Canada's Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister strongly reassert our support for Israel amid the violence in Gaza. The video proclaims that "Canada and Israel are the Greatest of Friends, and the most natural of allies" and that it is the "Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just regardless of whether it is convenient or popular."
To understand what this means for Canada as Canadians, we need to look at some of the tragic events taking place in Israel-Palestine.
Environmental Defence. PEN Canada. Amnesty International Canada. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Canada Without Poverty. The David Suzuki Foundation.
What do these organizations have in common -- aside from all doing great work?
All are registered charities.
All have been publicly critical of Stephen Harper's government.
And all are undergoing audits of their political activities by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
What's this about? Here's what you need to know.
When organizations seek charitable registration from government in order to entice donors who would like tax receipts, they necessarily accept oversight by a government agency that, in an atmosphere as poisonous as Canada's these days, can overreach.
Moody's, Standard and Poor's (S&P), and, to a lesser extent, Fitch raked in billions of dollars during the wild prelude to the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which imploded the world economy.
Matt Taibbi, writing at the time for Rolling Stone (June 19, 2013), stated bluntly, "...we now know that the nation's two top ratings companies, Moody's and S&P, have for many years been shameless tools for the banks, willing to give just about anything a high rating in exchange for cash." Between 2002 and 2007, fees for the "Big Three" credit ratings agencies (CRAs) doubled from $3 billion to $6 billion.