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Giving away prosperity

A pair of well-travelled news stories ON Monday shine a better light on Alberta’s current fiscal mess than the government would have us realize.

Folks, it’s not the civil service that’s causing our province’s budget problems. In fact, of all provinces, Alberta spends the least of total budget spending on public services. That’s according to an information sheet mailed out by the province’s public service labour unions. You probably got one in the mail yourself. READ

Another civil war looms in Yemen

The last American troops are being pulled out of Yemen after al-Qaida fighters stormed a city near their base on Friday. Houthi rebels who have already overrun most of the country are closing in on Aden, the last stronghold of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. READ

Anyone but Harper?

How deep is the mistrust and hostility between Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau? It’s not just an idle thought plucked from the annals of the Canadian political soap opera. READ

More ‘bozo eruptions’?

Preston Manning, a man who knew a thing or two about dodging friendly political fire, has warned his conservative “family” many times. Its Achilles heel, the patriarch of today’s movement has said, is the “intemperate and ill considered remark,” the deeply held conviction spoken in public that blindsides and discredits conservative governments, parties and campaigns. READ

The resurrection of Vladimir Putin

If he just had the flu, why didn’t they say that he just had the flu? We’d all have sent him get-well cards, and that would have been the end of it. The lengthy and mysterious absence of Vladimir Putin ended on Monday, when the Russian president emerged in St. Petersburg to greet the visiting president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev. The only explanation he offered for his 11-day disappearance from public view was that “It would be boring without gossip.” READ

A golden era of growth?

For a number of years now, my wife and a group of her female friends have allowed me to tag along on their weekly walking date on Thursdays. We generally gather at the parking lot of the Michener Centre curling rink and set off from there. READ

Islamic State: the worst case contingency

It’s often a good idea, when faced with a really frightening situation, to model the worst-case outcome and see how bad it could get. That can be quite bad, but it’s rarely as bad as the half-formed fears that build up if you don’t actually analyze the problem. Like Islamic State, for example. READ

Should seniors get a break?

It had to happen — just as I am passing into the demographic that seems to get a discount on almost everything, a think tank releases a report suggesting I shouldn’t. The Institute for Research on Public Policy spent a year pondering the economics and ethics of governments giving seniors discounts on taxes, transit, recreation fees, library cards ... pretty well everything that comes with a fee. READ

Yet another lake of fire

Conservative MP for Nanaimo-Alberni — James Lunney — does not believe in evolution. In fact, he says any scientist who does “has already abandoned the foundation of science.” READ

Ready for the inevitable

Of course, I have no insider’s access and I do not know what is said in cabinet meetings, but I suspect the Harper government already has a team of civil servants drafting a law to allow suffering and dying patients to request the help of a doctor to ease and aid their death. READ

Punishment fits crime

The case of self-admitted “arrogant pissant” Justin Bourque signals a new era for Canada’s criminal justice system, which now has the power to lock up killers and throw away the keys. READ

Tories defy democracy

There was little doubt the federal government would approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, regardless of public opposition or evidence presented against it. READ

A transit system travesty

The Advocate article on Tuesday said Red Deer is the largest city in Alberta that has no program for a lower-cost transit pass for low-income and disabled people. While that is true as far as it goes, the reality behind this is actually worse. READ

The time to act on climate change is now

Because we enjoy relatively pure air, clean water and healthy food systems, Canadians sometimes take the environment for granted. Many scarcely blink if oil from a pipeline spills into a river, a forest is cleared for tar sands operations or agricultural land is fracked for gas. If Arctic ice melts and part of the Antarctic ice sheet collapses, well… they’re far away. READ

Waiting on another coup in Thailand

If you are trying to get rid of the legitimately elected government of your country, it helps to have the Constitutional Court, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Election Commission on your side. And Thailand’s Constitutional Court has come through for the opposition once again: it has just ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of her cabinet ministers for improperly removing a civil servant from office. READ

Who will take charge of climate change?

It’s fitting that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was released during Earth Month. After all, the third chapter of its Fifth Assessment focuses on ways to keep our planet healthy and livable by warding off extreme climatic shifts and weather events caused by escalating atmospheric carbon. READ

Profitable pot revolution

When actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper hit the road on their choppers in the counterculture film Easy Rider, they cruised onto the big screen at the heart of the rise of recreational drug use, with marijuana at its epicentre. READ

Retirement concerns are exaggerated in Canada

With talks to expand the Canada Pension Plan having stalled, the Ontario government has pledged to roll out its own provincial version. READ

Canadian workers first

Almost 30 years at her job apparently wasn’t enough to prevent Sandy Nelson from being replaced by the Harper government’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. READ

Queue jumping inquiry a waste

On Wednesday, Justice John Vertes released his Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry Report on allegations of health-care queue jumping in Alberta. READ

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