Monday, December 12, 2016

On a Monday

Soon it will be Christmas Day....


But... but... transparency!

“Given that Prime Minister Trudeau is a former member of the Trudeau Foundation,” she wrote, “that his brother Alexandre Trudeau is a current member of the board of directors of the foundation, that the Minister of Industry appoints two directors of the Trudeau Foundation, and that the Foundation has two representatives of the Trudeau family, any efforts by Mr. Trudeau to use his position as Prime Minister to encourage donations may be a violation of the definition of a conflict of interest.”

A National Post analysis of the Trudeau Foundation’s public disclosures has found that gifts to the foundation have increased significantly since Justin Trudeau’s April 2013 election as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. The amount of money contributed to the foundation by foreign donors has grown each year since Trudeau claimed the party’s leadership. Moreover, a significant proportion of the charity’s donors, directors and members have ties to companies and organizations that are actively lobbying the federal government.

Whether or not the foundation violates conflict-of-interest laws, its operations represent another challenge to the high ethical standard Trudeau has established for his government. The Open and Accountable Government guide, codified after Trudeau became prime minister in October 2015, specifies that when fundraising or dealing with lobbyists, “Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must avoid conflict of interest, the appearance of conflict of interest and situations that have the potential to involve conflicts of interest.” ...

(Sidebar: fat chance that he'll do that.)

Critics say the Trudeau family’s ongoing attachment to the Trudeau Foundation could violate those rules, since making a donation might help curry favour with the prime minister’s family. The National Post’s analysis confirms about 40 per cent of 108 donors, directors and members of the foundation since 2014 — or one in six, if academic institutions are excluded — have affiliations with organizations that currently lobby the government, which could indeed create the perception of a conflict. ...


Perhaps one of Trudeau's handlers can divulge the handful of Canadians who fund him.

One has an idea what foreign bodies might.


Since Trudeau became Liberal leader in April 2013, gifts to the foundation have increased significantly. Donations went from $172,211 in the 2014 fiscal year to $731,753 in 2016 — a four-fold increase. From 2008 to 2013, the foundation had no foreign donations, but it has brought in a growing amount of foreign money in 2014, 2015 and 2016.  Foreign donations jumped from $53,000 in the 2014 fiscal year to $535,000 in 2016 — a ten-fold increase.

The majority of donors to the Trudeau Foundation also have ties to the foundation itself, with many directors, mentors and scholarship recipients making contributions. Anonymous donations made up less than three per cent of all gifts in 2015, according to information supplied by the foundation.
Many of the foundation’s donors, directors and members also have ties to corporate Canada and advocacy groups, organizations with an interest in influencing federal policy.

Patrick Pichette, a Canadian who until 2015 was senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Google, and who sits on Bombardier’s board of directors, is also a director of the Trudeau Foundation. Correspondence between Pichette and the Trudeau Foundation in 2014, released as part of an access-to-information request, shows he helped secure US$25,000 from Google for sponsorship of a Trudeau Foundation conference.

Google has lobbied federal officials 22 times since Justin Trudeau became prime minister. The company was under investigation by the Competition Bureau for alleged anti-competitive activities at the time Google made the donation in December 2014.  The Competition Bureau concluded its investigation without charges last spring.

Lobbyists are required to file a report with the lobbying commissioner every time they interact with a federal official, regardless of whether the communication is a sit-down meeting or a brief phone call. Critics say enforcement is lax and it’s likely the record doesn’t fully capture all interactions between companies and the federal government. Nonetheless, those reports show a close relationship. Google only lobbied the Harper government seven times in 2015. Of the 22 times Google lobbied federal officials in 2016 two of those were with Justin Trudeau personally. In September, Google lobbied Justin Trudeau, his chief of staff Katie Telford and his principal secretary Gerald Butts.

So - when will the government tighten those rules?

(SEE: hell, frozen)

Oh, the humanity!

A new Fraser Institute study confirms, again, that public-sector wages and salaries are over 10 per cent higher than for comparable private-sector positions, adjusted for age, gender, experience and so forth. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Public-sector workers also enjoy the overly generous pensions that have largely vanished in the private sector due to their tendency to bankrupt firms. Nearly 90 per cent of government workers get a registered pension plan as against under a quarter in the private sector. And over 90 per cent of government plans are the lavish defined-benefit sort, against less than half of private plans. One proof of pension generosity: public-sector workers retire more than two years earlier on average.

As far as the researchers could measure, the differences just keep piling up. Government workers take 60 per cent more “personal leave” time a year and, or because, they are seven times less likely to lose their jobs. Defend it if you will. But don’t say it’s not going on or that it doesn’t matter.


How much doctors get paid — combined with the seemingly disparate topics of population aging, top-end income concentration, small business tax regulation and federal-provincial transfers — is emerging as one of the thorniest policy issues facing Canadian governments.

Most health-care costs are typically incurred in the last few years of one’s life, and demographers are predicting that the proportion of Canadians 85 years and older will increase from 2.2 per cent in 2016 to more than 5.5 per cent in the next 30 years. Provincial governments are well aware of the fiscal challenges, and doctors are expensive. In Quebec, where population aging is well under way, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is already telling physicians that his government will be expecting doctors to deliver more services at lower cost.

Nobody will be surprised to learn that doctors generally make a good living, but the link between doctors’ incomes and the increase in top-end income concentration in Canada has attracted little attention. When people think about increase in the share of income going to the top one per cent, they usually think of higher pay for CEOs and other corporate executives, not doctors. Senior managers are the largest single group within the top one per cent, but not the majority: three top earners in five are working in other occupations.

Doctors’ incomes more than kept pace with the rest of the one per cent as its share of total income increased. In the 1981 census, doctors accounted for just under 12 per cent of those with incomes in the top one per cent. In the 2006 census — when top-end income concentration peaked in Canada — that share had increased to 13 per cent. Put another way, 1.3 per cent of all income went to doctors in 1981; by 2006, their share had increased to 1.9 per cent. And as we’ll see shortly, these numbers probably understate growth in physicians’ incomes.

Aside from the incredible difficulty of becoming and being a doctor, they also pay a considerable amount of overhead.

Those ogres!

Speaking of ogres:

Hail Caesar! We who are about to be intimately inspected salute you. At least in Ontario.
You see, its new greasily named “Patients First Act” just brushed aside the hallowed tradition of doctor-patient confidentiality to let agents of the state inspect their business and your medical records without a warrant, copy them, and “question a person on matters relevant to the investigation.”

The ostensible purpose is to monitor local health integration networks and ensure that these central planning organs are delivering the efficient, compassionate service for which central planning is so famous. And it is deeply ironic to see the Ontario government, whose incompetent scandals extend from cancelled gas plants to two in health alone, eHealth and ORNGE, presuming to force efficiency and accountability on our wretched doctors and nurses. But the problem goes much deeper.

This law treats our right to privacy with shockingly casual disdain. Section 12.1 (6) says inspectors can’t look at your records without either (a) your consent or “(b) in such circumstances as may be prescribed.” Hail Caesar. And keep your arm up, because in a blizzard of “de-identify” and “anonymiser” jargon, Bill 41 alters no fewer than 19 different statutes. That’s how government works nowadays.

People voted for this.

Trump hears you. Trump doesn't care:

China expressed "serious concern" on Monday after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-held stance that Taiwan is part of "one China", calling it the basis for relations.

China also believes that North Korea belongs to it, too

And now, if one could while the cold winter nights away in a hot tub with a great view, what would stop one?

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

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