Op-Ed: Canada’s drug policy is in with the wrong crowd

By Michel Kazatchkine, Ottawa Citizen February 25, 2014

The world’s nations have begun talks ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016. This is a time of increasing high-level calls for drug policy reform and a sense that policies long dominated by prohibition and law enforcement in many parts of the world have failed miserably. Countries may be better served with a public health policy approach instead.

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Five Myths to Bust about Minimum Wage Hikes

Because poverty wages have no place in today's economy. I'm looking at you, BC.

By Michal Rozworski, 8 Mar 2014, TheTyee.ca

The B.C. Federation of Labour has just proposed to increase the minimum wage in British Columbia to $13 per hour. In short, it's about time. With this proposal, B.C. joins the minimum wage debate that has erupted across North America. The debate is much needed: poverty wages have no place in today's economy.

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Cooperatives and Sustainability: An investigation into the relationship

from Community Research Connections

November 2013, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) held their annual conference in Cape Town. One the presentations at this conference included reporting on the results of a partnership project, between Community Research Connections and the Sustainability Solutions Group, that investigated the relationship between the cooperative model and sustainable development. This research employed a unique methodology to compare key concepts distilled from seminal literature on sustainability to (firstly) the cooperatives principles and (secondly) websites and annual reports from various cooperatives around the world. As this was a global scan, the study was limited in the manner that it did not visit the cooperatives on-the-ground and thus could not validate whether cooperatives are actually acting in a sustainable manner; however, this work served as an initial step to see if cooperative model inherently leads to thinking and speaking about sustainability.

Some of the main observations from the research include:

  1. Co-operatives are involved in the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability.
  2. The co-operative principles are more closely aligned with the social dimensions of sustainability.
  3. Similarly, co-operatives websites and annual reports (overall) most strongly related to social aspects of sustainability.
  4. In communicating their efforts on sustainability, co-operatives understate their efforts on Principles 1, 2 and 3.
  5. A co-operative is sustainable when it is an economically viable business that fully implements the seven co-operative principles, and maintains or regenerates the ecosystem in which they are embedded.
  6. Co-operative associations lag behind co-operatives in advancing a comprehensive sustainability agenda.
  7. Of the cooperative principles, concepts related to principle 5 (education, training, knowledge sharing), principle 6 (cooperation among cooperatives), and principle 7 (sustainable community development) were strongly communicated.
  8. Cooperatives websites highlighted sustainability concepts, whereas in the annual reports, sustainability concepts were discussed in context with items (e.g., items relating business operations).

The report can be downloaded from Sustainability Solutions Group's website here, and the presentation on the research can be downloaded from here.

It’s the inequality, stupid

by Robert B. Reich, The Globe and Mail

Robert B Reich

U.S. President Barack Obama calls income inequality the “defining challenge of our era.” Polls show that a majority of Americans believe inequality has grown over the past decade, and that they favour tax increases on the wealthy to help the poor. The non-partisan Pew Research Center recently found that six out of 10 Americans believe their system unfairly favours the wealthy.

And yet the reaction of U.S. conservatives has been to change the subject. Those with presidential ambitions say the focus should be on poverty, not income inequality. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida points to the poor’s “lack of mobility” as the core problem. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin blames their isolation from mainstream America.

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Radio from the streets

from The McGill Daily

Commentary

This Wednesday night, community radio station CKUT 90.3 FM, along with 35 radio stations across Canada, will be broadcasting the 12th annual Homelessness Marathon from outside the Native Friendship Centre Montreal. This pan-Canadian event is a night-long live broadcast intended to raise awareness, change perspectives, and spark dialogue on homelessness and poverty in Canadian communities. The national broadcast is collaboratively produced by community radio stations in 13 cities across Canada, and this year is primarily hosted by CJSR-FM, a campus-based station in Edmonton.

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Co-operatives empower immigrants across the world

Article by Anca Voinea, United Kingdom

In the UK and across the world, co-operatives help provide a better life for immigrants and asylum seekers. While the British media continues to debate the positive and negative effects of immigration, little attention has been given to successful enterprises set up or led by immigrants – many of these being co-operatives.

A number of immigrants work in the informal economic sector, where jobs are irregular, poorly paid and employees are vulnerable to exploitation. By creating new job opportunities, co-operatives can help empower immigrants and refugees. Credit unions, many of them founded by immigrants, also provide financial services for low-income people from across the UK. In fact, British credit unions began in 1964 when a group of Caribbean families set up Horsney Co-operative, the UK’s first credit union, in North London.

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Budget 2014: Economy Lab’s wish list

from The Globe and Mail

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveils the federal government’s new budget Tuesday. We asked our Economy Lab contributors to give us their best idea on what Ottawa could, or should, address in this budget. Here’s what they said:

STEPHEN TAPP, research director, Institute for Research on Public Policy

I’m interested to see if Budget 2014 provides details on the balanced-budget rule that was announced last October. In theory, a law would require the federal government to run surpluses in “normal economic times and [to provide] concrete timelines to return to balance in the event of an economic crisis.”

Several details could clarify how this fiscal rule would work in practice. What type of economic weakness would allow for a deficit? Over what time horizon would the law apply – in each year or on average over the economic cycle? Who would monitor and enforce compliance with the law, and would there be any penalty if it were breached? Would observed budget numbers be “adjusted” to account for the budgetary impacts of the economic cycle (using so-called cyclically-adjusted budget balances)? Details on these issues would provide a much clearer view on the constraints that may be placed on the fiscal policy choices of future federal governments.

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