Author: Richard Starr

Budget office sheds fresh light on public debt and private wealth

The Parliamentary Budget Office, about the only worthwhile thing to emerge from nine years of the Harper Conservatives, issued two significant reports last week. The first was the latest scenario for the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on federal finances. It showed that despite what seems like a never-ending stream of spending commitments from Ottawa, the country’s fiscal outlook has improved. A second PBO report was even more enlightening, providing at least a partial answer to the question of how to pay not only for COVID-19-related assistance but also for mending holes in the social safety net exposed by the pandemic....

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Disabled population gets its pandemic moment – as a political football

For a brief but far from shining moment this past week, Canadians with disabilities were in the political spotlight in Ottawa. At issue was the wrangling about a modest gesture by the Liberal government to recognize the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on disabled people. The proposal is to send a one-time payment of up to $600 to about one million Canadians eligible for the disability tax credit. Within that group, seniors would get only $100 to $300, presumably because they’re already benefitting from a pension top-up announced several weeks ago. At most, the initiative would cost half...

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Pandemic Update: Numbers don’t support positive reviews

Given the justified loathing that Trump arouses in most Canadians, it comes as no surprise that a recent web survey by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies found that Canadians, by a blowout margin of 81 to six per cent, believe that our Prime Minister is doing a better job than the U.S. president of managing the COVID-19 crisis. And in light of Trump’s shambolic approach to the pandemic, it’s not a complete shock that even among the 1,002 American participants in the survey, forty per cent thought Trudeau was doing a better job, to 32 per cent...

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Democracy in Nova Scotia: Still Closed Until Further Notice

The theme of recent COVID-19 updates in Nova Scotia has been “opening up.” Opening up the economy and opening up society have been on the agenda. But opening up democracy – not so much. Indeed, the past week provided more evidence, if more is needed, of Premier McNeil’s disdain for the views of others. Sadly but not surprisingly, the Premier held firm in his opposition to a public inquiry into last month’s mass shooting, despite calls from both opposition parties in the legislature and a host of civil society groups. Ditto to a public inquiry into long-term care homes....

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McNeil moves to new crisis, taking attitude with him

There was an interesting piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail dealing with autocrats and the pandemic. Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev, authors of The Light that Failed: A Reckoning found a correlation between populist autocrats and galloping rates of COVID-19. There is compelling circumstantial evidence citing Trump and Putin, as well as Bolsonaro of Brazil, Lukashenko of Belarus and Ortega of Nicaragua, members of what’s been called the Ostrich Alliance. They are all sticking heads in the sand, and like Trump, meeting the current pandemic with “magical thinking, cowardly blame shifting and a weirdly dazed immobility.” The authors contend...

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Richard Starr, The man behind the Point

About Richard

RICHARD STARR has had careers as a journalist, public servant, broadcaster, political staffer and freelance policy adviser. He is author of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, a former radio and TV producer and weekly newspaper editor, and the author of three non-fiction books. Starr has lived in Dartmouth for more than 30 years.

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