Wednesday Night #1877

Written by  //  February 28, 2018  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

Thanks to Gerald Ratzer, we have the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Gavin Winston, new member of the Oxford & Cambridge Society, who hopes to work in research, but has a few hurdles to overcome if he and his wife are to stay in Canada. Dr. Mark Roper will be with us for what promises to be an excellent discussion of the UK National Health Service and the fragmented Canadian system. (cf the US system?). While we do not intend to raise the Obamacare controversy, this item from NPR might be of relevance What Britons Think Of The National Health Service.
Very timely in view of David’s and my current experience at the Jewish General, although we have nothing but praise for the dedicated people who work there.
Mark may have some comments about this recent story.
Family says critically injured man stuck in Costa Rica because no hospital beds available in Ontario
Couple says they have been trying to get back home for days, but province disputes reported shortage
“Sometimes I wonder if he’d even get the level of care he’s gotten here in Ontario.” (My editor gene kicks in to revise that sentence to “the level of care in Ontario that he’s received here”)
And here is a bit of a shocker: More than 200 Quebec doctors come out against proposed pay increases and Doctors tell Quebec government they don’t want pay increase
‘If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table,’ health minister says in response

The government announced in the newly tabled budget (see below) the creation of an advisory council to begin “a national dialogue” on a national pharmacare program to cover the cost of prescription medications and eventually recommend “options on how to move forward together.” However,  provides no funding amount for this council nor does it set out a timeline for the completion of the work.
Clarification: Pharmacare won’t be free for all Canadians “Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says a new national pharmacare program will be “fiscally responsible” and designed to fill in gaps, not provide prescription drugs for Canadians already covered by existing plans. …Morneau said many Canadians are without coverage, including people who are self-employed. Some parts of the system are working well, but others are not, he said.”
Finance minister hints ‘fiscally responsible’ plan won’t be universal”
More concrete is the proposal to provide more support for Canadians suffering from mental health issues – including veterans – by helping them with the cost of psychiatric service dogs. Specifically, starting this year, the Medical Expense Tax Credit will be expanded to cover costs associated with the animals.

The federal budget
On 23 February, Open Canada published the following predictions by Aniket Bhushan, Adjunct Research Professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa. He leads the Canadian International Development Platform.

Budget 2018: Will Canada offer up the funds needed to lead on the global stage?
Here are five international elements to watch for as the budget is tabled Tuesday, from SDG financing to the Feminist International Assistance Policy to a pat on the back over trade.
Timing makes this a “nothing” budget — it is too far away from the next election (October 2019) to announce major new spending or directions. We expect it will be a combination of touting success and cautious optimism. It will no doubt contain the usual messaging on strengthening the middle class, progressive, equal opportunity, reconciliatory, gender-equal, feminist agenda, with a healthy dose of innovation and technology, but little by way of new money to make any of this more real. In preparation for our assessment of the figures that are released, here are five areas relating to Canada on the global stage we will watch for.
1. A possible G7 initiative on leveraging private finance.
2. Costed framework for the Feminist International Assistance Policy.
3. A modest increase to international assistance and improved transparency.
4. Touting success on trade and investment.
5. Preparing for a post-NAFTA Canada.

Tony Deutsch reacts to the budget tabled on Tuesday:
“On the expenditure side, I cannot add to what [Andrew] Coyne wrote in the National Post [The Liberals deliver a federal budget that has nothing to do with budgeting, or the economyThis is a budget that is much more about equality than it is growth. That, and pandering to every conceivable Liberal client group and policy cult.] The low-key statement in the Budget about having to study the impact of the US tax-changes is a cop-out. Jack Mintz has done that work, and his recommendations are public. It involves cutting nominal corporate tax rates by about two percentage points.  The Government does not want to deal with it, because it does not fit their mission of wooing voters away from the NDP. If Ottawa fails to act, the markets will. The unavoidable consequence will be a shifting of Canadian profits, hence of taxes collected thereon , to the US.” [See also Comment below]

Although we expect the fallout from the India jaunt to be overtaken soon by other developments, for the moment scrutiny continues and we remain puzzled by the various versions of how and by whom Jaspal Atwal was invited to two official events. Former ambassador to China David Mulroney offers a clear-eyed perspective that contrasts with the amateur image of the Trudeau practice of foreign policy and its preoccupation with diaspora politics : Trudeau is delivering the foreign policy Canadians deserve<

Leader for Life
Our good friend  Uday Bhaskar warns that the announcement  that  China‘s  Xi Jinping  is now virtually leader for life [always a dangerous dare for oponents]  could well “sow the seeds of domestic discord and dissonance that could morph into unexpected defiance at a later date. This is not an unfamiliar pattern in China and Xi Jinping would be deeply aware of his own father’s orientation apropos the Great Helmsman Mao. … the emerging paradox is likely to be that of a very powerful leader in Beijing with no visible sell-by date, who could become deeply insecure and suspicious of peers – and succumbing to the pitfalls of untrammelled power that turns paranoiac, when there are no internal checks and balances. The political history of the last century is replete with such ‘skeletons’.”
Thomas Friedman writes that “Just being “president” or “prime minister” is so passé now, so 1990s. Xi wants to be emperor, not president. Russia’s Vladimir Putin wants to be czar, not president. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to be caliph, not president. Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi wants to be pharaoh, not president. Hungary’s Viktor Orban wants to be king, not prime minister. And Iran’s Ali Khamenei already has the most coveted title du jour, supreme leader, and he’s bent on keeping it.” He argues that the trend reflects growing disenchantment with the fruits of democracy among populations around the world – worth wondering.

And you won’t want to miss Cleo’s latest reflections: NZ risks ‘strategic nincompoop’ tag with current Pacific policy, says Chatham House analyst

More thoughts:

More than 200 Quebec doctors come out against proposed pay increases
(Global) At least 200 doctors and residents in Quebec are asking the provincial government to backtrack on plans to give them and other physicians substantial pay hikes.
In an open letter with the Médecins québécois pour le régime public (MQRP), they say the increases are particularly shocking given that other health-care workers such as nurses and clerks face difficult working conditions.
The letter, which was signed by general practitioners, specialists and residents, comes at a time when many nurses are complaining about excessive workloads.
Isabelle Leblanc, president of the group behind the letter, said nurses, orderlies and other employees in the health-care system are working under awful conditions.
“There’s only a specific amount of money and not more, and the more you give to the physicians, the less you give to workers or to improve access (to the system).

Two items on Turkey with a reminder that CIC Montreal is hosting on 6 March “Turkey Today and Tomorrow: A talk by Dr Chris Kilford addressing the challenges facing this major regional power and NATO ally and what the future may hold” More info and registration

Why Turkey Wants to Invade the Greek Islands
By Uzay Bulut
(Gatestone Institute) There is one issue on which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), are in complete agreement: The conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered. So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean.
To realize his ultimate goal of leaving behind a legacy that surpasses that of all other Turkish leaders, Erdoğan has set certain objectives for the year 2023, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic, and 2071, the 1,000th anniversary of the 1071 Battle of Manzikert, during which Muslim Turkic jihadists from Central Asia defeated Christian Greek Byzantine forces in the Armenian highland of the Byzantine Empire.
(NYT) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is facing a backlash for bringing a weeping, saluting 6-year-old girl on stage and telling her of the honors if she were to be killed fighting Kurdish militias in Syria.
“Her Turkish flag is in her pocket,” Mr. Erdogan proclaimed after calling Amine onstage. “If she becomes a martyr, God willing, she will be wrapped with it,” he said. “She is ready for everything, aren’t you?”
Mr. Erdogan recently made an alliance with the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party to bolster his chances for coming elections and has used the military campaign to improve his stance with nationalists.
He makes public speeches every day and sometimes several times a day, peppering his speeches with nationalist and anti-Western jibes as well as poetry and religious sayings, conjuring glories of Turkish history. He vows to protect Turkey’s borders and to fight terrorism, and rallies popular support for the war, listing the number of enemies killed and commending the nation’s martyrs.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1877"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 1, 2018 at 8:14 am · Reply

    The full text of 500 odd pages has been available for many weeks, hence those deemed knowledgeable by Finance can hardly treat it as a novelty on February 27. Perhaps some subtleties could continue to be studied at leisure with further amendments to the Budget bill to come, but the main outlines are clear enough. (See the joint paper Jack Mintz refers to in the National Post.)The main point of the US tax bill is a substantial cut in nominal corporate tax rates. The overriding principle is, and has been, that a US –owned corporate subsidiary ends up being out-of-pocket by the higher (US or Canadian) effective (not nominal!) profit tax rates. We have elaborate rules to prevent the trans-border shifting of profits through transfer pricing, but life, markets , and the CRA-veterans now practicing as tax lawyers must provide some choice to many corporations as to the country where the next dollar of profit will be declared.
    For this reason, the optimal effective tax rate for profits earned by Canadian corporations is just below what the applicable US rate is. That should maximize Canadian tax collections from that source. Jack Mintz’s suggestion is a two percentage point cut in the Canadian nominal rate.
    Had I been responsible for writing the material presented in the Commons yesterday, I would have signalled to business that we intend to do something to keep the playing field level with respect to effective tax rates.
    Hope this clarifies what I had in mind.
    Tony (Antal Deutsch)

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