Canada: Women’s health & contraception don’t mix

Canada: Women’s health & contraception don’t mix

The Canadian government’s ‘signature initiative’ for the G8, its focus on improving women’s and infant health, won’t include birth control.

The Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon made clear yesterday that it’s off the table, clearly due to the government’s fears of upsetting their anti-abortion base. It is troubling enough that they don’t respect the right to choose – now they’re equating abortion with all forms of family planning.

How can the government be serious about the plight of mothers around the world if key choices are of the table?

Regardless, this whole initiative is likely to be window dressing anyway. How is the Conservative government equipped to fight for women’s health and rights around the world when it has systematically eroded those same rights and opportunities in Canada?

They eliminated the national childcare program proposed by the Liberals, they closed Status on Women offices across the country, and cut money to numerous women’s organizations.

Further, women’s health goes much deeper than funding and access to contraception. If governments don’t include a strategy to deal with the economic insecurity capitalism has created for women around the world, little is possible. Health care solutions (though they are important) that don’t acknowledge the sources of poverty and poor health are not nearly enough. Medicalized, band-aid solutions have been proposed for years, and poor health is as rampant as ever.

But, of course, anything that might question globalization’s own role in this economic precariousness is surely off the G8 discussion table (and far away in another room).

Tax the banks? Canada says no

Tax the banks? Canada says no

A divide is developing between Canada and Europe on the issue of bank taxes, which is likely to come to a head at the G8/G20. European countries are wanting to tax financial transactions as a means to build up a fund for any future bailouts, while the Canadian government (and Canadian banks – surprise) says that it is a bad idea.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty: “We’re not going to impose capital taxes on our financial institutions. We’re against raising taxes and I hope to be able to convince my colleagues that these are unwise moves.” He also states that the U.S. will be siding with Canada on this issue.

Flaherty used a moment to praise the Canadian banking system and suggest that the best thing that governments could do for their banking systems is to follow the Canadian model of low debt, rather than creating new taxes.

The ‘wonderousness’ of the Canadian banking system is going to be a theme that will be touted ad nauseum by the Canadian government during the summits. But is it all that? There are certainly grumblings out there that the Canadian financial sector has more problems than it will admit (such as a U.S. style housing bubble)

There is clearly a need to put this under a bit more scrutiny, watch here in the weeks ahead!

Economist editor: Globalization brings happiness!

Economist editor: Globalization brings happiness!

In case you thought that the pro-globalization chattering classes are still cowering from the fallout of the economic crisis, John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief of the economist sets this straight with some bullish talk about the free-market economy.  He was in Montreal this week, where he talked up free markets with a Globe and Mail business writer.

Despite the turmoil markets have been in and the challenge to neo-liberalism that has come from the crisis, Micklethwait won’t let go of orthodoxy: “what I see is this process [globalization] which has brought gigantic wealth and, indeed, happiness to most people around the world.”

Happiness to most?  How does one account for the 16.4% decline of real wages in the U.S. (wages adjusted for inflation) that occurred between 1973 and 2004?  I’m sure those people aren’t dancing for joy.  Sure, there was a brief uptick just before the crisis hit in 2008, but that has since been completely wiped out.  Canada has had similar, though less drastic, results, with stagnant median real wages.

And around the world, wage inequality between the rich and poor has grown enormously.  Neoliberal policies have unquestionably created massive wealth for some, but the vast majority have been left behind.

Even if you believe corporate globalization is all that, can you really say most are happy from it?

There were even more nuggets in this short interview:

He admits globalization is “savage, sometimes cruel”, but that “globalization is about the way the ideas, people, goods, services cross borders…and anything that gets in the way of that “tends to be bad in general”.  Moving goods, people, etc… across borders can be a good thing, but not when most people actually can’t move across borders at leisure (save for the global elite) and when the game is rigged for corporations to use their enormous power to get what they want.

Micklethwait also brings up the G8/G20 meetings this year and how Obama needs to ‘resell’ global capitalism to the 12 emerging economies that make up the G8/G20 difference.  He suggests Obama will have failed if he doesn’t bring China, India, Brazil, etc…into a broadly Western framework of running the world”  If that happens, he feels is no problem merging the G8 into the G20, because these countries will be playing the right role in the global economy.

It is clear that the neo-liberals are back on the offensive, having learned nothing from the present crisis.

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