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  • 2019 Federal Budget Analysis February 27, 2019
    Watch this space for response and analysis of the federal budget from CCPA staff and our Alternative Federal Budget partners. More information will be added as it is available. Commentary and Analysis  Aim high, spend low: Federal budget 2019 by David MacDonald (CCPA) Budget 2019 fiddles while climate crisis looms by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood (CCPA) Organizational Responses Canadian Centre for Policy […]
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    Founder of the political Hip-Hop group The Coup, Boots Riley is a musician, rapper, writer and activist, whose feature film directorial and screenwriting debut — 2018’s celebrated Sorry to Bother You — received the award for Best First Feature at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards (amongst several other accolades and recognitions). "[A] reflection of the […]
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  • CCPA-BC welcomes Emira Mears as new Associate Director February 11, 2019
    This week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office is pleased to welcome Emira Mears to our staff team as our newly appointed Associate Director. Emira is an accomplished communications professional, digital strategist and entrepreneur. Through her former company Raised Eyebrow, she has had the opportunity to work with many organizations in the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Study explores media coverage of pipeline controversies December 14, 2018
    Supporters of fossil fuel infrastructure projects position themselves as friends of working people, framing climate action as antithetical to the more immediately pressing need to protect oil and gas workers’ livelihoods. And as the latest report from the CCPA-BC and Corporate Mapping Project confirms, this framing has become dominant across the media landscape. Focusing on pipeline […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Study highlights ‘uncomfortable truth’ about racism in the job market December 12, 2018
    "Racialized workers in Ontario are significantly more likely to be concentrated in low-wage jobs and face persistent unemployment and earnings gaps compared to white employees — pointing to the “uncomfortable truth” about racism in the job market, according to a new study." Read the Toronto Star's coverage of our updated colour-coded labour market report, released […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Chinese toys redux

I overheard on the radio that Mattel has made an apology to the Chinese government for its recall of numerous products – a huge symbol of just how mighty China is. At the time of recall mania there was a lot of China-bashing for its lax regulatory oversight (not so much what it meant for Chinese workers but for the Western consumers). Undoubtedly, the Chinese are not up to Western regulatory standards, but I thought this was strange given that the Chinese manufacturers were simply following the design specs of the mother corp, Mattel. And barely a word was said about the regulatory practices on the domestic (North American) front, which themselves have deteriorated in recent decades. Mattel seemed happy to let the story be about China, but looks like they took some serious flak from the Chinese and now are admitting to “design flaws”.

There are some bigger issues at stake with regard to toys. Loose magnets and lead paint may well be problematic. But I have seen some seriously nasty stuff on the shelves that is not facing recall of any kind. I remember some play balls at the dollar store that reaked of petroleum product, and would not want my child anywhere near the thing. The sheer amount of cheap plastic in toys is also cause for concern. Apparently, most of the crap out there meets our high Canadian standards for the little ones.

For a recent birthday, one of the toys received was a submersible mermaid kit that involved diluting into water a highly toxic substance (something like silicon silicate) that came in an unmarked plastic bag that a child could easily break open. Only when I read the instructions was I warned not to let the stuff get in contact with glass, wood or a number of other substances (it eats through glass in ten seconds, the sheet claimed), and that if it got anywhere near a mucous membrane to flush with water for half an hour then haul it over to the hospital. Needless to say, I dumped the substance in the garbage and there were no happy mermaids that day.

The issue is not about whether the product is made in China – the Chinese also make your laptop and most other high tech gear these days – but our own regulatory standards and what we will accept in the marketplace. Way back when they used to call this consumer protection, and yes, it does mean accepting some “red tape”. But I would be happier if we had a regulatory regime in place that did not place all of the burden on individual parents to figure out what is safe and what is not for children to play with.

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