Canadian Political Economy on Staple Thesis

In an impressive overview of the state of Canadian Political Economy, a new book Change and Continuity ed. by Mark P. Thomas et.al. includes two important articles on the continuing relevance of the staple thesis. On the one hand, Jim Stanford’s “Staples Dependence Renewed and Betrayed: Canada’s Twenty-First Century Boom and Best” does just as its title tells because of […]

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My review of Eric Weissman’s book on intentional homeless communities

I’ve just reviewed Eric Weissman’s book on intentional homeless communities. Points made in the review include the following: -Intentional communities in general are communities built around specific goals. But in the case of this book, I mean small communities of housing sometimes made from discarded, donated and recycled material, and sometimes purpose-built, to address homelessness. -Intentional communities are not the […]

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Alberta must find alternatives to cutting social spending

I have an opinion piece in today’s Edmonton Journal about Alberta’s current fiscal situation. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -The Jason Kenney government will almost certainly announce cuts to social spending in the near future. -Yet, more than 80% of Alberta’s kindergarten through Grade 3 classes currently exceed the provincial government’s own class-size targets. -Tuition fees […]

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Electrification and Climate I: Scale of the Challenge

Many elements have to come together if Canada is to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. There is now a technical consensus that “electrification” – the replacement of fossil fuels with electricity as an energy source – is a necessary condition for decarbonization, and that electrification will require that zero/low-emission electricity generation double or triple by 2050. In this […]

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Ten things to know about this year’s Alberta Alternative Budget

The Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) is an annual exercise whose working group consists of researchers, economists, and members of civil society (full disclosure: I’m the Editor). Our general mandate is to create a progressive vision for Alberta to boost economic growth and reduce income inequality. This year’s document was released today, and here are 10 things to know: The NDP […]

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MEDIA RELEASE: Alberta should increase social spending; cuts are not the way to go

(June 24, 2019-Calgary) With Alberta’s economy still facing challenges and vulnerabilities, the Alberta government should not be doling out tax cuts or cutting social spending, according to the Alberta Alternative Budget (AAB) released today. “Alberta still has, by far, the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any province,” says Nick Falvo, editor of the report. “We are in a good position to […]

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The Economic Pay-Off from Public Education

On a trip back to Toronto this week I attended the launch of a new report commissioned by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and written by Aimee McArthur-Gupta from the Conference Board of Canada. The report presents some estimates of the economic, fiscal and social benefits of public education programs. The full report is here. It is a useful […]

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Plausible Socialism

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was a widespread sense that liberal capitalism had triumphed in the battle of ideas, and that socialism as a plausible alternative was pretty much dead. But the many crises of contemporary capitalism – obscene levels of economic inequality, looming ecological disaster, the rise of the racist and anti democratic populist right, the […]

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What Impact will the 2019 Federal Budget have on Canada’s Housing Market?

I’ve written a blog post about what the recent federal budget means for Canada’s housing market. Points I make in the blog post include the following: -The budget contains several initiatives designed to make it easier for households of modest means to become homeowners. -Such initiatives are often framed as being win-win propositions, while their unintended consequences are rarely discussed. […]

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Ontario Electricity VII – Committee Testimony

The PC Government in Ontario has introduced Bill 87 which would eliminate the rate-based borrowing to subsidize electricity prices and replace it with Government borrowing. Last week’s Provincial Budget estimates that the required borrowing to subsidize electricity prices for 2018/19 was $2.8 billion. It is likely to exceed $3 billion in 2019/20. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America […]

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Jason Kenney’s tax plan full of holes

Jason Kenney has proposed that he will revive the Alberta economy and create jobs by cutting corporate taxes from 12% to 8%. The thinking goes that profitable businesses already located in Alberta will take their larger tax returns and make capital investments or hire more workers. This also assumes that businesses in other provinces will decide to move their operations […]

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Populism in the Time of Neoliberalism

The way of the world in recent and present time is the preach and the practice of neoliberalism, of pushing markets to their extremes. The Turkish writer and political analyst Ece Temelkuran in her new book How to Lose a Country: the Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship, draws on her Turkish experience and applies its lesson elsewhere, notably to […]

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Help please!

Can anyone out there help me? Just saw a headline on CNN saying that, in spite of Brexit chaos, unemployment was at an historic low. Likewise in US where in spite of Trump — could it really be because of? — unemployment is also at an historic low. Reminds me that back in the late 1970s there was a G-7 […]

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Technology and Democracy (continued)

Post the Second World War, the US became dominant in the world economy and a shift from coal to oil was deliberately taken by the state to weaken the power of coal-centred industrialization and tie the Middle East into American and European control. Transport of oil by pipeline and tanker created a fluidity that tended to eliminate nodal points where […]

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Technology and Democracy: Contrasting Coal and Oil

The opening sentence of the 2011 book, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil by the historian Timothy Mitchell, reads “Fossil fuels helped create both the possibility of modern democracy and its limits.” Carbon democracy is “a certain kind of democratic politics.” He observes: “Countries that depend upon petroleum resources for a large part of their earnings from […]

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Statistics Canada’s Ongoing Consultation about the Market Basket Measure Needs Recalibration

Things are moving quite fast, even too fast, since the federal government’s first poverty reduction strategy was published in August, at least for the aspects of this strategy which are problematic. The unilateral decision to consider the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as “Canada’s Official Poverty Line” is one of those. It ignores some useful expertise developed about the MBM over […]

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2019 PEF Student Essay Contest is Open

The 2019 PEF Student Essay Contest is now open! Calling all Canadian students anywhere in the world and all post-secondary students in Canada who are working on papers taking a critical approach to the functioning, efficiency, social, and environmental consequences of unconstrained markets. The winning essays will receive a cash prize of $1,000 for the graduate student category and $500 […]

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An update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy

Steve Pomeroy, arguably Canada’s top affordable housing policy expert, has written a status update on Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS). His overview includes some great background material on Canadian housing policy generally. Points raised in his analysis include the following: -The Trudeau government’s much-anticipated NHS was unveiled in November 2017. -In most provinces and territories, federal funding accounts for less […]

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Socialism For Realists

I recommend reading Sam Gindin’s paper “Socialism for Realists” to be found in the current issue of the relatively new socialist journal, Catalyst. Sam spent most of his working life as a union economist and assistant to the President of the CAW, and writes often with Leo Panitch, most notably as co-authors of The Making of Global Capitalism.   I […]

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Supportive housing for persons with serious mental health challenges

I’ve recently written a ‘top 10’ review of a new book on supportive housing—i.e., subsidized housing with social work support—for persons with serious mental health challenges. The book’s an anthology that was edited by three Ontario-based researchers. A key questions that emerges in the book is: Should such housing be owned and operated by for-profit providers, or by non-profit providers? […]

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