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  • CCPA's National Office has moved! May 11, 2018
      The week of May 1st, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' National Office moved to 141 Laurier Ave W, Suite 1000, Ottawa ON, K1P 5J2. Please note that our phone, fax and general e-mail will remain the same: Telephone: 613-563-1341 | Fax: 613-233-1458 | Email: ccpa@policyalternatives.ca  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • What are Canada’s energy options in a carbon-constrained world? May 1, 2018
    Canada faces some very difficult choices in maintaining energy security while meeting emissions reduction targets.  A new study by veteran earth scientist David Hughes—published through the Corporate Mapping Project, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute—is a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s energy systems in light of the need to maintain energy security and […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2018 Living Wage for Metro Vancouver April 25, 2018
    The cost of raising a family in British Columbia increased slightly from 2017 to 2018. A $20.91 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver, up from $20.61 per hour in 2017 due to soaring housing costs. This is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Mobility pricing must be fair and equitable for all April 12, 2018
    As Metro Vancouver’s population has grown, so have its traffic congestion problems. Whether it’s a long wait to cross a bridge or get on a bus, everyone can relate to the additional time and stress caused by a transportation system under strain. Mobility pricing is seen as a solution to Metro Vancouver’s transportation challenges with […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Budget 2018: The Most Disappointing Budget Ever March 14, 2018
    Premier Pallister’s Trump-esque statement that budget 2018 was going to be the “best budget ever” has fallen a bit flat. Instead of a bold plan to deal with climate change, poverty and our crumbling infrastructure, we are presented with two alarmist scenarios to justify further tax cuts and a lack of decisive action: the recent […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Dumb ideas for fighting the downturn

The financial crisis and economic downturn have led to some silly ideas, namely, completing the Doha Round of trade talks at the WTO, and in Canada, a variant around eliminating inter-provincial trade barriers.

BC Premier Gordon Campbell has pressed for the latter, in spite of scant evidence that any meaningful barriers actually exist (the perception, however, runs deep with the CBC’s conservative media panel the other day endorsing the idea). Having signed the Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with Alberta, only to see the momentum stop at the Saskatchewan border, Campbell is pushing again on this non-issue as a “solution” to our current woes. At best this is more gimmickery from Campbell that panders to the perceptions for political gain; at worst, it will drive deregulation at a time when we need more regulation and more regionalized responses, not less.

Yet, Campbell rejects a real solution to the economic challenge, running deficits, that is essentially the mainstream view right now. In fact, we are on schedule to see a BC replay of the federal election come May, with both the Liberals and NDP saying they will never run a deficit. This means we will be putting off any meaningful action until Summer 2009 (I review the existing Liberal and NDP plans here and here).

As for Doha, it is worth noting the context. The developing world did not want this round of negotiations but they were strong-armed through just after 9/11/2001 to “save” the global economy from that crisis. Those very same countries have fought the press from advanced countries to dismantle what remains of domestic policies, while refusing to reduce barriers to goods from the developing world. That’s why there has been a stalemate for the past five years. And in spite of calls for resuscitation I see no movement on the positions of advanced countries to lower barriers to make life easier for poor countries.

Like Naomi Klein argues in The Shock Doctine, crises often lead to new justifications for pre-existing agendas. But even if all went forward, the Doha Round completed next month and the last trade barrier remaining in Canada eliminated, would this matter to the economic crisis? A big no, I’m afraid, and if anything these would tie up resources we need on other fronts. So focus, people, we have some work to do – we need real international and interprovincial cooperation on a stimulus package that averts a catastrophe.

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Comments

Comment from Travis Fast
Time: November 23, 2008, 8:47 pm

Look if you want fight deflation just ask yourself what would a contrarian of Friedman do? That is, what public policy, according to Friedman, would increase a downward price stickiness? Fun times, fun times.

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