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  • CCPA in Europe for CETA speaking tour October 17, 2017
    On September 21, Canada and the European Union announced that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a controversial NAFTA-plus free trade deal initiated by the Harper government and signed by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2016, was now provisionally in force. In Europe, however, more than 20 countries have yet to officially ratify the deal, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Twelve year study of an inner-city neighbourhood October 12, 2017
    What does twelve years of community organizing look like for a North End Winnipeg neighbourhood?  Jessica Leigh survey's those years with the Dufferin community from a community development lens.  Read full report.
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Losing your ID - even harder to recover when you have limited resources! October 10, 2017
    Ellen Smirl researched the barriers experienced by low-income Manitobans when faced with trying to replace lost, stolen, or never aquired idenfication forms. Read full report here.  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA recommendations for a better North American trade model October 6, 2017
    The all-party House of Commons trade committee is consulting Canadians on their priorities for bilateral and trilateral North American trade in light of the current renegotiation of NAFTA. In the CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood argue for a different kind of trading relationship that is inclusive, transformative, and […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ontario’s fair wage policy needs to be refreshed September 28, 2017
    The Ontario government is consulting on ways to modernize the province’s fair wage policy, which sets standards for wages and working conditions for government contract workers such as building cleaners, security guards, building trades and construction workers. The fair wage policy hasn’t been updated since 1995, but the labour market has changed dramatically since then. […]
    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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