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The Progressive Economics Forum

Canada’s Regulatory Obstacle Course

The CCPA released a report of mine, critiquing federal regulatory policy. Called Canada’s Regulatory Obstacle Course, the brief looks at the latest development in federal deregulation, the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation (CDSR, announced in the 2007 budget), but situates it in the context of ongoing deregulation that has been underway since the 1980s. The CDSR is pernicious because it places large hurdles in the face of the regulatory process itself – at the departmental level proposed public interest regulations must be tested against whether any corporate interests are adversely affected, which pretty much guarantees a chill over new regulations, and weak, ineffective ones that do make it through the process. That screen is being applied to the whole of federal government regulations, too.

The paper also draws on some polling that finds that public opinion strongly disagrees with this general direction of balancing the public interest and corporate interests. Perhaps one too many tainted meat scares have taught people that the “free market” can be bad for your health. That said, regulation is bone dry as a topic and most Canadians just expect our governments to protect the public interest.

It is hard to empirically test what effect this has had since its introduction. How does one measure chill effects that preclude a regulatory exercise from happening in the first place? An interesting follow-up would be to pore through federal documents and interview a wide range of public servants to assess whether the CDSR has put the handcuffs on their ability to do their jobs.

More importantly, government would have to want to go there in the first place. The political will has to be there, but even if it is, the CDSR compromises the feds’ ability to do the right thing. If we think of big picture challenges like climate change, regulation will be needed to set out the rules by which we get to a carbon neutral economy. There are definitely going to be losers on the corporate side of things (tar sands, anyone?) if an effective regime is brought to bear, and the danger is that the CDSR (or whatever comes forth of this newly minted Red Tape Commission, announced in the 2010 budget) gums up good environmental policy in the name of “competitiveness”.

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from Brandon L
Time: April 29, 2010, 9:29 pm

When did public private partnerships become the free market…

“The paper also draws on some polling that finds that public opinion strongly disagrees with this general direction of balancing the public interest and corporate interests. Perhaps one too many tainted meat scares have taught people that the “free market” can be bad for your health.”

The gov’t is balancing, not simply removing all regulations. This would be for economicly fascist.

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State.

Harper administration, and the evil canadian capitalists, are facists when they use the system to promote their ideological positions on private markets. There are many not such institutions making claims that progressives are scratching their heads…

Comment from Brandon L
Time: April 29, 2010, 9:30 pm

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and usefu [sic] instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.
State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)
—Benito Mussolini, 1935, “Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions”, Rome: ‘Ardita’ Publishers.

Comment from Brandon L
Time: April 29, 2010, 9:40 pm

One of many key concepts of the Mussolini was that fascism was a rejection of previous models:

“Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right’, a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the ‘collective’ century, and therefore the century of the State.”

This seperates capitalist and individualists from the Right that uses polotical influence to write regulations in the interest of the select few evil capitalists who help secure the politicians seat, not helping public interest or the economy.

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