Main menu:

Posts by Author

History of RPE Thought

Posts by Tag

RSS New from the CCPA

Progressive Bloggers

Meta

Recent Blog Posts

Recent Blog Comments

The Progressive Economics Forum

Archive for July, 2010

Census, homelessness and gated communities

I am posting this on behalf of a colleague from Victoria B.C., Ian Faris, an employee with Statistics Canada for 20 years, and now a research analyst and member of the Canadian Social Data Consortium. The data consortium is organized to “liberate” census and related data at a modest fee for city planners, public health […]

Preparing for Rising Homelessness

I have an op-ed in today’s Toronto Star.  The piece stems largely from a policy paper I wrote on homelessness earlier this year, and that I blogged about here. In today’s op-ed, I argue that homelessness rises after a recession, but that there’s a lag effect.  To be sure, after the recession of the early 1990s, […]

Privacy and the Census: It’s Really Not All About You

Are there good alternatives to the mandatory census long-form questionnaire to collect the information that we need? Last Saturday CBC’s The House had a sparkling section on the census which offered some thoughts from a Danish statistician and the views of Canada’s longest serving Chief Statistician, Ivan Fellegi. On Tuesday Tavia Grant’s superb article in […]

Staples Recovery

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) edged up 0.1% in May. Annualized output was $1,231 billion, still below the pre-crisis peak of $1,241 billion in July 2008 but well above the trough of $1,186 billion in May 2009. Canada-US Comparison American GDP figures released this morning indicate an annual growth rate of 2.4% in the second quarter […]

Stanbury on Coercion

Professor Emeritus at University of British Columbia, William Stanbury, has produced a handy treatise on coercion, published online in the Hill Times this week. Stanbury focused his career as a professor of economics on strategic decision-making in business, including government relations, competition rules, regulations and other public policies that strengthen business performance. His insightful summary […]

The Western Climate Initiative: another baby step

It has been a while but this week climate change is back in the news cycle. The front page of today’s Globe reports on the latest climate impacts tally: The report …  concluded 2000 to 2009 was the warmest decade ever, and the Earth has been growing warmer for 50 years. Each of the past […]

An Exit Strategy for the Conservatives

Anybody that has been watching the unfolding of the census dust-up could be forgiven for no longer knowing where to place their bets. Are the Conservatives really going to go through with this disruptive measure, or are there still ways out? The answer is yes, a successful resolution is still possible (read on). But nothing […]

Can the provinces fix the Census Fiasco?

Once again Stephen Harper has charted a course for the nation that drops the ball in the provinces’ and territories’ lap. Since forming government in 2006, the Harper Conservatives have withdrawn federal presence from social policy, health policy, and climate change while ramping up defence, security and trade. The cut to the GST was less […]

Canada’s Productivity Problem

Back in June, the TD Economics group released a major report co-authored by Don Drummond: “The Productivity Puzzle. ” It provides a comprehensive overview of major studies and the empirical evidence, and should help spark some critical reflection. Progressive economists should agree with Drummond that productivity growth is vitally important to the growth of living […]

Reflections on The Spirit Level

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, is an important book. It is not a huge tome, as one might expect from such a broad topic, weighing in at just 265 pages of text (including lots of figures mapping inequality against some health and social […]

National Statistics Council on the Census

The following statement was released this morning. The key point is that the mandatory long form census should remain for 2011, and some changes are proposed moving forward including removing the never-used penalty of prison for non compliance. Seeking Solutions The National Statistics Council, the senior, external advisory group appointed by the government of Canada […]

Will the Real Stephen Harper Please Stand Up?

Stephen Harper’s 1991 master’s thesis used census data to make his case about “political business cycles” and he even noted how disruptive changes in methodology could be for long-term analysis in understanding how Canadian political behaviour changed over time. He ran a model to show the links between variables such as unemployment and changes in […]

Carney on Business Investment: You Read It Here First

Nine days ago, I posted about private non-financial corporations accumulating cash rather than investing in Canada. A week later, the Bank of Canada’s Monetary Policy Report (MPR) noted “the relatively high level of liquidity held by the non-financial corporate sector and weak investment” (page 19). By my count, the document expresses concern eight separate times about […]

Tempests in a Libertarian Teapot

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute, which has been leading the charge against mostly unidentified “inter-provincial trade barriers,” is now posting complaints about the “intrusive” census long form. Are different-sized cream containers in various provinces and having to spend 20 minutes filling out a form once every couple of decades really the worst problems facing libertarians in Canada? […]

Debating Interprovincial Trade

Over at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Robert Knox has tried to rebut my rebuttal of his C. D. Howe Institute paper. (I am still waiting for a rebuttal of my rebuttal of his more recent Macdonald-Laurier Institute paper.) Knox’s post sheds light on how his side of the debate sees the issue. But I begin with […]

A Business POV and Direct Link to Clement’s Use of Census Long-Form Data

A highly regarded economist and business consultant sent me a link to his view of the significance and consequence of the Government’s decision to axe the census long-form questionnaire. Elegantly concise and to the point, it reads like a cheat sheet for an exam on why Census long-form information is important, from the on-the-ground business […]

The Politicization of the Public Service – Warning from a Former Clerk of the Privy Council

The resignation of Chief Statistician Munir Sheik has far-reaching political consequences, and may be the game-changer in this ongoing census saga. But it is the extreme conclusion of a far more serious and consequential development – the politicization of the public service. Read Alex Himelfarb on the topic, a former Clerk of the Privy Council […]

Essential Reading on the Census

A great piece of political analysis by Paul Saurette of Ottawa U  – from the Mark http://www.themarknews.com/articles/1907-when-smart-parties-make-stupid-decisions?page=1

Inflation: The 1% Menace?

Between May and June, consumer prices decreased in both absolute and seasonally-adjusted terms. As a result, the annual inflation rate fell to 1.0%, about half what it had been at the start of this year. One province, Manitoba, actually slipped into deflation. The Bank of Canada’s core rate edged down to 1.7%. Monetary Policy Inflation’s […]

After the Fall – What’s Next for the Census?

There aren’t many stories like this one. You have to go back half a century, to Diefenbaker and Coyne, to find a parallel. Then too, a Prime Minister increasingly viewed as overly controlling insisted on an unworkable policy until the Governor of the Bank of Canada had no choice but to step down, in an […]

Marc’s Summer Reading

With summer comes a lightening of my work load, so I’ve finally found some time to dive into a few interesting books. These are all related to my ongoing research interests (I do have some fiction sitting around waiting for a real holiday, with Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna at the top of the pile): The […]

More Unemployment = More EI

For the first time in eight months, the number of Employment Insurance (EI) recipients increased in May. We already knew from the Labour Force Survey that unemployment had increased by just over 8,000 in May. It is good news that EI expanded by the same amount because it implies that those who became unemployed that […]

The Crisis at Statistics Canada

I am a member of the National Statistics Council, an expert advisory group to Statistics Canada. We meet twice a year as a group with the Chief Statistician and senior Statscan staff. The members are a varied group of expert users of data. The Chair of the Council, Ian McKinnon,  released this statement to the […]

Steelworker Census Letter

My union’s contribution to the debate follows: July 21, 2010 Hon. Tony Clement Minister of Industry 235 Queen Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5 Dear Minister Clement: I write to ask you to reverse two recent decisions that threaten to undermine the quality and quantity of data produced by Statistics Canada. First, making the long-form questionnaire […]

Jobs Recovery Far From Complete

One thing that really bugs me about the mainstream media coverage of the economy is the frequently asserted view that the jobs recovery is now almost complete – meaning that total employment has returned to pre recession levels. As one example, the Globe’s coverage of yesterday’s interest rate increase referred to  “Canada’s unique position as […]

Emergency Singalong

Last week someone sent me an email with a subject line that read “Emergency Singalong” They had watched the evolution of the census story with dismay and decided it was time to turn things around. Cleverly rewriting the lyrics to Garry and the Playboy’s 1960s hit Count Me In, a group assembled at his house […]

Stephen Harper’s Gamble

Dr. Bill Stanbury — a regular contributor to the Hill Times, professor emeritus at UBC, economist and self-described as centre-right — has urged me to work with him to compile a list of every organization who has taken a public stand on opposing the government’s decision to ax the census long-form questionnaire, and replace it […]

The Privacy Issue that Harper Should Focus on – Credit Info

Since Stephen Harper and David Cameron seem to be on the same wavelength, and the UK thinks it can trash census and turn to isources like credit records for its information needs, the story below on privacy, from Alberta, may be of possible interest. Report of an Investigation into the Security, Collection and Retention of […]

The Secretary-General Is Not Amused – What the UN thinks about Census

While Canadians tried to talk census sense to their rulers, here’s what the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, had to say about the importance of the census on Sunday July 11: “Population data helps leaders and policy-makers to make informed decisions about policies and programmes to reduce poverty and hunger, and advance education, […]

Strange Bedfellows Invite Clement to Work With Them Towards Census Solution

Today a truly surprising assembly of organizations – definitely not a coalition – made a group request for a meeting with the Minister who has been put in charge of executing the decision to ax the Census long-form questionnaire. Their objective? “We understand that the far-reaching impacts of this decision may not have been fully […]