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  • Community Economic Development in Manitoba - a new film January 16, 2018
    Cinameteque, Jan 23.  7:00 pm - Free event Film Trailer CCEDNET-MB, CCPA-MB, The Manitoba Research Alliance and Rebel Sky Media presents: The Inclusive Economy:  Stories of Community Economic Development in Manitoba
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Winnipeg's State of the Inner City 2018 January 3, 2018
    Winnipeg's community-based organizations are standing on shakey ground and confused about how to proceed with current provincial governement measurements.  Read the 2018 State of the Inner City Report.
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Our Schools/Our Selves: Winter 2018 is online now! December 18, 2017
    For the first time, this winter we are making Our Schools/Our Selves available in its entirety online. This issue of Our Schools/Our Selves focuses on a number of key issues that education workers, parents, students, and public education advocates are confronting in schools and communities, and offers on-the-ground commentary and analysis of what needs to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Charting a path to $15/hour for all BC workers November 22, 2017
    In our submission to the BC Fair Wages Commission, the CCPA-BC highlighted the urgency for British Columbia to adopt a $15 minimum wage by March 2019. Read the submission. BC’s current minimum wage is a poverty-level wage. Low-wage workers need a significant boost to their income and they have been waiting a long time. Over 400,000 […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA-BC joins community, First Nation, environmental groups in call for public inquiry into fracking November 5, 2017
    Today the CCPA's BC Office joined with 16 other community, First Nation and environmental organizations to call for a full public inquiry into fracking in Britsh Columbia. The call on the new BC government is to broaden a promise first made by the NDP during the lead-up to the spring provincial election, and comes on […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Is Chrystia Freeland Progressive?

Chrystia Freeland, The Globe and Mail’s candidate in Toronto Centre, recently wrote a book about inequality (which I have not yet read) and is supposed to “bring fresh thinking to the Liberal Party’s economic team.”

She has already attracted a few jabs from right-wingers Terence Corcoran and William Watson. But is she progressive?

The Globe gave Freeland more than 900 words on Monday’s opinion page to articulate her political vision. It featured only one paragraph of policy proposals:

We know some of things we need to do. As University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak has shown, social mobility is one of the casualties of rising income inequality and the hollowing out of the middle class. We must do everything we can to lean against that trend, particularly investing in public education, starting in preschool. Second, we need to become the world’s most attractive destination for entrepreneurship. As traditional middle class jobs vanish, we need to build a platform that makes it easy for driven, inventive Canadians to take risks and create new ones. Third, we need to find ways to realign business incentives with public ones. Toronto is leading the way here, with initiatives like the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, but there is a lot more to be done.

Freeland’s op-ed does not state that she actually wants to reduce income inequality. Instead, her focus seems to be on maintaining social mobility given greater income inequality. In other words, she appears to be more concerned about equality of opportunity than equality of condition.

She supports investing in public education, especially early childhood development, which is good as far as it goes. But does any politician oppose “investing in public education”?

Freeland’s next idea is “to become the world’s most attractive destination for entrepreneurship.” She does not indicate what that means, but such rhetoric is usually code for tax cuts, deregulation, etc.

Her final proposal is to “realign business incentives with public ones,” which sounds like another platitude except she provides a clue as to its meaning by citing “social impact investing” as an example. The CCPA’s David Macdonald correctly criticizes this model as a means of siphoning public social expenditures into corporate coffers.

Freeland puts forward remarkably little specific policy. What she does suggest is not particularly progressive.

Of course, there is not much point in comparing Freeland to a theoretical standard. Elections and by-elections are about political choices.

Toronto Centre needs a candidate with a track record of advancing more substantive and more progressive positions on economic issues. Specifically, the NDP should nominate someone who can take on Freeland regarding inequality and what to do about it.

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from John W. Warnock
Time: August 3, 2013, 6:14 pm

She sounds a lot like Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert.

Comment from Merran Proctor
Time: August 4, 2013, 4:04 pm

Keep up this kind of watch Erin. Thanks.

Comment from Paul Weinberg
Time: August 5, 2013, 10:28 am

Hi Erin, I have read Plutocrats and it does outline the rise of inequality and the rise of the super rich in an interesting way. But she doesn’t prescribe solutions like rolling back neo-liberal and so-called economic liberalization policies. I guess as a journalist she saw her book as illustrating a problem, not going the next step of policy formulation. The book doesn’t say much about Canada beyond praising Mark Carney and Canadian policy towards bank regulation.

Comment from Sara Mayo
Time: August 5, 2013, 3:04 pm

Michael Shapcott, the former Toronto-Centre NDP has a much more more nuanced view of social impact investing:
http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/news/social-finance-generating-excitement-as-a-supplement-not-a-substitute-for-government-social-investments/

Would he fail this definition of progressive because he supports social impact investing under certain conditions?

Comment from Sara Mayo
Time: August 5, 2013, 3:38 pm

Oops missed a word above… “candidate” after Toronto Centre NDP.

Comment from Erin Weir
Time: August 6, 2013, 12:38 pm

It’s one thing for a non-profit director to welcome social impact investing as a supplement to inadequate public funding, while recognizing its limits and pitfalls.

It’s quite another thing for a political candidate to highlight social impact investing as one of her top (or only) three policy priorities, without even calling for increased public funding of needed public services (except maybe education).

Comment from Murray Reiss
Time: August 6, 2013, 1:47 pm

In order to answer the question, wouldn’t we first have to agree on what it means to be “progressive” in Canada at this particular historical moment? I would love to see your working definition. Where I live the term has been stretched to the vanishing point by being used to refer to anyone to the left of Stephen Harper.

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