Concordia Decides That Less Is More

In August, I blogged about controversy surrounding Concordia University’s Board of Governors. A report co-authored by Bernard J. Shapiro (Canada’s first Ethics Commissioner) had concluded that an unofficial, inner circle of Board members had been micromanaging some of the university’s day-to-day operations, and undermining the President. This had apparently prompted the resignation of the previous two Presidents before the midway points of their respective terms in office. It […]

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Why even conservatives are worried about rising inequality

This essay was commissioned by the National Post.  It was published in today’s edition under the headline “A Problem for Everyone“.  In the print edition, the overline -  a large font summary of what you are about to read  written by the editors –  reads:  “Income inequality isn’t just unfair — it threatens the whole foundation on which our capitalist […]

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TILMA by Stealth in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Party had repeatedly promised not to sign TILMA, but signed the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) last year. At the time, many commentators (including yours truly) noted that the NWPTA was little more than a renaming of TILMA. I see that the official TILMA website is now automatically redirecting to the NWPTA website: Effective July 1, 2010 […]

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Is Capitalism Terminally Ill?

Today (June 15th) the Toronto Star broke news that the NDP was planning to drop the term “socialism” from its party’s platform. This was a mere formality of what had been in existence for decades: the party hasn’t been “socialist” in any shape or form for a very long time. On the very same day, new data emerged from the […]

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Scheer Success

Andrew Scheer has been elected House of Commons Speaker. I met him in 2004, when we were federal candidates in adjacent Regina ridings. I was the no-shot NDP candidate against then-Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and he was the long-shot Conservative candidate against veteran NDP MP Lorne Nystrom. At the end of that summer, we were both headed east. I drove […]

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Did NDP Sectarianism Screw Canada?

While NDP supporters might be celebrating last night’s election results, the reality is that it was an umitigated disaster for Canada. The Tory majority will mean more tax breaks for corporations, the gutting of social services and cultural institutions, the widening of the already cavernous income gap, the public defunding of political parties, and the continual sell off of Canada’s […]

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Electile Dysfunction

Evidence suggests that we all like it long. Mayors of Canada like it long. It helps them prioritize the next transit or water main development. Police like it long. It helps them decide how to recruit, to reflect the changing communities they serve. Medical researchers like it long. It helps them see patterns of disease, which helps find cures. Business […]

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The Polls and the Proles

The polls are suggesting a Harper majority may be in the cards, but they may be counting out the wild card in this deck: young people. How do polls work? Pollsters call people. On land lines. Who answers land lines? Not many young people anymore. They’re constantly connected through their cells, mostly through texts. But those numbers aren’t easily accessed. […]

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Of the 1%, For the 1%, By the 1%

The first leg of the federal election campaign has featured much debate over who benefits from different proposals. At least indirectly, it has been a conversation about income inequality. What have they been saying? The Harper Conservatives have introduced a number of high-cost measures all of which are based on tax cuts, all of which would widen the rich/poor gap. […]

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The Rise of the Global Elite

“The already wealthy have emerged from the global recession in an even wealthier position. What does the rise of global elites mean to power and influence at home and abroad?” That’s the blurb from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, the latest Canadian news show to tackle the issue that explains so much of what is going on: rising inequality. […]

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Ethics and Economics

The New York Times recently reported that the American Economics Association (AEA) will be studying a proposal to adopt a code of ethical standards during its upcoming meetings, set to take place in a few days in Denver. This code of ethical standards could notably address situations where there could be a possible conflict of interest, such as when economists […]

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New report, old excuses

The Parkland Institute released its latest report yesterday morning, detailing the huge scale of oilpatch profits – Misplaced Generosity: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Many of the responses from government and industry were predictable – that’s why they were addressed in the report. Let’s run through the standard excuses offered for the string of royalty cuts Albertans […]

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Silencing Student Dissent

Across Canada, university student associations–at both the undergraduate and graduate level–provide democratic representation to their members.  When students register for a term, memberhip fees are automatically collected by the university’s business office, much like an employer automatically collects union dues in a unionized workplace.  The university’s business office temporarily holds student membership fees “in trust,” and then remits them to […]

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The Rules of Disengagement

The following will appear in the Hill Times print edition next Monday, September 20, sans the groovy chart and links. Falling response rates and declining voter turnouts are two symptoms of increased disengagement in the mechanisms that inform and channel collective concerns. In such a political climate, the mandatory census long form questionnaire is a tool that can help keep […]

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Congress Passes Healthcare – I Told You So

This evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Obama’s healthcare bill. Two months ago, I was the odd man out on a Business News Network panel (watch video). The day after the Massachusetts by-election, I was talking about Democrats redoubling their efforts and being more aggressive in putting forward a progressive agenda. By contrast, one of my co-panellists said, “The […]

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Ontario’s Labour Mobility Act

Earlier this year, the Ontario government introduced a bill to give legal force to recent Agreement on Internal Trade amendments. The usual suspects – the union movement, the Council of Canadians, etc. – requested public hearings. After months of stonewalling, the government announced on December 1 that there would be one day of hearings on December 3. This process was […]

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What Happened in Halifax

I missed the Globe and Mail letters on Thursday (because Jack Mintz’s op-ed prompted me to instead read The National Post that day.) Among them was the following letter from Bruce Hyer, the key advocate of not taxing “small business” profits: Yes, there was a vote I read with interest your editorial The Tax-Cutting Left? (Aug. 18) on the New […]

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BC’s other election: STV

Back in the 2005 BC election, a proportional representation system, known as Single Transferable Vote, or STV, was put to the people. It was recommended as an alternative to the current First-Past-the-Post system that has delivered some unusual and uneven results in BC and other parts of Canada over the years. STV captured a majority of votes – a larger […]

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The Ascent of Reform-man

Andrew Coyne blogs a summary of how the Conservatives have abandoned their principles to get and stay in power. Of course, Coyne views this sell-out with derision; I see it with a smile and great thanks, but with concern that they will rediscover those lost “principles” should a majority somehow be achieved. Despite the perspective it reads as a nice […]

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Ignatieff’s Third Motive

I admit to not keeping up with all of the progressive reaction to the new Liberal-Conservative coalition. But among mainstream political pundits, there seem to be two main explanations for Igantieff’s decision to not substantively amend the budget. First, he was unwilling to go through with the progressive coalition or risk an election, so he tried to sound tough without proposing […]

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Ignatieff’s Third Option?

Political watchers are waiting with baited breath to see whether Michael Ignatieff will acquiesce to Tuesday’s Conservative budget, to the applause of Bay Street Liberals, or whether he will defeat the budget and seize the opportunity to become Prime Minister of a progressive coalition government. It strikes me that there is a third possibility: he might propose explicit amendments to […]

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A Job for the Parliamentary Budget Officer?

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) was established in response to the systematic underestimation of federal budget surpluses. Its job was to provide independent estimates of the available surplus to keep Finance Canada honest ( “truth in budgeting” as the Conservatives said at the time). With the federal government headed into deficit, the PBO’s purpose is less clear. In theory, it […]

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Blakeney on Royalties, the Charter and NAFTA

Allan Blakeney, Saskatchewan’s Premier from 1971 until 1982, just published his memoirs, An Honourable Calling. Book launches are scheduled in Regina (Nov. 25), Saskatoon (Nov. 27), Moose Jaw (Dec. 2) and Ottawa (Dec. 9). A few years ago, Blakeney had me pull together some facts and figures for his chapter on oil, so I was quite interested to read the […]

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Is Layton’s Tax Rate Competitive?

Stéphane Dion has branded Jack Layton an “old-style socialist” with a “job-killing” platform. The C. D. Howe Institute’s Finn Poschmann echoes this view, arguing that corporate tax cuts are needed to keep Canada internationally competitive. (The C. D. Howe Institute is financed and governed by corporate Canada.) Of course, corporate taxes are but one of many factors that influence competitiveness. […]

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