Tuition Increases by Stealth

On Tuesday night, Peterborough City Council approved a plan for a for-profit corporation to own and operate a new student residence at Trent University.  I’m concerned that this may signal a new trend at Canadian universities; about a year ago, I blogged about a similar plan at the University of Toronto. I am not opposed to private sector actors being […]

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How Rob Ford Can Fix Social Housing

I have an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star regarding Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). Mr. Ford would like to see a considerable number of units from TCHC’s existing stock sold off.  For background on the issue, please my blog post of April 13, which can be found here. In today’s piece, I argue that it is more […]

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Toronto Community Housing Corporation

I have an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star regarding the recent controversy surrounding the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).  In the way of background: -TCHC is Canada’s largest provider of social housing, and Toronto’s largest landlord. -There have been two recent reports by the City of Toronto’s auditor–one looks at staff expenses at TCHC, and another looks at TCHC’s […]

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

Toronto’s new mayor Rob Ford and his brother/advisor Doug just announced they are planning to contract-out garbage collection for half of the City of Toronto as soon as possible as the first step to outsourcing everything we can by next year. According to Doug Ford, this will save the city millions and millions of dollars and ensure that they never […]

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When CEOs Run Universities

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail features an article on the resignation of Paul Bates as Dean of McMaster’s business school.  I believe the article is instructive in terms of understanding what can happen when private-sector actors are put in senior administrative roles at Canadian univerities According to the article, McMaster hired Mr. Bates in 2004.  Mr. Bates had no university degree, yet […]

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Mandryk on Potash: A Union Hack Responds

Murray Mandryk, CanWest’s seasoned Saskatchewan political columnist, has been writing some pretty sharp columns on potash. In particular, he questions excessively low resource royalties: . . . the messaging from Energy Minister Bill Boyd that his government wouldn’t touch oil royalty rates (even when it was selling at $150 a barrel), and the potash companies should get most anything they […]

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The Globe’s Report on Private Schools

If there was truth in news reporting, the Globe’s “report” on private schools (Sept. 14) would be labeled a “special advertising supplement”. It is essentially a cheerleading exercise for private schools, funded by advertising from private schools, so you’ll find no news in this report. Which is too bad because the topic of private schools merits some real journalism about […]

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Potash: The Folly of Privatization

I have the following op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post. Below it is a table supporting my statement that “the mines that PCS owned in 1989 still account for 80 per cent of its potash production and capacity.” Privatizing Potash was a Costly Mistake The greatest tragedy in BHP Billiton’s $38.6-billion (U.S.) bid for the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) is […]

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“Teaming Up” with the Private Sector

Today’s Globe and Mail features an article about the University of Toronto’s plan to turn “to the private sector to solve their campus housing problems” for students.  In particular, the article refers to a plan whereby the U of T would become “the first university in Canada to erect a large tower offsite with private money.” According to the article, […]

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Supercorp Flop – You Read It Here First

The front page of today’s Globe and Mail (Ontario Edition) proclaims, “Supercorp is dead.” The story goes on to note, “many government insiders have suggested that opponents of a potential deal got too much of a head start on framing the issue.” Indeed, this blog got a head start framing the issue back in December, when The Globe reported that […]

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Running up a Profit, Running down a City

The title for this post borrows from an article by Robert Rowthorn (my old Cambridge professor) and Terry Ward in the 1979 Cambridge Journal of Economics, titled “How to run a company and run down an economy.”  It’s still a classic on the difference between private cost-benefit accounting and social cost-benefit accounting (showing how the logic of coal-mine closures had […]

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Transatlantic Echo Chamber

The big news for Canadians from the OECD’s Going for Growth 2010 report was that we should privatize Canada Post. An article in the current issue of Maclean’s (pages 26 and 27), which does not (yet) seem to be available online, sheds some interesting light on that recommendation: [Yvan Guillemette was] working for the C. D. Howe Institute, the prominent business-oriented […]

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A Reverse Mortgage on Ontario’s Crown Jewels

I have the following op-ed on page A19 of today’s Toronto Star. It reiterates points made before on this blog. The only substantive difference is that I had previously low-balled the annual profits of Ontario’s Crown corporations at $4 billion. Today’s op-ed assumes $4.3 billion, the amount anticipated for the current fiscal year. That assumption probably still understates the value […]

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McGuinty’s Super Privatization

The front page of today’s Toronto Star reports, “The Ontario government is looking at creating a publicly held $60 billion ‘super corporation’ of assets such as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and Hydro One and then selling a minority share to private investors.” It would also include the province’s other major Crown corporations: Ontario Power Generation and Ontario Lottery […]

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Ontario Budget Advice

Last Monday, I testified twice to the Ontario legislature’s finance committee: as an “expert witness” and then on behalf of the United Steelworkers. I emphasized the provincial deficit’s manageability, the folly of trying to reduce it through cutbacks or privatization, the importance of maintaining tax rates to bolster future revenues, and the advantage of targeted measures to create jobs rather […]

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Great Minds Drink Alike

Nine days ago, I posted some back-of-envelope math on the proposal to privatize the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). Specifically, I noted that keeping its annual profit of $1.4 billion would be worth more than the estimated sale price of $10 billion, which would reduce provincial debt charges by no more than $0.5 billion per year. PublicValues.ca and the […]

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National Post Blasts Privatization

While The National Post typically supports privatization, today’s lead editorial correctly characterizes Premier McGuinty’s recent musings as “a desperate government trying to unload assets during a down market.” The following paragraphs note the extreme difficulty in getting anything approaching fair value for the sale of huge, complex assets like electric power systems and the folly of trying to balance the […]

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Selling the Family Silver

As reported on the front page of yesterday’s Globe and Mail, the McGuinty government’s “deficit reduction” strategy involves not only cutting taxes, but also divesting revenue-generating assets. Today’s Globe comment page features three sassy letters on the contemplated privatization. But the editorial strikes a seemingly pragmatic tone, arguing that the Ontario government should sell “if the price is right.” However, […]

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How Large is the Public Sector?

Murray Dobbin recently reminded me of and forwarded a very old article by David Robertson from the 1980s, published in the CUPE journal the Facts, which laid out some numbers on the scale and importance of the public sector vis a vis the whole economy. In search of comparable information, I explored StatsCan’s input- output model. (See Table below.) Spending […]

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Milton and the Meltdown in Iceland

I was intrigued by what is happening in Iceland, so the following is a piece I’ve written on it.  It has some introductory macro-economics in it, which I think it is good to keep in perspective as we consider the frantic attempts being made to prevent an economic depression. The economic and financial collapse of 2008 is shaping up to be […]

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Labour’s Agenda

http://canadianlabour.ca/index.php/policy_papers I commend to your attention the policy papers which will be presented for discussion and debate at the CLC Convention, which convenes the week after next in Toronto.  Progressive economists  Mike McCracken and Armine Yalnizyan will help kick-off discussion on the Good Jobs and Growing Gap papers respectively. Though neither they nor the progressive economics community had a direct […]

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Liberal Tory Same Old Story

Former Conservative Garth Turner’s decision to join the Liberal caucus is one of several recent news items that highlight the extensive similarity between these two parties on economic policy. 1.) In response to the Conservative proposal to require that all interest savings from debt repayment be devoted to tax cuts, the former Liberal Finance Minister says, “The fact of the […]

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Happy 60th birthday, CMHC! You’re fired.

Today’s Globe has a story that the feds are contemplating the privatization of CMHC. Let me get this straight. With the run-up in real estate prices, housing affordability is perhaps as bad as it has ever been. In recent years, CMHC has pulled away from supporting the creation of new affordable housing (although it does help support existing social housing […]

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ILO Study on Impacts of Liberalization of Public Services

Winners or Losers? Liberalizing Public Services Edited by Ellen Rosskam International Labour Office, Geneva 2006 New state of the art review, available upon request by emailing your name/address to: secsoc@ilo.org. Approx. 400 pages. Free of Charge. Available from ILO Geneva Public services are being liberalized world wide, opened to foreign service providers, often turned into private services through privatization, commercialization, […]

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Walkom puts Brian Day under the knife

Thomas Walkom peers more closely at the dubious arguments of Dr. Brian Day, the private health care guru on the verge of heading the Canadian Medical Association.   I went off to hear Brian Day again this week. … As always, Day was roguishly charming. A veteran of Vancouver’s scrappy media culture, he rarely bothers with building a logical argument […]

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