Alberta must find alternatives to cutting social spending

I have an opinion piece in today’s Edmonton Journal about Alberta’s current fiscal situation. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -The Jason Kenney government will almost certainly announce cuts to social spending in the near future. -Yet, more than 80% of Alberta’s kindergarten through Grade 3 classes currently exceed the provincial government’s own class-size targets. -Tuition fees […]

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Low taxes are nothing to brag about

I’ve written an opinion piece that appears in today’s Regina Leader-Post. The piece argues that the Saskatchewan government shouldn’t brag about the province’s low-tax climate (which it recently did). Rather, I argue that taxes serve important functions. The link to the opinion piece is here. Nick FalvoNick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.

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Was Innis Wrong?

The question is taken from the title of an article by Nancy Olewiler of Simon Fraser University in the Canadian Journal of Economics (November 2017), which, as it happens, was delivered as the Innis Lecture at the meetings of the Canadian Economics Association in 2017: “Canada’s dependence on natural capital wealth: Was Innis wrong?”  Her answer: she writes “Literature and […]

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Saskatchewan budget misses opportunity on rental housing assistance

I recently wrote a ‘top 10’ overview blog post about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget. Following on the heels of that, I’ve now written an opinion piece about the budget’s announcement of a phase out a rental assistance program for low-income households. Points raised in the opinion piece include the following: -Across Saskatchewan, rental vacancy rates are unusually high right now, […]

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Ten things to know about the 2018 Saskatchewan budget

I’ve written a ‘top 10’ blog post about the recently-tabled Saskatchewan budget. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -This year’s budget was quite status quo. -Last year’s budget, by contrast, included a series of cuts to social spending. Last year’s budget also announced cuts to both personal and corporate income taxes that were subsequently reversed. -Saskatchewan has […]

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Fiscal situation of Canada’s ‘oil rich’ provinces

I’ve just written a blog post about the fiscal situation of Canada’s ‘oil rich’ provinces (i.e., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador). It consists of a summary of key points raised at a PEF-sponsored panel at this year’s Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association. Points raised in the blog post include the following: -The price of oil is impossible […]

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Foundations for an Alberta Alternative Budget

An Alberta-based volunteer working group, of which I’m a part, recently released a document titled Foundations for an Alberta Alternative Budget (for media coverage, see this Metro article).  Working group members include staff from Alberta’s non-profit sector, labour movement and advocacy sector. While our long-term goal is to emulate the great work of the Alternative Federal Budget, this year’s effort […]

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Extracted Carbon: Re-examining Canada’s contribution to climate change through fossil fuel exports

We just published a new report, Extracted Carbon: Re-examining Canada’s contribution to climate change through fossil fuel exports, by yours truly. It is part of the Corporate Mapping Project, a new mega research partnership led by CCPA’s Shannon Daub and UVic’s William Carroll. The new report tallies up all of the carbon Canada extracts as fossil fuel that ends up […]

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Is your pension in climate denial?

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns have become a focus for climate change organizing, targeting university endowments, churches, foundations and pension funds. While the motivations are primarily moral—if it is wrong to wreck the climate, it is wrong to profit from that wreckage—there are important economic arguments for divestment. If we are to have a reasonable chance at staying below 2°C of […]

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BC’s Carbon Emissions on the Rise

It was a good story while it lasted. Over the past few years, the BC government and many in the policy community have spun a tale about the remarkable success of BC’s climate action policies, with a big spotlight on the carbon tax as a driver of lower emissions while BC’s economy outperformed the rest of the country. In BC’s case, […]

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Will Oil & Potash Put SK Back in Black?

The Sask. Party government pulled out all the stops yesterday to report an ostensibly balanced budget, quite possibly the last one before next spring’s provincial election. Revenue Assumptions The drop in oil prices is a huge fiscal blow to Saskatchewan, and one of the ways the government projects continued balanced budgets is by assuming a rebound in oil prices. Perhaps more […]

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Will Enbridge’s pipeline ever get built?

You have to wonder why the Harper government bothered with process at all. It’s like there was never any doubt that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would get approved. But historians may look back on this moment as the beginning of the end of pipeline politics. Opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline is BC’s largest social movement. A large majority of […]

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Don’t believe the (LNG) hype

Today we released a new report, Path to Prosperity? A Closer Look at British Columbia’s Natural Gas Royalties and Proposed LNG Income Tax, about liquefied natural gas (LNG ) development in BC, and the public revenues that might be expected. So far, LNG has lacked a real public debate. On one side, we have the drumbeat of the business press with […]

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Oil as a Staple

“By 1901, Baku [then part of the Russian Empire, now the capital of Azerbaijan Republic] produced half the world’s oil…Baku was a melting pot of pitiful poverty and incredible wealth…[T]he derricks and the refineries poisoned the city and corrupted the people…[O]il townships were polluted slums. The 48,000 workers toiled in terrible conditions, living and fighting each other in grimy streets…Life […]

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BC proposes LNG tax

I posted this on CCPA’s BC Policy Note blog but others across Canada should pay attention to BC’s quest for LNG gold. I’d also recommend this comparison of the Quebec and BC budgets by Michal Rozworski, which highlights the stubborn emphasis on natural resource development in both budgets. It’s like the tax cut culture has so permeated Canadian politics that […]

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BC’s Big Favour? LNG Exports and GHG Emissions

The hype on LNG has grown to staggering proportions. I have not had much time to debunk all of the government’s grotesque exaggerations and outright falsehoods. But Christy Clark’s claim that BC is “doing the world a favour” by exporting LNG to Asia made me write this oped, which got picked up in today’s Vancouver Sun: Is LNG B.C.’s big favour? It’s […]

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PotashCorp Projects Low Royalties

Today’s fourth-quarter report indicates that PotashCorp paid “provincial mining and other taxes” of $194 million on potash sales of $3 billion in 2013. In other words, Saskatchewan’s resource surcharge and potash production tax amounted to just 6.5% of the value of potash sold. Adding the basic Crown royalty (which PotashCorp includes in “cost of goods sold”) and subtracting New Brunswick […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Mel Watkins

We now present the final installment in our autumn-long series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” the classic article by Mel Watkins published in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science in 1963.  We have invited Mel himself to provide a rejoinder to the series, reflecting on the […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Jim Stanford

Winter is now officially upon us, and so it is time to conclude our autumn-long series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development.” To wrap up the series, I would like to throw my own views into the brew.  I argue here that Watkins’ identification of the importance of […]

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Weir vs. Wall on Potash Profits, Dividends and Royalties

Earlier this week, PotashCorp laid off 440 workers in Saskatchewan. Here are the closing paragraphs from today’s front-page story reporting a letter from Premier Brad Wall asking the company to consider reducing its dividend payments to shareholders in order to maintain jobs in Saskatchewan: Regina economist and former NDP leadership candidate Erin Weir said if Wall truly wanted to transfer […]

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A Nuclear Error: Uranium Royalty Cuts

On Thursday’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange (at 24:45 in this CBC video), I noted that while the Government of Canada just signed a deal with Kazakhstan allowing Cameco to invest more in that country’s uranium industry, the Government of Saskatchewan recently slashed its uranium royalties to encourage Cameco to invest in the province rather than in Kazakhstan. It’s a win-win […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Marjorie Griffin Cohen

The latest entry in our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following contribution by Mel’s long-time collaborator, Marjorie Griffin Cohen.  Marjorie considers the gender dimensions of staple analysis. Staples Theory: Its Gendered Nature Marjorie Griffin Cohen Feminism was the unlikely route […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Alberto Gago

Here is an entry from the Global South in our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  Dr. Alberto Daniel Gago teaches political economy at the National Universities of San Juan and Cuyo-Argentina.  He is a long-time collaborator of Mel’s, and has written extensively about the challenges of development […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Thomas Gunton

Here is the latest installment in our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  This commentary is from Mel’s long-time collaborator Thomas Gunton, Director of the Resource and Environmental planning Program at Simon Fraser University.  Gunton’s submission, supplemented by an extensive bibliography, applies staples analysis […]

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Fossil-Fueled GDP Growth

Yesterday, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy had a month of fossil-fueled growth in August. Overall GDP was up by 0.3%, only half as much as in July but still a respectable monthly growth rate. By far the strongest growth of any industry was a 1.9% increase in “Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction” – its fastest growth […]

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Carbon budgets and Canada’s share of global reserves

The idea of a global carbon budget is not new, but has been growing in prominence. Carbon Tracker picked up on it in its seminal Unburnable Carbon report, and Bill McKibben amplified that message in his landmark Rolling Stone article, Global Warming’s Terrifying Math, which launched the fossil fuel divestment movement. Then more recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change […]

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