Staple Theory @ 50: Daniel Drache

As part of our continuing series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following submission by Daniel Drache, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at York University, and prolific writer on the nature of Canadian political-economic development.  Here Daniel considers whether the so-called “Northern model” […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Hugh Grant

As part of our continuing series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following contribution by Hugh Grant from the Economics Dept. at the University of Winnipeg.  Grant is a former student of Mel’s, and an important chronicler of the history of Canadian economic […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Marc Lee

As part of our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following commentary by Marc Lee, economist with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  Marc considers the implications — both economic and environmental — of the current infatuation with export LNG in […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Brendan Haley

As part of our continuing special series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present here an innovative and provocative commentary by Brendna Haley, Ph.D. candidate at Carleton University and author of several recent works on green industrial policy.  Haley argues there is an intersection between the “staples […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Dan Ciuriak

As part of our special series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following commentary by Dan Ciuriak.  Dan was the co-author of a provocative IRPP paper earlier this year on the need for a modern, revitalized industrial policy capacity in Canada.  Here he imagines how […]

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This is Not the Saskatchewan NDP’s Official Position

I have the following opinion piece in the latest (September 2013) edition of The Commonwealth, accompanied by this disclaimer: “The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the official position of the Saskatchewan NDP.” Comparing the NDP and Sask. Party Employment Records Right-wing politicians often win elections by presenting themselves as good economic managers. British Columbia’s provincial election […]

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Royalties should be the Keystone of Saskatchewan’s Petroleum Policy

The Saskatchewan Party has appropriated the province’s name, flag and football team. More recently, it asserted a new symbol of Saskatchewan patriotism: the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier this year, provincial energy and resources minister Tim McMillan had the following letter in Regina’s Leader-Post: Province Needs XL (January 28, 2013) I write in regard to recent Leader-Post coverage of the […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Gord Laxer

The next installment in our special series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article on staple theory, focuses our attention on the latest staple boom to remake Canada’s economy: the bitumen sands of northern Alberta.  The author is Gordon Laxer, founding Director of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta.

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Hugh Grant and David Wolfe

For the next installment in our special series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we provide excerpts from the preface to an edited collection of Mel’s writings assembled by Hugh Grant and David Wolfe, which provides some great personal perspective on Mel’s personality and passion. Mel Watkins as Teacher, Scholar […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Abe Rotstein

Here is the first contribution to our special series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of the publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” by Mel Watkins, in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science.   The author, Abe Rotstein, was a colleague with Mel at the University of Toronto, and a founder of the Committee for an Independent […]

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The Staple Theory @ 50: Introduction to a Special Blog Series

In my job as economist for Unifor (and before that the CAW), I have had a long-time interest in more sustainable and sensible policies for managing Canada’s resource wealth. The challenge, given the lucrative but fleeting nature of resource booms, is to leverage Canada’s resource wealth in a manner that stimulates a more diversified, inclusive, and sustainable economy. Market-driven approaches, […]

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Saskatchewan Budget Saved by Falling Loonie

Following last week’s troubling news about potash, the Saskatchewan government released its first-quarter financial report today. The headline seems to be “Oil Keeps Budget in Black”, with a forecast increase in oil revenue more than offsetting a forecast decline in potash and other revenues. But the forecast West Texas Intermediate price is only up by a couple of dollars since […]

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The absurdity and injustice of now

I’m back from a short sabbatical, grateful for some time outside of my daily work and home life, feeling all big picture. But as I settle back into work, I feel like I’m seated in a Theatre of the Absurd play. My news feeds are pulling up astonishing things. Exhibit one: the North Pole at the moment is a one-foot-deep aquamarine […]

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PotashCorp Reports Inadequate Royalties

PotashCorp reported today that it paid $81 million of “provincial mining and other taxes” on $975 million of potash sales in the second quarter of 2013. In other words, Saskatchewan’s potash production tax and resource surcharge amounted to 8% of potash sales. Adding the basic Crown royalty of just over 2% (which PotashCorp includes in the “cost of goods sold”), […]

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GDP: Resource Exports Cover for Domestic Weakness

Statistics Canada reported today that GDP grew by 0.6% in the first quarter. The volume of energy and mining exports expanded by more than 5%, offsetting lower exports of many manufactured goods as well as a weak domestic economy. Consumer spending growth slowed to 0.2% in the first quarter of 2013, its lowest rate of growth since the first quarter […]

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Closing the Loop: Zero Waste, GHG Emissions and Green Jobs in BC

Below is the summary for our latest Climate Justice Project report, Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Creating Green Jobs through Zero Waste in BC (I recommend checking the much prettier full paper, stand-alone summary, and awesome infographic by Sam Bradd on the website). Closing the Loop was a complex and challenging project that made my head spin, but in the end is one […]

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Carbon bubbles and fossil fuel divestment

Divestment from fossil fuels is an idea whose time has come. Sparked by Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, divestment campaigns are now up and running on over 300 university campuses in the US, with 4 early victories already notched. Students in Canada have declared tomorrow (March 27) Fossil Fools Day, a national day of action, with many campuses launching […]

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A Taxonomy of Linkages

As we discuss Dutch disease and the staples trap, it is good to be reminded that these discussions can benefit by being put in the context of Albert Hirschman’s linkages from commodity/resource/staple export. It so happens that a recent monograph begins with Hirschman and then elaborates on his linkages, and applies them in case studies. The study, titled “One Thing […]

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Marc’s Enbridge Testimony

Testimony to the Joint Review Panel on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project By Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives January 16, 2013 My name is Marc Lee, and I have served as an economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for more than 14 years. Most recently I have been Senior Economist and the Co-Director of the Climate […]

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Marc’s Letter from 2040

The following comes from a short talk on a vision for a zero-carbon BC that I gave at a couple events this Fall. Many have asked for the text so I’ve posted it here, and we may try and turn it into a video. That said, I have been reluctant to do so up to now because it was intended […]

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State of the BC Economy

As we close out 2012, BC finds itself in some precarious economic waters. To recap, a massive housing bubble that built up through the naughties (2000s) finally burst in 2008, feeding a financial crisis, as extremely loose (some would say fraudulent) lending practices pushed housing prices up to spectacular, never-seen-before levels, and created a plague of toxic mortgage-based assets. The […]

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Exchange Rates, the Price of Oil and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel

This is a guest post by Paul Tulloch, of LivingWork.ca and frequent commentator on this blog, reporting on some  significant and timely work he prepared for the northern gateway pipeline review panel, analyzing correlations betwen the price of oil and the Canadian dollar. Exchange Rates, the Price of Oil and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel Paul Tulloch There is a […]

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Is BC breaking its GHG law by pursuing natural gas development?

Today CCPA’s Climate Justice Project released a new report by yours truly, BC’s Legislated Greenhouse Gas Targets vs Natural Gas Development: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. It was just five years ago that BC brought in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, a signal that BC was serious about climate action. The Act calls for a 33% cut in emissions by 2020 […]

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No Vale on the Plains?

I had the following comments in yesterday’s front-page story on Vale’s decision to postpone its proposed $3-billion potash mine at Kronau, Saskatchewan: Regina economist Erin Weir, who is widely expected to run for the leadership of the provincial NDP, said in a statement Friday that the Vale announcement “represents a failure of the Saskatchewan government’s approach of almost giving away […]

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1% Potash Royalties: Typo or Foreshadowing?

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Energy and Resources has released its 2011-12 Annual Report. The potash table (page 36) incredibly shows “Royalty/Tax” revenue of only $62.5 million in 2010-11 and $38.4 million in 2011-12. These figures amount to just 1.2% and 0.6% respectively of the value of potash sales. I have long argued that Saskatchewan’s potash royalties are too low, but they […]

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Canada’s Emissions Deception

The federal government released an updated Canada’s Emission Trends 2012 report today. In a remarkable shift in federal rhetoric just this past week, the Harperites now appear to be more sensitive to concerns about the Enbridge pipeline and climate change more generally. But appearances can be deceiving and there is good reason to believe the current charm offensive is just a […]

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Agrium Halves Potash Royalties

Agrium reports that it paid half as much to the people of Saskatchewan in the second quarter as it had in the same quarter of last year. The company’s quarterly “potash profit and capital tax” payment dropped to $8 million from $15 million a year ago. Agrium’s only potash mine is in Saskatchewan. The value of its potash sales has […]

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