PSE in Newfoundland and Labrador

Last March, Keith Dunne and I wrote an opinion piece on Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Among other things, we pointed out that average undergraduate tuition fees (for domestic students) in Newfoundland and Labrador are $2,624/yr., compared with $5,138 for Canada as a whole and $6,307 in Ontario. With a provincial election slated to take place in Newfoundland and Labrador on […]

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Jack Layton and the Politics of Anger

My wife and I (and our dog Charlie) attended Jack Layton’s memorial service in downtown Toronto yesterday along with thousands of other mourners. It was a moving, emotional, soulful and remarkable ceremony, a testament to a fabulous human being’s honourable political legacy and his fundamental decency as a person. It’s tragic that just when Jack was in a position to […]

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R.I.P. Jack Layton

Many have written eloquently about yesterday’s tragic news. I share the sentiments that Greg was quick to express and am inspired by Jack’s letter to Canadians. Allow me to recall a post I wrote more than four years ago entitled, “Prime Minister Layton?” Back then, most people thought that idea was pretty far-fetched. In fact, he came closer to being […]

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Is Social Assistance a “Poverty Pariah?”

An article in the current edition of NOW Magazine looks at social assistance in Ontario. The article is aptly entitled “Poverty Pariah,” in light of how apparently unpopular Ontario’s welfare system has become over the past 20 years. As can be seen at the National Council of Welfare’s Interactive Welfare Incomes Map, a single adult on welfare in Ontario receives […]

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The NDP and “Big Labour”

Rob Silver, a sharp guy I first met through university debate, has written a rather disappointing piece entitled, “Would NDP be neutral were it in power during a labour dispute?” This question is interesting and significant. On the one hand, the NDP’s political philosophy is strongly supportive of working people. Compared to Liberals and Conservatives, NDP provincial governments have consistently […]

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Mintz is Right on “Small” Business Tax

One of my main undertakings on this blog has been to debunk Jack Mintz’s relentless advocacy of tax cuts for large corporations. However, I also give him credit when he proposes good policy, such as raising potash royalties and the small-business corporate tax rate. This past week, he was out with a paper on the latter subject. The small-business deduction […]

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Did NDP Sectarianism Screw Canada? Part 2

On Saturday, May 7, The Toronto Star, published a front-page “Exclusive” article entitled “What Really Sunk Ignatieff and the Liberals”, written by veteran reporter Linda Diebel. You can read it here: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/987422–exclusive-what-really-sunk-michael-ignatieff-and-the-liberals?bn=1 Among the reasons it cites for the Liberal’s demise was the fact that during the April 12th leaders’ debate, NDP leader Jack Layton drew blood by calling out […]

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The Perils of “Strategic” Voting

Several Toronto Star and Globe and Mail columnists have suggested that the Conservative majority resulted from too little strategic voting for the Liberals. In every federal election that I can remember, the Liberals have appealed for progressive votes to stop the Conservatives (or their Reform-Alliance predecessors). A major flaw in this logic is that relatively few ridings are close Liberal-Conservative […]

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Historic NDP Breakthrough is Good

My fellow bloggers are being too negative about yesterday’s election results. A Harper majority is very bad. However, I have trouble imagining it cutting public programs more than Chretien’s majority did. The Conservatives and Liberals have long been rather similar on economic issues. The NDP replacing the Liberals as one of the two predominant parties is hugely positive. Canadian social […]

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A progressive paradox for Québec and Canada

The mood in the progressive milieu here in Québec seems rather grim this morning. In Québec history we call the twenty year period when anti-union, right wing populist Duplessis ruled, the “Era of the Great Darkness”, and many by email or on social media have spontaneously referred to the upcoming period in an analogous way. Many have adopted the “black […]

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BQ Demise- Not Good

We have a lost a lot with the demise of the Bloc Quebecois as a significant presence in Parliament. Social policy in Quebec has been more progressive than elsewhere in Canada for a long time. This is particularly important for policy related to women’s rights, including labour and social policy that allow women’s full participation in society. This strong progressive […]

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Economic Impact of Harper Majority

This 6 minute debate between Michael Hlinka, CBC business correspondent, and myself examines the economic impact of a Harper majority.  It took place early today on Metro Morning, the local morning CBC program in Toronto. It touches on the nature of growth, the distribution of the benefits of growth, the erosion of the foundation of growth, and the role of […]

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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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NDP’s “Balanced Budget” Platform

Jack Layton unveiled the NDP’s policy platform today.  Among other things, it promises to eliminate the deficit (i.e. balance the federal budget) within four years.  I’m not sure it should. Several years back, I had the opportunity to take a directed reading course from John Smithin.  In addition to being a long-time member of the Progressive Economics Forum, John is […]

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Potash Royalties and Mine Expansions

Saskatchewan’s NDP opposition recently called for higher potash royalties, a position long advocated by this blog. Not surprisingly, the Saskatchewan Party government and the potash companies have objected. The argument from Premier Brad Wall and PotashCorp CEO Bill Doyle seems to be that mine expansions are occurring in Saskatchewan only because of royalty concessions granted by the previous NDP government. […]

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Getting Over Brad’s Wall of Potash

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said “No” to BHP: Do we want to add PotashCorp to that list of once-proud Canadian companies that are now under foreign control? . . . It’s our government’s belief that the people of Saskatchewan deserve nothing less than a potash industry unequivocally managed, operated and marketed for the benefit of Canada and Saskatchewan. […]

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Bank Economist Proposes Higher Tuition Fees

A globeandmail.com article posted last night discusses a recent report on post-secondary education in Nova Scotia.  The report itself, released yesterday, was written by BMO’s former Chief Economist, Tim O’Neill.  According to the article, O’Neill’s report calls for “complete deregulation of tuition fees” in Nova Scotia.  Moreover: He believes that higher tuitions are more equitable because they force students, who are disproportionately […]

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Liberal-NDP Merger?

Warning: The following post probably does not belong on an economics blog. Yesterday, CBC reported that Liberals and New Democrats are negotiating a possible merger of the two parties into one. It seems like everyone except Warren Kinsella has denied this report. So, how does CBC respond? It doubles down on its original report by making Kinsella the lead item […]

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Public Auto Insurance

A recent visit by some Regina friends reminded me how affordable public automobile insurance is. They insure two cars, one of which is newer than my car, for about the same rate as my one vehicle in Toronto. My first car, which I registered with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), cost about $500 per year. My sense is that an under-25 male would have […]

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Western Canada’s Royalty Giveaway

Growing up in Saskatchewan, the oil and gas industry’s line was always that we had to charge lower royalties to compete with Alberta for investment. The provincial NDP government bought into that mantra and repeatedly slashed royalty rates, even as commodity prices took off during the past decade. When Alberta’s Conservative government announced in late 2007 that it would raise […]

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Ignatieff on Corporate Taxes

Last night, I went to sleep early before watching any coverage of the Liberal Policy Conference. This morning, a well-rested Erin Weir marched into the office with such purpose that I did not even look below the fold on The Globe and Mail’s front page. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I got an e-mail about Michael Ignatieff proposing to cancel […]

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Corporate Tax Incidence and Social Democracy

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Stephen Gordon critiques the last federal NDP platform’s reference to “Canada’s wealthiest corporations” on the grounds that people, not corporations, own things. But as Declan points out in several pithy comments on Stephen’s post, corporations clearly can and do own things. The corporations that own the most valuable things in Canada can quite reasonably be […]

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CFIB on Ontario’s Budget: A Reality Check

Ontario’s pre-budget consultations include a session for which each party caucus selects an “expert witness.” This year, the Liberals invited Warren Jestin from Scotiabank, the Conservatives invited Catherine Swift from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the NDP invited me. In general, my role was not to engage with the other witnesses. The Conservatives asked me about CFIB’s […]

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Corporate Tax Giveaway to Uncle Sam

A couple of weeks ago, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a paper of mine about how Canada’s corporate tax cuts will transfer revenue to the American federal treasury. That day, I debated this issue with Don Drummond on the Business News Network (video clip). Also that day, Jack Layton raised it in Question Period. Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath had raised it at Queen’s […]

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Jack Layton on Employment Insurance

Some pundits have blasted the NDP for voting with the Conservatives in exchange for “a bone,” “crumbs” or “a peanut” on Employment Insurance (EI).  Others have convincingly countered that forcing an election right now would not advance EI reform or other progressive causes. Nevertheless, the decision to temporarily support the government deserves further analysis in terms of the EI proposal […]

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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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Naming the Party

Here’s my modest contribution to the debate on re-naming the NDP. Ed Broadbent and others have made the excellent point that “NDP” is a solid brand that stands for something – namely belief in social democracy,  a revitalized, new democracy. However, I don’t buy the argument that “New” qualifies “Democratic” in the same way that “New” qualifies “York” in New […]

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