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The Progressive Economics Forum: Comparing Fiscal Federalism in Canada and Australia

One interesting topic for a Canadian living in Australia is the manner in which fiscal and social responsibilities are divided between the levels of government. Both countries are big, regionally diverse, and resource-rich (with all the pluses and minuses that entails). As in Canada, Australian states are largely responsible for the big-ticket social programs: including […] . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Comparing Fiscal Federalism in Canada and Australia

Accidental Deliberations: On failed obstruction

I’ve written several times before that any federal climate change plan was doomed to fail if it allowed Brad Wall a veto over any emission reductions.Well, it appears the Trudeau Libs have finally come to terms with that reality, indicating their inten… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On failed obstruction

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, expanding on this post about Brad Wall’s sad attempt to beg Justin Trudeau for federal money to make up for his own mismanagement. For further reading…- Once again, Wall’s call for a bailout was here. And his previous decision to drop any attem… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tony Atkinson offers reason for hope that it’s more than possible to rein in inequality and ensure a more fair distribution of resources if we’re willing to put in the work to make it happen: (T)he present levels of inequality are not inevitable; we are not simply at the mercy of forces beyond our control. If we want to reduce inequality, and that is a big “if”, then there are steps that we can take. They are not necessarily easy and they have costs. We would have to discard economic and political orthodoxies. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On leadership failures

Among the many responses to the Cons’ latest Senate shenanigans, one (from someone who’s not exactly known for his recent NDP ties) stands out as being worthy of mention: In his 10 years in office how many meetings with the prov premiers did PMSH hold to discuss Senate reform or abolition ? Ans: 0 #cdnpoli

— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) July 24, 2015

That obviously represents an important rebuttal to the Cons’ claim that they’ve done everything they could – or indeed anything at all – to keep their past promises. But it seems to me an equally powerful argument against (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On projection

Shorter Leona Aglukkaq to Canada’s provinces: I’m very disappointed in all of you for my government’s longstanding failings, and demand that you take responsibility immediately.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that to start your year.

- Ian Welsh comments on the challenges we face in trying to turn wealth increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few into a better world for everybody: The irony is that we have, again, produced a cornucopia.  We have the potential to create an abundance society, the world over and eventually off this world.

We have much of the technology necessary, and we could direct our research and development towards the remaining technology we need.

Instead, we rely on markets controlled by oligarchs and central banks captured by oligarchs to make (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the context of Scotland’s referendum on independence, Polly Toynbee reminds us why fragmentation can only serve to exacerbate inequality – a lesson worth keeping in mind as the Cons look to devolve responsibility for taxation and public services in Canada: What’s to be done? The answer from all sides is “localism”. Westminster’s monstrous hegemony must be broken up with devolution. If Scotland goes, rump UK will be bereft and depleted. But if Scotland stays, monumental home-rule promises made in the last week’s panic will offer Scotland immense tax, spending and borrowing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Robert Jay Lifton discusses the “stranded ethics” of a fossil fuel industry which is willing to severely damage our planet in order to protect market share: Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Flaherty’s Legacy: Ideological, reckless and just plain lucky

This piece was originally published at the Globe and Mail’s online Report on Business feature, EconomyLab.

There are two reasons why it is difficult to comment on the legacy of a finance minister.

1) It is a tremendously challenging job, anywhere, any time. Stewarding one of the largest economies in the world through a global economic crisis is no cakewalk, and it has clearly taken a toll on Jim Flaherty. (Canada has fallen from 8th to 11th largest economy since 2006.) Critiquing this performance, when so many factors are beyond an individual’s control, and so much soul-searching takes (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Fool me twice

Andrew Coyne has a suggestion as to how the Cons might extort some increased adherence to free-market fundamentalism from the provinces: It’s the balance between spending and revenues, not just the totals, that matters. The federal government, as the PBO numbers show, will have substantial fiscal “room,” revenues in excess of what it needs to pay its bills, while the provinces will be in substantial structural deficit. Ottawa has the money, in other words, and the provinces need it — desperately.

This puts the feds in a very strong bargaining position. Rather than simply hand over the loot, as the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Housing Policy Under Harper

Today I gave a presentation on Canadian housing policy at the annual conference of the European Network for Housing Research. Points raised in the presentation include the following:

-Fiscal context, more so than which party has been in government, appears to have shaped federal housing policy in Canada over the past two decades. Program expenses by the federal government (as a percentage of GDP) started decreasing steadily beginning in the mid-1990s and then increased steadily during the 2000s (up until the 2009-10 fiscal year). Federal spending initiatives on housing have generally followed this trend; they were relatively (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: Three Solutions to Mark Canadian Environment Week

In honour of Canadian Environment Week — currently underway amidst accelerating tar sands development, hot on the heels of withdrawals from the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification — let us reflect upon what the federal government, if it were so inclined, could be doing differently. In other words, broadly speaking, how might Canada move beyond the symbolic in pursuit of true environmental sustainability?

1. Get serious about climate change.

By and large, there are three basic policy tools available to the government here: standards, carbon taxes, and cap-and-trade. To the extent that they have acted at all, (Read more…)

The Scott Ross: A Toast For Canada

After the Quebec Conference, at a gala dinner hosted by George-Etienne Cartier, Canada’s Fathers of Confederation held a toast; it was offered as encouragement to face the difficulties still before them in forming a nation, but the verse stands today as encouragement for us to face the difficulties in now strengthening it.

 Then let us be firm and united   One country, one flag for us all;   United, our strength will be freedom    Divided, we each of us fall.*

*From Richard Gwyn’s  John A:  The Man Who Made Us

Accidental Deliberations: Deep thought

If a non-Con federal government even hinted at this kind of policy in dealing with provinces, the western Village would collapse under the weight of its own hysterical shrieking. But because it only involves Stephen Harper trying to extort resources from First Nations, I don’t expect to hear of it again.

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellanous material for your Monday reading.

- Will Hutton recognizes that an unregulated market can lead to disastrous results for everybody concerned – and that conversely, effective regulation can help to ensure the success of businesses which best meet the long-term needs of their workers and customers: What the Paterson worldview has never understood is that effective regulation is a source of competitive advantage. If Britain had a tough Food Standards Agency, it would become a gold standard for food quality, labelling and hygiene. British supermarkets and food companies could become known for their quality at home and abroad, rather

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Pample the Moose: Define "junior", oh great Toronto Star!

Kathleen Wynne’s new Ontario cabinet is being announced today, and my local MP, Liz Sandals, has apparently been tapped to become the new education minister.  But that’s not the observation that leapt out at me from today’s Toronto Star article about the cabinet shuffle.  Authors Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson note that former Education Minister Laurel Broten has been “demoted” to Intergovernmental Affairs, calling it a “a ministry so junior McGuinty ran it himself for years.”

 [ETA: Interesting to note that the updated version of the article calls Intergovernmental Affairs: “barely a stand-alone department because the premier

. . . → Read More: Pample the Moose: Define "junior", oh great Toronto Star!

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- John Studzinski describes how a sense of social responsibility and a country-wide commitment to making jobs available have placed Germany in a better economic position than its European neighbours: Let me highlight some of the features unique to the Mittelstand model that I believe everyone should learn from – and imitate if they can. The first is what we might call the Mittelstand ethos – that business is a constructive enterprise that aims to be socially useful. Making a profit is not an end in itself: job creation, client satisfaction and product

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Alison highlights the attempts of Sun TV to rally the most extreme reactionary movements in the country behind its bid for mandatory carriage. And the question of whether we want to publicly sanction a network beholden to such interest groups would seem to answer whether the application is justified.

- Paul Krugman comments that the Republicans’ attacks on disabled workers are both thoroughly contrary to any sense of fairness, and utterly useless in practice:

(W)hen Reagan ranted about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, he was inventing a fake problem — but his rant resonated

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Song of the Watermelon: Quebec, Referendums, and Formulas for Secession

National unity is back in the news after the NDP tabled a private member’s bill yesterday, a bill that would repeal the Clarity Act and set the bar for Quebec sovereignty negotiations at a mere 50 percent plus one in a clearly worded referendum.

We all know what that means. The NDP, it will be claimed over the coming days and weeks, is “in bed with the separatists” and willing to “tear our country apart” for partisan advantage. There is nothing those treacherous socialists won’t do to preserve the Faustian bargain that won them Quebec in 2011!

Never mind

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: Quebec, Referendums, and Formulas for Secession

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses the meaning of the Ontario Libs’ attempt to take collective bargaining rights away from teachers in the context of the wider labour movement: The union movement is one of the last remnants of the great postwar pact between labour, capital and government.

That pact provided Canadians with things they still value, from medicare to public pension plans. Good wages in union shops kept pay high, even in workplaces that weren’t organized. Unions agitated for and won better health and safety laws that covered all.

True, union rules made it

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On needed advantages

Thanks in large part to an extremely active provincial leadership campaign, I haven’t discussed the evolution of the federal NDP over the past few months in as much detail as I’d like. But while there will be plenty more to talk about over the next little while, I’ll comment on a couple of the new stories emerging at the end of the fall sitting of Parliament.

Let’s start with this from Lawrence Martin: For New Democrats, it’s time for a national powwow. National leader Thomas Mulcair is planning to bring together all provincial NDP leaders for a party conference in

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On needed advantages

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Star-Phoenix editorial board comments on the need to crack down on tax havens: (T)he scale of the avoidance Mr. Henry detailed in his report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, drives home just how immoral is the practice of tax avoidance, particularly at a time when even rich countries such as Spain and the United States are staggering under their debt loads and deficits because they can’t raise enough tax revenue.

As Gwynne Dyer, a Canadian journalist based in Britain, notes in a recent column published in Embassy magazine, despite efforts by

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The presidents of Canada’s provincial Federations of Labour highlight how the provinces need to respond to the Harper Cons’ efforts to push down wages and trample on workers’ rightst: Canadians need our country’s premiers to denounce this low-wage agenda and stand up for what is in the best interest of working people.

When the premiers meet this fall to discuss the economy, we believe the labour market ought to be front and centre in that discussion. They must denounce the exploitive expansion of the (temporary foreign worker program). They must collectively demand that

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On cooperative efforts

The reports on fiscal arrangements and health care developed in the lead up to this weekend’s meeting of Canada’s premiers have both received some coverage. But there are a couple of points worth noting which seem to have been largely neglected so far.

On the fiscal arrangement side, we now have agreement among the provinces as to the effect of the Cons’ unilateral changes to health care. And while those paying attention may have known all along, Table A.10.B. neatly lays out how Alberta is receiving $8.3 billion in new health care funding over 10 years while

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On cooperative efforts