The Progressive Economics Forum: A Critical Take on Staples

Almost a century ago W.A. Mackintosh and Harold Innis created the staple approach to Canadian studies which came to be the core of “Canadian political economy.” Post World War II the staple approach was revised and rejuvenated, and became the core of what was now called “the New Canadian Political Economy.” There have always been ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: Impact of Fur Trade in U.S.

The fur trade in Canada is often said to have been less malign than in the US, and it was, but that doesn’t say much given the extraordinary disruption it is said to have createn in colonial America by the American historian Bernard Bailyn in his recent (2012) book, appropriately titled The Barbarous Years: The ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: Fur trade and tar sands

Here is Joseph Boyden talking with the Globe and Mail last fall about his novel Orenda: “You look at this novel and you think immigration, who you allow in and who you don’t. The Hurons allow in the ones who ulimately destroy them, because the Huron aren’t perfect either. They need the trade, and how ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: Staples Redux: Wheat and Canola

Acceptance or rejection of genetically modified food has tended to be analyzed with respect to the attitudes of consumers. But the attitudes of producers matter. For example, western grain farmers have mostly accepted GM canola and most rejected GM wheat. Emily Eaton of the University of Regina explores why in a new book Growing Resistance: ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 Progressive Economics Forum: 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’ ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Staple Theory @ 50: Gerry Helleiner

One remarkable and gratifying aspect of our special series of commentaries marking the 50th Anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic 1963 article on staple theory, is the interest and input it has generated from researchers and scholars who have applied Mel’s work in various capacities, in Canada and internationally.  One such contributor is Gerry Helleiner, a ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: Staples @ 50: Duncan Cameron

We are nearing the end of our series of special commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversay of the 1963 publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.”  Here is a fascinating historical retrospective on the influence of Innis and Watkins on Canadian political-economy by Duncan Cameron, President of rabble.ca, former President of ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Staple Theory @ 50: Daniel Poon

We continue our special series of commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” with the following contribution from Daniel Poon.  Daniel is one of Canada’s leading experts on the theory and practice of industrial policy, and the successfull industrialization experience of East Asia. He is ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: The Staple Theory @ 50: Alistair and Sheila Dow

Here is a very intriguing and creative 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 are delighted to have the participation of Alistair and Sheila Dow, two leading heterodox economists from the U.K.  They argue here, in ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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. ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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. ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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 Progressive Economics Forum: 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, ...

The Progressive Economics Forum: 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. ...