National free-trade opportunity poured down the drain

New deal between the provinces encourages protectionism and allows exemptions to free trade, most notably when it comes to alcohol

National free-trade opportunity poured down the drainThe newly-minted Canadian free-trade agreement is no great accomplishment. Instead of free exchange, most of the deal’s convoluted text entrenches protectionism, with some 130 pages of exemptions. All of the negotiations leading up to the deal – and now these hundreds of pages of rules – leave the country with merely managed trade. This is…

Looking for affordable housing? Try Atlantic provinces

In an age of bloated house prices in many urban centres, Atlantic Canada's situation is enviable

Looking for affordable housing? Try Atlantic provincesEvery year, news magazines and websites publish "best city" lists, ranking global cities that are the most attractive places to live. Unfortunately, most middle-class people couldn't afford to live in the cities that top these lists. Those "best city" indexes usually exclude housing affordability as a relevant variable. But how great are cities when only…

Atlantic Canada doesn’t know what real austerity feels like

Spending has risen steadily in the last generation, and anti-austerity activists clearly need to regain their equilibrium

Atlantic Canada doesn’t know what real austerity feels likeIt's nearly impossible these days to have a conversation about public finance without someone crying "Austerity!" This term has become the meme of choice for political actors, activists and commentators who oppose any reductions to government spending. You'd think that Atlantic Canada, with its generous government programs and social safety net, high taxes and large…

Atlantic Canada’s oversized public sector

Money can be saved by paring the size of the public sector, finding efficiencies, privatizing some services and controlling wages

Atlantic Canada’s oversized public sectorBy Marco Navarro-Génie and Jackson Doughart Contributors Atlantic Canada employs public sectors larger than the national average, to the detriment of the region's economies. Public policy choices mean that provincial and municipal governments have large commitments in civil servants' salaries and benefits. The task of shrinking provincial government expenditures will be difficult without addressing this problem.…

P.E.I. premier speaks truth on internal trade in Canada

The federal government has three legal avenues to ensure trade liberalization between provinces. It should take them

P.E.I. premier speaks truth on internal trade in CanadaBy Alex Whalen and Jackson Doughart Contributors Lowering barriers to Canadian internal trade is a serious priority for commerce and opportunity. Yet provincial governments have impeded the cause for decades. It's time for Ottawa to take charge. In July, the premiers met in Whitehorse to deal specifically with interprovincial trade. We won't know the details…

Democratic reform requires democratic consent

When it comes to options like proportional representation, e-voting and lowering the age of voters, we all deserve a voice

Democratic reform requires democratic consentDemocratic reform is a hot topic these days. And democracy must be a critical part of the decision-making in any reform. Parliament has drawn up a committee to study changes to Canada's voting system. Here in the Maritimes, Prince Edward Island released a study in 2015 on “democratic renewal,” held public consultations, and scheduled a November…

At least Atlantic Canada leads in something

Unfortunately, it's sales taxes

At least Atlantic Canada leads in somethingThree Atlantic provinces now share the country's highest sales tax rate. It is hardly a noteworthy distinction. On July 1, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador raised the tax two percentage points to 15 per cent, joining Nova Scotia, which increased its harmonized sales tax (HST) in 2010. Prince Edward Island joins the club in…

Your children will pay the price for the Trudeau government budget

Borrowing money to fund today’s entitlement programs just kicks the can of repayment down the line

Your children will pay the price for the Trudeau government budgetCanada’s national debt today is $619-billion. That means each one of us owes $17,100 to Ottawa’s creditors. This amount is in addition to provincial government debt, municipal debt, and in the case of many people, substantial private debt. Over the next four years, the Canadian government is going to spend a lot more money, so…

How to save journalism in Canada

An impediment to any new news media model is the taxpayer subsidized CBC which can provide content that only appears to be free

How to save journalism in CanadaThere is trouble in today’s news media industry. Large newspaper chains such as Postmedia have made staff cuts to offset reduced revenues. Newspapers and local TV newsrooms, which often provide communities with their only source of local content, are struggling. An Ontario daily paper recently shut down. Many now wonder what the future of journalism…

Supply management alive and well under TPP

Conservatives effectively closed the door on any meaningful revisions to supply management

Supply management alive and well under TPPIn the recent Munk Debate on foreign policy, all three leaders of the major federal parties rushed to support the status quo on supply management, even though the system penalizes consumers. And in an election with so much sloganeering about household economics and the middle class, surely the manufactured price inflation of universal food staples would…