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    We need new thinking to meet Canada’s new challenges

    Canada’s public service and most of our politicians have been steeped for so long in the neo-liberal view of government’s role in the economy that they cannot conceive of another model…. the big policy frontiers Canada faces today… Productivity growth… a lower carbon future… Income inequality… Canadian federalism… about once a generation Canada needs a major economic policy rethink.

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    How our 20-year fight for Canada-Europe free trade finally succeeded

    International trade agreements frequently have a rather long genesis. The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), released last week, is no exception. In 1994 – twenty years ago – when Prime Minister Jean Chretien was to address the French Senate… his text included a proposal for a transatlantic trade agreement between the North American free-trade agreement and the burgeoning European Union.

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    Minimum wage in 2013 just a penny more than 1975, after inflation: Statistics Canada

    “While corporate lobbyists have complained bitterly about recent increases in the minimum wage, these improvements have simply restored the minimum wage to mid-1970s levels after it lagged behind inflation in the 1980s and 1990s.” Of the 13 U.S. states that recently raised their minimum wage rate, 10 have experienced above-average job growth… “It’s not the solution to poverty but it improves the purchasing power of young people, which means they have less debt and more opportunities…”

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    Ontario job market undergoing seismic shift: report

    “Ontario’s workplaces are transforming,” says CCPA-Ontario economist Kaylie Tiessen. “The problems can’t be blamed on a recession hangover. It goes deeper than that. Long-term manufacturing job losses, coupled with a dramatic rise in service sector jobs, is creating a seismic shift from secure, middle-income jobs to a more polarized labour market.”

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    No CEOs paid price for 2008 meltdown. Here’s why

    In North America, 400,000 Canadians lost their jobs and household income, while in the U.S. more than eight million workers were rendered jobless through no fault of their own… A clutch of celebrity financiers pushed the global economy over the edge. But there’s no law against that, also no vigorously enforced regulation and oversight, and it can’t be done without the acquiescence of a vast number of gullible people of all walks of life.

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    The Verdict on Thatcherism Is Clear

    Thirty-five years after she swept to power as British prime minister, it is ironic that socialist Norway now has $830 billion in the bank and enjoys fully funded social programs that most of us can only dream of. Meanwhile the U.K. is enduring another round of wrenching austerity and owes over £1.3 trillion — about US$2.2 trillion. That massive debt grows by about $3.8 billion each week, while every seven days Norway adds another billion dollars to their bank account.

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    If I Had a Hammer [automation/employment]

    In many cases today artificially intelligent machines can make better decisions than humans.” So humans and software-driven machines may increasingly be substitutes, not complements… the speed and slope of improvement… [is] very fast and steep… our generation will… [be] relying on fewer people and more technology… we need to rethink deeply our social contracts, because labor is so important to a person’s identity and dignity and to societal stability.

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    Free trade’s tarnished silver anniversary

    The FTA/NAFTA was a big business-driven initiative whose primary purpose was investment deregulation… Contrary to assurances given Canadians prior to the FTA/NAFTA, big business lobbied hard to reduce program spending and taxes. Unemployment insurance, health and education transfers, social assistance and housing programs, etc. were “harmonized downward” toward U.S. levels. Governments cut taxes… it helped weaken the bonds of nationhood embodied in the Canadian social state.

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    How Ottawa has frequently changed employment insurance

    Employment insurance – or unemployment insurance, as it has been named for most of its life – is consistently one of the most controversial and challenging programs for federal governments of all stripes… Now the Conservative government is preparing to build on recent changes with a more sweeping reform of how EI helps train Canadians for new jobs… As Ottawa and the provinces prepare for more change, here’s a primer on how we got here.

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    How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?

    September 2, 2009
    … economists will have to learn to live with messiness. That is, they will have to acknowledge the importance of irrational and often unpredictable behavior, face up to the often idiosyncratic imperfections of markets and accept that an elegant economic “theory of everything” is a long way off. In practical terms, this will translate into more cautious policy advice — and a reduced willingness to dismantle economic safeguards in the faith that markets will solve all problems.