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It’s time the provinces were brought to account on health-care wait times

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Jul 13, 2012
… if wait times were unacceptable in 2005, they are no less so today… In only two provinces, Ontario and B.C., are wait times shorter now than they were at the time of Chaoulli. (In Quebec, they are almost a week longer.) In every province, they are substantially longer than they were in the mid-1990s… the solution… is to make room for competition within the single-payer system — allowing private clinics, for example, so long as they are paid for out of public funds — before we start looking at parallel private insurance systems, with all the potential for gaming they entail.

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Stealth and misdirection are constants of Harper’s majority

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

May 3, 2012
The recent budget… signals “the crushing of the progressive state,” conjuring images of “the ’20s and ’30s, a time of massive inequality and personal vulnerability which presaged the Great Depression… The policy direction has firmed up, perceptibly… What has not changed is the refusal to explain what it is doing, still less why. All is stealth and indirection, surprise and ambiguity, as before. Big changes, when they happen, are done suddenly, casually, without warning or justification, as if they were of no importance: buried deep in an omnibus bill

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Bill C-38 shows us how far Parliament has fallen

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Apr 30, 2012
The bill runs to more than 420 pages. It amends some 60 different acts, repeals half a dozen, and adds three more, including a completely rewritten Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It ranges far beyond the traditional budget concerns of taxing and spending, making changes in policy across a number of fields from immigration… to telecommunications… to land codes on native reservations… It is what is known as an omnibus bill. If you want to know how far Parliament has fallen, how little real oversight it now exercises over government, this should give you a clue.

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Students should pay for the entire cost of education — later

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Apr 20, 2012
… it’s cash flow that’s the issue, not the amount. So: What if, instead of paying tuition now, students could pay it later? That is, what if they were staked all or most of the money up front, and repaid it over the course of their working life? Only what if, instead of repaying principal plus interest in fixed amounts, as with conventional loans, they paid a share of their earnings? As they earned more, they’d pay more; as they earned less, they’d pay less. The model is not new. It’s sometimes called an income contingent loan, or a graduate tax. But in reality, it’s not a loan or a tax. It’s an investment.

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Stephen Harper’s long overdue talk about Canada’s pension crisis

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Jan 30, 2012
We can try to offset the demographic arithmetic directly, whether through increased immigration, longer working lives, or even — to the extent policy can — encouraging people to have more children. And certainly there is much room for improvement in our anemic national productivity performance: just a half-a-percentage point faster growth in productivity, compounding year after year, would make the next generations wealthy enough to bear those projected higher costs without having to endure the implied rise in taxes.

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A know-nothing strain of conservatism

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

August 17, 2010
It isn’t just that the Tories habitually ignore the expert consensus on a wide range of issues—crime, taxes, climate change—it’s that they want to be seen to be ignoring it. It’s the overt antagonism to experts, and by extension the educated classes, that marks the Tory style. In its own way, it’s a form of class war. You can see it in the sneering references to Michael Ignatieff’s Harvard tenure, in the repeated denunciations of “elites” and “intellectuals.” In the partial dismantling of the census, we reach the final stage: not just hostile to experts, but to knowledge. It’s an old game, in some respects… But there’s something different going on here… Harper Conservatives are just as hostile to the interventions of experts on what one might suppose to be their own side… The result is a uniquely nasty, know-nothing strain of conservatism.

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Those budget cuts, in full

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

March 6, 2010
My fellow pundits seem greatly impressed by the budget’s “austerity,” to judge by the headlines and commentary that appeared afterward. Here, then, in graphic form, is just how austere it was…
…spending in this “austerity” budget totals nearly $28-billion more over three years than in last year’s “stimulus” budget. Strange but true…

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