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The (Conservative) platform that dare not speak its name

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Scaling back infrastructure spending could have consequences, but they won’t be immediate, and they may be hard for voters to spot… the Conservatives are raising taxes. Yes, really. They’re promising a 3-per-cent tax on foreign social-media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces, inspired by similar levies in Europe… The Conservatives would also give the Canada Revenue Agency $750-million a year to figure out who isn’t paying as much tax as they should.

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The debt, the deficit – and other things this election isn’t about

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Canada has the lowest debt burden in the Group of Seven. The weight of federal debt is not heavy and increasing; it’s light and shrinking…. Relative to a $2.3-trillion economy, deficits of roughly $20-billion or less are small enough that the federal debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to steadily fall… Ottawa’s tax take today is smaller than at any other time in recent history…

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Money has never been cheaper. Should Ottawa be borrowing more?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Ultralow interest rates are a problem, but also an opportunity. Borrowing has never been cheaper. If the federal government were to increase borrowing, only for a short period and only to fund one-off items such as new education facilities or transit infrastructure, it could finance that at very low costs, locked in for decades.

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Does our system for dealing with mentally ill offenders need a rethink?

Monday, July 29th, 2019

it is wrong to characterize a mentally ill person who has committed a violent crime as permanently dangerous. According to a study from 2015, among people who committed a major violent crime and were found NCR, fewer than 1 in 100 went on to reoffend. Treatment often works… something went very wrong in this case… But there is no reason to scrap a system that, in dealing with mentally ill people who have committed crimes, is reducing threats and serving the public interest.

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Ontario can’t ignore the dangers of making booze more available

Friday, July 26th, 2019

Before the recent changes, Ontario had the most restricted alcohol sales of all the provinces – and, not coincidentally, the third-lowest per-capita consumption. The highest consumption tends to occur in provinces where alcohol is most readily available for sale… the costs are significant. Direct health-care costs pinned on alcohol use in 2014 were tallied at $11.1-billion.

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Doug Ford surprises – by not gutting police oversight

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

confidence in the police, according to the Ford government, was undermined by a stillborn law that never got to impose steep fines on officers who refused to co-operate with the SIU, and never made it slightly easier to fire them for misconduct or incompetence. And so, the Ford government has now tabled the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act – yes, the COPS Act. The government is pitching it as a radical overhaul of Liberal police oversight, to make it more fair to police. Spoiler alert: It’s mostly not.

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Let’s make 2019 the year Canada finally gets pharmacare

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

If you’re hospitalized and you’re given prescription meds, it’s free. But once you walk out of the hospital with a prescription to fill, you may be on your own. Coverage is a mix of private insurance and out-of-pocket spending, with the provinces and territories filling some of the gaps with a grab bag of local programs, each unique to its jurisdiction, for groups such as seniors and the poor… Government programs are limited and selective, creating a safety net that’s filled with holes.

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The health-care spending law of Wildavsky and Harper

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Oct. 31 2012
After 10 years of average annual growth in public health spending of 7 per cent, the increase levelled off in 2011 to 3.3 per cent, and to 2.9 per cent this year, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information… And, unlike in the early 1990s, when a virtual freeze on new spending led to bed closures, layoffs and a general stasis in the system, cost control didn’t depend on program or employment cuts.

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Ontario welfare reform plan is on the right track

Friday, October 26th, 2012

October 24, 2012
…the existing system doesn’t accomplish either of its goals – making sure the poorest Ontarians have a decent minimum income, and helping those who can work start supporting themselves as quickly as possible. Even those inclined to blame people on welfare for their own misfortune should agree that if we’re going to spend billions, let’s make sure it’s for something productive.

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Omnibus budget: Bill C-45 is an affront to democracy

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

October 19, 2012
… a document of more than 400 pages, which still includes many non-budgetary matters… Bill C-45, if passed, will ensure significant savings over the coming years. But as Harper clearly knows, the scope of the bill means it will take months or years before Canadians understand the cost of those savings, beyond the steep democratic one.

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