Archive for the ‘Governance History’ Category

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Canada needs a new grand national bargain: Quebec and Alberta

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Canada’s greatest challenge now is to get a new national grand bargain in the face of multiple external adversities – COVID-19, international forces that are increasingly hostile to Canada and its resource industries… Canadians themselves are ready – they are pragmatic and they want a united country that is serious about climate change… The challenge for Ottawa, the provinces, the Indigenous community and the business community is to find mutually supportive ways forward.

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How Canadians learned the art of sharing

Monday, August 17th, 2020

The often-fractious Canadian federation is certainly not without defects – and the now-convoluted equalization program is flawed. But since Ottawa sent out the first equalization cheques in April, 1957, that willingness to share has encouraged social unity and mutual trust. We save ourselves when we save each other.

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It took a disaster for Doug Ford to abandon Mike Harris’s destructive legacy

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Never mind the rhetoric about cutting red tape, slashing taxes, unplugging photo radar, downsizing government and downloading welfare, its underpinning is simply this: Politics shall henceforth be transactional. Not transformational. Ask not what you can do for your country or province. Ask what your government can do for you to keep more money in your pocket… But it took the COVID-19 crisis to truly unravel that revolution — at least for now.

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The same old stories: How the narratives around Canada’s political parties become pathology

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Parties and their leaders are encumbered and shaped by their histories and internal and external expectations. Even if there have been some unexpected twists at times, each occupies a distinct space in the Canadian political system. And each is prone to following its past patterns and pathologies.

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Let us now give thanks for Michael Wilson’s GST

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

The GST was designed to be revenue-neutral; its goal was not increasing government revenue but instead raising it in a smarter, more progressive and more economically efficient way… Value-added taxes tax spending and encourage saving. Traditional sales taxes are regressive, falling hardest on low-income people, but credits for low-income Canadians make the GST progressive. The revenue is fairly stable. The system of input credits makes tax evasion far less likely than under a sales tax.

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The left has yielded language to the right

Monday, November 5th, 2018

… the biggest rhetorical victory of the right has been its capture of the term “populist.” Historically in North America, populism has had both left and right variants. Some were anti-immigrant and racist. But the most successful, such as the People’s Party of the late 19th century or the Progressives of the early 20th were left-leaning… populism has been no stranger to either Canada or the U.S. So it seems odd that it has become, among left-liberals, a dirty word.

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In praise of the income tax, on its 100th birthday

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

The income tax made it possible for Canada to develop into the advanced society that we are today, enabling us to raise the revenue to fight the Second World War and then create strong public programs in health care, education and social insurance that have pushed us toward the top of every global index of human development.

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Quebec, Canada and the national unity crisis we outgrew

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

… the formerly dominant fault-line in the province’s politics – sovereignty vs. federalism – has become increasingly over-shadowed by rural-urban questions, divergent regional interests and a more typical ideological divide between conservatives and social democrats… Greater provincial autonomy; more control over taxation, international relations, immigration and cultural policy; opting out from federal programs with full compensation – all are a fait accompli.

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The other Canadian anniversary: 100 years of income tax

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

The one constant in all of this change is growing revenue from the personal income tax. In terms of per-person federal personal income taxes, the burden has increased from roughly $14 a person in 1918 (in 2016 dollars) to roughly $4,120 in 2017, an almost 300-fold increase.

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A short (surprising) history of democratic reform

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The problem with electoral reform, then and now, is that it’s such a hard sell, and most people aren’t buying — federally, provincially, even internationally: In the UK, a 2011 referendum on an AV (ranked ballot) system failed miserably despite the support of many influential leaders. Our own politicians remain bitterly divided because electoral reform means different things to different parties — and meets with indifference from most people.

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