When the critics mirror their targets

A swamp of vested, bureaucratic interests hobbled by dogma, enriched by institutional entitlements and bloated by fat pay packages. Surely not these two now-merged think-tanks

When the critics mirror their targetsNow that Canada’s most famously libertarian think-tank has merged with the Atlantic provinces’ premier government-thrashing mouthpiece, does their union augur a future for exemplary new standards of public policy along the East Coast? After all, both the Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies have, over the years, made many of their major…

Embracing the unfamiliar down home

The East Coast isn’t quaint, slow, lazy or anything else others in the rest of Canada might assume. But it does tend to defy expectations

Embracing the unfamiliar down homeIf you live in one of Canada’s muscular metropolises, you might think about the Atlantic provinces once, maybe twice, a year. And when you do, you might be tempted to dismiss them as welfare states – unlike, say, Calgary. After all, most people “down home” draw unemployment at least half the year. They’re just as…

Dancing in the dark – in the midst of a hurricane

In Atlantic Canada, the moment you think you have everything nailed down, a Category 2 storm decides to pop in

Dancing in the dark – in the midst of a hurricaneA word to the wise: A daily five-km fast walk and a nightly 15-minute endurance routine on a floor mat doesn’t prepare a 50-something body for a sudden dismount from a handstand – especially if said body lands on its tippy toes, like Baryshnikov on a really, really bad morning. “Crunch!” was the sound heard…

Federal student job program puts Alberta at the back of the class

Study finds no link between the circumstances in the local economy, student unemployment and the level of subsidies handed out. So is it all political?

Federal student job program puts Alberta at the back of the classThose who argue that the Canadian federation exhibits plenty of fiscal and program biases against Prairie Canadians will see further evidence in a recent study from the Halifax-based Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS). The study, Rethinking Student Job Subsidies, authored by David Murrell and Alan Chan, is subtitled The Case for Regional Equity in…

Don’t fear the reaper: Recession

What’s a recession going to do to the East Coast? Reap what’s left in our mattresses and sock drawers?

Don’t fear the reaper: RecessionOh, Recession. So there you are. For months, you’ve been rattling about my back door knocking over rubbish bins like a starving raccoon at night. The sun’s up now. No need to be coy. “The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China is nudging the world economy toward its first recession in a decade…

Innovation is a lot like life, with all its ups and downs

Despite government hyperbole, small businesses know that innovation is difficult, costly and sometimes reveals unfortunate truths

Innovation is a lot like life, with all its ups and downsA handy term that invokes sweet dreams of big scores for small businesses everywhere is ‘innovation.’ Government officials, burdened with the otherwise boring work of economic development, are obsessed with it. Its mere mention, they think, virtually guarantees a contact high. Hey folks, their websites screech, roll up and read all about our “Superclusters Initiative,”…

Into the great wide open: Nova Scotia’s space ambitions

A planned spaceport on the East Coast would launch eight satellite-carrying rockets annually by 2022

Into the great wide open: Nova Scotia’s space ambitionsOn some glittering summer’s day, this decade or maybe next, you might find me rusticating on the back deck of my ancestral home overlooking Nova Scotia’s great, grumbling Chedabucto Bay – as deep and dangerous as the firmament itself. There, I will hoist a late-afternoon drink, cast my eyes toward the town of Canso and…

When did green become the new orange in Canadian politics?

So, Green Party, you want to build a kinder, gentler corner of the world? How? What, exactly, do you have in mind?

When did green become the new orange in Canadian politics?It wasn’t too long ago the only viable alternative to the Grit and Tory machines in Atlantic Canada was the New Democratic Party. You remember them? They used to come knocking round your front door every election cycle – their game faces plastered on with the permanent ink of utter conviction – offering voters newer,…

Equalization inequalities must be addressed

Encouraging short-term stability at the expense of economic performance and fairness is folly when alternatives are available

Equalization inequalities must be addressedIn recent years, equalization and other regional subsidies have captured the attention of many Albertans. Much useful research has been done at the University of Calgary and by the former Wildrose Party. There has been extensive comment in Alberta’s media on Canada’s fiscal arrangements, including equalization. Issues connected with regional subsidies are important to all…

Time to rethink the federal transfers system

Atlantic Canada enjoys a level of public spending that far outreaches that of the provinces that contribute most to equalization payments

Time to rethink the federal transfers systemIt is time for a fundamental course change by Atlantic Canadians with respect to equalization and other regional subsidies. I recently made a presentation to independent senators in Ottawa on this subject in which I said that Canada’s regional subsidies were ineffective. We've had a half-century of remarkably large subsidies to Quebec and Atlantic Canada,…

School choice a good first step to quality education in Atlantic Canada

Adopting the Alberta charter school model would give parents and children more choice and allow them to enjoy the benefits of competition

School choice a good first step to quality education in Atlantic CanadaCanadians experience the enormous economic benefits of competition daily. For most consumer goods, over time, Canadians pay less and get more. Businesses compete to offer customers the best products at the lowest prices; those with offerings that consumers judge unsatisfactory are eventually forced to go out of business. As long as there’s competition, consumers are…

Canada’s oil and gas industry faces dramatic shift

A new report by PetroLMI, a division of Energy Safety Canada, details the changing face of the energy workforce

Canada’s oil and gas industry faces dramatic shiftCanada’s oil and gas industry has undergone a significant transformation in the past decade. And as the industry has adjusted to the ups and downs of the economy, there were corresponding shifts in the distribution of the industry’s workforce and the daily experiences of those workers, says a new report by PetroLMI, a division of…

Federal carbon tax seems destined to fail

P.E.I. has added itself to the list of carbon tax opponents, following Premier Doug Ford of Ontario. And the list is growing

Federal carbon tax seems destined to failIf there ever was a federal carbon tax consensus in Canada, it's now dissolving. Rumours of its death have been floating for some time, but the recent Prince Edward Island announcement rejecting it has the feel of an unofficial invitation to its wake. Did the smallest provincial jurisdiction in the country kill Prime Minister Justin…

Carbon tax particularly dangerous to New Brunswick

The tax will slow the already-faltering New Brunswick economy and create a competitive disadvantage with U.S. businesses

Carbon tax particularly dangerous to New BrunswickWhile good intentions matter a great deal, results matter most. The federal government’s decision to impose a national carbon tax may be well-intentioned, but its effects may be detrimental to our economy. We’ll likely see its worst effects on New Brunswick. The idea is to give carbon a price. While there are a few ways…

Fixing the democratic deficit in local education

How to rebuild a more robust model of local involvement and governance to deliver education in Nova Scotia

Fixing the democratic deficit in local educationThe days are numbered for Nova Scotia’s seven English-language school boards. In January, the province's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released a report it had commissioned from Avis Glaze. Since the release of the report, Raise the Bar, defenders of the existing order have rallied behind the status quo and claimed that eliminating…