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Sean Speer

Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute

Sean Speer is a Munk Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. He is also an associate fellow at the R Street Institute and a fellow at University of Toronto's School of Public Policy and Governance. He previously served as senior economic adviser and special adviser to former prime minister Stephen Harper. He has been cited by The Hill Times as one of the most influential people in government and by Embassy Magazine as one of the top 80 people influencing Canadian foreign policy. He has written extensively about federal policy issues, including personal income taxes, government spending, social mobility, and economic competitiveness. His articles have appeared in every major national and regional newspaper in Canada (including the Globe and Mail and National Post) as well as prominent US-based publications (including the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online).‎ Sean holds an M.A. in History from Carleton University and has studied economic history as a PhD candidate at Queen’s University.
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What the U.S. Can Learn From Canada's Government

For a real-life example of how scaling back government has led to positive and practical economic benefits, Americans should look north. In Canada the conventional wisdom for much of the second half of the 20th century favored increasing the size of government. This led to significant growth in government as a share of the economy.
04/15/2014 12:35 EDT

Ontario Usurps California's Role as Poster Child for Debt

A sign of the seriousness of Ontario's debt problem is evidenced by comparisons with California, which for more than a decade has been the butt of jokes of comedians, political commentators, the media, and politicians themselves for its inability to solve its perennial financial problems. This dubious distinction ought to be a wake-up call for Ontario's policymakers and citizens alike.
03/20/2014 12:45 EDT
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Why Is No One Talking About Quebec's Massive Debt?

One issue that has been largely absent from the campaign is the province's high levels of government debt. This omission is curious given that the Quebec government's debt is the largest in the country when presented as a share of the economy and is now consuming a significant share of tax dollars in the form of interest payments. If Quebec voters are concerned about their government's level of indebtedness, they should insist that the political parties set out clear plans to get it under control. The problem can no longer be ignored.
03/14/2014 05:43 EDT
CP

Pro-Markets Not Pro-Business: There's a Difference

The government's "Venture Capital Action Plan" ignores Canadian evidence that shows government-sponsored venture capital is ineffective. More fundamentally though, it represents a further blurring of the lines between pro-market and pro-business government policy.
02/13/2014 12:53 EST
CP

Ottawa's On Track to Balance the Budget -- So What's Next?

After running six consecutive deficits totaling $156.5 billion, Flaherty has been clear that balancing the budget in 2015-16 is his top priority. Budget 2014 reaffirms that commitment. Despite risks in Flaherty's plan, his budget signals that a return to surplus may soon be upon us. The next step for the federal government is to enact an ambitious personal tax reform plan.
02/13/2014 05:16 EST
Alamy

Cut Spending -- Don't Just Slow Its Growth

With federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty poised to unveil his 2014 budget on February 11, early signs point to a business-as-usual budget with his government staying focused on eliminating the deficit in 2015 and creating the fiscal room to provide tax relief in next year's budget. But Flaherty could take a different approach and positively surprise Canadians.
02/04/2014 04:29 EST
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Will Canada's Government Continue the Tax Hike Into 2014?

The trend of governments increasing taxes seems poised to continue in 2014. As of Jan. 1, the federal government increased taxes on certain dividend income, British Columbia raised its health care premiums yet again and introduced a new tax rate for those earning more than $150,000.
01/16/2014 05:29 EST
CP

Canada 2020: What's the Right Scope and Size of Government

The Clerk of the Privy Council's Blueprint 2020 exercise is a positive step in redefining the role and functions of the federal public service in Canada. However, a key question omitted from the blueprint document is: what's the right size and scope of the federal government in 2020?
01/16/2014 05:23 EST
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A Financial New Year's Resolution for Ontario

Another year has come and gone and Ontario's weak public finances remain largely unchanged. The provincial government did little to improve its fiscal position in 2013 and recently signalled it intends to continue with debt-financed spending into the New Year. But the status quo isn't serving Ontarians well. For 2014, the government should chart a new course that places provincial finances on a more sound footing. That would be a much-needed New Year's resolution for Canada's largest province.
01/10/2014 12:14 EST
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Government Debt: A Painful Reminder There Are No Free Lunches

With the holiday season now behind us, the oncoming flood of credit statements to Canadian households is a powerful reminder that there are no free lunches. Borrowing to pay for current consumption brings interest payments, and ultimately, the need to pay off principal balances. But this same reality also applies to governments.
01/09/2014 12:16 EST
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There's No Retirement Crisis in Canada

The upcoming meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers will touch on what's become a politically charged debate about expanding the Canada Pension Plan. Proponents have tried to convince Canadians they are not saving sufficiently for retirement with some even suggesting we are on the brink of a retirement crisis. These views simply do not reconcile with the available empirical evidence.
12/12/2013 05:30 EST
CP

Flaherty Hasn't Slain the Deficit Yet

Mr. Flaherty may indeed eliminate the deficit in 2015-16 as planned. We hope he does. But his plan as conceived still contains considerable risk that shouldn't be ignored. More conservative revenue forecasts and lower program spending would reduce these risks and help to ensure he can deliver on his promise.
11/14/2013 03:17 EST
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Politicians, Please Use Caution in Expanding Canada's Pension Plan

As our political leaders deliberate expanding the CPP, they would do well to consider the evidence which does not support the notion of a broad retirement income crisis. They also need to consider that a compulsory expansion to CPP could reduce private savings and the flexibility they afford Canadians.
11/03/2013 01:24 EDT
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Predicting the 2014 Budget (Based on Ottawa's Hints)

To achieve the target of eliminating the deficit by 2015-16, the government announced new commitments that are intended to restrain the growth of spending. This is perhaps partly in recognition of the slow economic growth environment and the fact that robust revenue growth cannot be counted on as the sole basis for returning to balance.
10/31/2013 05:35 EDT