"There are lies, damned lies and statistics" is the well-worn phrase, but nothing better sums up the recent Fraser Institute scare mongering about taxes being the single largest budget item of Canadian households -- as catchy as the headlines may be, it is alarmist spin. Such biased economic exercises raise a fundamental question: Just what indicators should we be using to keep score on Canada's economic performance?
Debt has been in the news a lot lately. The major news outlets in Canada are paying attention to our record-high household debt levels and are doing some fantastic reporting about the effects of oil prices, housing, health, divorce, and all the other factors that can damage a family's bottom line. Yet amid this rabble of expert voices and real Canadian tales of debt crisis, there was one lone dissenter.
The risk is that a GAI would become just another program within a larger web of existing government programs. Some programs that target specific groups, particularly groups less able to work -- such as the severely disabled or the elderly -- may be difficult to consolidate into a single "one-size-fits-all" universal program like the GAI.
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant seems poised to follow through on a campaign promise to institute a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. News reports suggest he'll implement that moratorium before Christmas. Quite a lump of coal for the people of his province in need of additional jobs and higher incomes.
The United States and Canada do not allow for full competition, but Americans benefit from a bigger market given their much larger population. Thus, a continental market in airline travel would serve passengers if an American airline could compete head-to-head with Canadian airlines on domestic routes. But the federal government won't allow it. The result? Higher airline fares in Canada.
Consider that in 2013/14 interest on the provincial debt was $10.6 billion. According to the province's fall fiscal update, that was just over half of all provincial sales tax revenue paid by Ontarians last year ($20.5 billion). So Ontarians should know that when you pay your provincial sales tax at the till, half of it flutters away just to pay your provincial government's debt interest.
It is unclear why the Chiefs of these 44 communities are choosing to withhold this information from their electorate and Canadian taxpayers. It is particularly peculiar that two of these communities, Weenusk First Nation and Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation, previously published their audited financial statements and have now reversed course. That brings up the question: why are these 44 Chiefs afraid of an informed electorate?
There are multiple reasons why governments choose the policy paths they do. Political survival is perhaps the most obvious explanation. But as with any organization, divesting of unnecessary businesses, projects and tasks that are off-mission helps sharpen the focus. That matters if one cares about smarter, more effective government.
Politicians are free to ignore the science, safety and history of hydraulic fracturing. But if the incoming New Brunswick government sticks with its election promise, it will outlaw (temporarily, at least) one of the more innovative ways to extract oil and gas in the 21st century. The science and risk-reward ratio are both on the side of hydraulic fracturing. The potential for a more dynamic economy is staring New Brunswick politicians in the face.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice's energy policy comments are troubling. According to newspaper reports, Mr. Prentice has embraced the idea of replacing Alberta's coal-fired electrical generation, not with natural gas, but with renewable energy -- wind and solar power. But experience suggests that the bank accounts of Albertans will take a big hit should the plan move ahead.