Montreal Economic Institute

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The Economic Case Against Leg Room Being a 'Human Right'

I almost spit out my coffee the other morning when I stumbled upon this piece by a fellow named Christopher Elliott. In it, he argued that having enough room for your legs on an airplane should be a "human right." One has to be willfully ignorant to not understand that this type of regulation, if adopted, would raise the cost of airline tickets everywhere.
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G20 Fails to Fix Global Finance. Again.

It's a wonder that the heads of state and heads of government of the G20 who just met in Russia spent any time at all talking economics. Seriously, how could they pull themselves away from discussing Syria (or Sochi, or Snowden) long enough to actually focus on the international financial system? Sure, that's the explicit purpose of the G20 meetings, but still, let's give credit where credit is due.
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No More Oil Means No More Smartphones

Filling up at the gas station is certainly one of the ways to use oil that is most familiar to us. But guess what: of all the oil we use, only 43 per cent goes to fueling our cars. Given this, can we seriously consider ending our "dependence on oil", as some would suggest? Someone who wants to stop using oil will have to say goodbye to smart phones, ballpoint pens, candlelight, clothing made of synthetic fibers, glasses, toothpaste, tires (including those on bicycles), and thousands of other products made from plastic, a petroleum derivative. Good luck with that program.
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Canadian Flight Prices Need to Ground

Perhaps you flew off for holidays this summer. Compare any return flights between pairs of cities in Europe and in Canada, with roughly the same distance, and you'll notice a staggering difference in price. Flying from an airport south of the border is cheaper, too.
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Free Markets Help the Poor Better Than Aid Does

"Aid is just a stop-gap. Commerce and entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid." Though I strongly agree with these words, they came from someone just a bit more glamorous than me -- Bono. The West's relationship with the poor is based on condescension and charity. When it comes to helping the poor get out of the poverty trap, one should not be trapped in preconceived ideas.
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Why the Big Three Are Right About Verizon

At first sight, the reaction of the three big players to Verizon's possible entry onto the Canadian market seems to be another illustration of their tendency to quash competition. A casual observer might be tempted to think that they're trying to secure government protection against a new player that poses a real threat to their market shares. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Post Lac-Megantic Let's Talk Fact, Not Fantasy

The fact that the Lac Megantic rail tragedy hit so close to home should motivate us that much more to find solutions to keep such things from happening again. What's really inappropriate is pushing fantasies -- such as "freeing ourselves from our dependence on oil" -- when we're faced with a very real problem. In the short- and medium-term, oil will continue to be a part of our lives. All methods of transporting oil will remain relevant and necessary for some time yet. Pipelines, though, have the advantage of being by far the safest method of transportation.
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Part 3: The Underestimated Benefits of "Me-Too" Drugs

Marc-André Gagnon, assistant professor at Carleton University, argues in a recent article that more than 80 per cent of new drugs entering the market are merely carbon copies of existing drugs -- commonly called "me-too" or "follow-on" drugs -- without any real therapeutic advance. Such criticisms, however, reveal a complete ignorance of the nature of the innovation process in the pharmaceutical industry.

Part 2: Paying Less for Prescription Drugs? Bad Idea

Paying less for drugs sounds like a good idea, right? Well, as with everything else, one needs to look at the whole picture and see what he gets in return. With regards to bulk purchasing, although there might be some savings initially, it is clear that the long-term disadvantages of such a policy outweigh its short-term benefits.
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Why Public Health Activists Want to Hide Inconvenient Truths

After studying about three million cases, the authors of a new study found that for people who are older than 60, having a body-mass index (BMI) that ranks you as overweight may reduce your mortality risk. And while obese people had a greater mortality risk over all, those at the lowest level of obesity were not more likely to die during a given period than people of normal weight. The reception to this data has not been kind.
Raghav Sundar

The Nasty Side Effects of a National Drug Plan

A conference was held a few weeks ago in Ottawa to discuss yet again the adoption of a pan-Canadian government-run drug insurance plan that would cover prescription drug costs for the entire population. Such a program would instead risk increasing the burden currently weighing down public finances. Such a plan would not only entail extra costs for taxpayers, but would do nothing to change governments' current propensity to restrict and delay access to new drugs. Foreign experience can teach us much about the dangers of adopting a monopolistic drug insurance system in Canada.
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On the Mortgage Debate, Mulcair KO'd Flaherty

The federal minister of Finances, Mr. Jim Flaherty, made public comments and exerted pressures for Manulife Bank to withdraw its offer for a five-year-fixed mortgage rate of 2.89 per cent. NPD leader Thomas Mulcair accused Mr. Flaherty of using his position of power inappropriately. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Hugo Chavez Left a Sad Legacy

Media around the world have devoted a great deal of coverage to the death of Hugo Chavez, who passed away last Tuesday after losing his fight against cancer. His legacy as the President of the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" needs to be seen in the light of a long tradition of populism in Latin American history.
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New Prescription Drugs Are Worth the Cost

We cannot deny the fact that the costs of prescription drugs have been increasing at a considerable rate over the last few decades. While total healthcare spending per capita has almost tripled during this period, per capita expenditures on prescription drugs have increased six-fold. But should this trend be a source of concern?
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The Human Right That Canadian Unions Ignore

Following the approval of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), the union is about to merge with Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) and will form the largest private sector union in Canada. Unfortunately, unions have set compulsory membership in various collective agreement and dues are mandatory in Canada even when unions use them for political or ideological purposes. Individual workers should also be able to choose to associate or not. It's a basic right.
Alamy

How Do Governments "Create" Money?

How do governments "create" money? That is the very relevant question a Sun reader asked me after reading one of my columns. Well, physical cash is only a tiny portion of existing money. Most of it nowadays simply exists as digits in computers. Granted, monetary economics is one of the most boring and technical topics in the field of economics. But given what is at stake in this risky experiment, we all have an interest in better understanding what is going on.
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4 Detained In Smoke Bomb Attack

MONTREAL - Four people were being detained in connection with the smoke-bomb attacks that crippled the Montreal subway system.Police said the four turned themselves in to authorities, accompanied by t...