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.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau will soon release the government's Fall Economic Statement and the expectation is for more stimulus spending and higher deficits. The surrounding debate in Ottawa has been mostly focused on "how" and "what" of deficit spending and insufficiently on "why" and "when."
Government policy should seek to leverage the federalist tradition. This means more local experimentation, less central planning, and empowering provincial and local governments to advance provincial and local interests in their respective constitutional spheres without federal meddling or pressure to conform.
09/30/2016 02:26 EDT
The reality is that Canada's present system is failing to live up to the principle of universality. By subsidizing hospital and doctor costs for all Canadians we have little public monies left over to help low- and middle-income Canadians pay for uninsured services and treatments.
07/20/2016 12:35 EDT
A pro-innovation agenda with respect to climate change is composed of the same basic policies for other sectors, including competitive taxation, strong intellectual property protection and a sensible regulatory regime, investments in human capital, and high-quality infrastructure.
02/10/2016 04:05 EST
Foreign and defence policy has loomed over Parliament's first week back to work. Question Period is focused on big questions about when and where to use the Canadian Armed Forces, what values to champion abroad, and how to engage recalcitrant regimes. This is heady stuff.
02/01/2016 02:27 EST
Canadian policing costs and staffing levels have grown over the past decade despite a dramatic fall in crime rates. Between 2001 and 2012, police officers per 100,000 of population in Canada rose nine per cent while the crime rate declined by 26 per cent. What does this mean for provinces and municipalities?
10/03/2014 06:07 EDT
Headlines in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and CBC all trotted out the cliché that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer, giving the impression of a doomsday-like wealth inequality gap. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
09/21/2014 12:50 EDT
Governments must make interest payments on their debt similar to families who pay interest on borrowing for mortgages, vehicles, or credit card spending. These interest payments leave fewer resources available for important priorities such as tax relief and spending on public programs such as health care, education, and social services.
08/22/2014 05:11 EDT
The federal government now appears once again poised to balance its budget after several years of deficit spending. A step backwards in the direction of borrowing and spending more would be a huge loss with little economic reward.
07/29/2014 01:19 EDT
We've seen this script before. Higher spending. Tax increases. Persistent deficits. Growing debt. Warnings from credit rating agencies. A government unwilling to make the tough choices to turn things around. That's the Ontario of the 1980s and early 1990s. It's also where the province finds itself today.
07/21/2014 06:13 EDT
There's a lot of speculation that the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs will be active this free agent season. Both teams failed to make the playoffs last year and will likely pursue new players to get them back into contention. But taxes can be a roadblock to attracting new talent.
06/27/2014 06:24 EDT
The government already spends 9.2 per cent of its revenues to service its debt and, according to its own estimates, this will rise to nearly 11 per cent in the next four years. Put plainly, Ontario spends $1 out of every $10 sent to Queen's Park to pay for past debt. This is money not spent on health care, education, transportation, or other public priorities. The increase in rates and the expectation for further hikes means even more tax revenues will go to paying interest instead of key government services.
06/19/2014 08:24 EDT
As the saying goes, the first step is overcoming denial and the premier's recent comments suggest he understands the magnitude of Quebec's fiscal problems. The next step requires a bold plan to rein in government debt and improve tax competitiveness. The upcoming budget is a chance to move the province forward.
06/03/2014 11:38 EDT
The results do not bode well for Ontario. Provincial debt amounts to 237.7 per cent of revenue -- the highest ratio amongst the provinces. In other words, the total debt accumulated by the Ontario government represents almost two and a half years of revenues. Ontario's ratio is much higher than Quebec, the second most indebted province (189.5 per cent) on this metric.
05/28/2014 12:45 EDT
Canadian governments could reduce or eliminate tax policies that add complexity to the personal income tax system such as tax expenditures. Getting rid of ineffective credits, deductions, and other special tax provisions would not only simplify the personal income tax system, it could create room to lower personal income tax rates for everyone.
05/09/2014 12:18 EDT
Ontario's recent budget included the Liberals' proposal for a mandatory government pension plan modelled after the Canada Pension Plan. The proposal, however, is largely based on the faulty assumption that most Canadians are not adequately prepared for retirement.
05/03/2014 08:01 EDT
On May 1 Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa will stand in the provincial legislature to deliver this year's budget speech. Imagine if Sousa were to surprise us all and take a different track -- one that sets out a new agenda to return Ontario to its historical position as the economic engine of the country.
04/30/2014 05:36 EDT
The analysis of one of Canada's leading banks incorrectly concludes Ontario can't be compared to California, should be compared to other provinces, isn't necessarily at fault for being the second most indebted province, and argues the federal government should consider bailing Ontario out. No wonder Ontario is in the state it's in.
04/17/2014 05:54 EDT
These challenges facing Ontario are well documented. Yet the government's policy direction is not moving in the right direction. Recent developments suggest that the government intends to continue growing spending on the types of policies that have contributed to the problem such as high deficits and a new round of corporate subsidies.
04/16/2014 05:35 EDT
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
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