My dad wrote about tax policy, to be sure, but it was in the larger context of how Canada ought to be in fiscal, social and constitutional terms. He was concerned about the expansion of the role of government because it would have to be financed with higher and broader taxes, which he likened to a forced confiscation of property.
Canadians’ views have shifted away from the economic priorities of the Conservative Party over the past decade, a possible
given the litany of taxes levied on us by the three levels of government, it is nearly impossible to get a sense of how much we truly pay. That's why in a recent report we calculate and track the total tax bill of the average Canadian family from 1961 to 2012.
Work organization in the public sector across Canada has long been hindered by various forms of rigidity. We could take some inspiration from the experience of Sweden, a country that managed to transform its public sector employment scheme without antagonizing unions and workers.
Maybe British Prime Minister David Cameron will light a policy fire under the Harper government while he's in Ottawa. His Big Society idea challenges citizens to get Big Government out of the way. But putting cost-cutting and community empowerment side-by-side can produce the perfect storm of political opportunism.
Once upon a time, policy-making was about finding the best ideas to solve a problem. Today, policy process is no longer about finding the best ideas. It is mainly about managing different interest groups, many of whom are in a position to derail a process they don't like.