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Liberal Nationalism and Demographic Realism

Doug Saunders and David K. Foot Globe & Mail international affairs journalist Doug Saunders has just published a book intended to influence public policy, Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians is Not Enough (Knopf, 2017). Having already written a not entirely convincing refutation of the Europe-focused alarmism of writers like Mark Steyn about the impact of mass Muslim migration, Saunders this time concentrates on Canada, more on is its reception of new people of all backgrounds than about their composition. It presently looks fairly likely that Canada may slowly acquire several tens of millions of additional population over the coming century, just plugging along with roughly present immigration practices and domestic birth rates, but Saunders wants to see a more rapid and consistent growth policy, moving the country to 100 million as rapidly as possible. He offers empirical and theoretical arguments in support. Most of the pros and cons of adapting such a course could be made in a few pages, but Saunders expands on the pros with two themes. The first is a selective history of the 'failing' quality of government policies from the 19th to the mid-20th century, nearly all years marked by large emigration, sometimes as substantial as the scale of new arrivals, with slow net domestic growth. The second is to portray even the more recent rapidly growing populations of the three or four largest Canadian cities as actually insufficient to provide the internal markets and domestic tax bases to maintain adequate services, thus making it very difficult, for example, for these cities to introduce much of the high-tech rapid public transport found in many large cities elsewhere. Saunders is a much better writer than his enthusiastic policy wonk supporter Irvin Studin, whose G&M review of Maximum Canada is a model of fatuous reasoning and bad… Read More

Should stadiums receive public funding?

The renovation has started a familiar debate over whether or not the costs of arenas and stadiums should be paid for by the public, giving the billionaire owners of teams a place to play on the taxpayers dollar. Despite my love of baseball, and my hope that the Expos will return to Montreal, I believe that stadiums should come at the cost of the team owner and not the taxpayer, unless the benefits should equal or outweigh the cost. When former Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was defeated in the recent Montreal municipal election, many sports fans said that the dream of baseball died with him. However, new Mayor Valerie Plante has said that she won't use public money to finance a new stadium or team without a referendum. Even though Montrealers would likely vote against spending hundreds of millions of their tax dollars to bring a MLB team back, I think Plante has the right idea. According to a 2013 study by the Montreal Baseball project, it would cost over a billion dollars for a baseball team to return, including the project quoting “while 33 per cent ($335 million)would come from government”. Even with the return of the Expos, and the jobs it would create, that is a very high price to pay. I would be alright with paying public money for a new stadium if the municipal government does hold a referendum and the majority votes vote yes. Even if a yes vote occurred, I would need to be convinced by the team’s ownership group that the benefits of a new stadium and team, (an increase in jobs, tourism, economic boom, etc), would be worth the costs. As many die-hard Expos fans know, it wasn't the lack of fan support that killed the Expos. The Olympic Stadium and poor… Read More

Old Age Insecurity

At 150, Canada is getting older, and so is its population. For the first time in our country’s history, there are more seniors living in Canada than there are kids. This new reality puts the very solvency of some of the biggest government programs at risk. While we have known this reality was bound to happen for quite some time, the government has not taken any measure to ensure adequate funding would be available for such programs, choosing to ignore a problem which, every day, is getting increasingly costly to deal with. Among those programs are the three key income programs for seniors: Canada Pension Plan, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Old Age Security. The first, Canada Pension Plan, is currently partially funded through a dedicated fund, which leads to a whole other set of issues to be tackled in another article. The second, Guaranteed Income Supplement, while unfunded, only covers seniors living with very low annual incomes and is a much smaller expenditure compared to the third and last one: Old Age Security, or OAS. In 2015-2016 alone, OAS accounted for roughly three quarters of all transfers to seniors made from general government revenue. This program alone costs over $35 billion every year and is funded through the very same year’s taxes! While it is true OAS helps numerous low-income seniors get by every month, it is far from true that every OAS recipient that is in a low-income situation. Currently, seniors making less than $73,756 get full benefits regardless of their pre-retirement incomes. The benefits get clawed back so slowly that one can receive partial benefits up to an annual income of $119,400 per year. That can hardly be described as low-income. Just in 2014, there were nearly a million people eligible for OAS making over $50,000 per… Read More

Why Canada should rethink its immigration policy

Despite pro-immigration “diversity is our strength” platitudes/rhetoric coming from the Federal Liberals, the facts are starting to show that this may not be true. PhD student Sanjay Jeram, who was quoted in a column by Douglas Todd for the Vancouver Sun, said, “Housing, employment, urban congestion, the welfare state and training are all affected by Canadian immigration policy”. With 300,000 people entering the country each year (to put that in perspective, it’s the population of Laval is 420,000) it’s fair to ask how those numbers are bearing out. Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta are the provinces that carry the biggest burden when it comes to accepting new immigrants. Ontario is leading the way, receiving a staggering 52 per cent of new immigrants—the grand majority of which are going to Toronto, and Quebec amd British Columbia receiving 17 and 16 per cent, respectively. The Globe and Mail claimed that, out of one million immigrants this government plans to take in, 58 per cent will be economic, 27 per cent family class and 14 per cent will be refugees. While 58 per cent being economic immigrants might sound nice, the fact is even the most well-educated immigrants coming to Canada have a difficult time acquiring work in the country within the first five years of arrival, according to a Global News article. This puts a tremendous burden on our welfare system. Furthermore, “millionaire migrants,” as described in David Ley's book of the same name, showed that many were paying less taxes on average than other immigrants and refugees, and not declaring their global assets. This once again puts tremendous short-term strain on landed immigrants and natives alike. Wealth inequality has also risen more quickly in Canada than it has in the United States over the last decade, according to the Canadian… Read More

Trudeau’s approach to the TPP is a good sign for Canada

Negotiating a deal that would secure fair trade with 11 nations, including some of the world’s biggest economies, is not easy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after taking his time to announce any progress with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), has declined to sign an agreement in principal to finalize the TPP, according to several sources. Trudeau has come under intense scrutiny, from media at home and abroad, for not showing up to a meeting about the TPP in Vietnam and delaying the TPP talks further. Trudeau nonetheless maintains that it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. Despite the reaction from most people, and his stubbornness, I agree with how Trudeau has handled the situation. In a deal that is as far-reaching, and because of how much of Canada’s economy will be effected in this deal, Trudeau should be focused on what is best for Canada. If being stubborn on the terms, and missing out on a meeting, secures Canada a better deal, the negative press is worth it. There have already been changes made to the deal regarding the automotive sector—a vital part of Canada’s economy. I find that Canada has been far too timid in past economic deals, and it is refreshing to see a Prime-Minister, especially one in the Liberal party, take a stand for the well-being of Canada’s economic future. I like Trudeau’s firm stance on the TPP for one specific reason, and it actually goes beyond the reach of the TPP. With ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks becoming increasingly difficult, this can serve as practice for when Trudeau must eventually come to terms with U.S President Donald Trump. Trump has chosen to remove the United States from the agreement, prompting re-negotiations. The NAFTA agreement, should it be reinstated, will effect cross-boarder relations with… Read More

War and Remembrance Over a Lifetime

Almost half a century ago, I was spending three years in England, studying the politics of the British scientific elite in the interwar and World War II years. The great events of those years still haunted the country as a whole, but the interest of historians had also newly spiked from 1970, as the government had just decided, rather than continuing the past procedure of opening official archives year by year, thirty years after the files had been created, to release almost all those of the Second World War at once. This also led to new availability of previously restricted private papers of important figures, and to a flood of new memoirs and scholarly monographs.. Coming from McGill, I found myself in a very different intellectual atmosphere. Montreal university campuses were overwhelmingly preoccupied locally with the rise of Quebec political nationalism, internationally with the long Vietnam War. These concerns, combined with the huge expansion of student numbers as successive waves of baby boomers arrived, had been having great impact on the McGill history department; Concordia's moreso. The youthful mood was frequently ahistorical, or anti-historical, diverting attention even from the two World Wars. Campus turmoil was also common in Britain, and the lively London newspapers were also soon giving lavish coverage to the Watergate uproar in Washington. But for the British in general, the two big wars retained a profound social meaning little seen in Canada outside Remembrance Day. Throughout the time I was there, not just in interviewing elderly Nobel Prize winners or taking notes from documents, but in conversations in pubs, I was repeatedly reminded of the 1930s, not as the time of the Great Depression, but as the years dominated by the rise of Hitler. by the failure of the League of Nations, by Chamberlain's failed Munich agreement,… Read More
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