MLI Newsletter
Vol. IV, No. 10
Dec. 13, 2013





MLI's next Great Canadian Debate

- Mark your calenders -

Feb. 27,







Northern Light: Lessons for America from Canada's Fiscal Fix


The Canadian Century 



Fearful Symmetry   






  Sven Otto Littorin



Former Swedish Minister of Employment, Sven Otto Littorin on the "Swedish Model" for reform of the modern welfare state and what lessons Canada can learn about employment and healthcare





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In this edition...
Merry Christmas from MLI
Stocking Stuffer special on events
Stanford and Flanagan debate: "The right to strike has no place in the public sector"
John Baird named Policy Maker of the Year in Inside Policy magazine
Straight Talk with Derek Burney and James Baker
Leading Indicator shows slowing growth
Straight Talk with Janice MacKinnon
MLI opinion articles and columns
Merry Christmas from MLI!


The staff at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute would like to wish all of our friends a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Enjoy this special time with your families.  


Stocking Stuffer special on events

Christmas shopping made easy: Between now and Dec. 20, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute is offering a pre-Christmas special on three premier events in Ottawa scheduled for early 2014: Our Annual Macdonald-Laurier Soir�e on February 12 at the Rideau Club, and two Great Canadian Debates, February 27 and March 27 at the Canadian War Museum. Our Soir�e brings together parliamentarians, political watchers, public servants and other Ottawa luminaries to celebrate great Canadian prime ministers in the tradition of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. The February debate features the resolution: "Muslim immigration is no threat to Canada or the West" with Globe columnist Doug Saunders arguing for and Western University professor Salim Mansur arguing against. The March debate features the resolution: "Free speech in Canadian Universities is an endangered species" with Post columnist Barbara Kay arguing for, and York University professor Daniel Drache against. Click here to register for all three.




Stanford and Flanagan debate: "The right to strike has no place in the public sector"



On Nov. 26 at the Canadian War Museum, in a debate hosted by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and moderated by the Hon. Peter Milliken, professor Tom Flanagan and economist Jim Stanford debated the resolution "The right to strike has no place in the public sector." The Ottawa Citizen published their opening arguments in its opinion section. For Flanagan's argument click here. For Stanford click here.

                    Tom Flanagan


The next debate, on Feb. 27, 2014, will feature the resolution "Muslim immigration is no threat to Canada or the west" with columnist Doug Saunders arguing for and professor Salim Mansur arguing against.


Click here to purchase tickets to the
next Great Canadian Debate

John Baird named Policy Maker of the Year
in Inside Policy magazine

The final 2013 issue of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's flagship magazine, Inside Policy, features several year-end features including profiles of MLI's "Policy Maker of the Year," Foreign Minister John Baird.

In an insightful look at Stephen Harper's most valuable cabinet minister, Robin Sears examines the background, the record and the character of the dynamic leader of Canada's Foreign Service. Sears notes how Baird has evolved and matured as a politician and asks the minister about the legacy he hopes to leave behind when he moves on from Foreign Affairs.

In a companion piece, former diplomat Colin Robertson examines Baird's approach to the job, his management of some of the most challenging files, and his leadership on several personal priorities. Robertson also offers some recommendations on what it will take for Baird to have a lasting impact on Canadian foreign policy.

Also in this Inside Policy, Stanley Hartt examines a possible privatization of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Paul Corrigan explains how Britain's National Health Service achieved shortened wait times and improved productivity by opening up to the private sector.

The issue was widely discussed on social media and reported on by iPolitics.



Left to right: Inside Policy managing editor James Anderson, Foreign Minister John Baird and MLI managing editor Brian Lee Crowley.


Straight Talk with Derek Burney and James Baker


On Nov. 21 in Calgary, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute hosted a gala dinner in celebration of the 1988 election that ratified the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement. In an entertaining exchange moderated by Calgary Herald editorial pages editor Licia Corbella, key negotiators Derek Burney and James Baker III reminisced about the negotiations and reflected on the legacy of free trade for both countries. The discussion is now available as the latest instalment of MLI's Straight Talk series of interviews with prominent thought leaders and policy makers.

"I'm going to tell you what's cultural in the United States: automobiles", Baker recalls telling Burney in response to popular concerns about threats to Canadian culture at the time.

Burney recalls telling Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as the deadline for a deal approached that he didn't believe it was going to go through over the issue of a dispute resolution mechanism. "If there hadn't been a deadline, he and I might still be negotiating ..." Burney said.


Leading Indicator shows slowing growth

The Macdonald-Laurier composite leading index slowed to an increase of 0.1 percent in October from a 0.3 percent gain in September.

Three of the index's nine components - commodity prices, the average workweek in factories and the interest rate gap - fell in October. In contrast, during the month before, all nine had contributed to growth.

The slowdown is similar to the situation at the outset of 2013, when an improving outlook for the economy failed to gain traction, according to Philip Cross, a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, who produces the index. "The deceleration is likely to be temporary," Mr. Cross said.


Straight Talk with Janice MacKinnon

In a recent instalment of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's series of Straight Talk interviews, former Saskatchewan Finance Minister Janice MacKinnon says Canadians shouldn't view private delivery of health services as a "left-right issue". MacKinnon, who was part of an NDP government, points out that even more left-leaning countries in Europe, which often have better results than Canada's system, have "socialist governments that consistently support private delivery of services".

In Saskatchewan, MacKinnon points out, experiments with private clinics have proven very successful, delivering better service with a 26-percent reduction in costs.

"I would say a lot of people in Saskatchewan who really would have wondered about private clinics have been to them now and they kind of say, 'I'm not sure I see what the issue is here'. It's good service, it's easier, it's cheaper - why aren't we doing it?" says MacKinnon.


MLI opinion articles and columns


Crowly in the Globe: Don't try to fix CPP. It's not broken


Writing in the Globe's Report on Business, MLI managing director Brian Lee Crowley urges readers to consider whether there is really a problem that needs fixing with a major expansion of the Canada Pension Plan. He says that Canada's pension system is one of the strongest in the world and Canadians are retiring with a high portion of their working incomes. "Awkwardly for the big CPP advocates, countries with much more generous state retirement schemes, such as Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States, end up giving retirees less income, on this measure, than Canada's 91 per cent", he writes.


Nazareth in the Globe: How to stop worrying and love migration


Writing in the Globe's Economy Lab blog, MLI senior fellow Linda Nazareth looks at the economic benefits of migration. "If there are better prospects in North America than there are in Europe or Asia, they figure out how to get there. It has always happened, and in an economic sense, it has worked pretty well. So why is there so much debate and resistance to the migration phenomenon?" she writes. 


Cross in the Post: The big question is not how to fix CPP but whether we need to


In the Financial Post, MLI senior fellow Philip Cross writes that while calls for Canada Pension Plan expansion are based on vague feelings of unease about the future, the evidence suggests that doing so could ironically threaten the long-term economic growth needed to secure incomes. Cross writes: "Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne bases the need to expand CPP on 'my understanding that there is a high degree of anxiety among people who are worried about their security in retirement.' This ignores that people are genetically programmed to be perpetually anxious about their future standard of living". 


Watson in the Citizen: Millennials don't have it so bad


In his Ottawa Citizen column, William Watson writes that the current cohort of young workers, or "Generation Supposedly Screwed", actually has things better than the group that entered the work force in the early 1980s. He cites figures used by MLI senior fellow Philip Cross to reveal that while many are concerned about the job prospects of young people, they are far better off today than following previous recessions.

Watson writes: "If you're aged 15 to 24, the group we categorize as youth in the unemployment data (even though 15-year-olds have quite different labour market needs and expectations than 24-year-olds) you may have an excuse for lacking perspective: You were either not born or still in diapers in the early 1990s, while the 1980s are ancient history - and these days no one is required to know anything about any kind of history, ancient or otherwise. But if you're in your 40s or 50s or 60s, what's your excuse for not understanding that youth unemployment was worse in the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s?"


Manne and Morris in the Post: Why Canada's debit card system doesn't need any more controls


Writing in the Financial Post, Geoffrey Manne and Julian Morris, who co-authored the MLI report "Credit where it's due: How payment cards benefit Canadian merchants and consumers, and how regulation can harm them" explain that consumers and small merchants would suffer if the NDP's schemes for regulating payment cards were adopted. "If the NDP policy options we assess were implemented, Canada's larger merchants would pay lower fees and some would charge more for goods bought using payment cards. But consumers and smaller merchants would suffer", they write.


Crowley in the Globe: Trade deals produce lots of winners but some very loud losers


Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI managing director Brian Lee Crowley points out that most people now regard free-trade as beneficial, but there are no doubt some people who lose when a new deal is signed and they "tend to feel the pain immediately". These losers also tend to be more vocal, skewing the debate. 


Crowley in the Citizen: Apartheid's sick social code


Writing in the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia papers, Brian Lee Crowley remarks on how much South Africa has changed in our lifetime, and describes his experiences there in 1982, "while the battle to preserve white rule still raged". He relates three experiences that demonstrated that "everyone knew what was going on but no one was willing to call it by its name. People were clearly ashamed about what was happening to them and their institutions, but they could make it bearable by never acknowledging directly what was happening". The National Post's Chris Selley called the column "an affecting vignette from a sick society".


Cross in the Post: Canada's government debt problem


In the Financial Post, MLI senior fellow Philip Cross writes that municipal and provincial borrowing have pushed government debt to dangerous levels in Canada. "Canada's gross government debt is higher than in either the United States or the EU", Cross writes. "Much of the favourable perception of the state of government finances in Canada comes from considering only federal government debt". A longer version of this article first appeared in C2C Journal. Cross was also interviewed on the subject on BNN. Click here to watch.


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