MLI Newsletter
Vol. V, No. 3
March 17, 2014





MLI's next Great Canadian Debate

- Mark your calenders -

March 27,







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


The Canadian Century 



Fearful Symmetry   






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In this edition...
Straight Talk with Jeanne Flemming: Following the money to the bad guys
Linda Nazareth: How to open economic doors when Canada's demographic window closes
Saunders-Mansur debate on Muslim immigration touches off national discussion
Next Great Canadian Debate: Barbara Kay v. Daniel Drache on free speech in Canadian universities
MLI is hiring a Communications Manager
Crowley in the Globe: Vikings are coming for the CRTC
Coates in the Globe: Why top Canadian universities should add an admission test
Straight Talk with Sven Otto Littorin on health care (Part 1 of 2)
Straight Talk with Sven Otto Littorin on unemployment insurance (Part 2 of 2)
MP urges fellow parliamentarians to consider options presented in MLI prostitution paper
Other MLI opinion articles and columns
Straight Talk with Jeanne Flemming:
Following the money to the bad guys

Canadians are "extraordinarily na�ve" about the dangers of organized crime in this country, according to Jeanne Flemming, former director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, in the latest instalment of MLI's Straight Talk series of Q&As.

"I believe Canadians would be shocked to know just how much criminality exists in this country", she told MLI in an exclusive interview. "We only have to look at the recent revelations of corruption in Quebec to get a glimpse of the extent to which this element has already undermined our institutions. Does anyone believe that these events are unique to Quebec?" Flemming says that "I can tell you that what I saw in the cases developed by FINTRAC and passed on to law enforcement scared me".

According to Flemming, Canadians need to put a higher priority on protecting our institutions from corruption and organized crime, and police and security agencies need the resources to better use the information provided by FINTRAC.

   Jeanne Flemming


Linda Nazareth: How to open economic doors when Canada's demographic window closes

In a new MLI commentary paper, senior fellow Linda Nazareth alerts Canadians to the impending end of favourable demographic conditions for economic growth. The demographic "window" that has benefitted much of the developed world for 50 years or so, is about to "slam shut".

In the paper, titled How to Open Economic Doors When Canada's Demographic Window Closes, Nazareth, an economist and author of the new book Economorphics (, writes that "When the labour force is expanding more quickly than the youth-dependency rate, more money is being paid in taxes and less is going into education, relatively speaking, and strong conditions are created for economic expansion", but many nations are moving out of this "sweet spot", with potentially dire consequences. And so Canada will have to deal with its own demographic challenges while dealing with a global economy that is buffeted by demographic change. Nazareth also published an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen on the subject and was interviewed on Ottawa's 1310News.


Saunders-Mansur debate on Muslim immigration touches off national discussion

On the evening of Feb. 27 at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, MLI hosted the latest in its series of Great Canadian Debates. Before a large crowd, Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders and Western University professor Salim Mansur had a lively and respectful debate on the resolution "Muslim Immigration is no threat to Canada or the West". Saunders argued for the resolution. Mansur argued against. Following the debate, MLI sent out a survey of participants and a large majority supported Mansur's side. Ottawa Citizen reporter and blogger Robert Sibley wrote about the impact the debate on this contentious topic has had in Canada and internationally. And op-eds based on the debaters' arguments appeared in the Globe and Mail's online debate forum. The debate was set up with an op-ed by moderator Peter Milliken in iPolitics.


Salim Mansur and Doug Saunders

Next Great Canadian Debate: Barbara Kay v. Daniel Drache on free speech in Canadian Universities

The next Great Canadian Debate takes place on March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. National Post columnist Barbara Kay will debate York University professor Daniel Drache on the resolution "Free speech at Canadian Universities is an endangered species".



 Click here to purchase tickets to the
next Great Canadian Debate

MLI is hiring a Communications Manager
To support our continued efforts to help Canada become the best governed country in the world, MLI is hiring a new Communications Manager. Energetic candidates with top-notch writing, editing, web and social media skills and a passion for the cut and thrust of the national public policy debate should click here to see the posting. 


Crowley in the Globe:
Vikings are coming for the CRTC

Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley reflects on the lessons held by the hit show Vikings for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The show represents the new television universe that sees people watch what they want, when they want, and poses a mortal threat to regulators. "The CRTC is an important part of the explanation of the failure of Canadians to produce edgy popular programming", writes Crowley.


Coates in the Globe: Why top Canadian universities should add an admission test

Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI Senior Fellow Ken Coates explains why Canadian Universities should have an admission test like our neighbouring country, the US, has SATs.  "Admissions tests to the best universities in Canada would be a small step toward re-establishing the value of high academic performance and exceptional ability", writes Coates. He points out that certain Canadian programs admit only around a third of applicants. For these elite schools and programs, an "extra dose of excellence, established by the country's top universities and already in place for selective programs, would serve both the students and the institutions that take extra care to select those students who are most likely to succeed". 

Straight Talk with Sven Otto Littorin on health care
(Part 1 of 2)
When Sven Otto Littorin was a minister in the Swedish government, he oversaw a major overhaul of social services. He sat down with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute recently to share his views about the Swedish approach to public policy. In the first of a two-part Q&A with Littorin in our Straight Talk series, Littorin focuses on health care reforms in Sweden. MLI has released a series of reports about reforming the Canadian health care system in 2013-14, titled Medicare's Midlife Crisis, and previous instalments of Straight Talk on health policy issues featuring former Saskatchewan Finance Minister Janice MacKinnon and Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson.

In the interview with MLI, Littorin spoke of Swedes' "no-nonsense approach" to things, which has helped lead to gradual, practical reforms of what had been a "socialist planned economy" structure. "[I]t doesn't really matter to people whether the doctor you have in front of you is privately employed or publicly employed as long as you get the care that you are paying for through taxes", says Littorin.

He says that increased private operation of care facilities has led to greater choice for both patients and health care professionals, greater efficiency, and improved outcomes. He also notes that even left-wing parties in Sweden have accepted user fees for those who can afford them as necessary to reduce frivolous use of the system and provide some funding. Sven Otto Littorin

Straight Talk with Sven Otto Littorin on unemployment insurance (Part 2 of 2)

In the second of a two-part Q&A in our Straight Talk series, Sven Otto Littorin spoke of the strong Swedish work ethic and how that informs the Swedish approach to unemployment insurance. "I think it goes back to this fundamental, egalitarian, engineering work ethic sort of thing we have in Sweden", he says.

In Sweden, unemployment insurance recipients are required to report to a government office on their efforts to look for work and are eventually retrained if unemployed for 100 days or more. Littorin says the average time a person is unemployed in Sweden is in the range of 90 days. He also warns against the Canadian practice of providing benefits to seasonal workers. He regards supporting seasonal industries as an issue of industrial policy, not a matter for unemployment insurance, and tells an anecdote about a pair of factories in Sweden that operate side by side, one making lawn mowers and the other making heating equipment using the same labour force and creating permanent, full-time jobs from previously seasonal work. "These are practical issues" he says. "Let's solve them, let's not just throw money at them".

MP urges fellow parliamentarians to consider options presented in MLI prostitution paper

In an op-ed piece in the Vernon Morning Star, Conservative MP Colin Mayes writes that "Many think that if government would only regulate the profession, prostitutes will be healthy and safe and the cost to the government for monitoring this business would be to tax it". But he disagrees, writing, "I believe seldom is prostitution a career choice for women. Therefore, it is important that assistance to broader career choices be part of the overall legislative initiative".

Mayes urges his fellow parliamentarians to consider the options presented in a report by MLI senior fellow Benjamin Perrin when assessing how to rewrite Canada's prostitution laws, which have been struck down by the Supreme Court. Mayes notes that Perrin, in the paper titled "Oldest Profession or Oldest Oppression?" has found in other jurisdictions that "Despite decriminalization, prostitutes continue to suffer incidents of violence, threats, forcible confinement, theft and refusal to pay for services". Perrin urges Parliament to adopt the Swedish or Nordic model for prostitution laws which targets pimps and johns, and provides assistance for prostitutes to exit prostitution.

Other MLI opinion articles and columns

Crowley in the Citizen: Toward greater clarity on Quebec


Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, MLI managing director Brian Lee Crowley encourages Canadians to learn from dealing with Russia and other of the world's "bullies". Crowley writes that Canada's leaders in the past acquiesced to the terms of Quebec nationalists in referendums, nearly resulting in the division of the country. The federal government took action with the Clarity Act, but Crowley notes that the Act fails to "inform Quebecers what Ottawa's negotiating mandate will be in the case of a yes vote". According to Crowley, "When Ottawa maintains ambiguity on these other issues, it makes preserving Canada harder, not easier, because it lets nationalist bullies maintain the fiction that independence is a costless panacea and that Canada will willingly lie down and be dismembered". He was also quoted in Sun Media in an article about how to combat the uncertainty about sovereignty intentionally created by separatists.


Crowley in Postmedia: Saving the elephant


Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, MLI managing director Brian Lee Crowley discusses the issue of the illegal ivory trade and how we could prevent the slaughtering of elephants. "Consider that there is not a single domesticated species in the world that is endangered. That is because there are people whose livelihood depends on the health and well-being of those animals," writes Crowley. He explains that while tough enforcement measures against poaching haven't worked, "a more promising approach would come at the problem by strengthening the incentives for locals to husband and humanely develop the resource that elephants and their ivory, for example, represent".


Crowley in the Globe: Auto subsidy debate ignores the real problem: Ontario's economy


Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI's managing director Brian Lee Crowley describes the problems with subsidising an automotive company. "Governments that want to attract major manufacturing investment must therefore expend money and effort, but they can do so wisely or foolishly", writes Crowley. There are many reasons for an auto maker to move production to an area, and government cash is only one. He writes: "A subsidy paid directly to the company leaves behind no traces if the plant closes. On the other hand, well-trained, productive and willing workers, competitive taxes and quality infrastructure benefit every business and are eagerly sought out by most business investors".


Cross in the Post: The weak dollar myth.


Writing in the Financial Post, MLI senior fellow Philip Cross explains that while many Canadians celebrated the loonie's recent plunge to around 90 cents (US), the benefits of a weak dollar tend to be exaggerated, and the costs, which are in fact greater, ignored. "Not only consumers will pay higher prices. Businesses import most of their machinery and equipment. Faced with higher prices, firms will trim their outlays for machinery and equipment, which ultimately will depress productivity and wages in the future", Cross writes. He was also quoted on the issue by Financial Post columnist Terence Corcoran, and he was interviewed on BNN.

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