MLI Newsletter
Vol. V, No. 4
April 11, 2014






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


The Canadian Century 



Fearful Symmetry   






Stay in the know






In this edition...
Brian Lee Crowley remembers Jim Flaherty
Barbara Kay and Daniel Drache debate free speech on campus
Latest issue of Inside Policy profiles MP Michael Chong
Commentary paper by Brian Lee Crowley on Canada's broken health care system
Cross in the Post: What's wrong with Central Canada?
MLI shows the way on spending cuts in the Washington Examiner
MLI report: Arresting the runaway costs of policing
MLI commentary on Russia and Ukraine
Perrin interviewed for major CBC series on prostitution
Other MLI opinion articles and columns
Brian Lee Crowley remembers Jim Flaherty

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley remembers his friend, Jim Flaherty. The former Finance Minister passed away on April 10. Crowley worked with Flaherty as a visiting professor in the Ministry of Finance and chaired Flaherty's summer policy retreats, and he recalls Flaherty's willingness to listen and his reluctance to prejudge. After relating Flaherty's self-deprecating line in speeches about "going on almost as long as it seems", Crowley concludes "Canada could have used more Jim Flaherty. I know I could have". 


Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty with
MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley
Barbara Kay and Daniel Drache debate free speech on campus

The latest instalment of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's Great Canadian Debates series, the last of the season, took place on March 27 at the Canadian War Museum in front of a large and engaged audience. The resolution, "Free speech in Canadian universities is an endangered species", was debated by National Post columnist Barbara Kay and York University professor Daniel Drache. Click here for video of the debate, now available on CPAC's website.

Kay, arguing for the resolution, asserted that political correctness has taken over on campus, and that we are seeing "common Marxism-derived practice to suppress 'offensive' discourse through speech codes, forced sensitivity training or worse".

Drache, arguing against the resolution, said that "there have always been challenges to free speech on campus, but the difficulties of a few right-wing student groups and outside commentators that have caused such a media storm in recent years don't really rank among them". Op-eds based on their opening remarks appeared in the National Post's opinion pages and the debate continued in the Post's letters to the editor page. The debate was set up in with an op-ed by moderator Peter Milliken and GCD organizer Patrick Luciani.

Barbara Kay and Daniel Drache
Latest issue of Inside Policy profiles
MP Michael Chong

In the cover story of the latest edition of Inside Policy, the magazine of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Robin Sears profiles Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong, who introduced an amended version of his Reform Act this week. Chong's bill, which was originally introduced last December and is expected to come up for debate soon, has "captured the imagination of those who have long dreamed of parliamentary reform", writes IP managing editor, Jim Anderson.

Also in this issue, Chong makes the case for reform himself with an op-ed encouraging his fellow MPs to help strengthen Canada's Parliament by supporting his bill, and former Conservative campaign manager Tom Flanagan offers a counterpoint, with a warning against empowering caucus members to unseat party leaders.

This issue of Inside Policy also includes an excellent selection of articles on a broad range of public policy challenges: Stanley Hartt explains how the government's strategy of resolute support for Israel may leave Stephen Harper best-positioned to influence the Mideast peace process; Nick Hann advocates moving from a not-for-profit model to a concession model for Canadian airports; Mike Priaro explains his startling conclusion that Alberta's crude oil reserves are the largest on Earth; and Dean Karalekas of Taiwan's National Chengchi University argues that Canada needs a Taiwan relations act.

These articles and many others, including pointed commentary from MLI staff, authors and fellows, will keep policy junkies busy until the next issue of IP comes out in June.



Commentary paper by Brian Lee Crowley
on Canada's broken health care system

Canadians love to think that this country has "the best health care system in the world", even though that is quite obviously not the case. But it isn't really a statement about facts, explains Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. It is a "statement about morals, beliefs and desires", he writes in a hard-hitting new MLI Commentary paper titled "Why health care's broken and how to fix it: Three drivers of system reform".

"Our system is based on values, and especially values of equity and fairness that apparently transcend any assessment of the quality of care actually received", Crowley writes. But such "magical thinking" ignores the factors that are already shaping Canada's health care system, and forcing Canadians to accept the reality that serious reform is needed to improve efficiency, save money and improve health outcomes.

Cross in the Post: What's wrong
with Central Canada?

Writing in the Financial Post, MLI senior fellow Philip Cross looks at Statistics Canada's recent annual survey of investment intentions and finds a stark difference between Ontario and Quebec and other parts of Canada. He writes: "The provincial breakdown of investment growth clearly points to a reluctance to invest in Central Canada ... This is not a new trend; business investment has fallen in both provinces since 2012." The blame can be placed on political uncertainty and policies that raise costs for businesses, not "just the luck of geography", Cross explains. 


MLI shows the way on spending cuts
in the Washington Examiner

In the Washington Examiner, American Enterprise Institute fellow Michael Barone cites an AEI/Macdonald-Laurier Institute event that could provide a model for the U.S. in reducing spending.

Barone writes: "For more on how Canada did it, I recommend reviewing the video or transcript of a panel event co-sponsored by AEI and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute of Canada back in September 2012."

MLI report: Arresting the runaway
costs of policing

A new study by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute reveals that Canadians are not getting all the policing they pay for. Highly paid, well-trained uniformed officers are spending too much time away from core policing duties on tasks such as sitting in court waiting to give testimony, transcribing interviews, teaching CPR, or transporting prisoners.

In the paper, titled "The Blue Line or the Bottom Line of Police Services in Canada?: Arresting runaway costs", Leuprecht writes that while call volumes remained stable between 2002 and 2012, "provincial expenditures on security grew at an average annual rate that is almost double GDP growth over the same period". Overall security spending has become a $12 billion business in Canada, with 70,000 officers in uniform.  In the paper, Leuprecht examines the various factors driving up the cost of policing in Canada. Leuprecht then offers a variety of solutions for reducing overhead in police operations.

Leuprecht's paper has attracted media attention from a variety of news outlets, including Postmedia papers and interviews on NewsTalk770 radio in Calgary, 1310 News in Ottawa, and CJOB in Winnipeg.

Leuprecth was a guest on TVO's The Agenda before the launch of the paper for a panel discussion on the factors causing policing budgets to rise. The Agenda blog has updated the story.

He also published an op-ed on the subject in the Toronto Star, and the paper was profiled in Sun Media's London Free Press.


MLI commentary on Russia and Ukraine

Crowley in Postmedia papers: The West's interests are engaged in Crimea


Writing in the Ottawa Citizen and Calgary Herald, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley argues that after reading much of the commentary about Russia's seizing of Crimea, "it is becoming clear that many are confused about what is at stake and why". He says that while commentators seem to think it is not a matter for the West's involvement, in fact "the West's interests are engaged when genuine democracy and freedom and the institutions that underpin them are threatened".

Perrin in the Globe: The West's response to Putin is a joke on the free world


Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI senior fellow Benjamin Perrin argues that Russia's actions in the Crimea demand "significant and long-term diplomatic and economic consequences". Perrin fears that the tepid response from Western leaders such as Barack Obama will embolden Russia and lead to future conflicts. "Leadership needs to come now from the White House and European leaders to respond to Russia, and Canada should join them", he writes.

Perrin interviewed for major CBC series on prostitution

CBC news in Saskatchewan has produced a major series on issues surrounding prostitution, prominently featuring interviews with MLI senior fellow Benjamin Perrin in several reports .

In one part, reporters conducted an investigation into the booming massage parlour business in Regina, revealing that many of the businesses are selling sexual services, something the police know but are powerless to stop. Since Canada's prostitution laws were struck down by the Supreme Court, Saskatchewan Crown prosecutors have recommended police stop laying charges.

Perrin told the CBC, "These are really places of suspended disbelief. ... We all drive by and say 'Well really? Is this a registered massage therapist at three in the morning with flashing neon lights?'  We all know that's not what's happening in there."

The CBC report also highlights Perrin's findings in his recent MLI paper, titled "Oldest Profession or Oldest Oppression?: Addressing prostitution after the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Bedford". 

Other MLI opinion articles and columns


Hartt in the Post: Canada's real role in the Middle East


In an op-ed in the National Post, Stanley H. Hartt argues that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's close relationship with Israel will give Canada more influence in the peace process with the Palestinians, not less. While many see Canada's role as one of "honest broker", Hartt says that it is right to support a fellow democracy in the Middle East, and in any case, "the role of intermediary is occupied" by the United States. Hartt, who accompanied the Prime Minister on a January visit to Israel, says that as Israel's one "unconditional" friend, Canada could be in the best position to urge Israel toward an agreement. This article is excerpted from a longer piece in the April issue of Inside Policy, the magazine of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Cross in the Post: Canadians are not undertaxed


Writing in the National Post, MLI senior fellow Philip Cross takes issue with the popular notion "in some quarters" that Canadians should be paying higher taxes to fund government services, including former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has urged Ontarians to have an "adult" conversation about taxes to pay for transportation infrastructure, that according to Cross, "evidently elicited a string of adult words from taxpayers". Cross concludes that "governments in Canada are not being starved for resources. All the federal government is doing is shrinking back to its pre-recession size", and most provinces and municipalities aren't even considering "such modest restraint".


Crowley in the Globe: Doomsaying math whizzes don't understand capitalism


Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley challenges the assertion by a group of mathematicians sponsored by NASA that "humanity is doomed". Crowley points out that a long procession of doomsayers have predicted apocalypse of one kind or another, only to be proven wrong. This is for the simple reason that "what is missing from the equations of the mathematicians of doom is the institutions we have developed - individual freedom, trade, markets and liberal democratic capitalism - thanks to which we are rewarded for experimenting and learning previously unknown and unsuspected things, and adjusting to new and unforeseen circumstances". And so humans have time and again foiled predictions of self-destruction.


Crowley in the Globe: More money won't save medicare


Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley counters recent "handwringing" about the expiry of the 10-year-old Health Accord. He argues that generous federal transfers have still left the system underperforming compared to other western democracies. Rather than demanding "federal leadership" on health care, says Crowley, we should acknowledge the failure of central planning, and allow the provinces to experiment with new means of funding and delivering care. The Globe published an edited version of this column. 


Morrison and Coates in the Post: Greatly expanding university spaces in Ontario is a bad idea


Writing in the National Post, MLI senior fellow Ken Coates and co-author Bill Morrison write that while a major expansion in university spaces announced by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne recently makes for good politics, "This latest (over)investment strategy is shockingly disconnected from workforce realities". Coates and Morrison, the authors of the new book, "What to Consider When you are Considering University", argue that "The addition of 60,000 spaces will bring a surge of weaker students into the system, contributing to higher dropout rates, less interesting undergraduate classes, and more degree holders of lesser ability". It would be much more efficient, they point out, to directly support students in "underserved areas" than to add the equivalent of two Western Universities to the system.


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