By The Canadian Press - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
PARIS – Canada is expected to lag several Group of Seven countries in the first quarter even as the global economy begins to rebound, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Thursday.
The international economic think-tank estimates that the Canadian economy will show growth of just 1.1 per cent in the first three months of this year, much slower than the United States or Japan and below the G7 average.
However, it is expected to pick up steam and grow by 1.9 per cent in the second quarter, slightly above the average.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
A major international survey says Canadians wait longer for health care
Wait for the next available customer service agent. Wait for your boarding call. Wait for the ads to end so the movie finally begins. Waiting is a major component of modern life. And while most of that time spent waiting is simply an inconvenience, sometimes it can be life-threatening.
For decades, wait times have been a consistent and much-lamented component of the Canadian health care system. Within the strictures of medicare, we endure lengthy waits for family doctors, specialists, tests, therapy, beds and on and on. Canadians, in fact, wait longer and more often for health care than citizens in all other developed countries. Why do we consider this acceptable?
Earlier this month, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a major survey on international health care waiting lists and policies. Canada is at the bottom of the pack in almost every category. One example among many: 25 per cent of Canadian patients waited more than four months for non-emergency, elective surgery, the highest proportion of any country reported. The figure is 18 per cent in Australia and seven per cent in France, Switzerland and the United States.
The OECD also reveals Canada to be one of five countries (out of a survey of 22) that report major wait-time problems in all six possible health care categories—from emergency rooms to long-term care.
Finally, and perhaps most depressing, we’re included in an unhappy group of counties that spend above the OECD per capita average on health care but nonetheless report significant wait times. We pay more but still underperform.
To be fair, Canada has made substantial progress on wait times over the past decade. But this just reflects the depth of our problems. A major federal-provincial agreement in 2004 allocated more money and attention to waiting lists, designating five priority areas for wait-time reductions—cardiac, cancer and cataract care, hip and knee replacements and diagnostic imaging—and setting benchmark times for treatment. It also committed to greater transparency about how long Canadians wait.
Since then, all provinces have put wait-time data online for everyone to see. And measured by the benchmarks, waiting has generally improved across the five priority items. Ninety-nine percent of all cardiac patients, for example, now receive bypass surgery within the specified time frame. (Although anyone with a heart problem might argue that six months is a rather generous benchmark.)
Without question, all this scrutiny has improved health care provision in this country. And with the 10-year 2004 agreement set to expire next year, Canadians are being told a story of great progress. But we still wait much longer than our peers in other countries. We can do better.
Certainly, a broader array of services needs to be included in any new deal, one that covers the more routine aspects of health care, such as emergency-room, rehab and long-term care. According to a survey of 11 developed countries, Canadians make the most use of emergency departments and are most likely to wait longer than four hours to see a doctor.
Canada should apply successful strategies from other countries, regardless of ideology. “High expenditure is not a guarantee of [short] waiting times,” reminds the OECD report; evidence-based innovation is more important than money. That countries with public health insurance and no patient cost-sharing tend to have the longest waiting lists suggests Canada’s sacred medicare system may be one of the biggest obstacles to improving service. Finland, for example, found that a voucher system for certain procedures led to a reduction in wait times. It also established wait-time guarantees (as opposed to benchmarks) enforced by fines.
We need to take note of innovations occurring within our own borders, as well, such as successful pay-for-performance experiments in British Columbia and dedicated nursing-home paramedics in Nova Scotia whose goal is to reduce the number of ambulance trips taken by seniors. St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., even posts up-to-the-minute emergency-room wait times on its website (6.5 hours to see a doctor, as of noon on Monday), allowing potential patients to make informed decisions on their best treatment options. From this perspective, the recent news that, for political reasons, Quebec has dropped out of a pan-Canadian committee on health care innovation seems entirely retrograde.
However much progress Canada has made to date on health care wait times, the fact remains that we’re still worst among our peers. A real and permanent solution will require focus, imagination and an end to misplaced ideology. There’s no time to waste.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
Nearly one in 10 working age Americans now claims they’re too disabled to take a job
In autumn 2010 I travelled through southern California to cover the gubernatorial race that brought Jerry “Governor Moonbeam” Brown back into power. I was struck by the same paradoxical phenomena that impress everybody who visits SoCal—the quiet, ominous, omnipresent army of Hispanic servants; the orgiastic water use in a naturally arid land; the curious physical plasticness of so many Californians. But there was one thing I didn’t anticipate. Having badgered dozens of people from Bakersfield to Balboa Park about their voting intentions, I was blown away by the sheer number who mentioned being “on disability.”
I could not learn to anticipate who would plop this into conversation; none of these people were visibly “disabled.” Apparent race or class didn’t give any clues, nor did demeanour. The effervescent L.A. blonde in bespoke sweatpants seemed just as likely to bring it up as the glowering, hoodied teen from Fresno.
Just looking at fiscal and demographic stats from California will cause a cold, invisible hand to clutch at one’s throat, but talking to an endless series of seemingly able-bodied people who casually disclaim any capacity for honest work is even more chilling. When I got home I found out it’s not just California’s problem. In the OECD’s 2010 “Going for Growth” report, the percentage of the working-age labour force (20 to 65 years) receiving any kind of disability benefit or worker’s compensation is estimated at around 5.1 per cent for Canada. For OECD nations as a whole, the figure is 6.7 per cent.
By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:59 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – With global conditions weakening, Canada’s economy will remain in the slow growth…
OTTAWA – With global conditions weakening, Canada’s economy will remain in the slow growth lane until the middle of next year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts in a new forecast.
The OECD projects Canada’s economy will grow by 1.5 per cent in the final three months of this year, and advance only 1.8 per cent in 2013.
Next year’s projection is half a point below the Bank of Canada’s official forecast, although the two institutions agree that 2014 will see an improvement to 2.4 per cent growth.
But overall, the Paris-based organization’s analysis mirrors that of the Canadian central bank and that of many private sector economists in most respects.
The OECD blames weak export markets abroad, government austerity and high household indebtedness at home as the key reasons for the lacklustre projections.
But its outlook for Canada is still far stronger than for Europe, which is expected to remain in recession through most of 2013.
And Canada’s growth rates are stronger than the average in the 34 nations of the OECD, which includes most of the industrialized world.
While the international organization does not see the Canadian economy slumping, it cautions that policy-makers should be prepared for shocks.
“Federal and provincial budget consolidation is needed and welcome, but if new shocks were to weaken underlying growth materially, the pace of debt reduction should be slowed,” the report states.
As well, policy-makers should be prepared to rein in the mortgage purchases should the housing market heat up, although it notes it is expected to cool.
The report’s outlook for the world is decidedly bleaker than for Canada, pointing out that after five years of crisis, the global economy is again weakening, and risks proliferate.
“The risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out,” said Pier Carlo Padoan, the OECD’s chief economist, citing the ongoing recession in the euro area, a below-par economy in the U.S., and a slowdown in many emerging markets.
Referring to the problems in Europe, he said it is “not difficult to imagine a situation in which something goes wrong.”
If that happened, Canada would be impacted through the trade, financial market and confidence channels, the OECD said, but noted that the country is much more dependent on the U.S., whose economy is better balanced.
In fact, the OECD anticipates the U.S. will speed up faster than Canada’s next year at two per cent and in 2014, at 2.8 per cent growth.
Because the U.S. is starting from further behind, Canada will still maintain an advantage in the recovery over its southern neighbour, however. For instance, the organization projects Canada’s unemployment rate will fall below seven per cent by 2014, while in the U.S., it is expected to remain close to eight per cent.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
Kevin Carmichael checks one of the Harper government’s favourite rallying cries.
While a valid bragging point in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Canada no longer is an economic standout among its peers. The International Monetary Fund identifies 35 countries as “advanced economies,” ranging from Australia to the United States. According to the IMF, Canada’s gross domestic product will expand by a little less than 2 per cent in 2013. That bests only European economies coping with the recession in the euro zone. Australia, Estonia, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, South Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, Taiwan, and the U.S. all are forecast by the IMF to outpace Canada next year…
Mr. Flaherty can accurately say that Canada’s growth is projected to be strong compared to a group of recessionary European countries. He can no longer accurately put on positive spin on Canada’s mediocre economic performance by seeking out favourable international comparisons. At best, Canada is in the middle of the pack.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 5:34 AM - 0 Comments
PARIS – A Paris-based think-tank predicts economies of the Group of Seven countries will grow at an annualized rate of just 0.3 per cent in the third quarter.
PARIS – A Paris-based think-tank predicts economies of the Group of Seven countries will grow at an annualized rate of just 0.3 per cent in the third quarter.
At the same time, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development expects Canada’s economy to grow by 1.3 per cent in the third quarter and by 1.9 per cent in the fourth.
The OECD says the world economy is slowing, with key European countries entering a recession that’s having a global impact.
As a result, the agency says G7 economics may grow by a mere 0.3 in the third quarter and by just 1.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of the year.
The assessment warns that the euro zone crisis is dampening confidence, weakening trade and employment and slowing economic growth for both OECD and non-OECD countries.
The OECD projects that the euro zone’s largest economies — Germany, France and Italy — will shrink one per cent on average in the third quarter and 0.7 per cent in the fourth.
The agency says while the United States is affected by the euro slowdown, growth is projected at an annualized rate of two per cent in the third quarter and 2.4 per cent in the fourth.
Japan’s economy is projected to contract by 2.3 per cent during the third quarter and hover around a zero growth rate in the fourth.
“Our forecast shows that the economic outlook has weakened significantly since last spring,” said OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan.
“The slowdown will persist if leaders fail to address the main cause of this deterioration, which is the continuing crisis in the euro area.”
Padoan says the weak outlook is expected to push unemployment beyond today’s already high levels.
“Resolving the euro area’s banking, fiscal and competitiveness problems is still the key to recovery,” he said.
- By Alan Black in Toronto.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:16 PM - 0 Comments
A report from the OECD sees signs of Dutch Disease in the Canadian economy.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development warns in a report released Wednesday that the run-up in commodity prices is leading to an uneven economy in Canada. And it says the country needs to do more to develop non-resource aspects of the economy in order to maintain high levels of employment and an equitable distribution of wealth across regions…
“I don’t think you can really deny it,” Peter Jarrett, one of the report’s authors, said in an interview. ”You can’t explain the entire pattern of the history of manufacturing just by exchange rates. That goes too far. But anyone who argues it has no effect is clearly not looking at the data.”
By Peter Shawn Taylor - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM - 0 Comments
Tax Inspectors Without Borders pledges to fight tax evasion in developing countries
Since the founding of the French group Doctors Without Borders in 1971, the concept has spawned an entire genre of borderless charities. Lawyers Without Borders, Engineers Without Borders, M.B.A.s Without Borders, Pharmacists Without Borders and more are all bringing a measure of relief to less-fortunate nations. But the latest entry may inspire as much fear as gratitude.
Tax Inspectors Without Borders was unveiled last week at an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development tax summit in South Africa as the world’s newest border-busting effort.
The idea is to create a roster of experts who can be sent on short notice to fight tax evasion in Third World countries. “There is a lot of concern in developing countries about corporations shifting profits to other jurisdictions,” says the OECD’s Pascal Saint-Amans. “Take a country like Zambia with a large copper mining industry: it may lack specialists in transfer pricing or international resource valuation, while companies themselves have access to many excellent international tax advisers.” Tax Inspectors Without Borders would provide those specialists to make sure proper taxes get paid.
Not romantic work, maybe, but important development work just the same.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair worries that we’re suffering from Dutch Disease.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said Saturday that, because of the way it raises the value of the Canadian dollar, other parts of the country are paying a price for the prosperity enjoyed by natural resource sectors such as the oil sands in Alberta. “It’s by definition the ‘Dutch disease,’ ” Mulcair said Saturday on the CBC Radio show, The House.
The “Dutch disease” is a reference to what happened to the Netherlands economy in the 1960s after vast deposits of natural gas were discovered in the nearby North Sea. The resulting rise in its currency was thought to have caused the collapse of the Dutch manufacturing sector, and Mulcair said the same thing is happening in Canada. “The Canadian dollar’s being held artificially high, which is fine if you’re going to Walt Disney World, (but) not so good if you want to sell your manufactured product because the American clients, most of the time, can no longer afford to buy it.”
Dalton McGuinty has expressed similar concerns. The OECD has also raised the issue. Jack Mintz says Dutch Disease isn’t happening here. Stephen Gordon questions the concept. The Current considered the diagnosis in March. More research here and here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
Bill Curry notes that the government’s own expert analysis found no impending crisis.
Edward Whitehouse – who researches pension policy on behalf of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank – was asked by Ottawa to study and report on how Canada stacks up internationally when it comes to pensions.
His conclusion: “The analysis suggests that Canada does not face major challenges of financial sustainability with its public pension schemes,” and “there is no pressing financial or fiscal need to increase pension ages in the foreseeable future.”
By Erica Alini - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM - 92 Comments
The Occupy Wall Street movement and its various Canadian spinoffs are reviving the public debate about income distribution north of the border. On Friday, NDP leadership hopeful Brian Topp cast his lot with the “eat the rich” zeitgeist by advocating income tax hikes on the wealthy. Others are skeptical that heating up the fiscal pressure on the top earners is the most effective way to tackle yawning inequality.
Regardless of what constitutes the best policy cure, Occupy movements across the globe–and they’ve spread throughout the developed world–have put their finger on a real and widespread malaise of advanced economies. Between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s inequality rose in most of the rich countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and in Canada income disparities have surpassed the OECD average. Granted, our super-rich are not quite as “super” as America’s wealthiest. In 2007, the threshold to qualify as one of Canada’s top one per cent of earners was a relatively modest $169,000 a year, compared to the U.S.’s eye-popping $400,000. Still, between 1980 and 2005 the earnings of Canada’s bottom income group fell by 20.6 per cent, according to Statistics Canada, whereas top incomes rose by 16.4 per cent. Folks in between generally saw their salaries stagnate like their peers in the U.S., where increased worker productivity has not translated into comparable income gains for the middle class.
Whether it’s a matter of taxing the top, or propping up the bottom and the middle, income distribution is likely to become a hot-button issue. Check out our calculator above to find out where you rank!
*Calculations are based on data from the Canada Revenue Agency’s Interim Income Statistics report, 2011 Edition (2009 tax year), Table 2 (All returns by total income class). Note that percentiles refer to income brackets, so an income of $29,999 falls into the bottom 51.9 per cent of Canadian tax-filers, whereas an income of $30,000 belongs to the top 48.1 per cent. Also, incomes below $1 and above $249,999 are not pictured proportionally. We’d like to also thank the Conference Board of Canada and Armine Yalnizyan of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for their assistance with research for the calculator.
By John Geddes - Friday, September 9, 2011 at 10:39 AM - 15 Comments
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has prided itself on being a player at the highest levels of international economic decision-making since the frightening fall of 2008. But with the world economy again looking vulnerable, Harper might have to choose between retaining that position of influence and sticking resolutely to its fiscal-austerity plan.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 112 Comments
That’s the average value of a milk quota per cow under a supply-management system
I have a proposal I’d like to run by you. As you’re no doubt aware, the Canadian pundit industry has been going through some difficult times of late, not—God knows!—through any fault of our own, but what with the economy, and fluctuating advertising revenues, and that whole Internet thing . . . Anyway, we’re a resourceful industry with a proud history, so we’re not looking for any handouts, but what I was wondering was if maybe there was some way just to bring some order to the marketplace, so we wouldn’t have to deal with these wild swings in market conditions that, I can tell you, make it impossible to plan.
What I have in mind is some sort of scheme whereby the government would restrict the supply of opinion in magazines and newspapers to some fixed number of column inches per year, with a view to propping up—er, stabilizing—salaries at a target rate. Naturally I am sensitive to the concerns of magazine readers, not to mention magazine owners, but I don’t imagine it would raise the cover price of magazines by more than about 200 per cent or so.
No? Foolish? Extortionary? Outrageous? Then allow me to introduce you to the world of supply management: an actual policy pursued by the governments of Canada and the provinces for the past 40 years. Only I’m not talking about comparative fripperies like magazines (we have our own indefensible support programs, though not, ahem, on the same scale). I’m talking about basic foodstuffs, the kind the typical Canadian family eats every day: dairy products (milk, cheese and butter), eggs, and poultry (chicken and turkey), whose prices are maintained, by means of a strict regime of production quotas, at two and three times their market levels.
By Erica Alini - Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 5:41 PM - 132 Comments
That the gap between rich and poor has been widening in the U.S. and Britain is old news. What’s new, according to a recent OECD report (PDF), is that in the last 30 years the income gap has been growing even faster in unlikely places: Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Despite their notoriously generous welfare systems, the three have seen the split between top and bottom incomes grow faster than anywhere else in the OECD in the past decade. (Canada also registered a sizable increase in its Gini coefficient, the standard measure of income inequality.)
So why are the rich doing disproportionately better than everyone else? The report highlights an interesting trio of possible causes: Continue…
By John Geddes - Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 11:21 AM - 23 Comments
It’s tempting to overcomplicate the debate over health care. There are so many intriguing aspects of the system to examine, from the usefulness of diagnostic imaging (often overrated) to the necessity of timely psychiatric care (often overlooked).
But these subjects, worthy as they are of close attention, are not the reason Canadians fret about their system. The reason is waiting. If we could find a family doc without months of searching, see a specialist without weeks of worry, and visit an emergency room without the prospect of hours of sitting, we’d be satisfied.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 12:59 PM - 10 Comments
Assessing the performance of an entire national health system—if “system” is the word for any country’s amalgam doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, imaging labs, hospitals and more—is notoriously difficult.
If you just look at how long people live or what illnesses they’re susceptible to, the big variables are what sort of food they eat, whether they exercise much, if they smoke, and how rich they are. Examining outcomes alone doesn’t reveal much about the narrow contribution of the health system.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 2:45 PM - 34 Comments
Worry about the cost of Canadian health care is growing among those who pay attention to how governments pay for programs, which is a good thing. But I think we should get straight on the strengths of the system before we start arguing in earnest about how to reform it.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 12:34 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Mulroney considers the future of health care (among other matters).
On health care, for instance, we need to strike a better balance between the intrinsic value of universal coverage for basic medical service and the capacity of Canadians to pay the necessary taxes to support the system. The OECD, not exactly known for radical analyses, recently concluded that, because our health-care system is not sustainable in its current form, some form of user fees and greater scope for competition within the system will be necessary.
The current federal-provincial funding formula ends in 2014. A serious, adult discussion is called for and I believe a blue ribbon panel of medical and financial experts could provide a sensible framework for the debate and for the decisions needed. Not surprisingly, the fundamental assumptions on which Justice Emmet Hall based his recommendations for medicare almost 50 years ago have changed and we need to adapt accordingly.
By John Geddes - Monday, March 29, 2010 at 12:05 PM - 23 Comments
Never mind expert advice, Ottawa won’t go after this monopoly
When the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issues a judgment on a country’s economy, governments, businesses and unions often snap to attention. The prestige of the 30-nation, Paris-based club of leading democratic economies is such that its typically pro-competition prescriptions tend to be held up by those who like them as gospel, and denounced by those who don’t as too dangerous to ignore. So when the OECD issued its latest “Going for Growth” report—a yearly compendium of advice for policy-makers in member countries—its provocative call for the Canadian government to sell off the post office seemed bound to ignite another heated round in the on-again, off-again debate over the future of Canada Post.
The OECD couldn’t have been more blunt in calling for decisive change in Canada’s mail business. Under the heading “Reduce barriers to competition in network industries,” the report urged: “Liberalize postal services by eliminating legislated monopoly protections and privatizing Canada Post.” Although that proposal might sound radical, it’s not out of step with international developments. Postal services in Germany and Holland were privatized years ago, and the services in Scandinavian countries and New Zealand opened up to competition. With those examples to guide them, in line with their avowed pro-market bent, the governing Conservatives might have been expected to embrace the OECD recommendation as a chance to advance a smaller-government agenda.
Instead, silence in Ottawa. The OECD’s March 10 report prompted an annoyed response from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. But from the government and the opposition parties, nothing. And that surprisingly inert reaction suggests the extreme trepidation with which Canadian politicians view the post office. It’s not as if privatization isn’t a live subject: the government plans to sell off the reactor division of Crown-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., and, in the wake of his budget last month, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he expects to announce other privatizations within the next year. Yet the government signalled that Canada Post isn’t going on the auction block. “We’ll continue to ensure that Canada Post remains on a firm financial footing to maintain its universal service,” said an aide to Rob Merrifield, the minister of state responsible for the postal service.
By The Editors - Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Plus a week in the life of Y.E. Yang
Face of the week
Suaad Hagi Mohamud is reunited with her son in Toronto after spending three months in Kenya due to an identity dispute
A week in the life of Y.E. Yang
The 37-year-old South Korean arrived at the PGA Championship in Chaska, Minn., ranked 110th in the world. On Friday, he scored a two under par 70, leaving him six strokes behind the leader and odds-on favourite, Tiger Woods. But a 67 on Saturday drew Yang within striking distance of Woods, and on Sunday, he clinched victory on the 18th with a brilliant shot over a tree. After the win, Yang received a congratulatory phone call from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Continue…
By selley - Monday, October 27, 2008 at 6:14 PM - 92 Comments
Yesterday’s Toronto Star editorial notes a wonktastic OECD report, released last week, which shows…
Yesterday’s Toronto Star editorial notes a wonktastic OECD report, released last week, which shows both poverty and income inequality on the rise across most of the OECD, including Canada, from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. Inequality fell in Ireland and Turkey; poverty fell in Belgium, Denmark, Mexico, Portugal and the United States; and both fell in France, Greece and Spain. But other than that, it’s bad news, not least for Canada.
It’s confusing news, too. The Star, as per usual, pegs the number of Ontarians living in poverty at 1.3 million, which is roughly the number that fall below Statistics Canada’s after-tax low-income cut-off (LICO), a measurement of what percentage of a household’s earnings go to essentials like food, shelter and clothing. But while they tip hat to the OECD’s analysis, the Star‘s editorialists don’t use any of its stats. Cynical readers might assume that was because it low-balled the poverty numbers, but in fact it’s the opposite. The OECD defines poverty as living with less than 50 per cent of the median income, and by that measure establishes Canada’s poverty rate at 12 per cent. That’s actually slightly higher than the LICO, which is 11.4 per cent for Canada and 11.1 per cent in Ontario.
Two totally different measurements of poverty; two nearly identical results. But neither LICO nor less-than-half-the-median is an absolute measurement of poverty. They’re both relative. Give every Canadian a cheque worth 20 per cent of his annual income and the OECD poverty rate would stay exactly the same. Continue…
By John Geddes - Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 6:04 PM - 41 Comments
There’s something to the Conservative news release this week slamming Stéphane Dion for proposing a “carbon tariff”—an import penalty on imports from countries that aren’t doing enough to fight climate change.
The Tories point to a recent OECD report warning that such tariffs, which are being mused about in many capitals, might start a damaging trade war. Why would Canada, a big trading nation, want to contribute to a wave of enviro-protectionism?
By selley - Friday, June 13, 2008 at 1:22 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: Colby Cosh on science vs. big pharma; …Susan Riley on the residential schools
Let’s make this complicated
While the government apologized for what the aboriginal residential schools were, some pundits seem determined to focus on what they weren’t.
“Had government agents come to round up your kids and mine, I doubt we would have kept quiet about it for 80 years or more,” Lorne Gunter writes in the Edmonton Journal in praise of yesterday’s apology. But it’s important to recognize, he argues, that the system was “well-intentioned” and not harmful or destructive in every single case. Which is a fair point—a sense of proportion is important. But comparing modern “native skills training” programs to the “early form of such training” offered at residential schools, and asking how the program could have been “evil” then but “magnanimous” now is ridiculous. Surely no educational system that’s predicated on abducting its students from their parents has any claim to magnanimousness, no matter what good it accomplishes.
John Robson, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, welcomes the apology but rejects the notion that the residential schools were “responsible for the catastrophic collision between traditional aboriginal culture and European modernity.” This is a notion we’d not come across until Robson introduced it, but we’re happy to join him in declaring it bunk. He also “utterly reject[s] any suggestion that Canadian aboriginals were dwelling in Eden until the Europeans came and expelled them”—again, never heard that one before, but it sounds perfectly reasonable to us.