Behind the Numbers

World applauds as Canada achieves gender equality

April 1st, 2014 · · Gender Equality, Satire

Speaking before an international audience today, Canada’s Prime Minister said, “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and frankly, the results have been a pleasant surprise.” Indeed they have. Speaking with Members of Parliament today, there were a variety of responses to the presence of equal numbers of female MPs and Cabinet ministers. Said one MP, “well, the parliamentary restaurant looks a little more like the cafeteria at IKEA with all the high chairs, but I guess we’ll get used to it.”

Italian MEP, Licia Ronzulli MEP (Credit: European Parliament, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Anticosti: fool’s gold

March 26th, 2014 · · Environment

The elections campaign is currently in full swing in Quebec, and three out of the four political parties represented in the National Assembly agree on the economic interest which lies in producing shale oil in Anticosti. Between the environmental risks of producing fossil fuels on this island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the $14 billion economic benefits for both the Quebec government and its society, the choice seems inevitable: dig deep, but dig well (pun intended), i.e. by meeting the “highest environmental standards.” Even Daniel Breton, former Environment minister and ex-environmental activist, has rallied behind the cause and accepted the idea that we should at least explore the potential of these deposits, held by the new public-private partnership “Quebec, Petrolia, Maurel, and Prom.”

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A Budget that Builds a Nova Scotian Economy for the People

March 26th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Income Inequality, Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia, Taxes and Tax Cuts

After more than thirty years of jobless growth and growing household debt punctuated by a series of increasingly severe economic crises, September 17, 2011 marked an important turning point.  On that day, “thousands of people marched on the Financial District, then formed an encampment in Zuccotti Park, launching a movement that shifted the conversation on economic inequality.” Following the emergence of “Occupy Wall St,” similar “Occupy” movements sprang up all around the world, including here in Nova Scotia. Occupy is driven by the clear sense that it is not only possible but absolutely necessary to build an economy for the people, not for corporations and the wealthy.

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Ukraine and the Arctic Council

March 23rd, 2014 · · Environment

When the Arctic Council meets this week in Yellowknife, participants will no doubt be thinking of the Ukraine. But they probably won’t be talking about it, at least during the official sessions.

Ukraine will be on their minds because Russia, which accounts for half of the Arctic region, is one of the eight nations making up the council, along with representatives of six Indigenous Peoples’ organizations.

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The political fight for Ontario’s middle class

March 20th, 2014 · · Ontario, Poverty and Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

“Middle class” is the new “working Ontario families.” Every second speech and press release here contains it now. – Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail reporter, Queen’s Park, Twitter, March 20, 2014.

With election fever mounting in Ontario, the political field is quickly crowding around the middle of the income spectrum in search of votes.

And – surprise, surprise – low taxes are dominating the list of enticements.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is insisting she’ll reject any provincial budget that includes asking Ontario’s middle class to pay more taxes or tolls.

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Nova Scotia: We Have Everything We Need to Succeed

March 18th, 2014 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia

Preamble: The concluding piece in this year’s Alternative Provincial Budget for Nova Scotia is written by Larry Haiven, who is Professor of Management, Saint Mary’s University. He has been involved in the alternative budgets for at least a decade. Larry wrote this when the Alternative Budget Working Group expressed dismay over the dominant negative discourse about Nova Scotia from pundits in certain sectors of the province. It was to be a take-off of the idea ‘you’re richer than you think,’ or the Nova Scotia version ‘we suck less than you think’. We had this discussion before the One Nova Scotia Report was released, but now this article serves as a rejoinder.

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Is Alberta’s oil paying for Quebec’s public daycare?

March 16th, 2014 · · Provinces, Quebec

Alberta’s Wild Rose party has placed Quebec at the centre of its media strategy regarding the Equalization program reform: “It is no small irony that the biggest single beneficiary of such transfers, Quebec, provides cheap university tuition and inexpensive provincial day care, while Albertans pay high prices for, and have severe shortages of both in their own province”. In a study published this past week, IRIS takes a closer look at her claim as it dives into whether or not it would be possible to develop resources, including oil, in Quebec sufficiently to move out of Equalization.

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The ‘girl effect’ reduces inequality, but we can’t count on it forever

March 7th, 2014 · · Gender Equality, Income Inequality

This piece was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab.

Every year when International Women’s Day rolls by, I can’t help but reflect on power, how it’s shared, and how women use the power they have. This year, I am struck by women’s power to reduce inequality, and not just to help ourselves. Women are key to reducing income inequality.

It’s been dubbed the girl effect, more powerful than the Internet, science, the government, and even money.

Canada is actually a poster girl (sorry) for the truth that education and hard work can transform not just lives but societies.

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Problem? Ask a CEO (That’s Chief Expert Officer to You, Buddy!)

March 3rd, 2014 · · Capitalism, corporations, Education, Satire

Parents, take note! Your search for clarity in the education debates is finally over.  The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) commissioned a report a few weeks ago that set out a fairly bleak picture of general dissatisfaction with public schools and then concluded with a series of recommendations about how to “fix” the problem.

You know, by measuring teacher quality through student outcomes, in addition to having students and other “impartial” parties judge a teacher’s performance through more frequent (possibly surprise) evaluations…and then assigning bonuses to those educators deemed worthy. Because: incentives!

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A Toxic Mix: Minimum wage and business tax cuts

February 26th, 2014 · · Employment and Labour, Ontario, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Yesterday, Ontario’s NDP announced an election plank: increase the minimum wage, and at the same time, cut taxes for small business.

The gist of their proposal:

a) a 33% tax cut for small businesses and

b) a 56 cent minimum wage increase over and above what the current government has already committed

I have no squabble with the minimum wage increase. Sure, I wish it were higher, as we proposed to the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel back in November. The problem comes when a wage increase is coupled with a tax cut. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It buys into the rhetoric that minimum wage increases are bad for business and governments need to mitigate the damage.

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