The Broadbent Blog

THE HUB FOR CANADA’S LEADING PROGRESSIVE VOICES.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Institute.

Economy’s supposed slow recovery is really a ‘secular stagnation’

bank-igoussev-bysa2.0-biblog.jpg

In 1939, the United States and much of the world were still struggling to exit the Great Depression that had begun a decade earlier. In that context, Alvin Hansen – the prominent economist and disciple of John Maynard Keynes – famously argued before the American Economic Association that the underlying problem was not cyclical, but rather “secular stagnation.”

Mr. Hansen anticipated an extended period of sluggish growth and high unemployment, due to a structural shortage of demand compared with already existing productive capacity. Under such circumstances, there were few profitable investment opportunities for business, resulting in excess savings and idle resources.

Read more

Rob Ford and the truth about privilege

168994659_ecfaa102b9_b.jpg

Renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby’s intervention into the Rob Ford spectacle got me thinking about the ways in which this civic mess has unfolded. Namely, it has brought into focus how privilege continues to be accrued unfairly to certain individuals and communities and not others in Canadian society.

Toronto Police Chief William Blair’s announcement concerning the recovery of the infamous video came just as a judge’s ruling on disclosure of the warrant became public. Some of what has been revealed in those documents is more damning than the reality of the video. The video vindicates the reporters and the Toronto Star in particular. However, the documents raise a whole other set of issues and concerns, ones that are bigger than Rob Ford and the specifics of his actions and represent a far more troubling, systemic scandal.

Read more

Canada's dubious immigration priorities

immigration.jpg

The Speech from the Throne has come and gone. Buried in the hoopla surrounding the demise of cable television bundling were some terrifically misleading claims about “progress” towards meeting Canada’s immigration priorities.

The government claimed victory in nearly halving its application backlog for permanent residency, and for eliminating entirely the backlog for economic migrants. Absent from mention in the speech was the mechanism by which the latter backlog was eliminated— a mechanism so egregious that the matter is before the Canadian courts for the second time. 

As it turns out, the means by which the government has accomplished this feat may be unconstitutional.

Read more

Why Canada needs a conversation about fair wages

fair_wages.jpg

To mark the launch of ‘Inequality and the Fading of Redistributive Politics’, a seminal new edited volume on inequality in Canada, the Broadbent Institute is featuring a series of posts from the book’s contributors. Today, we present a piece from economist and Broadbent Fellow David Green.

In the mid-1990s, Canada went through a policy paradigm shift, one that had far-reaching implications for the employment opportunities and wages of Canadian workers.

Read more

Stock options, inequality, and corporate performance

3602080266_3868cc921f_b_0.jpg

One of the major forces behind the rapid increase in the income share of the top 1% in the United States and Canada has been rising senior corporate executive pay, especially in the form of stock options. 

The majority of the top 1%, and an even higher proportion of persons in the ultra-wealthy top 0.1%, are either senior managers of non financial companies or work in the financial sector where stock options are usually the biggest single part of total compensation.

Read more

Canada Pension Plan: the best retirement pension deal we’ve got

pensions.jpg

The Oct. 19 Globe and Mail editorial supporting expansion of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) got it exactly right. The CPP is “one of the country’s great public policy successes” and “the best [savings plan] we’ve got.”

Notwithstanding evidence that many middle-income earners will face a sharp decline in living standards in retirement as a result of the erosion of employer pension plans and very low rates of private savings, the Harper government has refused to endorse the emerging provincial government consensus in favour of CPP expansion. The main argument against seems to be that the required increase in contributions (about 3 per cent of earnings) would amount to a damaging tax increase.

Read more

Dear Rex Murphy: context and history count

hoopdancer-kk-bysa20-web.jpg

Rex Murphy’s commentary in the National Post on recent Mi’kmaq protests is misinformed and demonstrates a profound ignorance of our history. 

In his article, he suggests that the behaviour of Mi’kmaq protestors at Elsipogtog First Nation on October 17th constitutes a “rude dismissal of Canada’s generosity”. Even more “raw and provocative an insult”, he argues, is the suggestion that this and other protests (including the Caledonia blockade and the Idle No More movement) are legitimate struggles against oppression. Indeed, what Mr. Murphy appears to find anathema are the co-existence, today, of Indigenous struggles for self-determination and assertions of sovereignty and existing oppression and racism.

Read more

The humanist tradition in economics and the Canadian connection

economics_2.jpg

Canadian development economist Kari Polanyi Levitt has a reputation in Canada and abroad as an advocate for economic policies rooted in social justice and distributional equity. Levitt has worked tirelessly to build development studies as a multi-disciplinary field of scholarly endeavour, in which development economics plays an essential role but must be complemented by essential contributions from other social scientists and historians. Now in her ninety-first year, the Professor Emerita of Economics at McGill University has published a new book entitled From the Great Transformation to the Great Financialization: On Karl Polanyi and Other Essays

 

Read more

Key to political success: be authentic, allow two-way communications, former top Obama adviser says

This article originally appeared in the Hill Times.

Social media is today one of the most important ways to communicate a message in politics, as political communication in the modern era is a “two-way conversation” and information has to be provided to people where they are and in a way they could offer their feedback, says a former top communication adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Read more

On inequality, our politics matter

canada_tattered.jpg

To mark the launch of ‘Inequality and the Fading of Redistributive Politics’, a seminal new edited volume on inequality in Canada, the Broadbent Institute is featuring a series of posts from the book’s contributors. Today, we present a piece from the book's editors: Keith Banting and Broadbent Fellow John Myles.

The core message of Inequality and the Fading of Redistributive Politics is that democratic politics and income inequality in Canada are deeply linked. The surge in inequality, which occurred primarily in the 1990s but whose effects persist, was only partly the result of globalization and technological change.

Read more