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.

Why is Joe Oliver okay with 2° C of warming?

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This morning La Presse published a stunning statement by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. He stated “I think that people aren’t as worried as they were before about 2° C of warming” (my translation). 

Really? To recap, 2° C is the absolute upper limit that climate scientists suggest the world can reach before we introduce the danger of runaway climate change because of feedback effects such as the releases of natural carbon sinks. If we go beyond 2° C we might not be able to turn climate change around.

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And what if there was a Sweden on the Saint-Lawrence?

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Comparing inequality between societies is useful, if only to remind us that inequality is not like gravity: there is no “law of inequality”. Political choices matter. True, worsening inequality trends across the OECD countries indicate important structural forces are at work in labour markets and in making it harder for governments to redistribute wealth. But significant variation persists between countries, meaning that we are not fated to become ever more deeply unequal.

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Income inequality: A matter of life and death

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Most Canadians would agree that all citizens should be able to develop their individual talents and capacities and to meet at least their basic needs. We may differ on just how much economic inequality we are prepared to tolerate, but we generally agree on the importance of equalizing opportunities for all of us to live meaningful and healthy lives.

There is probably no single better indicator of how we are doing as a society than life expectancy. This varies a lot among countries at different levels of development – and differs to a surprising degree among the rich advanced industrial countries.

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A disappeared aid agency in search of a non-existent policy mandate

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The decision to terminate CIDA as an independent agency of the federal government was not mentioned in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget speech on March 21. Furthermore, it is somewhat obscured in the text of the budget document, appearing, rather oddly, on page 241, in a chapter on “Supporting Families and Communities.”

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Budget 2013: Jim Flaherty not skating to where the puck is going to be

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Lost in all of the detail of Budget 2013 is the fact that it makes remarkably little difference to the trajectory Canada was on before the budget. Cuts to programs and services to close the small fiscal deficit remain the order of the day, while only lip service is given to the task of investing to create good jobs in a more productive, fair and sustainable economy.

Direct federal government program spending will fall by $4 billion in the coming fiscal year, the result of deep spending cuts already announced in the last budget combined with some tiny increases in the new budget.

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Budget 2013: Canada needs productivity and sustainability

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If there is one priority for the budget, it should be to look beyond the immediate fiscal issues and set a clear direction to a new economy based upon high productivity and environmental sustainability.

The Harper government’s single-minded focus on unprocessed resource extraction for export as the key driver of growth is closely related to the loss of manufacturing jobs, our high trade deficit, continued very high unemployment, growing regional tensions, the continued marginalization of First Nations; and Canada’s failure to deal with the urgent challenge of global climate change.

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Proposing a green economic direction in the face of conservative confusion

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In the lead-up to the 2013 budget it is worthwhile recalling the Conservatives’ economic record thus far. Faced with the 2008 economic bust, and a potential ouster from government, the Conservatives were eventually forced into providing “economic stimulus” after the Liberals rejected a coalition with the NDP.

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It’s time for Ottawa to walk the talk on skills training

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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty thinks the provinces are wasting $2-billion in federal funding to support worker training, and says skills training will be “a priority of the budget.”

While employers tend to exaggerate the real extent of skills and labour shortages, there is no doubt that dealing with the growing issue of “jobs without people” is of central importance.

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Introducing our first Broadbent Fellow: Brendan Haley

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At the Broadbent Institute, we’re working hard to develop cutting-edge ideas for a more equal Canada. At the core of this project, we need a robust discussion about the kind of Canada we want. That’s why we’re proud to introduce Brendan Haley as our first Broadbent Fellow.

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Ahead of 2013 budget, Flaherty should be serious about investing in public infrastructure

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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is said to be considering extending funding for public infrastructure investment in his forthcoming budget, as urged by the Official Opposition, the provinces and municipalities. Let’s hope, for the sake of jobs and the environment, this is a significant, long-term initiative.

On the eve of the 2013 federal and provincial budget season, public sector austerity is still the order of the day, even though the economy is rapidly slowing down.

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