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.

Susan McDaniel: Fruits of the Earth: Not All Belong at the Top

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Inequality seems to be the watchword of the moment in Fall 2012. It is on the minds of many, it seems, sometimes forming on surprising lips. Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, had this to say in a mid-September talk in Toronto to financiers, bankers, executives and lawyers: “In the U.S. over the last generation, we have been much better at generating wealth and much less good at distributing it." President Obama mentioned inequality in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, as did others who spoke there, notably Elizabeth Warren, then a Harvard Law Professor, now a U.S. Senator for Massachusetts, and co-author of the 2000 book The Fragile Middle Class. And the recent report of the World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 focuses on the fundamental importance of social and environmental sustainability (including efforts to diminish social inequalities) to any country’s global competitiveness.

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Mel Watkins: Comment on Towards a More Equal Canada

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It is uncertain which is more puzzling: the sudden surge in inequality in developed countries in recent times, or the failure of this to generate a sufficient response in the form of a countervailing politics.  

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Get a jump-start on 2013 – the Next Up program is coming to Ottawa

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Thinking about New Year’s resolutions?

Personally, I have never been very good at them... which made me think: why not get a 47-day head start?

You can bet that a more progressive and equal Canada will be at the top of our resolutions in 2013, but why not get the ball rolling now? I’d like to share with you a special chance for you to play an important role for the next cohort of Canadian change leaders.

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Hugh Segal: Reflections on "Towards Equality"

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When Red Tories hear that union leaders, trade union economists, academics and thoughtful politicians of the left (and Red Tories believe there are many) are planning to engage and advocate on the issue of inequality, we have cause to worry a little. We worry because their focus is often on legislating outcomes that must be glaringly and unabashedly equal. We also worry about polemicists on the far right who argue that most unequal outcomes happen because the winners worked harder, took more risks, had more skill and well, that's how freedom and free markets are supposed to work, even though many of the winners were winners because their parents were or because they were at the right place at the right time. Both biases are deeply unhelpful to finding genuine solutions to inequality.

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Katherine Scott: Income, Opportunity and Power

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In 2008, the collapse of financial markets around the world tipped country after country into recession. Canada was no exception. In a short eight month period, hundreds of thousands of Canadians lost their jobs and the Employment Insurance and Social Assistance rolls started to climb. The proportion of part-time and temporary jobs increased as full-time employment disappeared. Canadians had to stretch their dollars further to pay for rising food costs and shelter, many turning to food banks – and credit cards – to make ends meet.

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Luc Turgeon: Reflections on Fair Taxes

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Canadians can sometimes be smug. We pride ourselves on our supposed modesty, but we never miss a chance to stress all the ways in which we are better than our American neighbour. We have a universal public health care system. They don't.  Our public school system performs much better than theirs. And, on a number of indicators, from child mortality to the rate of poverty of the elderly, we appear to be a more just society.

When it comes to income inequality in Canada though, there is nothing to be proud of. Over the last fifteen years, Canada has had one of the greatest increases in inequality amongst OECD countries. Inequality is not just an American problem.

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The upside of slow growth in the labour force

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The Finance Department’s long-awaited study on the economic and fiscal implications of our aging population was finally released on Oct. 23. It’s a gloomy outlook that underpins the Harper government’s view that we have to cut government spending today to maintain costly social programs tomorrow.

What the report fails to look at is the positive impacts of slower growth in the labour force, namely the prospect of better jobs and higher productivity.

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Are boomer kids really getting a raw deal?

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We often hear that there is a large and unfair gap between the life-chances of the baby boomers – those persons now in their mid-50s to early 60s – and their children, the echo-baby boomers now in their 20s.

In reality, class inequality within generations is far greater than differences between generations. There are extremes of rich and poor and a shrinking middle-class within all age groups.

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McGuinty should head back to school for a lesson in democracy

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When Ontario’s Bill 115 was first proposed, and then made law, I was perplexed. Are these the kinds of lessons that we should be teaching our children?

Preparing students for active participation in a democratic society is part and parcel of the work educators perform every day. When I was young, teachers taught me what it means to be a good citizen: respect others, stand up for what is right, and play fair. Today my son, in senior kindergarten, learns these same lessons.

But for some reason, Premier Dalton McGuinty seems to be having trouble remembering these lessons.

 

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Tarnished anniversary: Why the free-trade deal didn’t deliver

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Twenty-five years ago this week, the signing of the Canada – U.S. free-trade agreement (FTA) sparked one of the most passionate political debates in Canadian history.

Reflecting on the debate, and the outcomes of the FTA, can we now say who was right, and who was wrong?

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