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.

David McNally: Addressing Inequality by Rebuilding the Labour Movement

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While growing social inequality is the product of a multi-pronged economic, political and cultural offensive by corporate power across the neoliberal era, the systematic weakening of trade unions looms especially large in the story. After all, unions have served as the most basic organizations for protecting and improving the wages and benefits of working people (including the unorganized). It is hard to see, therefore, how we will reverse the growing inequality gap without a considerable revitalization of the union movement.

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Andrew Jackson: The Distribution of Wealth: Implications for the Neo Liberal Justification for Economic Inequality

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Nobel Prize winning economist and political theorist Amartya Sen points out that “every normative theory of social arrangements that has at all stood the test of time seems to demand equality of something – something that is regarded as particularly important in that theory.” Even extreme neo liberals such as Robert Nozick who reject the goal of distributive justice and favour a maximum role for free markets and a minimum role for democratic governments demand equality of individual rights to freely participate in an economy based upon predominantly private ownership of property and free markets. Capitalism is all about equal access to individual freedom to deploy labour and capital as individuals see fit, as opposed to pre liberal economic systems based upon slavery and serfdom.

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Why there is little satisfaction to be found in Canadian manufacturing

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On January 16, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute published a study by former Statistics Canada analyst Philip Cross, entitled “Dutch Disease, Canadian Cure.” It argues that “after 10 years of a muscular dollar, Canadian manufacturers have adapted well to a strong currency – demonstrating that Dutch Disease is economic myth rather than reality.”

Mr. Cross argues, quite reasonably, that high commodity prices are not the only reason for the strong appreciation of the Canadian dollar after 2000. However, as Mark Carney noted in a recent speech, they are an important part of the story, explaining about one half of the exchange rate appreciation.

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Martha Friendly: Why high-quality universal child care is part of a more equal Canada for all of us

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If anything positive has emerged from Canada's rising inequality, it is that a bona fide discussion about "the Canada we want" is becoming a mainstream staple of political dialogue. Not only politicians and pundits but also ordinary Canadians have begun to make the connections between health and wealth, public services and social justice, economics and the social sphere, democracy, taxation and fairness. These issues, occupying public attention since the recession began in 2008 gained strength when the Occupy Movement shone a global spotlight on inequality last year. 

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John Stapleton: A Ball Player, a Cop, a Janitor, and a Welfare Recipient

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To whom do we compare ourselves when we think about reducing inequality?

On June 6, 2012, former Toronto mayor John Sewell and conservative MPP Peter Shurman had the following exchange before the Ontario Parliamentary Committee Hearings on the Ontario Budget Bill (55):

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Why taxing pollution deserves serious discussion

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party have recently attempted to demonize Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair for his alleged advocacy of a “job-killing carbon tax.”

As has been widely noted, Mr. Mulcair and the NDP have, in fact, only called for a cap and trade system based on the broader principle of “polluter pay,” which would require major carbon polluters to purchase emission permits from the government or on a carbon market. This is identical in basic design to Conservative policy during the first Harper government.

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Colleen Davison: Adding Nuance to our Discussions of Inequalities in Canada: Urban-Rural Health Differences

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If you woke up this morning and put your feet on the floor in Moosenee, Iona, Bella Coola or Longlac, then the chances are that your health is poorer than if you were greeting the day in any major Canadian city. Overall, rural folk have lower life expectancy, more injury, chronic disease and mental health concerns, higher rates of smoking, alcoholism and drug misuse and poorer perceptions of their own mental and physical health than Canadian urban dwellers. There are inequalities in health outcomes between rural and urban residents, as well as among other subpopulation groups in Canada. I argue for a more nuanced look at the unfairness of  inequalities and what we can do collectively to find ways to address them. 

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Peter Graefe: Fitting Federal Equality into a More Equal Canada

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Any project for social and economic equality in Canada faces a challenge: our primary collective lever for change, the state, is a confusing and complicated machine of federal-provincial relationships.  Most advocates of a more egalitarian Canada are frustrated by this. Reform energies are lost in doing the “federalism foxtrot” of getting the federal and provincial players on side, while provincial desires to do things their own way conflict with the idea of all Canadians sharing the same economic and social rights.  Since at least the 1930s, the dominant view of the equality-seekers has been to strengthen the federal government and its capacity to impose its agenda on the provinces.  In a more muted form, Towards A More Equal Canada calls for “federal leadership.”

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Daniel Wilson: Income Inequality and Indigenous Peoples in Canada

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Canadians are awakening to the fact that income inequality is a seriously problematic trend that marginalizes large segments of society and threatens social harmony and progress. However, for Indigenous people, vastly inferior incomes are a longstanding reality that makes up only a part of a much deeper and broader inequality.

While the historical roots of this situation are vaguely familiar to most Canadians, they remain poorly understood. More importantly, an improved understanding of both existing conditions and desired outcomes must inform a markedly different approach to solutions if we are, as a society, to avoid making matters worse.

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Frank Cunningham: Some Thoughts Inspired by “Toward a More Equal Canada”

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Towards a More Equal Canada nicely summarizes three recent discussions about equality: the question of why people should endorse egalitarian policies, or, as I would prefer to put it,  why they should combat and try to reverse growing inequality; demonstrations of the nature and extent of inequality; and recommendations for equality-supporting public policies. In responding to Ed Broadbent’s request for reactions to the paper, I shall address a question it calls to mind put by the U.S. democratic theorist, Ian Shapiro:  “why don’t the poor soak the rich?”  (Daedalus, 2002. no. 1).

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