Op-Eds

On Oct. 17, Canada will be the second country in the world to have fully legalized production and retail distribution of recreational marijuana. There will be considerable international interest in the Canadian experiment, in order to understand what works and what does not. One of the prime objectives of legalization was to stamp out the black market. However, it is now clear that this is extremely unlikely. Both federal and different provincial governments should accept responsibility for this. Black markets exist if there is insufficient legal supply or if they can offer comparable goods at lower cost. Based on available data on the number of licensed producers and medical-marijuana production and inventory levels, we estimate that...
It’s been a decade since the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked the 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession. The global economy is finally performing at a robust level, with solid output and employment growth in many regions and interest rates generally on the rise toward more normal levels. The acute pain felt during the financial crisis, and the protracted period of recovery, should have encouraged policy-makers and their voters to take meaningful steps to avoid a repeat performance. But have lessons been learned? One positive outcome was the innovative application of monetary policy. Central banks were the reliable backbone of the policy response to the financial crisis; exceptional and prolonged monetary stimulus and...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford should be congratulated for improving Ontario’s marijuana market structure last week. He decided to privatize the retailing of marijuana in the province. That decision represents a reversal of the previous government’s choice to place retailing in the hands of a high-cost government monopoly. This is good news. However, he also decided to leave a government agency front and centre in the wholesaling of cannabis. Having gone some way to free up entrepreneurial energies and create an expansive marketplace, he balked at the idea that this market could function well without a monopsony, or a single buyer, at its core. For the benefit of Ontarians, the government should go further, and, in particular, look at...
The cost of housing has been going through the roof in many parts of Canada. Most government policies have focused on curtailing the demand for housing. Ontario and B.C. have introduced foreign-buyers taxes. Ottawa has put in place new rules on mortgages. But supply constraints are more likely the key cause of surging prices. Restrictions on housing supply hinder the efficiency of the housing market. Delays in building what people demand result in shortages and higher prices. One way to measure a broken housing market is to look at the gap between construction costs and sale prices. A well-functioning housing market sees the market price of housing mimic the cost of constructing it. In places where it is hard to build, the costs of...
The world of Canadian content regulation was developed in an earlier analog environment. Broadcasting was largely a closed, regulated system that included subsidies designed to help create more domestic content. But the broadcasting system is no longer closed. High-quality television programming is available from the internet and Canadians are avid consumers. When TV is delivered over the internet, none of the Canadian regulations apply. So, the current system is not working; and it's clear that the quest to boost domestic content is an uphill battle. In English Canada, the top 10 shows in 2016 were American. The next 10 shows were: three U.S. dramas; one U.S. reality show; four Canadian reality shows; and two Canadian sports...