Op-Eds

Recently, there has been much ado about Netflix: whether it should be regulated or taxed and whether it is destroying Canadian content production or it is a new global platform that will export Canadian content to the world. The federal government recently touted an agreement with the company for a $500 million investment in Canadian content over five years alongside a “first ever” strategy for the Canadian creative economy. The Quebec legislature swiftly and unanimously voted for a motion to “ensure the Quebec sales tax is imposed on all foreign companies that offer products and services online, notably in the cultural sector, as soon as possible.” However, Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said the province won’t take any...
Ontario has announced that it will restrict retail of recreational marijuana to LCBO-run stores. Only 40 of these locations will be in place by next July 1, the federal target date for decriminalization, with a total of 150 locations expected by 2020. While this plan gets some things right, it is a missed opportunity and nearly the most ineffective possible choice to accomplish the goals of minimizing the black market and protecting public health. First, while 40 retail locations may sound sufficient, compare that with the at least 100 retail storefronts and delivery services for marijuana currently advertised in Toronto alone. Having few retail locations means that access to recreational marijuana will be inconvenient for a significant...
Did you pay HST on that streamed movie you watched last night? If it was from a foreign provider, you didn’t. If it was from a domestic provider, you did. Therein lies a problem that puts Canadian providers of online services at a disadvantage. The digital economy is expanding access to global markets and changing the way Canadians access content, order taxis, find accommodations and shop for goods. It has also made it possible to purchase digital goods and services over the Internet directly from suppliers located outside Canada just as easily as from domestic vendors. While this is useful for consumers, it complicates tax collection and raises competitive pressures for both domestic and foreign businesses. In particular, foreign...
Every 10 years or so, the government of Ontario finds it necessary to freeze or cut electricity prices because the costs of an ambitious energy policy prove to be politically unacceptable. This leaves every generation of electricity customers paying for the cost of a failed experiment from a previous generation. We should learn from this experience and implement a governance model for the sector that reviews and mitigates costs before a policy is adopted, not after. In 1993, the government froze prices because the costs of Ontario Hydro’s massive nuclear expansion were leading to double-digit rate increases. In 2002, the government froze prices because the electricity market opening resulted in higher and more volatile prices. In 2017,...
The federal government has just released the report of its special advisory task force on marijuana legalization. While the report lays out broad strokes, key decisions remain on retail distribution, legal age limit, and taxation that Ottawa and the provinces should agree on soon. The report recommends that provinces be given the jurisdiction to determine the precise mechanism of retail distribution. However, the report has also recommended against allowing the sale of marijuana in stores that also offer liquor and/or cigarettes. This is consistent with my own study that was released by the C.D. Howe Institute, in which I recommended retail sales through stand-alone stores as opposed to government-owned retail...