Op-Eds

On the calendar, 2021 is all but over. Yet come midnight Friday, the year will still feel unfinished. Notwithstanding vaccines and better knowledge about avoiding and treating COVID, the virus’ resurgence threatens more damaging lockdowns. A federal election billed as the most important since 1945 settled nothing. 2021’s economic numbers featured frothy consumption, housing and government spending, but far too little of the capital investment needed for sustained prosperity in 2022 and beyond.

The federal government’s economic policies provide stark examples of formal closure to the year but too much important work deferred. Several items — the inflation framework, the finance minister’s fall update, the release of the public…

Il y a des jours où on aimerait les ralentir avec une solide dose de Ritalin, tellement nos gouvernements nous étourdissent par leur hyperactivité. Mais il faut bien admettre que les défis actuels exigent encore des actions énergiques, qui n’iront pas sans pots cassés.

Les gouvernements du Québec, toutes couleurs confondues, ont toujours été interventionnistes. Toutefois, la frénésie actuelle du cabinet Legault rappelle les premiers mandats Lesage et Lévesque ; pas tant pour la création de nouvelles institutions que par l’intense utilisation des leviers existants.

Le combat contre la COVID-19 fait toujours la une avec la troisième ronde de vaccination, les règles sanitaires allégées et le renforcement de notre système de…

Of all the COVID-inspired clichés of 2020, “we can’t go back to how we were before” gets my vote for most trying.

Taken literally, it is empty. We can’t undo the deaths, restore students’ lost instruction, give young people the first jobs they didn’t get, erase the huge debts, enjoy the travel and human contact that didn’t happen. No, we can’t go back to 2019 — which is too bad.

Taken as an exhortation — “we shouldn’t go back to how we were before” — it is too often a prelude to magical thinking, a great leap to some environmental, economic or political nirvana previously out of reach. That is silly. A sick person who was never an athlete can dream of completing a triathlon. But their first task is to recover. In the same…

COVID-19 is hurting more than our health. It has crushed our economy. And it is straining our governing institutions. A case in point is the federal government’s refusal to table a budget.

The C.D. Howe Institute publishes an annual report on the fiscal accountability of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments. Transparency about taxing, spending and borrowing is fundamental to representative government. Budget votes determine whether governments stand or fall. Legislatures must authorize spending through the estimates process. They need timely, full information to do their work.

The fiscal years of Canada’s senior governments run from April 1 to March 31. Governments that present budgets and estimates…

Parliament is being asked to authorize massive amounts of spending to mitigate the economic damage of COVID-19. To best represent the interests of Canadian taxpayers, who some day will foot the bill, parliamentarians need the best picture possible of the underlying context. That should include a fiscal update.

The Prime Minister rejected the idea of a fiscal update last week, arguing that “in this situation any prediction we make will be widely unreliable from one week to the next.”

Many past updates and budgets, vital to the parliamentary process, would have failed the reliability test.

The infamous 1995 budget, widely viewed as tackling a fiscal crisis and putting the country on a sustainable fiscal path,…