Op-Eds

Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell got pilloried in 1993 for saying an election is no time to discuss serious issues. Yet in September 2021, her words ring true. Foreign policy? We all but ignore the rest of the world. Monetary policy? Not something to think about, even with inflation above 4 per cent. Fiscal policy? Almost no one is talking about whether, over time, we will be willing and able to finance all the goodies being added to the federal budget.

The thing about serious issues is that, whether we discuss them during an election or not, they don’t go away. Even if borrowing stays cheap, the binge of deep-discount government spending is ending. Our discussions about fiscal policy will get serious when we are back to paying…

A basic principle of good governance in Canada is that governments set mandates for crown corporations and regulatory authorities and those arm’s-length institutions then make use of the tools at their disposal to design actual policies. This principle is under threat on the campaign trail as politicians weigh in on one of the issues voters care most about these days, housing affordability.

All parties have put out ideas and plans for taming Canada’s housing markets. They all acknowledge the need to increase supply — which at the end of the day is the only real long-term fix — while trying to free up extra cash for people to make a down payment on a home in their desired neighbourhood. But in the blizzard of proposals there are…

Housing costs have become a national economic concern, reaching policymakers in Ottawa. Normally, federal moves affect the demand side of housing through lending policy. But lending power does not address the core problem now, which is lack of supply. What could Ottawa do in an area that is normally provincial jurisdiction? It could use its money wisely to solve problems local governments have a harder time tackling.

First, Ottawa could require that infrastructure grants only go to areas that expedite development. Here the key justification for a federal role is a need to curb local residents’ opposition to construction. This opposition, which restricts entry, would be considered anti-competitive action if a…

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed lives across Canada. This change may be most pronounced in Canada’s major cities. Many of the things that make life in our cities so vibrant—great restaurants, entertainment, or going to the office to learn from great colleagues—have vanished. Post-pandemic, as more Canadians work from home, transit operators will face the challenge of bringing us back together to enjoy urban life while facing a gloomy financial outlook.

There are many benefits of urban living, such as tapping a large job and employee market, having access to a wide range of services and infrastructure, and learning from others face-to-face. Public transit is the essential component that enables the benefits of people coming…

Policy decisions coming soon from the CRTC, the federal telecommunications regulator, are going to shape major investment decisions with critical impacts on our economy. Canadian governments need to get the right balance between investment and sustainable competition. Failure to do so will jeopardize efforts to get Canadian communities digitally connected and hence our ability as a nation to participate in an increasingly digital world economy.

The next generation of technology investment — “5G” — is critical to the economy’s future. For example, it will be key to commercializing innovations in precision agriculture. It will enable rural economic development, such as automated hauling at mine sites, and underpin further…