Op-Eds

Yet another alarming inflation number from Statistics Canada — 7.7 per cent from May to May — has underlined that something is seriously wrong with Canada’s economy. Prices are rising fast because spending is rising fast while production is not. The capacity of our economy to produce is flatlining because business investment has been so weak that the stock of productive capital per worker is falling. If we do not turn that around, the outlook for real growth in living standards in the coming months, years and decades is bleak.

The basic problem is chronically low business investment, which has been the highlight — or lowlight — of Statistics Canada’s quarterly GDP reports for several years now. The cumulative effect of low rates…

The recent terrible B.C. floods have confirmed how unprepared we are for climate change and severe weather events. The extensive damage in British Columbia has been in the spotlight; a similar event in another province would have many of the same disastrous consequences. The federal and B.C. governments announced this week they will spend $228-million to help affected farmers and their communities return to normal production activity.

What can be done to help protect the value of physical assets from climate risk – specifically housing and commercial buildings? More universal access to flood insurance is the most obvious risk-management tool, along with significant investment in public infrastructure to build resilience. However…

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…