Op-Eds

The beginning of summer has brought welcome news about Canada’s economy and Canadians’ prospects after a spring devastated by COVID-19. Measures of activity and confidence, even numbers of jobs, are up from the lows of March and April. But we still have a long way to go. Millions of Canadians are still working less than they were, or not at all, and the reopening of the economy will be too slow and sporadic to save thousands of businesses. In past recessions, governments have provided fiscal stimulus, notably through infrastructure projects to speed recovery, so it is natural to hope for a similar spending boost this time. Fulfilling that hope will be a challenge, however. Projects big enough to move the economic needle take time –...
One of the tragedies of the COVID-19 crisis is its devastation of arts and culture organizations in this country. Even with emergency support by the federal government, the future for many of these groups is uncertain. As the economy slowly opens up, crowd restrictions and social distancing will mean galleries, museums and the performing arts generally (theatre, music, dance), will face tremendous challenges. Many see a dim and uncertain horizon ahead as revenues shrink or disappear. Financial struggles were a long-standing a fact of life for the arts community well before the pandemic crisis. Notwithstanding pre-pandemic increases in public funding, including the injection of new money for the Canada Council, public financing for arts...
We talk about saving the world from COVID-19. We also need to talk about saving global bodies like the World Trade Organization. Last week’s announcement of the early departure of WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo creates an opening for some reassessment of its future role. Once considered a paramount achievement in global institution-building, the WTO has been in difficulty since the Doha Round of negotiations collapsed over a decade ago. Endless squabbling among governments over its agenda and the recent paralysis of its dispute-settlement system as a result of U.S. stonewalling has only made things worse. Now comes COVID-19, unleashing new tensions in international trade. On the one hand is the need to keep supply chains...
It’s increasingly difficult to get a handle on where U.S. trade policy is going at any particular time. The latest twist concerns ratification of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (called CUSMA in Canada and USMCA in the United States because U.S. President Donald Trump hates the word “NAFTA”). All three countries have passed internal legislation approving and implementing the agreement. But CUSMA only becomes legally binding 60 days after official ratification notices are exchanged by the three governments. Last week, Canada provided its notice. Mexico did the same a bit earlier. So far, there’s nothing from the American side. It’s not entirely clear why the U.S. is now holding things up. Media outlets in Washington are unable to find...
There’s hardly a glimmer of sunshine in the COVID-19 crisis, just a constant stream of horribly depressing news and worrying statistics, with no vaccine or antiviral breakthrough in sight. The skies darkened even further on Friday, when U.S. President Donald Trump suddenly announced a set of trade restrictions under a Korean-War-era law, prohibiting U.S. exports of medical supplies including surgical face masks made by Minnesota-based 3M Corp. The order specifically bans exports to Canada. It comes at the same time Canada and the United States just entered into a free trade agreement that says in its preamble that it was concluded in recognition of “the longstanding friendship between them and their peoples, and the strong economic...