Matt’s shadow platform: Think big. Drop the hyper-partisan BS.

The Canadian federal election is almost here (Monday, October 19). Information from Elections Canada on where and how to vote can be found here. At this point, the parties have laid out most of their platforms (see summary and links here), and the leaders have had several opportunities to debate each other (full replays of the first four debates can be found here, here, here, and here; to my knowledge TVA has not made a full replay of their debate available, but clips can be found here).

Next week, I will weigh in on which platform and leader I think most deserves our votes (as the editorial boards of many news outlets do). But first – as part of our discussion on policies – I want to lay out my own ‘shadow platform’: the set of policies I would like to see (or would have liked to see) proposed or at least discussed for Canada in this election.

A couple of disclaimers: First, my shadow platform won’t be fully costed. I would love to be able to do this, but I don’t have the time or the staff to do it properly. Second, and for the same reason, my shadow platform won’t be comprehensive. There will probably be some important policies or policy areas I miss, and I hope to hear about them in the comments, so that the discussion can be as comprehensive as possible.

Summary: Think big and drop the BS.

Canada is facing a combination of challenges perhaps without precedent in our history. Our economy is fragile coming out of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and having fallen back into recession in the first half of 2015. Low oil prices are a big part of our current economic problems, but they’re not the whole story. We are suffering persistently low productivity growth and innovation. Despite our dollar losing a quarter of its value in the last year, manufacturing is not coming back the way some thought it would. Our population is aging, which means growing demands on the healthcare system and other parts of the safety net supported by a proportionally shrinking workforce. The costs of housing have been skyrocketing, and many economists think Canada is experiencing a dangerous housing bubble, which the current downturn might burst. Climate change has become a clear and present global threat; and there are early signs of a global shift in political will to combat climate change that could dramatically alter how global business is conducted and – importantly for Canada – which types of resources and technologies are in demand. Conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere are producing huge humanitarian crises and masses of refugees. Canada’s aboriginal communities are suffering from extreme poverty you wouldn’t normally associate with a developed country, as well as violence, poor education, and other social problems that come with poverty.

If Canada is going to face down these challenges and come out ahead, we need to be smart; we need to invest and tax efficiently; we need to be forward-thinking; we need to be ambitious; and we need to be united. This means that we need to bring evidence, nuance, honesty and persuasion back into the political arena, and we need to lose the hyper-partisan BS that has crippled our political debates over at least the last decade. What do I mean by ‘hyper-partisan BS’? I mean the debates so overrun by (often meaningless) slogans and talking points that our politicians sometimes resemble partisan robots; the non-sequitur personal attacks; the near-daily suggestion by each party that each other party’s platform would ruin the economy (the platforms aren’t all that different and the federal government has only limited control over economic growth to begin with); the micro-targeted pork-barrell fiscal policies of just about every party; the fear mongering and dog-whistle wedge politics (e.g. is the niqab really Canada’s most pressing issue right now?); the zero-purpose (other than partisanship) legislation to enforce balanced budgets (which any government who wanted to run a deficit could repeal first), to create a ‘tax lock‘ (same thing), or to create hotlines for ‘barbaric cultural practices’ (as Naheed Nenshi pointed out, this exists already: it’s called 9-1-1).

We need to be able to have adult conversations about what government can and can’t, should and shouldn’t do – conversations where, for example, taxes, free trade, privatization and nationalization, regulation and deregulation are neither automatically always good nor automatically always bad.

With this spirit, here are some specific policy proposals for Canada. I welcome rigorous and vigorous debate on any of them. Given my constraints in preparing this list (see caveats above), I see these proposals mostly as conversation starters in the policy directions I think we need to move as a country, rather than as necessarily fully implementation-ready suggestions.

Economy

Some times call for smaller government; other times call for bigger government. In the 1930s, the aftermath of the Great Depression and the Second World War provided two big reasons for the government to get bigger: we needed to boost demand to get the economy going again, and we faced a major global threat that demanded short-term action on a large scale. And grow government we did. The major boost in spending for the war effort (combined with similar efforts from our allies) is largely credited for ending the Great Depression in Canada. The challenges we face today might not be quite as severe, but they are strikingly analogous. Our economy is anemically recovering from a major recession and we face global challenges – namely food, water, and energy security in the face of population growth and climate change – that demand major coordinated efforts across countries.

Thus, I believe that Canada’s current situation calls for significantly more government investment, which should probably come from a combination of sizable spending increases, modest targeted tax increases, short-term deficits, and re-allocation of existing spending to increase efficiency. Here are some specific proposals.

Short-term stimulus spending, but bigger and for longer than the Liberals propose. The Liberals are right that now is a good time to take on modest deficits to invest in updating Canada’s ailing infrastructure and to make other major capital investments. Our economy is sluggish, interest rates are at historic lows, and our productivity is stubbornly low. But, as some (e.g. Andrew Coyne of The National Post) have pointed out, the $10 billion deficits the Liberals propose (of which they will actually spend only a fraction on capital investments) are so small relative to the size of the Canadian economy that they are unlikely to have much of an impact. What’s more, the rationale for deficit spending goes beyond stimulating the economy; it is not imprudent nor is it unfair to future generations to pay for capital investments (which deliver benefits over a long time period) with deficit spending (which is paid back over a long time period). Thus, I think the next government should increase spending significantly more.

How much do I think the government should spend on this stimulus? I can’t responsibly suggest an exact number without a full costing, but something in the ballpark of 2% of GDP (~$40 billion/year), which was the target stimulus size agreed upon by the G20 in 2008, might be a good place to start the conversation. This would put Canada’s federal spending at around 14.5% of GDP, which is about the same as it was in 2011-2012, less than the spending level under Chrétien in the later years, and well below the 24.4% of GDP spent by the Mulroney government. And the tax increases suggested below would cover much of this, such that there might not need to be huge deficits. This said, the size of Canada’s infrastructure deficit (some estimates place it as high as $123 billion) and R&D deficit (Canadian businesses spend about 1% of GDP on R&D, compared to ~2% in the U.S. and ~2.5% in Japan, Korea, and Scandinavian countries – all productivity leaders), coupled with the relatively poor fiscal positions of the provincial governments, may demand a spending influx even larger than 2% of GDP.

Where should this extra money be spent? We should focus on areas with high return on investment: infrastructure, research and development (R&D), and education. Updating roads, bridges and public transit should be a priority. With R&D spending, the key will be to stimulate investment and innovation without distorting competition or picking winners. This would also be a great opportunity to invest in Canada’s clean technology sector so that we can get out ahead of the inevitable shift in demand towards clean technologies.

To this end, I suggest the federal government launch a large competitive grant program for clean energy, energy-efficiency, water-efficiency, and agricultural efficiency research and development. These types of innovations are certain to be in huge demand globally in the coming decades, and will likely also be needed in Canada as we transition to a sustainable economy. Having a competitive grants program instead of long-term subsidies to individual companies will preserve the atmosphere of competition that drives innovation and helps to prevent market distortions or entrenched lobby interests in first-generation technologies that are often quickly obsoleted (like we see with corn biofuels in the U.S., for example).

Restore the long-form census. Good information is an important ingredient in good policymaking, and the long-form census was one of the most useful sources of information we had for planning social and other types of policies. The decision by the Harper government to eliminate the long-form census has already proved costly for research and planning at several levels of government and business. Restoring the long-form census should be a no-brainer (and is supported by the Liberals, NDP and Greens).

Launch a federal task force on boosting productivity and innovation. It is clear that Canada has a productivity and innovation problem, but solutions (other than spend more on R&D) are not as obvious. Former Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsilie wrote an op-ed recently in The Globe and Mail pointing out that there is a lack of communication between Canadian tech companies and the federal government, which might have to do with the fact that Canadian tech companies do very little lobbying compared to their American counterparts. Therefore, it might be worth putting together a government task force, which would include leaders in Canada’s innovation economy, to draft recommendations for government policy changes to better support innovation in Canada.

Work with the provinces to develop a National Energy Strategy. Canada’s oilsands industry depends on interprovincial infrastructure to get access to global markets; the effect of oil prices on our currency has significant impacts on other sectors of the economy; and there are lots of environmental and social externalities (i.e. costs to society that are not factored directly into the polluter’s bottom line) involved with the oilsands. Similar statements could be made about natural gas, and to some extent even wind and hydro. These are all reasons for Canada to have a national strategy for managing its energy resources. The provincial governments recognize this and have already drafted an interprovincial agreement on a strategy. The federal government should be at the table.

Phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and gradually phase out long-term subsidies to specific businesses in general, to the greatest extent possible. As we have seen this week with the Trans-Pacifc Partnership (TPP), governments sometimes have to subsidize a particular sector of the economy in order to shield it from shocks that would otherwise have deep and rapid effects on livelihoods (in the case of the TPP, the dairy farmers are being compensated for their loss of market share to new foreign competition). But these kinds of subsidies are distortive to the economy in the long-term. In particular, they can exacerbate the problem of stranded capital when an industry is overcapitalized or in permanent decline. This is a common occurrence in fisheries, for example, where governments often subsidize fishers to allow them to stay in a fishery even after it collapses due to overfishing. Subsidies can also exacerbate the market distortions created by environmental externalities (fisheries are a good example of this as well). These kind of harmful subsidies are prominent in the Canadian energy sector (the IMF estimates that they amount to $34 billion/year, which includes the uncompensated costs to society of pollution and health impacts) and should be gradually phased out (which would include implementing taxes on the pollution; see Environment below).

Introduce a tax on sugary drinks and other processed foods. For the same reason that pollution should be taxed to compensate society for its imposed costs (through environmental damage and health effects), some processed foods (e.g. sugary drinks) associated with obesity and related health problems (heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, etc.) should be taxed too. Obesity costs the Canadian economy $4.3 billion per year. Levying a small tax on sugary drinks and other processed foods would likely generate significant revenue, and would likely have a positive impact on health outcomes and healthcare costs. Many health experts have called for this type of policy, and a sugary drink tax has actually been adopted recently in Mexico with early signs pointing to success.

Reverse Harper’s two-point cut to the GST. Raising sales taxes isn’t necessarily popular (which is why no party is proposing it to my knowledge), but sales taxes are some of the least economically distortive taxes, and Harper’s two-point GST cut costs the treasury $14 billion per year, despite the fact that individual consumers would likely struggle to notice the difference. Given the huge infrastructure, R&D, and healthcare deficits Canada faces, we need the revenue and there are few better places – economically speaking – from which to get it than the GST.

Close tax loopholes for corporations and individuals. All three parties have, at one point or other, promised to do this, though it is somewhat unclear how much revenue can be gained. Regardless, tax loopholes are (practically by definition) things we should seek to eliminate.

Reverse Harper’s inefficient boutique tax cuts. This includes, but is not limited to, the expanded tax-free savings account (TFSA) limits, the Universal Childcare Benefit (UCCB) (but see Childcare below) and income splitting. I don’t hugely object to any of these tax credits, but at a time when efficient government financial management is at a premium, these measures fail the sniff test (as I and many others have argued previously).

If necessary, modestly raise income taxes on top 1% or estate taxes. This is an area where I would benefit from being able to fully cost my proposals. Increasing spending to the level I foresee us needing in the near future in Canada, without creating an unsustainable fiscal situation, will clearly require some additional revenues. If the additional revenues from the proposed measures above are sufficient, then I don’t see a need to raise personal income taxes at this point. However, if an additional revenue source is needed, modestly raising income taxes on high-income earners (incomes > $200K/year) or on estates (see paper here explaining the case for estate taxes to reduce inequality) are likely two of the most promising avenues remaining.

The Globe and Mail‘s Report on Business recently had some other interesting suggestions for ways to boost the Canadian economy, which can be found here.

Environment

Introduce a revenue-neutral carbon tax. The principle is simple: put a price on carbon pollution – which damages the environment and economy – and recycle the revenues to reduce income taxes. The policy has been very successful in B.C. at reducing emissions without negatively impacting the economy, and is called for by a near unanimous chorus of experts on both the left and right. It’s true that Canada already has several different carbon pricing mechanisms at the provincial level (some of which are the carbon-tax’s inefficient cousin, cap-and-trade), which would be disrupted by a national carbon tax; but the cost of this disruption does not outweigh the benefits of cross-country adoption of the better carbon pricing policy and of the leveling of the playing field across different provinces.

Un-do the Harper government cuts to science funding, elimination of National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act, Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, etc. The Harper government has made unprecedented cuts to environmental science and environmental legislation during its years in office and these should be reversed.

Foreign Policy, Military & Veterans

Ratify Trans-Pacific Partnership. As The Globe and Mail Editorial Board articulates well, the Trans-Pacific Partnership isn’t perfect, but it is a good deal for Canada on balance, and it would be very costly for us to be left out of it.

Extend ISIS mission for 6 months, and make renewal afterwards contingent on specific targets and ways to measure success. I am sympathetic to the government’s argument that it is important to stand with our allies in the fight against one of the world’s greatest evils (ISIS), but I’m also sympathetic to the opposition argument that our air campaign against ISIS suffers from a lack of clear objectives, timelines, and measures of success. Therefore, I would renew our mission for an additional 6 months (as of the election) and notify Canada’s allies that our continuing the mission after this time would be contingent on there being clear objectives, timelines, and measures of success.

Improve support for veterans. This is not an area of expertise for me, so I can’t responsibly offer too many details, but what I’ve been reading these last few years suggests that important Veterans Affairs services are being compromised by funding cuts, and this is wrong. To those who have suffered debilitating injuries fighting for our country we owe nothing but respect and the highest standard of care. Anything less would be a disgrace and a dishonor to their service.

Democracy

Senate reform. The Senate clearly has a problem, but the Constitution is also clear (as recently re-affirmed by the Supreme Court) that abolishing the Senate, setting term limits for senators, or making senators elected requires the Constitution to be amended (an arduous process that requires eventual consent from the provinces). Therefore, Trudeau’s plan – to make all Senators non-partisan and appointed on recommendation from an arms-length panel – is probably the best feasible option in the short-term. In the long-term, it might be worth calling provincial leaders together for a summit on Senate reform to see what more substantive reforms – if any – might be palatable enough to pass.

Repeal the Fair Elections Act. This is a no-brainer. The Fair Elections Act was denounced by just about every expert as a democracy-eroding vehicle for Conservative party advantage. It must be repealed. Full stop.

Give Commissioner of Elections power to compel testimony. This is the one thing the Commissioner of Elections, Yves Côté, asked be included in the Conservatives’ election reforms (because not having that power made investigations all but impossible to conduct when faced with uncooperative party members, such as several Conservatives in the robocalls investigation allegedly). The more protected our elections are from fraud and voter suppression, the better.

Restore the per-vote subsidy, and proportionally reduce private election spending caps. As the U.S. is learning the hard way, big money in politics creates big problems. Canada – even under the Conservatives – has relatively low limits on private campaign contributions, but, at $1500 per-person-per-year, they are still too high. The democratic ideal is one person-one vote. Thus, I believe we should try to keep donation limits low enough that most Canadians can afford them. I don’t think many Canadians can afford to donate $1500 every year to political parties (I know I can’t). The per-vote subsidy also had problems (mainly, it cost public money and gave the incumbents an advantage), but as a model for funding political campaigns it was much closer to achieving the one person-one vote ideal, and therefore should be brought back.

Introduce fixed campaign periods. Before the Harper government brought in fixed election dates, the party in power could manipulate the timing of an election undemocratically to its own advantage. The Conservatives were right to eliminate this option (though they did break their own law by calling the 2008 election). But as they have demonstrated this year, it is now also possible for the party in power to manipulate the length of the campaign period to its own advantage. This option should be eliminated too.

Create a non-partisan arms-length body to run election debates. Public, accessible and fair election debates critical to the political process. This year, the Conservatives and NDP boycotted the traditional televised Consortium debates – ostensibly to expand the number and possible formats of debates, but some argued it was for political gain. Whether or not it is right for a media consortium to have a monopoly on debates, it is definitely not in the best interests of the political process to have the debate formats be so easily manipulable by the political parties. A publicly-funded arms-length body in charge of organizing debates is the best option available to ensure that debates are set up fairly and in a way that reaches the widest possible audience of voters.

Reverse funding cuts to CBC, but earmark large amount of funding for news. While I am sympathetic to arguments that the CBC needs to adapt its entertainment programming to the changing broadcasting landscape, the CBC serves a far more important function as a national broadcaster: It is the only major news outlet that is publicly owned and operated, and therefore is the least susceptible to editorial bias or meddling from ownership interests. While we don’t have many outlets as blatantly biased as the U.S.’s Fox News or MSNBC (Sun News is the most prominent exception to this), many of our private news outlets do have noticeable leans (e.g. National Post – right, Toronto Star – left) and there are occasional cases of editorial meddling (e.g. allegedly in The Globe and Mail‘s 2014 Ontario election endorsement of Tim Hudak). Maintaining a well-funded public broadcaster that is able to – at the very least – broadcast high quality, un-biased, hard-hitting news (think Rosie Barton) provides an essential service to our democracy that is well worth the cost. The Liberals, NDP, and Greens have all rightly called for restoration of funding cuts (largely executed by the Conservatives) to the CBC.

Have a national referendum on proportional representation. All three opposition parties have promised to eliminate the first-past-the-post system in federal elections, in favour of some sort of proportional representation or ranked ballots. As sympathetic as I am to the notion that it’s undemocratic for right-wing governments (or left-wing governments in Alberta) to be elected with less than 40% of the vote through vote splitting, I have to agree with the Conservatives’ counter-argument that parties shouldn’t be allowed to change the voting system without a referendum. But let’s definitely have the referendum.

Healthcare

Increase transfers to the provinces. Canada’s Universal Healthcare system is one of the most important and cherished institutions in our society, and a recent major advisory report – commissioned by the Harper government to find innovations to improve the healthcare system without spending any more money – came out and recommended that more money be spent (bucking their mandate). The panel authoring the report, chaired by Dr. David Naylor, warned that, “absent federal action and investment, and absent political resolve on the part of provinces and territories, Canada’s health-care systems are headed for continued slow decline in performance relative to peers.” Granted, I am not a healthcare expert, but this seems like a clear call to action.

Study and implement recommendations of the Naylor panel. The Naylor panel (referenced above) made several other recommendations that deserve careful study by whoever forms the next government.

Universal pharamcare. Mulclair argues that making pharmacare single-payer will both reduce overall drug costs (because the government will have a near-monopsony), and improve access for the most vulnerable. He’s right.

Childcare 

Universal affordable daycare, similar to Mulclair’s $15/day proposal. Providing affordable daycare to every parent who needs/wants it is expensive, but worth it for the following reasons: (i) Combatting poverty: Affordable childcare is essential to low-income families, especially those with single parents. (ii) Gender equality: Affordable, accessible childcare removes a barrier to some women (and some men) entering or staying in the workforce. (iii) Economics: There is an obvious economy of scale in childcare (e.g. compare the 15 parents it takes to watch 15 children at home vs. the one or two daycare workers it takes to watch them in a daycare), which means that centralized childcare probably benefits the economy overall by expanding the labour force. (iv) If there are tradeoffs, let parents choose: A recent study came out suggesting that kids in Quebec daycare had worse non-cognitive outcomes (i.e. more bad behavior, but no difference in intellectual capacity) than kids cared for at home. Even if that’s the case, parents should still be given the option of subsidized childcare. They can choose how to navigate the tradeoff for themselves in the manner that best suits their family’s needs. Now someone (say, a Liberal or Conservative) could counter this with: ‘why not just cut parents cheques, and then they can choose to stay home affordably too?’ My answer would be that this sounds great in theory, but you would probably have to spend much more in cutting cheques, relative to universal daycare, to be able to make childcare truly affordable for the poorest families, because of the economy of scale. (v) It’s not actually that expensive (e.g. it’s less expensive (~$5B) than cutting the GST by one point was (~$7B)).

Extend government-subsidized parental leave to one year and make it gender-neutral. In other words, give parents a year of government-subsidized leave, which they can divide into maternity and paternity leaves as they see fit. This is similar to what Sweden – the country that tops the global gender equality rankings – does. The logic is that making paternity and maternity leave equally accessible gives neither gender more incentive than the other to stay home; and subsidizing the leave through the government rather than through the employer lessens the disincentive to hire and promote young people they think will be likely to take a parental leave.

Education & Youth

Launch a federal commission on modernizing higher education with a mandate to facilitate debt-free job training for youth. There is no doubt that Canada has a higher-education affordability problem. Canadian youth are graduating with an average of nearly $30K in debt, and face high unemployment and underemployment to boot. An important part of creating a meritocracy of equal opportunity (which I believe to be an important democratic ideal) is having essential job training be accessible to all. While it is tempting to stop there and simply conclude that we should eliminate university tuition, the affordability of higher education is really only half of the problem; the other half is that a university education isn’t the golden ticket it was in our parents’ generation, and a lot of university graduates can’t find jobs (or can only find jobs that don’t require university education). Thus, I believe we need to take a deeper, harder look at how we can reform higher education to make it both more affordable and better matched to jobs. I would launch a Royal Commission on higher education reform with this mandate, and in the short-term as a stop-gap, I would expand grants and no-interest loan programs for low-income students, as several parties have suggested in one form or other.

Ban unpaid internships. Among the arguments against unpaid internships are that they are exploitative and that they entrench inequality (because only wealthy youth can afford to take time out of paid work to take unpaid internships). These are both compelling reasons to ban them.

First Nations

Inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. The epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women is a national tragedy and black eye for Canada. Even if Harper is right that you won’t uncover any new information from an inquiry on the root causes of the epidemic, buy-in and participation from First Nations is sure to be essential to any successful solution, and at the very least both buy-in and participation could be enhanced by an inquiry. Even if an inquiry accomplishes nothing else (which I doubt), it would still have been worth it.

Study and implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here again, I must admit that I am not an expert (on First Nations issues). However, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which was overseen by experts, obviously) made 94 recommendations, which can be found here, and are worth serious consideration by whoever forms the next government.

National Unity

Don’t touch the Clarity Act. This is pretty straightforward. The NDP has promised to repeal the Clarity Act so that sovereignty negotiations between the Quebec and federal governments can be triggered with a 50% plus one majority in a referendum (whereas the Clarity Act requires a ‘clear majority’). This is a bad idea. The argument that allowing majority in Quebec to rule is more democratic misses the point that separation would have far-reaching impacts in Canada outside of Quebec. Therefore, if we don’t require all other provinces to approve Quebec separation in separate referenda (which is how separation would work in the U.S., for example), it’s more than reasonable to require a larger than 50% majority of Quebec voters. I personally would opt for requiring at least a 2/3 majority in Quebec (or any other province) to trigger sovereignty talks.

Pilot Programs (experimental small-scale trials with rigorous program evaluation): Guaranteed minimum income and guaranteed housing. Guaranteed minimum income (see also here) and guaranteed housing are both programs that seem radical on their faces, but actually have surprisingly broad support among experts and have had some promising trials (e.g. see here and here). The idea is that ensuring everyone has access to housing and a modest but livable minimum income pays for itself through savings in other parts of the social safety net (and of course also has a potentially huge social and ethical upside). However, because of the huge price tag both of these programs would have at the national scale, it is important for them to be subjected to further study – to assess their potential scalability – before taking steps to adopt them fully at the federal level. One option for doing this would be to subsidize pilot programs, which the federal government is actually already doing with guaranteed housing in several major cities across Canada through the “At Home/Chez Soi” project. The government should fund similar studies to field-test guaranteed minimum income.

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Matt’s shadow platform: Think big. Drop the hyper-partisan BS.

  1. Do you think having a basic income precludes the need for universal childcare (ie the basic income is exactly the kind of size of cash supplement someone would need to afford childcare). On a similar note, does your economics of scale argument make sense? Why not use the same argument to say we should drastically increase class sizes in all schools because then having fewer teachers would free up more people to do other things? I am not sure you are framing the argument in the right terms.

    Like

    • Recopying your questions and then answering:

      “Do you think having a basic income precludes the need for universal childcare (ie the basic income is exactly the kind of size of cash supplement someone would need to afford childcare)?” It depends, both on how big the basic income is and on how big the profit margins are in private childcare. If the basic income is just enough to get people to the poverty line for example, then many would probably not be able to afford childcare still. Even if the basic income is made big enough to make childcare affordable, there still might be an economic argument for universal childcare if there was enough market power and demand inelasticity in private childcare to make it cost-inefficient (I don’t know to what extent there is, but would guess it probably depends on where you’re looking).

      “On a similar note, does your economics of scale argument make sense? Why not use the same argument to say we should drastically increase class sizes in all schools because then having fewer teachers would free up more people to do other things? I am not sure you are framing the argument in the right terms.” I think you’re drawing your conclusion here from the implicit and incorrect assumption that the returns to scale have to be the same (or have the same sign at least) at all scales. Obviously, childcare becomes inefficient at a certain scale because the marginal reduction in service provided with scale eventually becomes larger than the marginal reduction in cost (e.g. you can’t have one person take care of 200 kids). But that does not mean that you can’t have positive returns to scale at smaller scales (e.g. can you really argue that one-on-one childcare has twice the benefit for children that one-on-two childcare has?). Clearly there’s a sweet spot somewhere. My argument is just that the sweet spot is closer to the one-to-ten or so that you see in most daycares than it is to one-to-one.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Matt’s endorsement: A Trudeau-led coalition to bring back a united Canada | The Tête-à-Tête

  3. First of all, excellent article Matt. You definitely have ‘upped’ your game with this article. To the point if ever you run for Parliament, I’d be ready to help you out with your campaign.

    In terms of your platform, I agree with you on most points. Particularly on stimulating the economy by different means (e.g. stimulus spending, competitive grant program) and reforming taxes. I also like your positions on fixed electoral campaigns, the CBC, health care, universal affordable daycare, education, environment, guaranteed minimum income, guaranteed housing and Aboriginal affairs. No need to debate with you on these points; your policies are excellent and your points well backed-up.

    Nonetheless, I have some critiques in regards to your platform. My biggest critique is your idea of not touching the Clarity Act. As you already know, I believe the Clarity Act should be repealed. The Sherbrooke Declaration (50+1 threshold) is a fairer method in deciding the future of Quebec if ever they decide to separate from Canada. So on that point I would disagree with you.

    I also disagree with you on holding a referendum on changing the electoral system, or even changing the electoral system altogether, considering the fragile economy. Three attempts in Canada have been made in the past to reform the system to either proportional representation or single transferable vote (British Columbia in 2005 (http://www.elections.bc.ca/docs/rpt/SOV-2005-ReferendumOnElectoralReform.pdf), British Columbia in 2009 (http://www.elections.bc.ca/docs/rpt/2009Ref/2009-Ref-SOV.pdf), Ontario in 2007 (http://www.cbc.ca/ontariovotes2007/features/features-referendum.html), and each time people voted for the status quo. Although I support a change to a single transferable vote system, I don’t believe it is in the best interest of Canadians for the government to spend money on a referendum that will most likely keep the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system in place.

    In regards to your vision on Senate reform, I’ll have to agree with you this time. Although I believe it should be abolished, it is just impossible for that to happen, especially that 9 out of 10 provinces oppose its abolition (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/senate-abolition-a-non-starter-despite-mulcair-s-push-1.3108540). I believe in realistic measures and am persuaded by your arguments on reforming it.

    My questions to you are as follows:

    1) What types of reasonable accommodation measures would you implement if you were Prime Minister?

    2) Do you believe Quebec should have a ‘special status’ in regards to choosing immigrants? And be considered as a ‘distinct society’ in Canada?

    3) Do you believe an Aboriginal level of government should be created?

    4) Do you believe a fixed election campaign of 36 days, which is the minimum stipulated by the Parliament of Canada (http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Compilations/ElectionsAndRidings/Elections.aspx?Menu=ElectionsRidings-Election), is reasonable?

    5) Do you believe Canada Post home delivery should be restored?

    6) What are your opinions on Canada’s role in the global economy? In the United Nations? On trade? And on Arctic sovereignty?

    7) Would you abolish Bill C-51 if in power?

    8) What are your opinions on pipeline projects (i.e. Energy East, Keystone, Northern Gateway)?

    9) Do you agree with Environment Canada’s plan to suspend Montreal’s plan to dump raw sewage into the St-Lawrence? (link: http://globalnews.ca/news/2276500/environment-canada-suspends-montreals-plan-to-dump-raw-sewage-into-st-lawrence/)

    10) Do you believe the Champlain Bridge should be tolled (link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/champlain-bridge-tolls-montreal-liberal-justin-trudeau-1.3214158)?

    11) Have you considered implementing a federal tax on gasoline, cigarettes and alcohol?

    12) Have you considered implementing a federal tax credit for drivers of hybrid & electronic vehicles?

    13) Would you freeze MP salaries and lower the number of benefits and bonuses they are entitled to?

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great questions, Mark! Very thoughtful. Let me respond to the critiques first, and then I will try to answer your questions as best I can.

      Critiques:
      Sherbrooke Declaration: You and I have debated this one many times on a variety of different media. I respect your position, but I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree. My arguments against the Sherbrooke Declaration (and for the Clarity Act) are pretty clearly laid out in my post, so I won’t repeat them.

      Referendum on election reform: My argument here is that it’s not right to fundamentally change the voting system without a referendum that votes in favor first. Even though I happen to agree with the proposed change this time, allowing a government to change the system unilaterally sets a dangerous precedent. If you are so convinced that people would reject a new system in a referendum that it wouldn’t be worth having one, I say that’s fine but then you just shouldn’t change the system either. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get voters to approve a change to proportional representation in a referendum, especially after four years of Harper with 39% of the vote. But any way you slice it, I think you have to have a referendum before changing the electoral system.

      Questions:

      1) What types of reasonable accommodation measures would you implement if you were Prime Minister?
      I think the status quo – before Harper started his race-baiting this past year – was pretty good. I would stop fighting for the niqab ban in the courts, and would certainly not implement his barbaric cultural practices tip line nonsense. But I don’t think there’s anywhere glaring (at least as far as I know) where we need to expand reasonable accommodation either. For example, I’m not about to reignite the public funds for religious schools debate, or others like it.

      2) Do you believe Quebec should have a ‘special status’ in regards to choosing immigrants? And be considered as a ‘distinct society’ in Canada?
      Quebec is a distinct society. Having grown up there and also lived elsewhere in Canada, there’s no question about it. I see pros and cons to them having their own immigration system, but don’t see a pressing need to change the status quo at this point.

      3) Do you believe an Aboriginal level of government should be created?
      There kind of already is an Aboriginal level of government. They have a system of self-governance on reserves, for example, and they have higher levels of organization like the AFN. I think we need to work harder and invest more at eradicating First Nations poverty and improving education, drinking water, etc., but I don’t think we need to create a new branch of the Government of Canada that is Aboriginal (aside from the already existing Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs), if that’s what you’re asking.

      4) Do you believe a fixed election campaign of 36 days, which is the minimum stipulated by the Parliament of Canada (http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Compilations/ElectionsAndRidings/Elections.aspx?Menu=ElectionsRidings-Election), is reasonable?
      Yes. The current one was way too long and expensive to the taxpayers. I think a fixed 36 day period would be very reasonable.

      5) Do you believe Canada Post home delivery should be restored?
      That’s a tough one. On the whole, I think the CPC is right that new technology is making paper mail progressively more and more obsolete, and to a larger and larger extent a waste of money. On the other hand, some people clearly depend on home delivery. My guess is there’s a way to make home delivery less costly and better targeted, but I’d have to study the issue more to offer anything more specific than that.

      6) What are your opinions on Canada’s role in the global economy? In the United Nations? On trade? And on Arctic sovereignty?
      That’s a very broad question, which I won’t be able to fully do justice in a few sentences. But briefly, I think the size of our economy and military is such that we are going to have the greatest influence in the world by returning to our ‘honest broker’ role in which we led with our ideas, consensus-building, peacekeeping, and by example. Coming to Paris with something concrete and bold on climate change would be a great start. I think the world is generally trending towards freer trade, and free trade does grow the overall pie, so we should definitely be taking part in these free trade agreements, but we also should recognize that changes to trade policy always create some winners and some losers, and we should be doing what we can to minimize the shock on those who stand to lose. For example, I think the initial plan to subsidize dairy farmers as part of the TPP deal isn’t a bad thing, though I think we do want to put the system on a path to something more sustainable in the long term, which probably does mean getting rid of the supply management system over time (but helping high-cost farmers retrain and subsidizing their losses in the short term).

      7) Would you abolish Bill C-51 if in power?
      Yes, but I would also be open to replacing it with less intrusive security-enhancing measures if necessary. I don’t have the kind of security clearance to really know what the threats and intelligence landscape looks like, but I would want to approach this information with an open mind. Trudeau sort of sounds like he might be open to following this type of approach. I hope that’s the case.

      8) What are your opinions on pipeline projects (i.e. Energy East, Keystone, Northern Gateway)?
      Northern Gateway shouldn’t happen. Supertankers in the Douglas Channel are a bad idea. I think Keystone won’t happen because the Americans don’t support it and because the economic rationale for it is less clear now that oil prices have dropped so much (see: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/on-big-resource-projects-when-does-no-mean-no/article23260658/). Energy East is one I could support, but would need to study the economic impacts, environmental impacts, etc.

      9) Do you agree with Environment Canada’s plan to suspend Montreal’s plan to dump raw sewage into the St-Lawrence? (link: http://globalnews.ca/news/2276500/environment-canada-suspends-montreals-plan-to-dump-raw-sewage-into-st-lawrence/)
      That’s a tough one. Obviously raw sewage in the St. Lawrence is not great, but from what I’ve read it seems like they don’t have much choice. If the repair is essential and there’s really no other way to do it, then I think you probably have to go ahead unfortunately.

      10) Do you believe the Champlain Bridge should be tolled (link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/champlain-bridge-tolls-montreal-liberal-justin-trudeau-1.3214158)?
      No. Stimulus money should be used to fix it.

      11) Have you considered implementing a federal tax on gasoline, cigarettes and alcohol?
      A carbon tax (which I support) would amount to a gas tax; cigarettes and alcohol are already taxed. I would legalize and tax marijuana too.

      12) Have you considered implementing a federal tax credit for drivers of hybrid & electronic vehicles?
      If you put in a carbon tax, there will already be a financial incentive to drive these vehicles so more subsidies wouldn’t be needed. But developing these technologies would definitely be part of my competitive grants program.

      13) Would you freeze MP salaries and lower the number of benefits and bonuses they are entitled to?
      No, but I would strictly index their growth to inflation.

      Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Ian’s endorsement: Why I am voting Liberal this election | The Tête-à-Tête

  5. Excellent answers Matt. Some more questions:

    1) Would you implement a gun registry for Canada if in power?

    2) What measures would you implement to improve the status of the French language outside of Quebec? And the English language in Quebec?

    3) Do you believe euthanasia and/or assisted suicide should be legalized across Canada?

    4) Do you believe marijuana should be legal in Canada?

    5) Would you highly invest in a Federal Work Study Exchange program for university students to give students opportunities to work in their field of study during the summer?

    6) Would you sign the Leap Manifesto (link: https://leapmanifesto.org/en/the-leap-manifesto/)?

    7) Would you make Canada re-sign the Kyoto Protocol?

    8) Would you implement an inquiry to investigate fluctuations in gas prices across Canada?

    9) Would you implement an inquiry to investigate corruption at the federal level of government?

    10) Would you increase minimum wage to $15/hour for those working for the Public Service?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the questions!
      1) Would you implement a gun registry for Canada if in power?
      Yes. It’s important to police safety (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/police-chiefs-endorse-long-gun-registry-1.886844).

      2) What measures would you implement to improve the status of the French language outside of Quebec? And the English language in Quebec?
      Honestly, I don’t know. Mandatory French education as part of the curriculum is the obvious way, but I think most English provinces have this already. You can also fund more exchanges and immersion programs, but at some point you can’t force people to learn. In Quebec, I think repealing Bill 101 would be a good start for improving the status of English, but that’s not federal jurisdiction. You could try a Charter challenge, but I don’t think it would be worth the political capital you’d lose in Quebec. With national unity doing very well these days in Quebec, I don’t think I’d want to poke the Bill 101 bear at the federal level.

      3) Do you believe euthanasia and/or assisted suicide should be legalized across Canada?
      Another tough one. On balance, I think it should be legalized, but with very tight controls and lots of study on how to set those controls beforehand (which is basically what the Supreme Court mandated).

      4) Do you believe marijuana should be legal in Canada?
      Yes. Legalized, taxed, and regulated. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes.

      5) Would you highly invest in a Federal Work Study Exchange program for university students to give students opportunities to work in their field of study during the summer?
      That’s an interesting idea. Things like this already exist in some fields (e.g. the NSERC USRA), so I would want to look at the data on how widespread and costly they are and what impact they are having, but it certainly seems like we could probably use more of them.

      6) Would you sign the Leap Manifesto (link: https://leapmanifesto.org/en/the-leap-manifesto/)?
      No. I am sympathetic to some parts but it goes too far in others. Also, I generally don’t believe in signing manifestos that lump a whole bunch of different policies together – especially for long-run policies. It makes it harder to pivot with the times. The Leap Manifesto reminds me a little bit of Grover Nordquist’s tax pledge in the US – just a left wing version. Both are good publicity but bad politics and policy.

      7) Would you make Canada re-sign the Kyoto Protocol?
      Hopefully Paris will make Kyoto obsolete. If it did, I’m not sure it does much good to rehash old debates. But if Paris was a bust, then maybe.

      8) Would you implement an inquiry to investigate fluctuations in gas prices across Canada?
      No. Given the oil price swings, I don’t think gas price fluctuations are a big mystery.

      9) Would you implement an inquiry to investigate corruption at the federal level of government?
      No. (a) I don’t think there’s that much corruption in federal government currently (even the Duffy-Wright affair was pretty small potatoes if you think about it; the main problem was all the secrecy and lying, and the person responsible for that culture – Harper – is gone). (b) I don’t think the potential sources of corruption in politics are a big mystery. I think cracking down on sources with legislation is a better way to tackle corruption than an inquiry. Inquiries are useful when there’s a specific allegation or scandal that needs to be investigated (e.g. Gomery & the sponsorship scandal).

      10) Would you increase minimum wage to $15/hour for those working for the Public Service?
      I’d have to look at the costs and how many people would actually be affected (Is there anyone working for the public service making less than $15/hour?), but probably. People who don’t make a living wage often end up being supported less efficiently by the safety net – which also comes from tax dollars – so it’s hard to imagine a scenario where ensuring public employees make a living wage wasn’t a good idea – both ethically and economically.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent responses! Some more questions Matt:

    1) Would there be gender parity in your Cabinet?

    2) Do you agree with Trudeau’s plan to allow 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada over a period of 3 months (Dec-Feb)? Would you do the same if you were PM?

    3) Considering the recent rise of US interest rates from 0% to 0.25% (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/dec/16/federal-reserve-us-interest-rate-rise-fed-funds-janet-yellen), would you encourage the Bank of Canada to increase Canada’s interest rates as well?

    Look forward to hearing from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good questions Mark! Sorry for the late response.

      1) Would there be gender parity in your Cabinet?
      My Cabinet would be constructed taking into account a number of factors, including but not limited to representation (of women, but also of First Nations and other visible and invisible minorities). So there’s a fair chance it would have gender parity, close to it, and possibly even beyond it (especially given how many great female MPs are in the current government), but I would not commit before forming government to a quota of female Cabinet ministers (or ministers from any other group). With 30 ministers in Cabinet, it is impossible to have strict quotas for some underrepresented groups without disadvantaging others. For example, despite its strong representation of women, Aboriginal Canadians, and South Asian Canadians, Trudeau’s Cabinet did not have a single East Asian Canadian (one of Canada’s largest visible minorities, if not the largest) or African Canadian. I also think having stated quotas sends the wrong message to the qualified women that are chosen for Cabinet (i.e. the message that they were chosen for their gender). In Trudeau’s Cabinet, the women who ended up being chosen were all incredibly qualified, and most, if not all, of them would have been chosen anyway probably. Choosing a strong group of women without quotas sends a much stronger message about equality than advertising quotas ahead of time and thereby casting public doubt on the excellent women you choose. Case in point would be Kathleen Wynne, who was elected Premier of Ontario on the strength of her policies and record, with barely a peep about her gender (or her sexual orientation) during the campaign. No one talked about it because it went without saying that her gender and sexual orientation had no bearing whatsoever on her suitability or unsuitability for the Premiership. To me, that’s what equality looks like and what I hope to see more often.

      2) Do you agree with Trudeau’s plan to allow 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada over a period of 3 months (Dec-Feb)? Would you do the same if you were PM?
      Not being privy to the logistical details, I can’t say. But what I can say is that I would do my homework and make sure that refugees were being brought in as fast, but also as safely, as possible. It seems like Trudeau did exactly this, and rightly abandoned his promise after discovering that it was infeasible to accomplish safely.

      3) Considering the recent rise of US interest rates from 0% to 0.25% (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/dec/16/federal-reserve-us-interest-rate-rise-fed-funds-janet-yellen), would you encourage the Bank of Canada to increase Canada’s interest rates as well?
      Not yet. Canada is in a much worse economic situation than the U.S. right now because of the oil price collapse. That said, I would increase the size of the planned stimulus to make sure it was large enough to have an impact on the economy, and I would look to raise interest rates as soon as the economy was showing strong signs of recovery. Western governments have been way too reliant on monetary stimulus in the last 15 years, and it’s part of the reason the recoveries keep coming with bubbles (housing in the U.S. following the dot-com crash and monetary stimulus; housing in Canada currently, which is probably going to burst soon).

      Look forward to hearing from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the responses! Always happy to hear your insight on Canadian politics!

    What would you do if the following happened?

    1) Donald Trump becomes U.S. President
    2) NAFTA falls apart
    3) The loonie sinks to 60 cents U.S.
    4) Bombardier shuts down
    5) Nation-wide unemployment soars to 10%
    6) The Parti Québécois wins a majority government in Quebec and plan to hold a sovereignty referendum during their mandate
    7) During the sovereignty referendum, the Yes side wins with 52% of the popular vote
    8) A member of your caucus is accused of fraud
    9) A member of your party defects to another political party

    Look forward to hearing from you!

    NB. Most of my points are worst-case scenarios. I personally hope none of the 9 events happen during your time in office but believe it is best to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best if you ever become PM!

    Like

    • Thanks for the questions and kind words! No worries about the extreme nature of the questions; I am in no danger of being an elected official anytime soon, so I’m not too worried:p.

      “What would you do if the following happened?”

      1) Donald Trump becomes U.S. President
      The U.S. is our most important and closest ally and trading partner, so I think initially you’d have to treat Trump like any other U.S. President–call him to congratulate him and prepare to work with him in good faith. Then of course you have to react to what he does. If he follows through on extreme isolationism, you publicly criticize it when it’s bad for Canadian interests and stay out of it otherwise. If he continues his racist bend, you denounce it and you try as much as possible to not let it affect bi-lateral relations (unless it’s so extreme that you have no other choice on principle)–like we do when dealing with the Chinese (who are an important trading partner, but with a less-then-perfect human rights record), for example. It really depends on what he does though, so it’s hard to speculate.

      2) NAFTA falls apart
      I doubt this will happen in the near future, but again, how I would react to it would depend strongly on why it had fallen apart. Hard for me to speculate beyond that.

      3) The loonie sinks to 60 cents U.S.
      This might actually happen (I hope not, but you never know). Assuming the drop in the loonie would be caused by a combination of a struggling economy (relative to the U.S.) and a low oil price, I think the best thing you can do is try to stimulate and diversify the economy. Targeted stimulus is definitely something that I’d want on the table (as Trudeau’s government is doing). As long as the economy is doing badly though, the low dollar actually helps some of our industries (e.g. our export industries).

      4) Bombardier shuts down
      I don’t think this will happen anytime soon. Do I think Trudeau should accept the request for a billion dollar bailout of the C-series program? I’d need to do more homework to be able to have an informed opinion, but this is a good article I read recently that seemed to be asking the right questions: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-12/here-is-trudeau-s-six-point-checklist-for-bombardier-s-bailout. If it shut down, again my answer would depend on why. If its shut down was a sign that this particular firm was being managed in a way making it unsuccessful but there were lots of other firms ready to take its place in the Canadian economy, then I’d be inclined to leave it alone and let the market sort it out. On the other hand, if it seemed like it was failing because of some systemic Canadian issue that made it uncompetitive on the international market, then I would want to take a look at that and see what could be done.

      5) Nation-wide unemployment soars to 10%
      Unemployment is already too high, growth too low, infrastructure and climate commitments too far behind, and monetary policy too heavily relied-upon for stimulus. We need fiscal stimulus, and we don’t need to wait for 10% unemployment.

      6) The Parti Québécois wins a majority government in Quebec and plan to hold a sovereignty referendum during their mandate
      Publicly support the ‘No’ side, but also acknowledge the concerns of Quebeckers that caused them to vote in the PQ. Before the vote, communicate clearly what level of majority would be needed to be recognized under the Clarity Act, and how negotiations would proceed in all possible outcomes of the referendum, and consult with all Premiers (not just Quebec) and all Canadians via polling (including but not limited to Quebeckers) in the process of forming these rules. My a priori guess of what threshold would be fair is ~60%-2/3, but would be open to adjusting this depending on what people seemed to be saying (and what experts projected to be the effects of separating on the economy of both Quebec and the rest of Canada).

      7) During the sovereignty referendum, the Yes side wins with 52% of the popular vote
      See my answer to 6), but I would probably not recognize it as a mandate to separate but still enter into talks with the provincial government to see how we could make Quebeckers happier inside Canada.

      8) A member of your caucus is accused of fraud
      Depends on the severity of the alleged fraud and how well supported the accusation is. If it was an accusation with a lot of evidence behind it and/or the member was in a position to continue perpetrating the fraud (e.g. if it was party funds), I’d probably suspend them from caucus pending a formal investigation and disciplinary process. On the other hand, if it was a more tenuous or speculative accusation, I’d probably investigate quietly on my own to check that the accusation had merit before doing anything publicly that might damage the person’s reputation.

      9) A member of your party defects to another political party
      Let them go. Not much else you can do.

      How would you answer these questions?

      Like

  8. My responses:

    “What would you do if the following happened?”

    1) Donald Trump became U.S. President

    I’d treat Trump like any other U.S. President and work with him in good faith. I might disagree with some of his policies but would not let it negatively affect Canada-U.S. relations.

    2) NAFTA falls apart

    I would arrange immediate talks with U.S. and Mexico to see why it fell apart and find an alternate solution which benefits all three economies. If a solution is not possible with Mexico, I would arrange that a free-trade agreement is quickly agreed upon with the U.S.

    3) The loonie sinks to 60 cents U.S.

    I would invest in the tourism and manufacturing sectors, as I believe these industries will largely benefit from a weak dollar. I’d also invest in local farming in order to limit imports from other countries. Moreover, I would enforce stricter guidelines for foreign investment so the Canadian economy could benefit from such investment (particularly in tourism).

    4) Bombardier shuts down

    I’d take a close look on the status of the aerospace industry in Canada. If other aerospace firms are taking over Bombardier and gaining prosperity in Canada, I’d leave Bombardier alone. On the other hand, if the entirety of the aerospace industry in Canada is ‘crashing’, I’d start an inquiry and figure out how Canada could re-vitalize this industry and make it competitive internationally. In either case I’d invest in job creation and encourage laid off workers to apply for positions in the public service.

    5) Nation-wide unemployment soars to 10%

    I’d invest in entrepreneurship programs and create jobs in the public service to decrease unemployment. I’d expand the number of jobs in the Federal Work-Study Exchange Program. I’d also provide funds to provincial and territorial governments so they can invest in an increased number of work-study programs in CEGEPs, community colleges and universities.

    6) The Parti Québécois wins a majority government in Quebec and plan to hold a sovereignty referendum during their mandate

    I would acknowledge that a separatist government just got elected in Quebec. I would congratulate the government for their victory and prepare to work with them in good faith. Although I might disagree on certain party policies (e.g. Charter of Values- http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/quebec-values-charter-2-0-ban-against-crosses-hijabs-would-only-apply-to-new-public-employees), I’d respect it and not let it negatively affect federal-provincial relations. As for the referendum, I would publicly support the ‘No’ side. However, if the ‘Yes’ side wins I would acknowledge a victory using the 50+1 rule in order to limit potential tensions between Quebec and Canada. If the ‘No’ wins by a weak margin (i.e. 51%), I would negotiate with the Quebec government solutions that might make Quebecers feel more welcome in Canada.

    7) During the sovereignty referendum, the Yes side wins with 52% of the popular vote

    I would recognize Quebec’s independence. To decrease the risk of political unrest occurring following the event of a ‘Yes’ victory, I’d start negotiations with Quebec. I’d also have talks with the international community and encourage all nations to legally recognize Quebec as an independent nation. To allow proper transfer of federal powers to the Quebec government, and limit civil unrest, I’d implement a 3-year transition period so Quebec citizens could adapt to their new political reality. During this time, Quebec would be independent from Canada. Quebecers holding Canadian passports would be allowed to travel to Canada with a Canadian passport, even if they are living in Quebec. Quebecers MUST change their passport to a Quebec passport. Payments to the Quebec government would be eliminated. Quebecers could still use Canadian currency in Quebec with the condition they officially change their currency or use another country’s currency within 18 months of independence. All savings and investments by Quebec citizens and Quebec-based enterprises would be protected and transferred to Quebec currency. Those in Canadian banks based outside Quebec would be protected as well. All Quebec borders with Canada will be subject to strict border controls. Quebecers wanting to stay in Canada (i.e. get out of Quebec) would retain their Canadian status (i.e. landed immigrant, permanent resident, citizen). A federal election would be held at the end of the transition period. Quebec would also be added to the NAFTA.

    As for First Nations, I would arrange that issues between First Nations living in Quebec becomes the Government of Quebec’s responsibility. I would arrange a meeting between my government, the Quebec government and First Nations governments to discuss this power transfer. My only role in the meeting would be to legally transfer Native Affairs responsibilities from my government to the Quebec government. I would hope that the Quebec government is generous to this community but will not interfere in negotiations between the two parties on this matter.

    If ever the Prime Minister holds a Quebec riding during the time of Quebec independence, an interim party leader representing a non-Quebec riding would take over power until the transition period is over. Quebec politicians would cease to be represented at the House of Commons and Senate and would have to move outside Quebec if they want to continue working for the Canadian government. This would be unfortunate for most but would be a necessity as Quebec democratically decided to ‘get out’ of Canada.

    As for Quebecers working in the Canadian public service and in the Armed Forces, their jobs would be protected. I’d ensure that all federal institutions would be transferred to the Quebec government immediately following independence.

    As for the rest of Canada, I’d strengthen national unity with my remaining provincial and territorial counterparts in order to prevent other provinces and territories from separating from Canada.

    8) A member of your caucus is accused of fraud

    Depends on the severity of the accusation:
    1. If the accusation had a lot of evidence behind it and/or the member was in a position to continue perpetrating the fraud (e.g. party funds), I would be quick to expel him/her from my caucus. I would call to order other party members on this matter.

    2. If the accusation was speculative, I’d investigate on my own to check that the accusation has merit before doing anything publicly that might damage that person’s reputation

    9) A member of your party defects to another political party

    I would wish them good luck in their future political endeavors and respect their decision. However, if a large proportion of my caucus defects (i.e. 5 ministers on the same day), I’d call a party convention and address ways to make my party more functional and inclusive.

    To the other participants of Tête-a-Tête, how would you answer these questions?

    Like

  9. Pingback: Academia’s conservative problem | The Tête-à-Tête

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s