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Manning and Harris Aim for "A Canada Strong and Free"

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Release Date: April 13, 2005
Fraser Institute Senior Fellows Preston Manning and Mike Harris today unveiled a series of proposals to fundamentally rebalance Confederation to rebuild Canada as the nation with the highest quality of life and standard of living in the world.

In a document entitled, "A Canada Strong and Free," they call for eliminating the federal role in health care provision and granting the provinces equivalent tax room. They also call for a shift of $300 billion in national income (up to $80 billion annually) from the hands of politicians and government into the hands of citizens and businesses.

"Canadians today pay some of the highest taxes in the G7 and yet receive less in government services than ever before. Our health care system costs more money every year, but our international ranking in terms of health care is suffering. Canadians feel jaded and isolated from the political process," said Harris in launching the document. "It doesn't have to be this way. We hope A Canada Strong and Free will sound the alarm, infuse new ideas into the national debate, and set us on track for a comeback."

"We believe that Canada needs to be 'rebalanced' - that a new balance needs to be struck, not only between freedom of choice and acceptance of responsibility in Canada, but between the incomes and responsibilities of the public and private sectors, between the roles of the various levels of governments, and between Canada's rhetoric and actions on the international stage," added Manning.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Canadians from coast to coast, including Quebecers, will find Harris and Manning's proposals both relevant and timely. We hope that our political leaders will give the work of these two experienced leaders due consideration," remarked Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President of the Montreal Economic Institute, which co-published the document.

Specifically, the proposals call for:

Critical Surgery for Health Care: Canada is currently under-performing virtually all industrialized nations offering universal health coverage. Harris and Manning propose eliminating the federal role in health care management and financing, strengthening health care financing by granting the provinces the tax room vacated by the federal government, eliminating barriers to private delivery and financing of health services, giving Canadians freedom to choose their health care providers and giving those providers the freedom and incentive to pursue the best health systems for Canadians.

More Wealth in the Hands of Canadians: Canada's productivity and standard of living is in decline relative to many other industrialized countries. Harris and Manning propose a shift of $300 billion in national income over the next six years (up to $80 billion annually) from the hands of politicians and bureaucrats into the hands of citizens and businesses. This shift - aimed at increasing the incomes and opportunities of Canadians - is to be achieved through constraining growth in total government spending to 3.1 percent per year and passing the tax savings on to Canadians.

Strengthening Democratic Governance: Harris and Manning contend that smaller governments, closer to the people they serve, can be held more democratically accountable than large, distant, and centralized governments. While supporting institutional and electoral system reform, they insist that such measures will succeed in reducing Canada's democratic deficit only if the size of government itself is constrained and the functions of government are decentralized and localized as much as possible.

Trade and Security from a Canada -US Customs Agreement. After examining the decline in Canada's international influence and relationship with the United States, Harris and Manning propose advancing Canada's interests in continental trade and security via a new Customs Agreement with the US. They propose the creation of a common tariff and quota system, elimination of rules of origin, mutual administration of common tariffs and trade regulations, and mutual acceptance of responsibilities for border security.

A Canada Strong and Free is published by the Fraser Institute, in cooperation with the Montreal Economic Institute.