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Think Tanks Lay Out Policy Vision for the New PM to Restore Canada's Place in the World

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Release Date: November 12, 2003
Canada's next Prime Minister must act quickly to halt Canada's relative decline in affluence and our place in the world say three independent Canadian public policy think tanks. The Fraser Institute, supported by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, has prepared a comprehensive set of policies Mandate for Leadership for the New Prime Minister released today at a news conference in Toronto. This document is designed to reverse the national decline and restore Canada's status as one of the world's leading nations.

"No matter what indicator you look at -- relative affluence, competitiveness, contribution to peacekeeping, relations with our friends, the UN Development Index, or even the health care we provide our citizens -- Canada has failed to keep pace with the rest of the world," says Fred McMahon, senior analyst at The Fraser Institute. "The policies outlined in the 'Mandate for Leadership' are based on best practices from around the world and on solid empirical research. We strongly urge our incoming Prime Minister to adopt these policies."

"What the Fraser Institute is offering us here," says Michel Kelly-Gagnon, executive director of the Montreal Economic Institute, "is based on sound economics and real scholarship. I think anybody interested in solutions for improving Canada's economic growth and social progress should read this document carefully. It should henceforth serve as a reference document when discussing the various challenges facing this country."

"This Mandate for Leadership offers policy prescriptions based on the best practices and principles available," says Peter Holle, president of the Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre. "The formula for prosperity is universal: empowerment of the individual, the family, and the community. A better, more prosperous nation awaits its application."

The Problem

* Canada has fallen from having the 3rd highest per capita income in the OECD in 1970 to the 17th highest in 2002.

* Canada's Medicare system is among the OECD's most costly (on an age adjusted basis and excluding the U.S.) and yet has one of the worst records in the developed world for waiting times and availability of new technology.

* Canada's military and its equipment continue to deteriorate.

* Canadian leaders brag about our commitment to peacekeeping, yet Canada ranked 34th in the world in its contribution to peacekeeping missions in 2002.

* Inflammatory comments about the US by members of the government have damaged relations with our most important ally and trading partner.

The Solutions

Mandate for Leadership provides specific policy prescriptions to improve the daily lives of Canadians and to boost Canada's status in the world. Each set of prescriptions is followed by background material, including references to detailed research conducted by The Fraser Institute, other research institutes, universities, and other research groups.

Some of the key recommendations in critical policy areas include:

Taxation: Reduce taxation to increase Canada's international competitiveness and tax smarter by eliminating or reducing particularly destructive taxes. For example, accelerating the current five-year plan to eliminate the Corporate Capital Tax.

Labour: Increase flexibility in the labour market by, for example, introducing worker choice legislation for those covered by federal labour laws.

Regional Policy: Replace equalization payments with tax points to encourage provinces to reduce taxes, leading to increased economic growth.

Internal Trade: Harmonize rules and regulations that limit internal trade and create a Canadian common market.

International Trade and Foreign Aid: Remove Canadian regulations that restrict free trade (unilaterally if necessary), such as the Wheat Board.

Security and Trade: Develop policies in cooperation with the United States to ensure that trade and people can continue to move across the border easily, while keeping it closed to terrorists and other security threats.

The Bank of Canada and Exchange Rate: Create a currency union modeled after the European Monetary Union in agreement with the United States and Mexico.

Regulation: Establish a committee to identify regulations that are obsolete or in conflict with other regulations and repeal them; have 10-year sunset clause for new regulations.

Environment: Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and focus on real environmental issues facing Canadians, such as air pollution, water supply problems, water pollution problems, fishery depletion, forest overgrowth, and wildlife management.

Health Policy: Repeal or change the Canada Health Act to remove limits on provincial autonomy over health care, as recognized by the constitution.

Aboriginal Policies: Restructure aboriginal policy to empower the individual, not band elites.
Defence: Replace outmoded policy based on the 1994 White Paper and determine the appropriate capabilities for conventional wars, fighting terrorism, and peacekeeping missions.

Immigration and Refugee Policy: Ensure that real Canadian labour market needs are met by basing acceptance into Canada on the existence of a job offer, similar to the NAFTA work permits.
Governance: Reform Parliament by, among other things, allowing more free votes and increasing the power and independence of committees.

Judiciary: Assert Parliamentary supremacy and the rule of law in place of court-created law.


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