canada

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In a speech to the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce in London on July 14, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to Canada as the emerging “energy superpower” that his government “intends to build.”  The prime minister and Joe Oliver, minister of natural resources, have repeated this claim on various occasions since.

While the term “energy superpower” sounds exciting and important, that likely isn’t where the country is heading (and likely not what we want to be). Rather, Canada is on track to become an energy “superproducer” if the right policy framework is in place.


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For many Canadians, the Victoria Day long weekend marks the beginning of summertime holiday planning, if not a late May escape after a long winter. For those who travel outside of the country in the coming months, we have a modest proposal: find a pub, sit down with locals and ask about their nation’s health care system.


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Over the course of the past several months, outgoing Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have repeatedly warned that Canadians are spending beyond their means and taking on too much debt.

“A concern of the Bank of Canada...has been the pace of growth of household debt” Carney recently noted. Minister Flaherty added, While interest rates are currently low by historical standards, eventually they will rise. Canadians should…. understand this when taking on significant debt…


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If business leaders ever wonder why a chunk of the public disdain business and call for higher corporate taxes or sector-specific increases (higher royalty rates for energy and mining, higher stumpage fees in forestry) or just increased business taxation in general, here’s a clue: too many companies are addicted to corporate welfare.

Crony capitalism is problematic all on its own. Addiction to it only reinforces the perception that businesses can’t be bothered to compete on merit, in an open market, but prefer to plead for political favours and protection at taxpayers’ expense.


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Unless analyzing tax policy is part of your day job, you likely avoid thinking about what ultimately can be a polarizing topic. But with the deadline for filing our income tax returns around the corner, we’re all forced to at least temporarily think about taxes. The deadline after all is a sharp reminder of how much income tax we paid throughout the year.


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If there was a theme in the recent federal budget, it was how chock full it was with new corporate welfare. The underlying refrain was how big government will help big business with your tax dollars.

For example, early on in Budget 2013, it is clear that crony capitalism is scattered throughout the budget. On page six, Ottawa promises $1-billion to the aerospace sector over five years through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative; that’s the main government program for disbursing taxpayer cash to the aerospace sector.


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The key litmus test for the Harper government’s 2013 budget was always going to be how realistic it was with respect to achieving a balanced budget by 2015-16. The governing Tories have staked both their economic and political credibility on being able to balance the budget. The current plan, which mirrors previous budgets, relies on controlling the growth in spending and hoping revenues increase sufficiently to balance the budget.


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With economic growth slowing and a goal of balancing the budget by 2015, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will have little fiscal room for major new initiatives in Thursday's federal budget. The risk is that the Conservatives continue with their fondness for new and/or expanded tax credits which have been sprinkled through federal budgets over much of the past five or six years (i.e Working Income Tax Credit, and tax credits for family caregivers, children's arts and fitness, and volunteer firefighters to name but a few).


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The idea that some Albertans might be getting their publicly-funded health care more rapidly than others because of who they happen to be, or who they know, or indeed if they have greater ability to pay, seems to have generated a fair amount of rage. Yet many of those who decry such queue jumping by elites and the politically connected are supporters of the current public monopoly in health care insurance and hospital care delivery, and it is this very structure and the rationing by waiting it entails that is to blame for the situation.


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Over the years, Quebec has earned a reputation as being hostile to business due to persistent anti-business policies. As a consequence, Montreal has declined as a hub for major corporate headquarters. With a lower concentration of large corporate headquarters, the city loses out on many economic benefits.