Most people wait until December 25th for Christmas presents. Apparently, the exception is Canadas aerospace sector, recently the recipient of an early-season gift from former federal cabinet minister David Emerson. Emerson chaired a federally-commissioned review of the aerospace sector. The resulting report ostensibly challenges companies, academic and research institutions, unions and governments to understand and adapt to changing realities.
For those who might have missed whats happening in the city where Wayne Gretzky first made his mark in professional hockey, another round of taxpayer subsidies might soon be delivered to for-profit professional hockey in Edmonton.
The background: In 2011, Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz convinced city council to deliver up taxpayer cash for a new $450 million arena.
More recently, Katz demanded more tax dollars and then visited Seattle to drop hints that he may move the Oilers to that west coast city if Edmonton City Council doesnt agree to his latest request.
With the recent first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, consider one beef from protesters that was legitimate: crony capitalism.
In general, Occupy Wall Street types could be described as a little too naïve about the downside of more government power, and too critical of people who exchange goods and services in markets.
But insofar as any protester was annoyed with politicians who like to subsidize specific businessescorporate welfare in other words, and which is an accurate example of abused capitalism, hand me a protest sign and give me a tent.
The well-known quip - The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - is often attributed to Albert Einstein or Mark Twain. Accurate attribution has never been confirmed.
Around Labour Day, a plethora of news stories focus on the state of unions, and often, their interaction with business. Given the name of the holiday, the attention is understandable.
However, the focus on unions and corporations, especially where governments are involved to set policy and create legislation, often misses two other critical groups: consumers and taxpayers.
It is those two cohorts that are often overlooked and whose interests are damaged when governments assume, on purpose or by accident, that only the interests of organized labour and business matter.
Canadas mining industry is globally competitive, and has long succeeded without much in the way of government subsidies. It even thrived in the last recession by responding to market demand. Yet instead of letting markets drive mining investment in Quebec, the provincial government is bailing out the asbestos industry using taxpayer money - and this for a product that is harmful to human health.
From the federal government to provincial governments, the tendency to hide information taxpayers have bought and paid for seems all too common. Regardless of the party label, few governments give up information that is potentially embarrassing without a fight.
Given the revisionist history in play, lets place that 2009 deal in proper context.
In late August, Ontario offered up $2-million to Dana Holdings and $3-million to Centra Industries, both in Cambridge, Ontario. Predictably, the usual flawed justification was offered: taxpayer subsidies will create or preserve jobs.