William Watson

Senior Fellow, Fraser Institute

William Watson is a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, for which he blogged weekly from 2015 to 2019 and has written a number of publications, the first in 1988. Born and raised in Montreal and educated at McGill and Yale, William Watson taught at McGill from 1977 to 2017. He was Chair of Economics from 2005 to 2010 and Acting Chair in 2016/17. He is best known for his twice-weekly columns in the Financial Post (where he has written since 1980 and where he also edits the FPComment page). From 1998 to 2002, he edited Policy Options politiques, the magazine of Montreal’s Institute for Research on Public Policy. While on a leave from McGill in 1997/8 he served as editorial pages editor of the Ottawa Citizen. He won the 1989 National Magazine Awards gold medal for humour for a piece in Saturday Night magazine about a trip to New York. His book, Globalization and the Meaning of Canadian Life, published by the University of Toronto Press, was runner-up for the Donner Prize for best book on Canadian public policy of 1998. His most recent book, The Inequality Trap: Fighting Capitalism instead of Poverty, also from UTPress, was shortlisted for the National Business Book Award 2016.

Recent Research by William Watson

— Jul 19, 2022
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CO2 is CO2 is CO2— the Implications for Emissions Caps

CO2 is CO2 is CO2— the Implications for Emissions Caps is a new study that finds if policymakers want to reduce CO2 emissions in Canada, they should allow industry to do so in the least costly way possible, instead of arbitrarily capping emissions from certain sectors—such as oil and gas—while allowing other sectors to continue to increase emissions, since CO2 molecules are all identical regardless of their source.

— Feb 27, 2020
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The Budget That Changed Canada: Essays on the 25th Anniversary of the 1995 Budget is a new book of collected essays celebrating Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin’s historic federal budget that tackled head-on the pressing fiscal challenges facing the nation following nearly 30 years of deficits and mounting debt. The 1995 budget, which reduced program spending and led to balanced budgets, shrinking debt and eventually broad-based tax relief, laid the foundation for more than a decade of economic prosperity and is one of the main reasons Canada weathered the 2009 global recession better than most other industrialized countries.

— Apr 6, 2017
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History and Development of Canada's Personal Income Tax

The History and Development of Canada’s Personal Income Tax: Zero to 50 in 100 years finds that the tax, which began as a small wartime revenue generator, has morphed into a costly, complex behemoth that’s difficult to administer and makes Canada uncompetitive. In fact, when compared to U.S. states, Canadian provinces have seven of the eight highest top combined rates, with Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Manitoba all over 50 per cent.