The federal government recently poured $36.3 million into the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund the first of many soon-to-come government-sponsored funds comprising Ottawa's $400 million Venture Capital Action Plan. The plan, conceived with the view that Canada's lacklustre venture capital industry requires a government solution, ignores Canadian evidence that shows government-sponsored venture capital is ineffective. More fundamentally though, it represents a further blurring of the lines between pro-market and pro-business government policy.
Souris Mayor Dave MacDonald recently told the Premier's Council on EI that recent changes to the federal EI program are killing his town.
Unfortunately, Mr. MacDonald did not note that Islanders receive three times as much as they contribute to the EI program. This was a subsidy in 2010 of about $150 million from citizens living elsewhere to people living on PEI.
For many years, Ontario has been the quiet enabler for the vast system of subsidies the federal government provides to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Manitoba. With rare exceptions, it has stood by as equalization grew and as the federal government incorporated subsidies to regions in more and more of its regular programming.
In recent years, evidence has been accumulating that the regional subsidy system is much bigger than it appears on the surface, unsustainable for both Alberta and Ontario and entirely counterproductive because it discourages growth in all recipient provinces.
Allegations of expense scandals in the Senate have shocked many Canadians and rightfully so. Although unsettling, such antics are not an isolated case; they are part of a larger institutional problem with government.
After federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled his latest financial plan Tuesday, much of the media hype centred on the government's larger than expected surplus in 2015-16. Early chatter seemed to accept the government will deliver as promised and some declared its "conservative assumptions" might allow for the deficit to be eliminated even earlier.
Therell be no doubt that were balanced in 2015, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters after recently meeting with a group of private sector economists. This is among Mr. Flahertys most categorical statements to date on his plan to achieve a balanced budget in 2015-16. But in light of recent economic forecasts and potential threats to the governments revenue projections, he would be well-advised to focus on further spending restraint something he can fully control in order to deliver on his promise.
In a recent drive from Saint John to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, I marvelled at the mostly four-lane highway that connected the two points on the map and how empty it was on a Friday evening on a long weekend. I compared it with much of the TransCanada highway in British Columbia, four-laned in portions where it should be six, and often only two-laned where it should be four, as well as to the regularly packed four-lane highway between Edmonton and Calgary.
The government should fix it is a common refrain when people encounter a problem in society. Governments happily oblige because it means more votes for politicians and more work for bureaucrats. Governments themselves also undertake a number of things from encouraging Canadians to be more active, to propping up domestic industries, to trying to create jobs. But can government really deliver? Evidence suggests the answer is a resounding no.