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If I had $100-billion ... How to restore Ottawa’s fiscal health

GLEN HODGSON

Many of us know the catchy tune by the Canadian band The Barenaked Ladies, If I Had A Million Dollars, but how about multiplying it by 100,000 times? Each year, approximately $100-billion leaks out of the federal government’s revenue-gathering system, more or less unseen by the public. As the song says, that amount of money would buy a lot of Kraft Dinner.

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Canada’s labour data fail to shine proper light on self-employed

SAM BOSHRA

Assuming the figures are still valid as you read this, Statistics Canada’s August 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) release finally drew attention to Canada’s increasingly DIY labour market.

It took no less than a record monthly self-employment bump of 86,900 to do so – nearly 1.5 times the previous (post-1976) record of 62,000 (revised up from 56,000) that was reported in the May, 2007, release. Which is unfortunate, since self-employment has had a far greater impact on the Canadian labour market in recent years than the headline figures suggest.

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Why textbooks are so expensive

CHRISTOPHER RAGAN

Classes started last week at many Canadian colleges and universities, and thousands of first-year students were probably shocked to see such high textbook prices. Why does a 500-page textbook in economics or cell biology or calculus cost $150, and sometimes much higher, while similarly sized “trade” books cost only $40 or less?

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Government debt-financed investment is the best path to robust growth

ANDREW JACKSON

The gloomy view that the global economy faces a prolonged period of slow growth and high unemployment holds increasing sway among mainstream economists. A new e-book from the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Secular Stagnation: Facts, Causes, Cures, edited by Coen Teulings and Richard Baldwin, includes interesting contributions from such luminaries as Paul Krugman, former U.S. Treasury secretary Larry Summers and International Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard.

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The case for spending on Central Canada’s infrastructure

CLÉMENT GIGNAC

Quebec’s Philippe Couillard and Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne are forging an interesting alliance in Central Canada, one that represents the country’s largest economic region and a population of over 20 million.

Both premiers are joining their voices in tackling the issue of the federal government’s share of infrastructure funding. In short, they claim that around 5 per cent of gross domestic product should be invested annually to build and maintain proper public infrastructure and, consequently, that Ottawa should increase its investments to 2 per cent of GDP, thus keeping it stable and predictable.

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How Atlantic Canada can raise its game

GLEN HODGSON

Atlantic Canada was a founding partner of the Canadian dream nearly 150 years ago. However, as Canada’s economic centre of gravity shifts ever westward, the Atlantic region’s economy risks becoming further diminished. The area’s recent economic performance has been very uneven. With the premiers meeting in Prince Edward Island this week on the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown conference, the question to be posed is: What can Atlantic Canada do to raise its game?

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Quebec-Ontario electricity trade is smart, but not simple

Christopher Ragan

Last week, Quebec’s and Ontario’s premiers announced their desire to work together on crucial issues, including climate change, interprovincial trade and infrastructure. It is very positive for Canada when our two largest provinces recognize the benefits of co-operation. We should certainly hope they succeed, but let’s also be mindful of the obstacles in their way.

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