Finally, amid the pervasive gloom, comes an exuberant expression of optimism ‚Äď nay, faith ‚Äď in Canada‚Äôs future. Remarkably, it comes from three economists, practitioners of the famously dismal science. The 20th century, they say, wasn‚Äôt destined to belong to Canada, as turn-of-the-century prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier once asserted it would be. But Laurier, wasn‚Äôt really wrong, they say ‚Äď he was merely premature. Make it the 21st century instead.
What went wrong? What caused a 100-year postponement of Canada‚Äôs manifest destiny? Laurier put everything in place for a century of stupendous advance, these economists say ‚Äď but the country discarded Laurier‚Äôs precepts for decades. ‚ÄúWe abandoned almost every tenet of Laurier‚Äôs plan,‚ÄĚ they say, ‚Äúand we paid a heavy price for it.‚ÄĚ
But, bit by bit, Canada has tentatively restored, or begun to restore, Laurier‚Äôs lost tenets ‚Äď a restoration successively accomplished by Conservative governments (notably, Brian Mulroney‚Äôs free trade agreement with the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s), NDP governments (notably Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow‚Äôs principled return to balanced budgets in the 1990s) and Liberal governments (notably Paul Martin‚Äôs paying down of the national debt in the late 1990s and early 2000s).
Canadian Century celebrates the good beginning that the ‚Äúredemptive decade,‚ÄĚ with its tentative return to Laurier‚Äôs lost tenets, provided ‚Äď apparently, given the great global recession, just in the nick of time. It laments the retreat from these tenets that the recession produced. Now, the economists say, is the time to finish the job ‚Äď now that Canada‚Äôs opportunity has been doubled ‚Äúby America‚Äôs confusion and loss of direction‚ÄĚ ‚Äď and by its own loss of the tenets that produce enduring prosperity.
My new book (co-authored with Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis), The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America’s Shadow, is coming out soon! We’re having a national launch party in Ottawa on May 20. Click here to register for this event.
My new book, co-authored with Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis, is out!¬† I will be talking about The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America’s Shadow, at the GTA launch party in Toronto on May 25, at an event sponsored by Bennett Jones and chaired by Allan Gotlieb. The invitation is below. To RSVP, please click here.
On March 11 I was the keynote speaker at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs conference on family policy. I spoke about what we know today about the relationship between the health of the institution of the family and the transmission between the generations of values essential to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Below is the text of that speech.
I was recently invited by the Federal-Provincial Relations Division of Finance Canada to participate in a panel discussion in Ottawa on the future of federal transfers to the provinces. Here is the text of my remarks.
In this week’s Maclean’s magazine Paul Wells spends a lot of time discussing Fearful Symmetry and the social policy changes it portends:
“For next steps, many conservatives are turning to Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Founding Values, a new book by Brian Lee Crowley, an economist and founder of the new Macdonald √Ę‚ā¨‚Äú Laurier Institute.
Crowley does not regard himself as a social conservative. But many who do see themselves that way like what he√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs saying. To caricature a complex argument, Crowley says the modern welfare state has overextended itself, is unsustainable, and causes more harm than good to institutions like the family. These trends will only get worse when an aging population sharply increases the cost of delivering most social programs. One size can no longer fit all. Social services will have to be narrowly aimed at those who need them most, and delivered only as long as recipients are willing to improve their behaviour by attending to their family, keeping or seeking a job, and so on.
Government is no good at any of that and, in the opinion of most, shouldn√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt try. √Ę‚ā¨ŇďIt is precisely for this reason, in my view, that we have seen in both the United States and the United Kingdom a growing use of the private sector, including the not-for-profit and so-called faith-based charities, for the delivery of social services,√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě Crowley writes. √Ę‚ā¨ŇďSuch private agencies may be more demanding of their clientele and expect more in the way of improvements in behaviour.√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě
Crowley√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs book was published last autumn. It seems to have been barely one step ahead of the news. This month√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Throne Speech contained a single line saying the government √Ę‚ā¨Ňďwill look to innovative charities and forward-thinking private-sector companies to partner on new approaches to many social challenges.√Ę‚ā¨¬Ě Such charities and companies were much in evidence at the Manning Centre conference. The changes Crowley anticipates are expected and embraced by social conservatives.
Meanwhile, the federal Liberals are still defending policies from five years ago, policies Harper has taken pains to ensure future federal governments won√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt be able to afford, with his GST cuts and his massive cash transfers to the provinces. If the Liberals cannot begin to make a case for a return to larger, more activist √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ and more expensive √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ state-run social welfare, then Stephen Harper√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs social conservative revolution will only accelerate.
Thanks to Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary School of Public Policy I have been invited to be on a panel at a major national conference on the theme of The Future of Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Retirement Income System to be held in Calgary on April 12th and 13th.
My panel will be called What are the problems with the existing system? The main speaker will be Larry Kotlikoff (Boston University), and I will be joined as commentator by Joanne√ā¬† DeLaurantiis (Investment Funds Institute of Canada). Here is how the conference programme describes the panel’s focus:
The research undertaken for the federal-provincial-territorial Ministers of Finance found that the retirement income system does well in support low income Canadians but there is a minority of middle class who may not have adequate retirement income. √ā¬†What are the reasons for possible underfunding of retirement income for this group and how significant is the issue?
On March 11 I was the keynote speaker at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada’s conference on family policy. I spoke about what we know today about the relationship between the health of the institution of the family and the transmission between the generations of values essential to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Below are some√ā¬† audio clips from my talk.
Coming soon: the sequel to Fearful Symmetry
I have had the great good fortune over the last 6 months to work with co-authors Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis on a new book that is essentially a sequel to Fearful Symmetry: “The Canadian Century: Moving Out of America’s Shadow”. This will be the first book of my new national think tank, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, and will be published by Key Porter. Here is the blurb from Key Porter about the book, which is due out in May, 2010:
One hundred years ago a great Canadian, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, predicted that the twentieth
century would belong to Canada. He had a plan to make it so.
What happened? Canada lost sight of Laurier√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs plan, and failed to claim its century,
dwelling instead in the long shadow of the United States.
In a bold, fascinating and thought-provoking call to arms, Crowley (author of the
national bestseller Fearful Symmetry) and co-authors Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis
envision Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs emergence as an economic and social power. While the United States
has been squandering its advantages √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ including making a series of bad decisions that
precipitated a global economic disaster from which it struggles to emerge √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ Canada finds
itself on a path leading out of the shadows and into a new prosperity that could √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ if we
stay the course √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ make us the envy of the world.
It won√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘt happen without effort, however. We must be prepared to follow through on
reforms enacted at the end of the twentieth century, completing the work already begun.
If we succeed, Canada can and will become the economic outperformer that Sir Wilfrid
Laurier foretold, a land of work for all who want it, of opportunity, investment, innovation
and prosperity. America√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs performance, by contrast, risks trailing ours until they
embrace Canadian-style courageous and far-seeing reform.
Laurier did indeed predict the Canadian Century. He was absolutely right; he was
merely off by 100 years.
Brian Lee Crowley is the author of the national bestseller Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Founding Values. Crowley is Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy and is a frequent commentator on political and economic issues for the CBC, Radio-Canada and many other media. His website is www.brianleecrowley.com. He lives in Ottawa.
Jason Clemens is the director of research at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, where he specializes in fiscal policy. His articles regularly appear
throughout Canada and the United States, including the Globe and Mail, the Financial Post, the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in San Francisco.
Niels Veldhuis is vice-president and senior economist at The Fraser Institute. He also
writes a bi-weekly column for the National Post and appears regularly on radio and television
programs across the country. He lives in Vancouver.
Fearful Symmetry in the Halifax Herald
This review first appeared in the Halifax Herald on January 3. It is no longer available online so I’m reproducing it here.
Socialist policies will be history, Crowley predicts
By JEFFREY SIMPSON
BRIAN Lee Crowley predicts that Canada is on the cusp of a profound economic and cultural change that will take the country back to its ideological roots, even if they are unfamiliar to many citizens.
Crowley, the well-known conservative thinker who founded the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, makes a compelling argument in his recently published book, Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs Founding Values, that the last five decades spent as a nation with socialist leanings has been merely an aberration. Read more