At MLI, our goal is always to influence the development and implementation of sound federal public policy by ensuring decision makers are informed of the best policy options. Measuring our impact is crucial to measuring our success. In the second quarter of 2016, from April 1 to June 30, MLI’s impact was felt particularly in the areas of Indigenous issue, internal trade, Canada Post reform, infrastructure, defence, security and health care.
As the second quarter concluded, MLI continued to demonstrate the extent of its reach and the quality of its ideas with a strong presence across traditional and social media.
To take one particularly eventful day as an example, on June 2, MLI had published three op-ed pieces by Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley and Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer alone: The influential Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Speer and Crowley on what Americans could learn about social mobility and home ownership from Canada and how our own policies compare quite favourably with their own.
In the Financial Post, Speer and Crowley had an op-ed about the significance of the G7's failure to endorse Ottawa's plan for deficit-financed fiscal stimulus.
And in the Sun newspaper chain, Speer had a first rate piece about the ill-advised nature of tax-the-rich redistributionist policies in both Canada and the US and suggesting more positive alternatives.
Making waves in the publishing business, MLI Munk Senior Fellow Ken Coates and University of Saskatchewan professor Greg Poelzer’s co-authored book From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation was a finalist for the prestigious Donner Prize, awarded in April. The award is given annually to the best public policy book by a Canadian. The book, which breathes new life into the debate about Aboriginal prosperity, also received a nomination for the Saskatchewan Book Awards in the Scholarly Writing category.
Coates also received nominations for the Saskatchewan Book Awards in the Non-Fiction, Publishing Award and Saskatoon Book Award for another book he wrote, #IdleNoMore and the Remaking of Canada.
Also in an April, prominent National Post columnist John Ivison wrote a column that strongly validated MLI’s positive view on the prospects for reconciliation with First Nations. Ivison cites Ken Coates, writing that Coates “expects to see ‘co-production’ of policy under the new reconciliation framework” in a shift that “will see First Nations granted far greater autonomy, allowing the government to concentrate on ‘problem’ reserves through a more regional policy”.
Coates was invited to participate in a panel hosted by the Library of Parliament on May 30 to discuss “Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Opportunities and Challenges”.
On April 6, Coates was invited to appear before the Deputy Minister (and staff) of Natural Resources Ontario to moderate a discussion about resource development issues at the Ontario Natural Resource Forum.
On June 1, Coates testified before the Senate Transport and Communications Committee to testify for a Study on the development of a strategy to facilitate the transport of crude oil to eastern Canadian refineries and to ports on the East and West coasts of Canada.
Finally on Indigenous issues, Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer took to Parliament Hill in April, to slay some of the myths about Aboriginal Canada and the development of natural resources.
The prevailing perception – that First Nations communities are largely opposed to natural resource development projects – is wrong, Speer told Senators during his testimony to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications.
“Something extraordinary is happening”, says Speer. “Indigenous peoples and resource companies have, through a bottom-up process of experimentation and cooperation, begun to develop economic partnerships”.
Speer is the co-author, with MLI Senior Fellow Ken Coates, of a commentary paper on how to build a new Aboriginal opportunities agenda.
In a major victory for liberating internal trade, and a strong validation of MLI’s work on the issue, a provincial court judge dismissed the case against a New Brunswick man who was charged with bringing beer and liquor across the border with Quebec. The judge was clear in stating that “the Fathers of Confederation wanted to implement free trade as between the provinces of the newly formed Canada,” a position that MLI has long argued.
In Sun media papers the following day, Crowley was quoted welcoming the decision: “The Fathers of Confederation forcefully argued that one of the chief reasons for Confederation was to create a single market that would unite Canadians and sweep away the petty and destructive trade barriers that divided us,” he said.
For even more evidence that MLI is Canada’s leader on this issue, in June the Senate Committee report on interprovincial trade barriers endorsed MLI's recommendation that the federal government must play a greater role in bringing an end to the barriers to goods, services, people, and capital that plague interprovincial trade and commerce. MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley and Senior Fellow Sean Speer were unique in arguing before the Senate Standing Committee on Banking Trade and Commerce earlier this year that the ultimate solution lies in Ottawa, as the committee ultimately concluded.
MLI’s 2010 report, “Citizen Of One, Citizen Of The Whole”, by Brian Lee Crowley, Robert Knox and John Robson, lays out in detail MLI’s case for creating a charter of economic rights that would make tearing down internal trade barriers legally binding.
Also in June, a Conservative motion seeking reference to Supreme Court on internal trade barriers was supported by NDP.
On May 7 before hundreds of attendees at an event hosted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Brian Lee Crowley delivered a talk on medicare’s fiscal squeeze and the path to health care reform.
In May, MLI Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer was invited to consultations with the Minister of Infrastructure’s staff as the federal government works to develop its plan for infrastructure spending. Speer co-authored a paper in January with transportation export and former Trudeau (Sr.) adviser Brian Flemming that laid out a plan for better and smarter infrastructure spending by Ottawa. And in the Sun newspaper chain Speer authored an op-ed that called on the government to resist calls for fiscal “stimulus” and explained that “the right focus ought to be on an infrastructure plan that sets the conditions for higher productivity and in turn higher wages for Canadians”.
When news came of the tragic death of Canadian hostage John Ridsdel in April, MLI Munk Senior Fellow Christian Leuprecht was highly sought after by the media to try to make sense of it and how to prevent future such incidents. Leuprecht spoke with the CBC and Global News as news continued to break in the Philippines. Dr. Leuprecht also appeared on CTV News Channel, and CBC News Network to discuss the same topic, as well as CBC syndicated radio interviews across the country, discussing President Obama’s announcement that US Cyber Command would be deployed in the fight against ISIS. As usual given his high profile, overall Leuprecht was interviewed by dozens of national and international news outlets over the quarter.
Canada Post/Ian Lee
This spring, Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote announced a $2-million independent review of Canada Post and home mail services but the government would not commit to full restoration of home delivery, contrary to campaign promises. Foote also acknowledged the possibility of reduced delivery frequency, something recommended in Carleton Professor Ian Lee’s MLI paper, “Is the cheque still in the mail?” Upon the announcement, Lee received numerous media appearances including radio interviews across the country and a half-hour appearance on CBC Saskatchewan.
Most significantly, on June 7, Lee was asked to spend an hour briefing the Canada Post Corporation Review Task Force. The Task Force sought Lee’s “views on the postal services that Canadians need, your suggestions on changes to existing services and your ideas on potential new services Canada Post could provide in the future”.
And on May 12, Lee appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to discuss the federal budget, at which time he discussed the issues analysed in his MLI commentary paper co-authored with Sean Speer.
In April, MLI Munk Senior Fellow Alex Wilner was invited to join a private teleconference and information session run by the Department of National Defence to provide input on the forthcoming consultation process informing the government’s major Defence Review.