At MLI, our goal is always to influence 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 ​first​ quarter of 201​7​, from ​Jan.​ 1 to ​March 31, MLI’s impact was felt particularly in the ​priorities of the federal budget, in justice issues on the issue of health transfers and how the US government approaches regulatory budgeting.​

Federal budget

A number of commitments in the 2017 federal budget are in line with the recommendations of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

  • To create an “intellectual property strategy” to support innovation. MLI’s intellectual property work led by Munk Senior Fellow Richard Owens and commentary by senior fellows such as Sean Speer has consistently made the case that strong protection of IP rights is good for Canadian creators and good for the economy.
  • To modernize the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Acts which has been recommended by Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer in his 2015 paper “A Mandate Review of the CRTC: A New Digital Policy for the Digital Age”.
  • To conduct a comprehensive review of spending, as recommended on numerous occasions by Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer in his papers and opeds.
  • To eliminate the Public Transit Tax Credit as recommended by Sean Speer in his 2017 paper, “The Public Purse and the Public Good”.
  • To improve collection of housing data, as recommended by Sean Speer and MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley in their 2016 paper “A Home for Canada’s Middle Class”.

Indigenous issues

MLI’s work on Indigenous issues will be coming to Canadian classrooms this fall. In the spring of 2017, a new textbook was released by Captus Press, titled Indigenous Peoples and Resource Development in Canada edited by notable academics Robert M. Bone and Robert Brent Anderson, in which, “through a wealth of articles and commentaries, the place of natural resources in the world of Indigenous peoples is discussed and analyzed”. The collection of 31 articles includes five MLI papers by authors Jacquelyn Thayer Scott, Anieken Udofia, Dwight Newman, Bram Noble and Ken Coates.

As well, Ken Coates was been invited to join the Blue-Ribbon Steering Committee for National First Nations Sustainable Economic Development and Fiscal Relations Strategy of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. Coates will provide insight and direction to the council’s work developing a National Strategy for First Nations economic development on reserves. This three-year project “will inform Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments, corporations and individuals on the steps that must be taken to support community growth and create healthy business environments on First Nations reserves across Canada.”


In February, Ontario’s attorney general called on the federal government to help speed up the justice system by appointing more judges and making specific changes to the country’s Criminal Code, all in line with recommendations made by Scott Newark in his 2016 report “Justice on Trial” and highlighted by MLI’s 2016 “Report Card on the Criminal Justice System”. As recommended by MLI, Naqvi called on the federal government to appoint more judges, reform the Criminal Code to limit the use of preliminary inquiries, and to call a special meeting with provincial and territorial attorneys general to discuss the impact of the 2016 Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which imposed limits on the length of trials. Three other provincial justice ministers have called for the reduction or elimination of preliminary inquiries. There is no doubt that the constructive work of MLI is having an impact on these issues.

Health transfers

One area where we feel we have contributed substantially to the health care debate is on the issue of health transfers to the provinces. When the federal government was meeting the provinces in the fall of 2016 on this issue, MLI released a series of articles, a video and infographics that exposed provincial complaints about “reduced” health funding. Indeed, we showed that even as the pace of growth of health transfers slowed, the federal government would be paying an increasing share of each new health dollar as provinces have been forced to constrain health spending. As we made clear, the provinces have demonstrated that they can control the growth of health spending if they are unable to rely on massive increases in health transfers. As recommended by MLI, the federal government has announced it would hold the line on health transfers and instead make targeted investments in provincial health budgets.

Regulation in the US

US President Donald Trump’s move to enact a regulatory budgeting regime has drawn considerable attention to the Canadian experience, and work done by MLI Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer on the file when he worked for the federal government. Speer’s 2016 study for the R Street Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, showed how the US can learn from Canada's approach to limiting regulation with a regulatory budgeting system. Early signs suggest that the president's model will draw from the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian experience as outlined by Speer. Numerous US policy publications have picked up on Speer’s recommendations.