The Investment Canada Act, implemented in 1985 by the government of Brian Mulroney, replaced the Foreign Investment Review Agency, which had become a potent symbol of Pierre Trudeau's interventionism. While the new act was explicitly intended to welcome foreign investment (including takeovers) with open arms, it included a "net benefit" test to supposedly protect Canadian interests.
Tepid GDP numbers released Tuesday by Statistics Canada confirm that Canada's economic recovery, such as it was, is sliding completely into the ditch. We're clearly heading for stagnation at best, and quite possibly another "double dip" downturn.
The headline number was disappointing, to say the least. Real GDP grew only 2 per cent (annualized) in the spring quarter. That's just a hair faster than the U.S. economy (which everyone knows is still deeply in the soup). Two per cent doesn't keep up with population and productivity -- implying higher unemployment ahead, not lower. Typically, at this stage of recovery, the economy should be growing three times faster.
$12 billion. That number keeps popping up in debates about the CETA. It's the increase in Canadian GDP the federal government claims will result from the deal.
The number has been repeated so often, it now shows up unsourced in routine reporting on the negotiations. CETA "is a massive trade deal expected to boost the Canadian economy by $12 billion," opened a recent, typical article.
But where did this factoid come from? Very few reporters or policy-makers know (or bother citing) the original source. It was generated by a computer model built by three European economists, retained by the Canadian and EU governments to work on the 2008 joint economic study of the CETA.
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There's a fascinating new report from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards that calculates Human Development Index (HDI) scores for all of Canada's provinces and territories. Here's the citation:
The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories, 2000-2011, by Elspeth Hazell, Kar-Fai Gee, and Andrew Sharpe (Ottawa: Centre for the Study of Living Standards), May 2012, 79 pp.
It can be downloaded from the Centre's website.