Virtually alone in the growing outrage over the federal government's decision to scrap the long-form mandatory census, the Fraser Institute threw its support behind the government's decision with its chief economist Niels Veldhuis arguing that "voluntary surveys will yield enough accurate information about the country and critics saying otherwise are members of 'vested interest groups."
The Fraser Institute's school report-card program is merely the opening salvo in a campaign to strip public education of its funding and direct the resources to the private and nonprofit sectors.
Every year the institute spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to compile and disseminate its rankings of elementary and secondary schools. It has undreamed-of support from corporate media, which turn over dozens of pages each year for school rankings in the Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Sun, Toronto Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Windsor Star, and Quebec newsmagazine L'Actualité.
The good news is that there are still some tickets left for the Fraser Institute's 35th anniversary gala dinner next Monday night in Vancouver. The bad news is that the tickets -- including tables for 10 at $7,000 -- will probably all eventually be sold.
And that means yet more money flowing into the amply filled coffers of an organization that for 3 1/2 decades has worked tirelessly to cut taxes for the rich, undermine public health care, destroy confidence in public education and prevent Canada from joining the global climate change battle.
In the conservative quest to shape public debate in recent years, no tool has proved more useful than the think-tank. Nobody understood this better than the director of the ultra right-wing U.S.-based ATLAS Foundation, who once stated that his mission was "to litter the world with free-market think-tanks."
Mission accomplished. Certainly the Canadian landscape is cluttered with right-wing think-tanks -- the Fraser Institute, the C.D. Howe Institute, the Montreal Economic Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the Frontier Institute, just to name a few -- all well-funded by a business elite keen to have its message packaged in a manner that makes it appear grounded in serious research.