• Over the past two centuries, the world has become more urban, as people have moved to the cities to better their lives. Cities exist because, as large labour markets, they facilitate a higher standard of living for residents and reduce poverty. Governments place a high priority on these social goods. Achieving them requires that governments pursue policies that lead to higher household discretionary income. Governments must also proactively avoid policies that reduce discretionary income.

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  • This analysis arrives at approximations of the value of SaskPower, a provincial Crown corporation owned by the government, and thus the citizens and taxpayers, of the province of Saskatchewan. The valuation ranges could be useful in determining the future ownership or use of this asset. Every organization needs to review what it could or should do to serve its clients and whether its present array of assets is appropriate for its strategy and its future operations.

  • The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is a non-profit research organization that works to support economic growth and an enhanced quality of life in Canada. The Frontier Centre is an educational charity devoted to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and information. It is not affiliated with any political party and is strictly non-partisan.

  • Governments have historically been using various tools to achieve their goals in the economy. Laws and regulations, money supply, interest rates, taxes, trade tariffs, anti-trust policies, price controls, government spending, and for example the creation of Crown corporations are just some, among many such tools.

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Executive Summary

Over the past two centuries, the world has become more urban, as people have moved to the cities to better their lives. Cities exist because, as large labour markets, they facilitate a higher standard of living for residents and reduce poverty. Governments place a high priority on these social goods. Achieving them requires that governments pursue policies that lead to higher household discretionary income. Governments must also proactively avoid policies that reduce discretionary income.

Regrettably, urban containment policy, the subject of this report, increases house prices relative to income, thereby reducing discretionary income and the standard of
living while increasing poverty. ...

Executive Summary

This analysis arrives at approximations of the value of SaskPower, a provincial Crown corporation owned by the government, and thus the citizens and taxpayers, of the province of Saskatchewan. The valuation ranges could be useful in determining the future ownership or use of this asset. Every organization needs to review what it could or should do to serve its clients and whether its present array of assets is appropriate for its strategy and its future operations.

Market-based and intrinsic valuations of SaskPower

The best probable estimate of the total market capitalization, that is, the total value of the company were it to be traded on...

Executive Summary

In 2011, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a study of 27 member countries to assess the size of the national government-run enterprise sector. The study examined the number, employment and economic value of enterprises. Canada placed in the middle among the examined countries with 33 GBEs, 105,296 employees and a US$21.6-billion in market value. OECD’s data however completely omitted to include government–run businesses at the provincial and municipal levels. In fact, the size of the government business sector in Canada is much larger than expected and some of these businesses may be suitable candidates...

Executive Summary

The 1944 Chicago International Aviation Conference, known as the Chicago Conference, was convened to determine how best to deal with air transportation between countries. A multilateral or borderless trade was proposed by the United States (hereafter U.S.) but it failed to emerge as the accepted approach in Chicago. From that time on, countries have dealt with each other on a bilateral or country-to-country basis. This has hamstrung the industry since.

A bilateral trade in air services means that each country has the right to require that the airline of the country with whom it is negotiating be “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by that...

Executive Summary

• Professor William Baumol coined the term “the cost disease” to indicate that the cost of consumer products has increased at the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), while the cost of education and health care have increased at an exponential rate.

• From 1999-00 to 2010-11, for example, enrollment in Canadian public schools decreased by 6.8 per cent, the number of educators increased by 8.0 per cent, and expenditures increased by about 60 per cent from slightly over $37.3-billion to almost $59.2-billion.

• If the public education expenditures increased at the same rate as the increase in CPI, it would be $46.8-billion and...

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Custom band elections are more difficult to understand than most Canadians realize.

Take for instance Garden Hill First Nation in Manitoba, located 300 kilometres southeast of Thompson.

Recently, the First Nation adopted rules preventing anyone under 50 from running in the up-coming election for chief and anyone under 40 from running for councillor.

The new rules also bar anyone living in a common law relationship from running.

Under these new rules about 80 per cent of the community is ineligible to run for chief or councillor, reported a band member.

As a custom band, Garden Hill has been removed from...

All Canadian provinces have introduced legislation to punish people for using cellphones while driving. But, the legislation doesn’t appear to be working. The number of distracted driving tickets suggests that people just aren’t listening. Rather than ratcheting up fines, provincial governments should embrace a harm reduction approach to distracted driving.

Driving while using a cell phone increases the likelihood of collisions, though legislation hasn’t proven effective at mitigating potential harms. A recent Frontier Centre backgrounder pointed out that there is a positive correlation between distracted driving legislation and collisions. Jurisdictions that have introduced distracted driving legislation have seen an increase...

The West has very few options left to curb further Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

After seizing Crimea many naively hoped that Russia would be content with having secured its access to the Black Sea and the future for its Black Sea Fleet base, and would not continue further efforts to destabilize Ukraine and seize more territory. These hopes have now been dashed, as Russia continues to sponsor and facilitate internal unrest throughout eastern Ukraine and amass armed forces along the Ukrainian border.

What lessons should the West have learned from Russia’s actions? Two stand out as most important.

The...

Technology has radically transformed many industries, from manufacturing and textiles to travel agencies or the entertainment business. Many have greatly suffered before accepting their fate and adapting to a new digital world. Now, the wider arts industry is in the firing line, but what is going to hurt the industry overall, might actually greatly benefit individual artists.

For decades, arts funding has been a euphemism for a complex combination of federal funding, tax credits for mega entertainment corporations, bureaucratic individual grants and countless political machinations. Those fortunate enough to have the right connections in the industry get the funding, while...

How should municipal services be delivered to citizens?

The political right argues that outsourcing services is usually most efficient, while the left argues that “privatization” of services such as waste management or wastewater treatment would lead to lower quality services.

In actuality, many municipal services are delivered by both public and private employees. Sometimes public employees are best positioned to provide better services sand sometimes private contractors have the edge. Neither public nor private delivery is always the best option.

Whether services are publicly or privately delivered is typically determined by short term political calculations and the ideological commitments of...

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The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has today released Housing Affordability and the Standard of Living in Calgary, a new report authored by Wendell Cox, a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre.

Mr Cox is an expert in land use and transportation policy and the co-author of the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, which has examined metropolitan areas in Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States since 2004.

In this report, Mr Cox draws on evidence from the Demographia survey, and his knowledge of the role of housing affordability in poverty reduction, to make...

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, an independent research institute based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, released today an independent valuation of the potential market value of SaskPower, the provincial Crown electric power utility owned by the citizens and taxpayers of the province of Saskatchewan, based in Regina.  The report is authored by Ian Madsen.

Using established financial analysis methods, the valuation study used two different, complementary and nonconflicting methods to estimate the value of SaskPower at this time, were its common equity or shares to be publicly listed.

The analysis found that the firm’s current potential public listing value could be...

Today, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy issued: Crown Corporations & Government Divestment authored by Jan Pavel.

Many Canadian Crown corporations were divested in late 1980s and 1990s. Two decades later, a large majority of the privatizations have proven to be very successful. The data clearly shows that going private was beneficial for the companies’ financial health, profitability, debt ratio, productivity as well as it contributed to overall social welfare. Governments used proceeds to reduce public debt and collected more taxes. Success materialized even in industries where few expected it – Canadian National Railway being an example.

Since early 2000s...

Today the Frontier Centre for Public Policy issued Nationalism in the skies: the square peg in a round world, authored by Mary-Jane Bennett.

Nationality in a global business like aviation has made little sense

Convened in 1944 by U.S. president F.D. Roosevelt to establish “world routes and services” in international aviation, the participants at the Chicago Conference rejected the U.S. proposal of a free trade in the skies. Since that time, countries have dealt with each other on a country-to-country basis creating a nationalist system of aviation. The nationalist underpinning of a bilateral trade in air services has its drawbacks....

A new study jointly published today by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies shows that per-pupil education costs are soaring all across Canada. As taxpayers shoulder an ever-increasing burden, there is little evidence that higher spending is producing better educational outcomes for Canadian students. 

In “The Cost Disease Infects Public Education across Canada,” Professor Rod Clifton examines expenditures on education in Canada’s provinces and territories between 1999 and 2010, showing that while public school enrollment decreased by 6.8%, the number of educators increased by 8.0%.  More significantly, the expenditures increased by about 60%...

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This report on Quebec Hydro is one in a long series of reports of 'troubles in Canada's utility land' brought about by the shale gas revolution, new technologies (solar, wind), larger investments in energy efficiency measures and slowing per capita demand, all taking the 'build' pressure  down for large and expensive hydroelectric generating plants.

The problem for ratepayers is that provincial governments with monopoly Crown corporation utilities - Newfoundland Labrador's Nalcor, Quebec's Quebec Hydro, Manitoba's Manitoba Hydro and B.C.'s B.C. Hydro - aren't listening.

Grown dependent on the income streams the Crown monopolies flow into their government masters' revenue...

Tomorrow, March 29th 2014, between 8:30pm and 9:30pm, we'll be celebrating Human Achievement Hour.

This one-hour event coincides with Earth Hour, an annual event where governments, businesses and individuals dim or shut off lights in an effort to raise awareness about pollution. In contrast, Human Achievement Hour (HAH) promotes human prosperity.

Human Achievement Hour is a period of time during which one shows appreciation for human accomplishments by engaging in capitalist acts between consenting adults. For example, going out shopping, or using electricity or indoor plumbing.

“We salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that...

An animated version of Stephen Moore's talk - America's Energy Boom: How It Will Save U.S. Manufacturing and Recharge The U.S. Economy.

Last month I attended the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa.

It's the largest annual gathering of conservative and libertarians in Canada, with a noticeable generational split between those two philosophies.

The keynote speaker on the final day of the conference was Mark Steyn.

Now, Mark and I wouldn't agree on every political issue, but he's a very entertaining guy.

He gave a rousing speech in which he covered six political facts of life:

1) When money drains, power drains. When a nation loses control of its finances, it loses control of its destiny.

2) Permanence is the illusion of...

Frontier Senior Fellow, Donna Laframboise, testifies to UK House of Commons Energy and Climate Change select committee:

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Unemployment is a chronic problem for Canada’s Aboriginal people, but Cold Lake First Nations in Alberta have achieved success that’s worth trumpeting.

Band member James Blackman started the Primco Dene Group of Companies.

The businesses are wholly owned by the Cold Lake band, includes a catering company, an emergency medical services company, and a well-servicing company, among others.

So far the Primco Dene Group employs 650 people, and 500 of them are Aboriginal.

Employees may try several different jobs before finding the one they prefer. The result is greater satisfaction for both employee and employer.

Some employment policies are specifically...

Politicians are fond of championing the middle class, but a recent study by Statistics Canada shows that middle income Canadians are doing relatively well compared with those who fall below the poverty line and younger Canadians are falling behind older cohorts.

Traditional welfare programs have done little to help those who need it most. One option would be replacing transfer payments to provinces with cash transfers to individuals.

Those transfers would go directly to every Canadian. Since it would be taxable, those above the income tax exemption level would see clawbacks that would ensure that low income Canadians benefit the...

More and more Canadians are being victimized by laws that allow authorities to seize assets that are suspected of being the proceeds of crime.

In several provinces, property and other assets can be seized even without formal charges being laid, let alone a conviction in the case.

Authorities only have to prove, based on a balance of probabilities, that property was acquired by illegal means or was used to help commit a crime.

Such laws were originally created to help fight organized crime, but many now argue that the net is far too wide.

An example is the story of...

Property Rights Under Threat is a new video from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy that covers the plight of Geophysical Service Incorporated, a Calgary-based business that specializes in seismic exploration.

For many years, GSI conducted seismic surveys of the ocean floor off the coast of Canada, bringing much-needed jobs and investment to many communities.

But new policies implemented by governments in eastern Canada have destroyed GSI's business model and devastated the company.

GSI can no longer afford to operate the two exploration ships it used to own, and has been forced to let go almost all of the hundreds...

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Saskatchewan government announced it was was scrapping standardized testing. Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher and a Senior researcher with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley explains that while Canada is blessed with resource wealth, that alone is not what makes it such a wealthy country. Many jurisdictions that have abundant natural resources are poor or troubled, while some of the world’s wealthiest societies “have no natural resources to speak of”, he writes. Crowley argues that what makes Canada’s resource endowment “almost uniquely valuable in the world is that it exists within another vastly more important endowment of rules, institutions and behaviours”. The Globe ran an edited version of this column.

Brian Lee Crowley,...

Cutting throught the Edu-Babble - Research Fellow Michael Zwaagstra - Nineteenth National Congress on Rural Education in Canada, Saskatoon, March 31, 2014.

View the entire Power Point Presentation here.

Frontier Centre for Public Policy vice president Bob Murray appears in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion video series, talking about how the pipeline delay could affect U.S.-Canada relations.

Joe Couture, The StarPhoenix, January 23, 2014

A new report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy tries to make government budget numbers easier to understand by scaling them down to the size of an average household’s finances.

“People have a very tough time actually putting into perspective what really large numbers mean,” Peter McCaffrey, a policy analyst with the Frontier Centre and author of the report released this week, said.

“To actually put it in context is very tricky. The idea behind this project is to try and scale provincial budgets, and actually the federal budget as well, to...

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