National Newswatch

Refocusing the debate on industrial policy

Jan 12 2023 — Robert Asselin — Noah Smith, an economist whose commentary I always find original and insightful, wrote a great commentary earlier this week on why China’s industrial policy has been mostly a flop. His main argument—which I very much agree with—is that throwing a lot of public money at firms is the wrong and ineffective way to do industrial […]

Canada needs its own bold industrial strategy – the U.S. cannot keep carrying us

Dec 8 2022 — Robert Asselin — When he became a presidential candidate back in 2019, Joe Biden made it unambiguously clear that his administration would pursue an aggressive industrial strategy to ensure U.S. competitiveness vis-à-vis China in key advanced industries and technologies. The recent adoption by Congress of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the CHIPS and Science Act – which […]

Don’t become complacent about fiscal policy

Nov 26 2021 — Robert Asselin — If this week’s speech from the throne was a chance for the Trudeau government to reaffirm its priorities, the upcoming fall economic statement will serve as a test for some of the core economic and fiscal assumptions from April’s budget that underlay those priorities. First, expect some changes to the bottom line for the current […]

Who will speak for Canada?

Sep 28 2021 — Robert Asselin — Every now and then, in moments when as a country we try to engage in some form of national conversation such as a federal election, we are reminded it is easy to replay the last refrain of our collective misunderstandings and fault lines. In a sobering article published last week in the Hub, Howard Anglin […]

Our short-term politics has left us unable to solve big problems

Jul 14 2021 — Robert Asselin — We may soon have a federal election campaign before us. It comes at a time when Canada is facing a number of significant challenges — including an aging population, slow economic growth, climate change and an increasingly complex geopolitical context. It’s crucial that the different political parties grapple with these big, fundamental questions. It’s my […]

Big questions remain as the central banks look for balance on inflation

Jun 9 2021 — Robert Asselin — We are exiting one of the most extreme economic crises of our lifetime, leaving central banks to strike a difficult balance between price control and a strong, sustained recovery. This debate will be front and centre in the policy world for the foreseeable future. It will no doubt have major implications for public policy, including […]

The federal budget has no answers on the question of growth

Apr 21 2021 — Robert Asselin — To evaluate a budget, I’ve always asked a simple question: which problem(s) is it trying to solve? A budget that needs 700 pages of (red) ink says a lot about government motivations. I can only try to answer what to me is the most important question from a public policy angle at this particular moment: […]

A New Innovation Mandate for a New Innovation Minister

Jan 13 2021 — Robert Asselin — You are taking on your new role at a challenging time. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a brighter economic future for all Canadians will require a long-term plan and strategic investments in our productive capacity. Greater productivity drives economic growth, business investment and employment, which in turn will generate higher living standards, more […]

Americans have spoken. What will it mean for Canadians?

Nov 9 2020 — Robert Asselin — A long and acrimonious U.S. presidential election is over, marking the end of one of the most turbulent periods in recent memory for the Canada-United States relationship. Joe Biden’s presidency will likely represent a return to warmer and more stable bilateral ties between our two nations. But it’s important to recognize that Biden’s economic plans […]

Canada needs to rethink its innovation policy to meet grand challenges

Sep 14 2020 — Robert Asselin — We live in an era increasingly defined by grand challenges: a global pandemic, an unsettling new geopolitical order, and an economy shaped by complex issues such as climate change, rising inequality, and demographic shifts. These challenges require us to think about public policy differently, with a bolder vision. More than ever, Canada’s economic success relies […]

We lost our fiscal anchor. We’re going to need a new one

Sep 9 2020 — Robert Asselin — The COVID-19 pandemic has touched virtually every aspect of Canadian public policy. Its public health effects are the most significant priority in the short run. But its substantial economic and fiscal effects may be even more significant over the long run. The pandemic will continue to suppress economic activity for the foreseeable future. Even if […]

The truth about Clarity

Aug 15 2015 — Robert Asselin — Some observers, namely a few political scientists sympathetic to the NDP, have wondered in the last few days why the Leader of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, decided to raise the issue of national unity at the Maclean’s debate last week. While campaigning in Québec on the eve of la Fête nationale du Québec on […]