Will extreme weather events play long-term havoc with Canada’s transportation infrastructure?

By Alan M. Field

At a time when California, Texas and several other American states are suffering through droughts brought on by long-term changes in climate patterns, many Canadians may take solace in the fact that their country has long been endowed with a plentiful, dependable supply of water. If anything, rainfall in Canada seems to be increasing along with the country’s average temperatures. According to a recent report by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, over the past sixty years, as average temperatures in Canada have increased by more than 1.3 degrees Centigrade, or about twice the global average, Canada’s weather has also become wetter, with an average 12 per cent increase in rainfall across the country. As a result, noted the IBC analysis, “Canadians now cope with an additional twenty days of rain per year,” compared with average rainfall totals in the 1960s.

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Reviving Ontario’s prospects as an engine of manufacturing growth

By Alan M. Field

The bad news about Ontario’s economy continues to accumulate: After a decade of steady government spending increases, the government of Ontario has managed to virtually double its debt from $132 billion in 2000-1 fiscal year, to an estimated $288 billion during 2013-4, according to the Ontario Financing Authority. The result of Ontario’s growing debt is that interest payments will cost the provincial government $11.01 billion in 2014-5, consuming some nine percent of its government revenues.

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The potential payoff from Canada’s more strategic approach to foreign trade agreements

By Alan M. Field

Canada stands at a crossroads in its approach to international trade. The country’s long-term economic prospects could be significantly improved by its participation in two major free-trade pacts: Its bilateral pact with South Korea, and the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which opens opportunities for Canada in the 28-nation European Union. What kinds of benefits can Canadian exporters expect from the Harper government’s recent free trade agreements with South Korea – a fast-growing dynamic ‘emerging nation’ – and Europe, with its population of 507 million? Is Canada likely to derive significant benefits from the highly touted Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will bring it into a vast trade bloc with Korea and ten other nations along the Pacific Rim, including the United States, Mexico, and most of the major nations of South America and Asia?

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The perils of investor dispute settlement

By Alan M. Field

This spring, Canadian anti-trade activists collected thousands of signatures demanding that Calgary-based energy company Lone Pine Resources drop its $250 million NAFTA lawsuit against Quebec’s moratorium on fracking. The dispute called attention to a key provision of the TPP that was long ago incorporated into the 1994 NAFTA, as well as numerous subsequent pacts. Known as investor-state dispute resolution chapters, they enable companies from countries that are parties to international trade pact to sue governments that engage in anti-competitive or unfair practices.

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Will Canada’s gains from the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership wind up being given away to the U.S.?

By Alan M. Field

Canada’s ruling Conservative Party boasts that under its control, the country has enacted six free-trade agreements with nine different foreign countries. But its critics point out that over 36 of the last 48 months, the Canadian economy has been running a merchandise trade deficit; not a surplus. Could Canada’s prospects for boosting its exports worldwide improve as a result of an upcoming trade and investment of epic proportions – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)? In coming months, the Harper government and the business communities of North America hope to convince the public that this is the case.

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Canada’s long road toward a standardized, transparent set of performance indicators for port productivity

By Alan M. Field

How do Canadian ports stack up against the world’s largest ports when it comes to productivity? What are the most useful ways for measuring and comparing port productivity in Canada with port productivity elsewhere? Although maritime carriers, terminal administrators and other stakeholders have been gaining access to more and more comparative data in recent years, collecting comprehensive and actionable data about the productivity of the world’s major ports has remained an elusive goal. For Canadians, analyzing the relevant data, and making meaningful comparisons between productivity performance in Canada and productivity elsewhere around the world remains a major challenge.

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