Alex's Blog: EXPANDING THE POLITICAL IMAGINATION

The other day, CNN ran a focus group on what some American voters were now thinking about their president. The comments were almost universally critical including among Trump voters. But even some of the most critical, it seems, may still be Trump supporters. It was, for me, a valuable reminder that pointing out Trump’s flaws, ...

Alex's Blog: Why We Hate Taxes – and why we shouldn’t

A somewhat shorter version first appeared in albertaviews January/February 2015 as Taxes: a small price to pay for civilization About a year ago, my son Jordan, some friends and colleagues and I put together a book on taxes in Canada, Tax Is Not a Four-Letter Word. We had quite different views about how high taxes ...

Alex's Blog: The Year Taxes Made a Comeback

A slightly shorter version of this piece written with Jordan Himelfarb appeared here in The Toronto Star. It’s just possible that 2014 will be seen as the year that taxes made a comeback in Canada. Not so long ago Stéphane Dion tried to put a green “tax shift” on the table but apparently we weren’t ...

Alex's Blog: Austerity and Trickle Down Meanness

Alex Himelfarb, former clerk of the Privy Council, was interviewed by Adam Kahane. POSSIBLE CANADAS ON BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES In this excerpt of Adam Kahane’s interview published here in the Globe and Mail I focus on austerity and trickle down meanness. What keeps you up at night? Himelfarb: The number one issue for me is ...

Alex's Blog: On the Weakening of the Collective

Summary of interviewed, June 23, by Adam Kahane as part of his Possible Canadas project and first appeared here on Possible Canadas website Kahane: What keeps you up at night? Himelfarb: The number one issue for me is inequality. Let’s think of the bottom, middle, and top of society. On the bottom, the situation with ...

Alex's Blog: Tax Is More Than A Four Letter Word

http://castroller.com/podcasts/TheAgendaVideo/4043959 The Agenda – Steve Paikin interview before the Ontario Budget  May 30, 2014

Alex's Blog: Tax Is More Than A Four Letter Word

“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society”, a quote from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on the IRS headquarter in Washington Ontario Budget 2014: watch my interview with Steve Paikin at The Agenda HERE

Alex's Blog: Saying no to the conjuror’s trick of tax cuts

Tax is Not a Four Letter Word is a collection of essays, published by WLU Press, I co-edited with my son, Jordan, Opinion Editor of The Toronto Star.  The CCPA Ontario’s Jennifer Story recently interviewed me about the book, and our desire to get Canadians thinking differently about taxes.  (The interview first appeared on the ...

Alex's Blog: Canada’s Dangerously Distorted Tax Conversation

“(In)visible Dialogue”. Installation by Wang King Road. 2011. Wikipedia Commons. (This post was written by Alex and Jordan Himelfarb; an abridged version appeared in the Star here.) We don’t like paying taxes. This is not big news: we don’t much like paying any bills, and there’s probably never been a time when we didn’t grumble ...

Alex's Blog: Canada’s Dangerously Distorted Tax Conversation

“(In)visible Dialogue”. Installation by Wang King Road. 2011. Wikipedia Commons. (This post was written by Alex and Jordan Himelfarb; an abridged version appeared in the Star here.) We don’t like paying taxes. This is not big news: we don’t much like paying any bills, and there’s probably never been a time when we didn’t grumble ...

Alex's Blog: Why we have no time for politics

Samara recently published yet another study showing that Canadians, especially young Canadians, are profoundly disengaged from formal politics.  Not only are citizens voting less and participating less in political parties, they are not writing, reading or even talking with friends about party politics. While many are still donating money and time to causes, they don’t have much ...

Alex's Blog: Why we have no time for politics

Edward Hicks, c. 1824, “Peaceable Kingdom”, National Gallery of Art, Wikipedia Commons. Samara recently published yet another study showing that Canadians, especially young Canadians, are profoundly disengaged from formal politics.  Not only are citizens voting less and participating less in political parties, they are not writing, reading or even talking with friends about party politics. While many ...

Alex's Blog: Celebrating Public Service

Public servants celebrating the enrolment of 5 million citizens in the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (1959, Archives of Ontario) Notes for talk at Public Policy Forum Dinner, April 11, 2013 I am delighted to be here with family, friends and colleagues this evening – an evening that can only be understood as a celebration of ...

Alex's Blog: Celebrating Public Service

Public servants celebrating the enrolment of 5 million citizens in the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (1959, Archives of Ontario) Notes for talk at Public Policy Forum Dinner, April 11, 2013 I am delighted to be here with family, friends and colleagues this evening – an evening that can only be understood as a celebration of ...

Alex's Blog: The Trouble With Austerity: Economics as Ideology

A somewhat abridged version of this post first appeared in The Toronto Star here Governments here and elsewhere are increasingly preoccupied with cutting even as evidence piles up of its harmful consequences on people and the economy. Austerity is not even delivering the balanced budgets its advocates promise. Even the IMF is now preaching balance ...

Alex's Blog: The Trouble With Austerity: Economics as Ideology

A somewhat abridged version of this post first appeared in The Toronto Star here Governments here and elsewhere are increasingly preoccupied with cutting even as evidence piles up of its harmful consequences on people and the economy. Austerity is not even delivering the balanced budgets its advocates promise. Even the IMF is now preaching balance ...

Alex's Blog: The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013 We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the ...

Alex's Blog: The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013 We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the ...

Alex's Blog: Bargain Basement Citizenship and the Decline of Democracy

We ought to be outraged. Just about every day our media provides a new account of the decline of our democracy:  the inadequacies of our electoral system and allegations of electoral fraud; the high-handed treatment of our Parliament through inappropriate prorogations and overuse of omnibus legislation; a government ever more authoritarian and opaque, resistant to evidence and reason, and ...

Alex's Blog: Taking Back Our Democracy: Bridging the Generational Divide

These are tough days for Canada’s parliamentary democracy.  Having endured years of steady erosion, it is now under frontal attack.  Journalists and public leaders, across the political spectrum, have begun to document the injuries. We are seeing stirrings of outrage. But this assault on our democracy could not be happening without some complicity or at ...

Alex's Blog: Going, Going, Gone: Dismantling the Progressive State

“An Auction”. William Pyne and William Combe (1808). Now that some time has passed since the federal budget it might be useful to step back and assess what it says about where the government is taking us. Reaction has been pretty muted. The “centrist punditry” generally see this as an incremental budget, business as usual, ...

Alex's Blog: The Price Of Austerity

Austerity, we have been told repeatedly by pundits and political leaders, is the defining issue in these uncertain times, the solution to our economic challenges. We have been given fair warning that the next federal budget will be first about cuts – cuts to government even as we continue to cut taxes. We can expect ...

Alex's Blog: A Bad Day: What Now?

C10, the omnibus crime bill, passed third reading and is now over to the Senate for what is supposed to be sober second thought.  The vote could only have been a depressing anticlimax for the many Canadians who were fighting to stop or amend this legislation.  And the implacable inevitability of its passage must surely ...