Step One: Canada in the World

The first step in discussing the future for any county is understanding its geographic, economic, historic, political and cultural relationships with other countries within the context of the international system.

Obviously in Canada's case its geographical proximity to, and influence by, the United States is vital to a conversation about the country's future.

We will argue that the influence of the United States on Canada is far less than imagined.

Just as important to a conversation about Canada's future is the current norms in the international system.

Luckily for a small, indefensible country like Canada a fundamtenal transition in the international system has occurred over the last 200 years or so that has given many small countries much greater control over their own destinies

The international sytem has changed from the period during the 18th to late 20th century where the unequal power between countries was the defining characteristic to a 21st century international system (probably dated from 1989) where the legal equality of sovereign states is the defining characteristic.

Moreover, since 1989, increasingly the legal right of state sovereignity has been been based on the  requirement of the state to provide basic public goods -- domestic safety, rule of law, political equality, fair taxation, access to education and health technologies -- to its citizens.

It is Canada's great fortune to have the United States as the only neighbour with which it shares a land border and at a time when the norms of the international system are based on the legal equality of states because this gives Canadians tremendous room to create our own future.

As things stand today, and as far as we can see into the future, Canada's future will be excellent or otherwise by the decisions made by a community of Canadians and no one else.

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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.