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From the Anti-Confederates to Wexit: Regional Alienation and Federal Transfers in Canada
March 6, 2020 at 2:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree
Presented by Dr. Trevor Tombe, Department of Economics, University of Calgary
Federal transfers are essential to Canada’s fiscal landscape, and have been since Confederation. But achieving stable, equitable, and efficient arrangements is difficult. Canada’s first separatist movement — the Anti-Confederates of Nova Scotia — was fuelled by concern around fair treatment by the federal government, especially on fiscal issues.
Today, some in Alberta are raising similar concerns. Governments are constantly balancing competing and often irreconcilable interests in ever-changing economic, social, and political environments. Today, fiscal transfers have evolved into complex arrangements involving amounts many times their original size, and they include both explicit programs, such as equalization, and implicit transfers through federal tax and spending policies.
In this talk, I’ll survey the history of various fiscal transfer programs, and explore their scale, scope, and design, using comprehensive data from Confederation to the present.