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Canada shifts debt-reduction burden to provinces -budget officer

Yet here we have a whole courtroom full of legal officials wasting their time on the question of whether some jailbird does or does not get to waltz out of prison with a specific sort of pin affixed to his bosom. Continue reading Sadder still is the fact that Drabinsky evidently has it in mind that reclaiming his Order of Canada will help rehabilitate him in the public square. Its like a jailed TV producer who imagines hell once again become a Hollywood player if only the repo company will sell him back his Emmy Award statuette. Actually, I take that back: That analogy does a disservice to the Emmy Awards. The Emmys, at least, are presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences bodies whose members know a thing or two about the art of good television. The Order of Canada, on the other hand, is awarded on the advice of a council composed of the Chief Justice of Canada, the Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Clerk of the Queens Privy Council, and various other grandees who know little or nothing about medicine, economics, journalism, modern dance, broadcasting, or any of the other disparate fields from which Order of Canada recipients are plucked. Its a wonderful thing to be recognized for excellence by your peers. But the members of the Order of Canada advisory council dont purport to be a set of anyones peers. And their gauzy criterion for admission embodied in the orders motto, desiderantes meliorem patriam (they desire a better country) is so vague that it can be applied to anyone who is somewhat famous and well-respected in their field. Related Newest Order of Canada recipients include former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, ex-NHL coach Pat Quinn But the more basic, and important, objection to the existence of the Order of Canada is that democratic governments even through the offices of high-minded, independent bodies should not be in the business of ranking citizens by merit, of elevating Joe above Harry, or Harry above Joe. (The Order of Canada actually comes in three tiers, so you could even have Tom and Dick packed into a multi-layer status club sandwich in between Joe and Harry.) Indeed, the very instinct to establish such hierarchies is nothing but a reflex from feudal days, when the oldest and wealthiest families co-opted the status-conferring power of the state to establish their purported moral superiority vis-a-vis everyone else. This reflex is anachronistic. In a free country stripped of feudal superstition, citizens can judge for themselves the comparative worth of their fellow citizens. They dont need the state to do it for them. In 2013, our reward for great accomplishment comes not in the form of medals or pins or other baubles presented to us in velvet boxes; but rather in the words written about us in newspaper articles and on Wikipedia.

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The Order of Canada is a vestige of feudal elitism. Get rid of it

The PBO, which was set up by the Conservative government in 2006, has a mandate to provide independent analysis of Canada’s finances to legislators. “PBO’s projection of net debt suggests federal debt is on track to achieve the government’s G20 (Group of 20) commitment to a debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of 25 percent by 2021,” the report said. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the target at the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, earlier this month. Canada ran 11 straight years of budget surpluses before the 2008-09 financial crisis, and Harper is eager to balance the books again before the next election, scheduled for October 2015. CHANGE IN TRANSFERS Ottawa expects a deficit in the 2013-14 fiscal year of C$18.7 billion ($18.2 billion), or 1 percent of GDP. But in a controversial move in 2011, the Conservatives announced a change to the way the federal government transfers funds to the provinces to cover the country’s universal, publicly funded healthcare system. Transfers have been growing by 6 percent a year and will continue to do so until 2016-17, but after that they will increase in line with average growth in nominal gross domestic product, which is expected to be lower. The budget office said the change to the so-called Canada Health Transfer “has transferred the fiscal burden to provinces and territories”. “PBO estimates that the debt path of other levels of government is not sustainable and will continue to rise, reaching 359.9 percent of GDP by 2087,” it said. The PBO defines a government’s debt as sustainable if the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to return to its current level over a 75-year horizon, taking into account pressures from an aging population and other considerations.