Judicial review and the Charter by Marianna Callocchia

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Assessing the Power of the Courts & the legislature


The Canadian Bill of Rights – 1960:

  • The Canadian Bill of Rights served as the Canadian government’s first attempt to formally introduce a series of rights
  • It was introduced by the Diefenbaker government in 1960 in response to the past and contemporary political, cultural and social climates
    • In Particular, the atrocities and injustices of WWII served as the impetus driving the federal government to pursue the Canadian Bill of Rights
  • While the Canadian Bill of Rights still operates today, the constitutional status of the Charter ensures that the former is ‘subordinate’ or accountable to the latter



Why was the Charter introduced?

  • The Charter was implemented in 1982 by the Trudeau government, formally extending a series of legal, political, equality, religious and language rights and freedoms to Canadians
  • In many respects, the Charter was a much stronger document than its predecessor (the Bill of Rights) and sought to rectify many of the shortcomings of the Bill:
    • The Bill of Rights is generally framed as ensuring Parliamentary supremacy, as opposed to Constitutional supremacy (i.e., the Charter).
    • The Charter is a constitutional document, meaning that it is the SUPREME LAW or HIGHEST LAW in Canada. By extension, this also means that ALL Acts of Parliament are accountable to the Charter. The Bill of Rights, however, was an ordinary legislative document, meaning that it was much easier to repeal or amend it.
    • The Charter extended the level and type of rights protection when compared to the Bill of Rights. For example, the revised version now included language rights and the remedial powers of the courts. Overall, the Charter is a much more inclusive and comprehensive document when compared to the Bill.
    • The Charter provided the courts with extensive powers – specifically the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) – due to the inclusion of the remedial provision (section 24)
    • The inclusion of section 1 (the reasonable limits clause) and section 33 (the notwithstanding clause) suggest that the rights and freedoms set forth in the document were not absolute; granted these two sections, the government reserves the right to infringe on the rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens, albeit in a narrow set of circumstances
    • The Charter applies to both federal and provincial governments, whereas the Bill extended solely to the federal government. Thus, under the Charter both levels of government are accountable to the document.



Part 1: Unpacking and understanding s. 24(1), s. 1 & s. 33 of the Charter:


Judicial Supremacy & Section 24: The Remedial Powers of the Court

  • Pre-1982, the role of the Court was limited to an interpretive function – sometimes referred to as the “umpire of federalism”
    • Their role was to settle disputes between both orders of government (federal and provincial), specifically with regards to the division of powers. It was to ensure that the federal government did not legislate in areas of provincial jurisdiction, and vice versa.
  • With the birth of the Charter, however, particularly as a result of section 24, the Courts have become a very powerful institution
    • Their newfound role post-1982 has often been referred to as “guardians of the constitution”
  • Section 24(1) states: “Anyone whose rights and freedoms, as guaranteed y this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such a s remedy as the court consider appropriate and just in the circumstance
  • Under section 24(1), the courts have the power to:
    • Strike down (or invalidate) a law, statute or act as unconstitutional;
    • Asset that a law infringes on the Charter and is thus unconstitutional. Under this power, the court suspends their decision of unconstitutionality to grant the legislatures the appropriate time to fashion a legislative response (typically 1-2 years).
    • Amend the legislative document in question
      • This is the most controversial power of the courts because it allows them to write-in legislation, thus acting as policy (and not legal) actors



Section 1: The Reasonable Limits Clause

  • Section 1 states: “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society
  • Section 1 is important for several reasons:
    • It means that rights are not absolute
    • It is written in such an ambiguous way that it permits judges to decide what is considered a justified or unjustified rights infringement
    • The onus rests on the government to demonstrate (or to convince the Courts) that a rights infringement is justified
    • The words “demonstrably justified” suggest that the threshold for a ‘legitimate’ or justifiable rights violation is relatively high
      • Once again, whether or not the legislatures satisfy this condition is the Court’s prerogative
    • In the Oakes case, the SCC developed a test to determine whether or not a rights infringement is justified in a “free and democratic society”
      • This is the test currently employed by the SCC and the lower courts
    • The Oakes test has several important features:
      • There needs to be a rational objective for infringing on rights and freedoms. In other words, the legislative objective needs to be “pressing and substantial”
      • The infringement needs to be “rationally connected” to the legislative objectives. In other words, there must be a correlation between what the government is trying to achieve and how (or the ways) they are attempting to achieve it
      • The rights infringement must ‘minimally impair’ on a right. Essentially, the infringement must infringe on a right as little as possible. Therefore, if there is a less intrusive means of achieving a legislative objective, the legislatures are obliged to pursue that course of action.
      • The legislative objective must have “proportionate effects.” More specifically, the benefits of the legislative objective must outweigh the costs associated with infringing on protected rights and freedoms.


  • What does the Oakes test mean for judicial power?
    • Arguably, section 1 was included to permit government – when necessary – to infringe on protected rights and freedoms
      • It was a clause introduced to allow governments to justify or ague that the benefits of the legislation in question compensate or outweigh the harms
    • However, the vigorous and stringent 4-part test employed by the courts means that in a large number of cases, the Courts will find that an infringement is not justified
    • More importantly, it grants the courts the ‘final word’ on matters of constitutionality
      • If the court finds that the legislation is unjustifiable as per section 1, it is at the court’s discretion to apply the appropriate remedy



Section 33: The Notwithstanding Clause

  • Section 33 states: “Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of the Charter
    • This suggests that even if the courts declare legislation to be unconstitutional, the legislatures can invoke the notwithstanding clause, thus overriding the judicial decision


  • Section 33 is a sunset provision – it operates for a period of five years and then is no longer of force unless it is re-invoked
  • Section 33 only applies to fundamental freedoms – for example, freedom of religion – legal rights (section 7-14) and equality rights (section 15)
    • Other rights, however, such as language rights, are immune from section 33



Part 2: Unpacking and understanding the Charter


Dialogue Theory:

  • Dialogue theorists argue that the Charter permits an institutional dialogue between the SCC and the legislatures
  • In particular, they argue that the SCC does not have the last word because the legislatures are free to respond to judicial invalidation as they see fit
    • They can introduce new legislation that attempts to achieve the same legislative objectives OR they can invoke the notwithstanding clause if the legislation in question concerns sections 2, 7-14 & 15
  • Some issues with dialogue theory:
    • Their analysis of section 33 might overstate or exaggerate the extent to which the notwithstanding clause serves to bring power back to the legislatures
      • Section 33 has only been invoked once since the birth of the Charter
      • Governments tend to refrain from using section 33 because of the possible backlash that would stem from this move
        • In essence, invoking the notwithstanding clause suggests that governments are willing to openly infringe on basic rights and freedoms, irrespective of the court’s claim that the legislation was not a justifiable infringement
      • In terms of section 1, they might also exaggerate the extent to which it brings power back to the legislatures
        • The legislatures’ successful section 1 defense requires that the court accepts the government’s position. If the court finds government’s defense under section 1 to hold no weight, the court reserves the right to enforce any of the three remedial powers


Left-Wing Charter Critics:

  • Critical of the Charter itself
    • Suggest that the document is inflexible or too rigid and thus does not reflect contemporary issues and/or injustices
    • Argue that the Courts should actively employ a non-interpretivist approach:
      • The Charter should act as a ‘living tree’
      • The Canadian courts should be activist


Right-Wing Charter Critics:

  • Are critical of the court’s role under the Charter:
    • Believe that the remedial powers of the courts results in the “legalization of politics”
    • The Court should employ an interpretivist approach: judicial review should be textually legitimized by the Charter itself because it ensures that they are accountable to the Constitution
    • As an unaccountable or unelected body, their power needs to be constrained
    • The court’s activist approach has resulted in judicial supremacy


Part 3: Is the Court’s approach to the Charter reflective of judicial supremacy (strong-form) or judicial deference (weak-form)?


An analysis of the following cases:

  • Legal Rights:
    • Insite – Safe injection facilities (s. 7)
    • Seaboyer – past sexual history of victims in sexual assault cases (s. 7 & 11(d))
  • Democratic rights (s. 3):
    • Sauvé I & Sauvé II
  • Equality rights (s. 15)
    • Vriend v. Alberta – the writing in of sexual orientation as a protected ground under section 15



Judicial Review Systems:

  • Strong-form review:
    • The US court is typically referred to as a prime example of strong-form review
    • While judicial decisions can be overturned, overriding judicial directives can only be done in the long-run
    • There are no formal mechanisms for judicial reversal
    • The courts generally have extensive powers that go beyond simply declaring that a statute. Act or legislation is unconstitutional
  • Weak-form review:
    • Judicial decisions can be overturned in the short-term
    • There are no formal mechanisms that allow the legislature to overturn judicial decisions
    • Very narrow remedial powers of the Court


Is Canada reflective of strong-form or weak-form review?

  • As previously explained, the Canadian court have a range of remedial powers at their disposal. Importantly, the courts have actively exercised their discretion under section 24(1) à Reflective of strong-form judicial review
  • However, there are formal legislative mechanisms which grant the legislatures the opportunity to reverse judicial decisions in the short-run (i.e., section 33) à Reflective of weak-form judicial review
    • Recall, however, that section 33 is generally never used
    • This might suggest that Canada is reflective of strong-form review, in spite of the inclusion of s.33 in the Charter



Section 7: Legal Rights

  • “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”



Insite: Canada v. PHS Community Services Society

  • During the 1990s, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) – a poverty stricken neighborhood – declared a state of “public health emergency”
    • They faced an unprecedented and extremely high rate of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C infections
    • High levels of poverty and mental/physical health issues in the community
    • The DTES called for the need to address substance abused and overdose as a mental health condition
  • They advocated for the need to establish a safe injection site within the DTES community to substantially reduce the likelihood of overdoses and the spread of diseases
  • The operation of safe injection sites directly infringed on the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
    • In 2003, the Minister of Health under the Liberal government granted Insite a conditional exemption under the CDSA
    • This meant that they could operate free of criminal prosecution


  • In 2006 & 2007 – under the Harper Conservatives – Insite was granted two subsequent exemptions
    • However, the new Minister of Health indicated his intent to eventually revoke Insite’s exemption
      • In 2008, he did just that
      • This eventually led to a Charter challenge


  • The SCC cited several health and social benefits of Insite, evidencing the clear advantages of its operation as a SIF. These include:
    • Preventing deaths from overdoses and the spreading of disease by allowing drug users to ingest (or inject) drugs in a safe and controlled environment
    • Safer DTES community overall
  • In a unanimous decision, the SCC ruled that the Minister of Health grant Insite an immediate exemption




  • Challenged the constitutional permissibility of s. 276 & 277 of the Criminal Code – commonly referred to as the rape shield provisions
  • The central argument made by the accused was that these sections constituted an infringement on s. 7 & 11(d) of the Charter
    • Section 11(d) claims that everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • Seaboyer was charged with the sexual assault of a a women following a night of drinking at a local bar
    • The defense suggested that the questioning of the victim’s past sexual history was necessary to grant him the right to a fair trial and to prove his innocence
  • 7:2 decision on the SCC:
    • Argued that a victim’s past sexual history could not be used to confirm the twin myths – i.e., that the victim was more likely to have consented and/or that they are less credible as a witness because of their sexual promiscuity
    • The majority claimed that s. 276 was an unjustified rights infringement because it threatened the accused’s right to a full answer and defense
    • They struck down s. 276 as unconstitutional
      • Claimed that the courts should have the power to decide when introducing evidence relating to a victim’s past sexual history is relevant



Sauvé I:

  • Sauvé I was a constitutional challenge waged in response to section 51(e) of the Elections Canada Act
  • The case concerned the disenfranchisement of all eligible voters currently serving sentences in federal prisons
  • The SCC unanimously stated that section 51(e) was not a justifiable rights infringement



Sauvé II:

  • In response to Sauvé I, government redrafted the original version of 51(e)
    • The revised version proposed that disenfranchisement apply only to felons serving sentences equal to, or exceeding, two years in a federal prison
      • The logic behind the 2 year + time frame was that it would only apply to serious crimes
      • Thus, it was no longer a blanket provision



  • 5:4 decision on the SCC:
    • The majority claimed that voting rights are basic human rights that are central to any legitimate democratic government
    • The clear omission of s. 3 from the legislative override suggest that the framer’s of the Charter thought them to be an inalienable and indispensable right
    • They claimed that there is no correlation between the government’s objective of promoting prisoner’s respect for law and the disenfranchisement of prisoners
    • Section 51(e) was struck down



Vriend v. Alberta:

  • Section 15(1) case
    • The section states: “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability”
    • The ‘in particular’ part of s. 15 is what is now commonly referred to as the analogous grounds
      • The listed components under s. 15 are the “enumerated grounds” à They detail the specific social, cultural and religious identities/cleavages that ar protected by the equality rights provision
      • The analogous grounds allow the legislatures or the courts to add groups or categories to the enumerate grounds



  • Section 32(1) states: “This Charter applies”
    • (a): “to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matter within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and”
    • (b) “to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province”
      • In other words, the Charter only applies to government action
        • For example, government’s decision not to legislate in a particular area of public policy cannot constitute a rights infringement
        • In the case of Vriend, the Albertan government did not take a definitive stance or position on the issue; they neither included nor excluded sexual orientation as a protected ground under their human rights legislation



  • Facts of the cases:
    • Vriend was a full-time employee in an Albertan college
      • After being asked about his sexual orientation by the president of the college, Vriend divulged that he was homosexual
      • Less than a year later, the board of governors instituted a new policy which permitted the termination of employees on the basis of sexual orientation
      • He was then asked to resign
      • He applied to be reinstated but was refused




  • 8: 1 decision in the SCC:
    • The majority stated that in this case, government inaction is synonymous with government action. The government made a conscious choice to omit sexual orientation as a protected ground under their human rights legislation
    • The exclusion of sexual orientation is an infringement of s. 15(1) that cannot be saved by s. 1 (reasonable limits)
    • The court suggested that the Albertan government’s refusal to include sexual orientation as protected ground amplifies and fossilizes the social stigmatism surrounding homosexuals
    • They are also “withholding benefits or advantages which are available to others”
    • Sexual orientation is written into s. 15(1) by the Court



What do these cases tell us?

  • In all cases, the SCC employed a very narrow approach to section 1 defenses, making it relatively impossible for legislative objectives to be considered a justified rights infringement
  • In the case of Vriend, the SCC wrote-in sexual orientation, which effectively forced the hand of government
    • Even if they did not want to include sexual orientation under section 15(1), they now have no choice but to include it in their human rights legislation
  • In the case of Sauvé I & Sauvé II, we see the power of the Court under section 1:
    • In this case, the government re-worded and re-framed section 51(e) to render it a justifiable rights infringement under section 1
    • The Court, however, still found it to be unconstitutional
      • This means that even when the legislatures respond and comply with the Court’s directives, there is no guarantee that the revised version will pass the Oakes test
    • In the case of Insite, section 7 is reserved for legal rights
      • In this case, the issue dealt with criminal law and health policy, not legal rights
        • Therefore, we see how the Court can extend the meaning and application of sections in order to ensure a favorable policy outcome
      • In the case of Seaboyer, we see how the Court uses section 1 defenses to ensure that they are provided substantial discretion in determining evidence in sexual assault cases
        • Originally, sections 276 & 277 meant that judges could RARELY admit a victim’s sexual history as evidence
        • Post-Seaboyer, the Court was allowed to determine when it was reasonable to introduce this evidence with the sole exception of confirming the twin-myths


  • All of these cases dealt with complex public policy issues
    • As actors trained in the legal profession, it is questionable whether the Court is well positioned to deal with these issues and to fashion appropriate remedies
      • While they are well versed on the law, they are not trained to understand the complexities and underlying objectives of public policy
      • Nonetheless, in none of these five cases, did the SCC defer to the legislatures




Thoughts and comments:

  • Given the case studies and the wording of the Charter itself, do you believe that the SCC or the legislatures have ‘final say’ in matters of constitutionality?
  • Should the courts be deferent to the legislatures? Why or why not?
  • Are these cases reflective of the judicialization/legalization of politics?
  • Is Canada reflective of weak-form or strong-form judicial review? Why is this the cases?
  • Are there any boundaries to limit the power of the Court?





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Progressive Federal Liberal budget welcome news but caution about the Bank of Canada‘s anti inflation obsession is required.

This week Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled a very progressive stimulative budget in Parliament that clearly from the outset established the fact that austerity was bad policy which undermined growth, equity and low unemployment. He correctly pointed out that investing in people , in social, educational and physical infrastructure and ensuring that everyone has a fair opportunity to participate in our economy contributing their talents , insights and knowledge to the great Canadian enterprise of nations building was a far more effective strategy than one based on pessimism and narrowly defined budget balancing. The Minister‘s opening remarks were a welcome breath of very fresh air after many decades of fiscal conservatism.

There is however still more work to be done. There are many voices within the Conservative opposition who remain dogmatic opponents of low unemployment and investment in infrastructure and who insist upon discredited sound finance as the only appropriate approach. The monetarist logic upon which they base their arguments was thoroughly discredited by the crash of 2007-09 and the recovery that followed that was based on the creative combination of low interest rates achieved by quantitative easing allied with fiscal stimulus. The monetarists claimed that this would lead to accelerating inflation once the unemployment rate dropped below their mythical natural rate . But no such inflation occurred nor does it seem likely and we are now in 2018 ten years on from the crash. Inflation remains very stable and very low.

Some of the critics of the budget demand to know when the budget will be balanced  regardless of the fact that the debt to GDP ratio is falling and will fall further so long as the Bank of Canada does not trigger a recession by prematurely and excessively raising interest rates. The governments planned expenditure increases are in important and very necessary parts of the social and ethical framework of Canadian society. They represent investments in our population and society. They merit support.

When one examines the annexes in the budget which compare the interest rate , inflation and economic growth and unemployment projections of a broad sample of Canadian economists we can see that these analysts expect a slowdown in GDP growth, a slight rise in unemployment and a stubborn Bank of Canada claiming inflationary trends when there are none.

So the budget is a good one but we need to be cautious about the fiscal conservatives reclaiming lost ground when they should not be. The latest GDP data and the emerging protectionist environment in the U.S. are important negative factors that need to be taken into account and countered wherever possible.

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Esoteric derivatives contribute to chaos on markets

The explosive growth of derivative products has played a role in increasing and spreading market irrationality and a movement away from fundamentals in influencing stock market traders. During the period 2000 to the collapse in 2007 -09 this explosion of artificial tradable collateralized debt obligations including synthetic portfolios and other exotica like credit default swaps greatly exaggerated the impact of the collapse of the housing bubble. This may well have happened during the most recent stock market swoon driven in part by shenanigans in short selling the volatility index, the VIX which we must note is constructed using the implied volatility of a wide range of the S&P 500 index from both calls and puts.The index is expectations driven and is not the literal variance but rather the implied variance based on the premiums that investors are willing to pay for the right to buy or sell stocks.The VIX takes the weighted average of all the option prices and attaches a single number to them which is called the VIX. For example if the VIX is 22 that means that the S&P is expected to stay within plus or minus 22 % range over a year a percentage of the time which represents one standard deviation. So clearly very few investors will understand how contingent and uncertain this product is nor also that it is expectations based and there is a built in margin of considerable error given the uncertain nature of probability. Choosing to short an index like this is a very risky strategy and it can and did backfire badly spreading its negative sentiment and panic selling. Further regulatory reform is in order.

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Irrational fears once again drive markets down excessively

Once again the irrational fundamentals on which the stock market is based have come to the surface with today ‘s over 4 % fall so far in the value of the Dow Jones index.At one point the market was down over 5 %. This is a significant one day drop in the Dow but by no means anywhere near the largest one day drop in its history. Previous shocking drops were of the order of 11 % or more at various unstable times in the history of the markets. Post Keynesians generally understand that markets are driven up and down by irrational exuberance followed by irrational fear. The irrational exuberance since President Trump was elected has been followed now by irrational fears that inflation is about to break out.

There is no credible evidence of  that at this time though it may possibly become a problem if accelerating economic growth drives the unemployment rate below 2-3 %. The likelihood of that however is small because the Fed has foolishly signalled it leans toward interest rate increases when in reality none are necessary. Instead if the Fed becomes obstinately opposed to growth and low unemployment by shifting to a more monetarist policy approach then it will reinforce fear rather than continued optimism. Also the nature of wage setting under conditions imposed by globalization and Neo-con agenda setting make it difficult for workers to raise their wage. Of course as part of this spread of irrational fear there are also hysterical claims being made about the American public sector deficit and debt. The debt is easily managed in a growing economy and its burden is vastly exaggerated. The most recent figure for the gross federal debt to GDP statistic was for Quarter 3  2017. The value was 103.8%. Well below its historical maximum. Furthermore this is the figure for gross debt while the better more meaningful data point is for net debt to GDP which is smaller. To arrive at this value you subtract from gross debt:  financial assets corresponding to debt instruments, monetary gold and special drawing rights, currency and deposits, debt securities, loans, insurance, pensions, standardized guaranteed schemes and other accounts receivable.

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Poli 489 2018 course outline Advanced seminar on inequality Prof. Harold Chorney

Poli 489 Course outline (under construction)
Professor Harold Chorney
Wed. H633-1
18:00- 20:15

The real estate bubble and the crash of 2007 -09 uncovered serious strains in the economic and social fabric of global capitalism. The recovery from what turned out to be the most serious recession since the great depression of the 1930s has been slower than hoped for and very uneven. In North America largely because the Fed reinforced the Keynesian fiscal stimulus with significant quantitative easing thereby ensuring appropriately low interest rates, the performance of the recovery has been more solid than in Europe where the European central bank and the European Union have both retarded the recovery by refusing until quite recently to use quantitative easing and stressing fiscal austerity rather than Keynesian policies. As a consequence European unemployment is still very high in a number of countries and Europe appears to be teetering on the edge of deflation and stagnation. But in addition to these negative features of the recovery, the crash and slow recovery laid bare the terrible and widening gap in socio-economic inequality as well as growing poverty in many countries. This course will focus on the issue of inequality and equity in a number of leading global economies in an effort to document the problem, analyse emerging trends and evaluate policy proposals and programs designed to counter it.

Texts: Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st century , 2014 The Belknap press of Harvard University, 2014 also available in the original French edition Le capital au XXIe siècle editions du Seuil.
Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of inequality, Norton, 2013.

Robert Reich, Saving Capitalism For the Many, Not the Few, 2015:Alfred Knopf.


Additional readings:

Michael Savage, Tipping Point :Richest 1 % on target to own 67% of all wealth by 2030.April 8, The Guardian 2018.

John McMurtry, Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System

Dana Flavelle, Canada’s inequality growing, Stats Can Toronto Star, Sept.11, 2014.

Peter Clarke, Keynes:the rise, Fall and Return of the 20th Century’s Most Influential Economist
Joeseph Stiglitz interview with Lynn Parramore in Salon magazine.
http://www.salon.com/…/joseph_stiglitz_thomas_piketty_gets_income_inequality_ wrong_partner/‎
Meghnad Desai, Marx’s Revenge:The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism, Verso. 2004.
Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, anchor books, NYC, 1999.,
Ethan Kapstein, Sharing the Wealth,W.W. Norton, 1999.
Frank Stilwell, Political Economy:the Contest of Economic ideas, Oxford University Press, 2012.
John Kenneth Galbraith, The Economics of Innocent Fraud,Houghton Miflin,Boston&NYC, 2004
Helen Sasson, Between Friends, Perspectives on John Kenneth Galbraith Essays by Derek Bok, Carlos Fuentes, Peter Galbraith et al, Houghton Miflin , 1999.
James Galbraith, Created Unequal:The Crisis in American Pay,Twentieth Century fund, The Free Press,Simon&Schuster, 1999.
Samuel Hollander,Classical Economics,University of Toronto Press, 1992.
Alvin Finkel, Our Lives:Canada after 1945, James Lorimer&Company, 1997.
Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers,Simon%Schuster, NYC, revised edition 1965.
Between Capitalism and Socialism:Essays in Political economics, Vintage,Random House, 1970
Robert Lekachman, Greed is Not Enough, Pantheon, NYC, 1982.
John Porter, The Vertical Mosaic, University of Toronto Press
Wallace Clement The Canadian Corporate Elite
A.A. Hunter, Class Tells:On Social Inequality in Canada, 1986
David Harvey, Limits to Capital,Verso, 2006.
Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class,Macmillan, 1912,Mentor edition 1953.
C.W. Mills, Power,politics and People
Steve Keen, Debunking Economics, Zed books, U.K.2001,London&NYC.
H.Bougrine & Mario Seccareccia eds. Introducing Macroeconomic analysis,Edmund Montgomery, Toronto, 2010.
Adam Harmes, The Return of the State, Protestors, Power Brokers and the New Global Compromise, Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver&Toronto, 2004.
Tony Cutler, Karel Williams&John Williams, Keynes, Beveridge and beyond, Routledge&Kegan Paul,London&NYC, 1986.

Brishen Rogers et al, Work Inequality Basic Income Boston Review forum 2, 2017

Students will be asked to consult the quality and financial press including The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, the Guardianthe New York Times and the Globe and Mail , Le Monde ,Le figaro, Liberation various issues and weekly during the course for relevant articles to the discussion.

Each student will required to present a topic in class in combination with one other student 20 % and make available a short 2-3 page synopsis of the presentation to all students and to me. Complete a term essay 40 % and write a final test 40 %.

Course weekly topics:

1.Introduction and overview:

2.The ethical basis of Democracy and markets :Flaws at inception.R.H.Tawney and the Acquisitive society.C.B. Macpherson, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham and Mill, Arrow, Debreau and Sraffa, Marx’s critique.

3. Keynes, full employment and the Beveridge Welfare state.the neo-conservative epoch and the return of inequality.

4.The crash and the sudden growth of inequality as an issue.

5. From Veblen to Keynes to C.W.Mills to J.K.Galbraith; James Galbraith.

6. Thomas Piketty and Joseph Stiglitz

7. Piketty and Stiglitz continued Robert Reich

8 .Reich, Piketty and Stiglitz continued

9. The Canadian case an exception? Innis, Porter, Clement, Hunter,John Macionis global inequality; The American case :Michael Hout, Inequality by Design.

10. Marx, Ricardo,Malthus Keynes and the distribution question in age of globalization

11. Distribution and development :Amartya Sen

12. Distribution and the environment, carbon taxes, stable states, guaranteed annual incomes, GDP and trade issues.

13. Review and conclusion.

Term essay: The term essay worth 40 % should be free of grammatical error footnoted or end noted with a bibliography and be 9- 12 pages in length. It will be due in the first week of March after reading week. Topics to be announced later.

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Montreal elects environmentalist and left of centre Valerie Plante as its next mayor

Montreal where I have lived ever since 1982 when I moved here from Toronto has once again turned to the left and to bicycle riding environmentalists and community activists for its new mayor and governing party. The election turnout was an unimpressive  42.5 % but the result was nonetheless spectacular.

Ms. Valérie Plante represents a fairly radical but highly creative force in Quebec politics. She defeated Denis Coderre decisively capturing 243,242 votes to Coderre’s 216,104 votes. Projet Montreal also won the majority of the seats on council -34 of the 65 available.This will enable them to implement their platform but also makes them vulnerable to arrogance in the exercise of power.

Ms. Plante is the first woman to win elected power as mayor in Montreal’s long history as a First Nations community and then European colonial outpost linked to the fur trade and later  entrepôt to the interior for the development of the Canadian  staple economy, head quarters  of the Grand Trunk Railway and then commercial capital of Canada rivalling New York  for control of trade to the hinterland and now second largest metropolis in Canada. Her party Projet Montréal originally established by an idealistic urban planner Richard Bergeron and outspoken advocate of much improved and ecological public transportation has previously been the major opposition force to more conservative centrist parties who governed Montreal during the difficult decade that included the economic slump and the corruption scandal.Mr. Bergeron had switched sides and joined the Coderre administration. He lost his seat on council in this election. Politics is often cruel and lots of very good people fall victim to the fickle electorate because of the allure of illusory fame or simply because they sincerely believe they can change things for the better.

Montreal is a particularly beguiling case.It is the only great metropolis in the world where two of the world’s great languages and cultures ,English and French, co-exist albeit uneasily. It has a dynamic multicultural personality where many languages are spoken and cultural influences from many parts of the world are encountered daily. Both Plante and Coderre were very open to this diversity. It also not unlike metropolises like Chicago and  New York has had larger than life personalities as mayors. In Montreal we have had several boss politicians like Camille Houde and Jean Drapeau who between them governed Montreal for close to 50 years !

I have explored Montreal’s diversity and the effect of linguistic duality in my research on cities , my writing on urban politics and the quest for community and the issue of class consciousness.(see my books City of Dreams :Social Theory and the Urban experience Toronto :1992&2002; Toward a Humanist Political Economy co-authored with Phillip Hansen Black Rose Books, Montreal: 1992) I have also written at length on the critical role infrastructure investment needs to play in our cities.I focus on this in  my numerous writings on Keynes, public finance, infrastructure investment and quantitative easing as a necessary policy to recover from severe business cycle downturns and restore lower unemployment.(See for example The Deficit and Debt Management:An Alternative to Monetarism, Ottawa, 1984:Canadian Centre for Policy alternatives; Revisiting Deficit Hysteria, Labour Le travail, No.54 Fall 2004; After the Crash, Rediscovering Keynes and the Origins of Quantitative Easing available on my  website haroldchorneyeconomist.com. paper presented to the annual meetings of the Canadian economics association, June 2011, University of Ottawa; John Maynard Keynes and the General theory after 75 years , preface to a presentation to the Canadian Economics Association special panel reconsidering Keynes in a time of crisis, June 3, 2011, University of Ottawa.See also Tim Thomas, ed. The Politics of the City Toronto:ITP Nelson, 1997 )

Mr Denis Coderre got elected to the job of mayor four years ago on a platform of restoring the city , rebuilding its infrastructure and metropolitan status and cleaning up corruption. In many respects he succeeded but he fell victim to some of the frustration felt by people over the  chaotic landscape that has emerged while Montreal rebuilds its autoroutes and replaces antiquated infrastructure in many districts of the metropolis.To be fair this is a problem that will be faced by by many  North American metropolises as they seek to repair their infrastructure and rebuild and expand public transportation. Along with the pressure of rising land values and inflating house  and condo prices and exorbitant rents these problems are increasing.

One has to go back to the regime of the late Jean Doré and the Montreal Citizens Movement which defeated the legendary conservative nationalist politician Jean Drapeau in 1986 to find as left wing and progressive a mayor as Plante aspires to be. Doré governed for 8 years and eventually  became more of a reforming technocrat than a left wing idealist. We shall see how political power and the challenge of meeting Montreal’s growing public transportation  and infrastructure needs transforms Ms. Plante and her party. In the meantime bonne chance !

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President Trump selects Jerome Powell as new Fed chair replacing Janet Yellen

In what may well turn out to be a controversial decision President Trump has broken with precedent and decided not to reappoint Janet Yellen to a second term as Fed chair despite praising her for her excellent work as chair. Yellen is a high powered Keynesian economist with a very strong academic background. Her chosen successor Jerome Powell has served on the Fed board for a number of years has a strong background in business, a former partner in the Carlyle Group a major investment company and is a trained lawyer. He lacks formal training in economics however. So for the first time in  37 years the new Fed chair will not be an economist. In the past one of the longest serving Fed chairs William McChesney Martin (1951-1970) who served five presidents from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon and one of the most influential Marriner Eccles (1934-1948) did not have degrees in economics. However, both were effective chairs.Martin had a background in Wall Street and had done graduate work in economics at Columbia university although his first degree was in English and Latin from Yale. Also his father helped write the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 and was later governor and then president of the Federal Reserve of St. Louis. In Eccles’s case  he was a very successful businessman and banker who in some ways independently anticipated the work of Keynes.

Powell has voted with Yellen on keeping interest rates low for as long as was needed to promote recovery. But he is apparently more sceptical of quantitative easing. So it remains to be seen if once he assumes the chair next February he seeks to accelerate the unwinding of the program which clearly has played an important role in healing the American economy after the crash.Unemployment is now 4.1 % and trending  slowly downward. It would be a mistake not to let this trend continue by prematurely raising interest rates.

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