Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Own Erin Weir Would Make a Great Sask NDP Leader!

By Jim Stanford 
Erin Weir
Progressive Economics Forum
June 19th, 2012


I’ve worked closely with Erin for years, being struck by his combination of talent & passion right from the time he entered the PEF’s student essay context (which he won for the first time exactly a decade ago, awarded at the CEA 2002 meetings in Calgary). Thirty-six other economists and I think he’d make a great contribution to economic policy discourse as NDP leader in his native province, and have released the letter below. Recent debates over the pace and nature of resource development in Canada make it all the more important that Erin’s voice is heard loudly. Good luck Erin!

Here’s the letter:

Dear Saskatchewan New Democrats,

We, the undersigned economists, write to encourage you to nominate Erin Weir for your provincial leadership. He is a committed social democrat with an extensive record of articulating public policies to ensure that all Saskatchewan people benefit from economic development. Having a prominent economist as leader would strengthen the NDP’s credibility on fiscal and economic issues.

We also note that Premier Brad Wall has emerged as a vocal critic of national social programs and of the federal NDP. The province and the country would be well served by a Saskatchewan NDP leader able to engage Wall and advance a progressive western perspective on national economic issues.

About Erin

Erin was born in Saskatoon, grew up in Regina and has been an active New Democrat since 1997. As an elected member of the Saskatchewan NDP legislative advisory committee, he represented the party in government caucus meetings during Roy Romanow’s premiership. Erin also served as president of the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats and as the federal NDP candidate against finance minister Ralph Goodale in 2004.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Great Distinction) from the University of Regina, which awarded him the Jack Boan Medal for the highest graduating average in economics and the 2006 Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Erin completed a Master of Arts at the University of Calgary and a Master of Public Administration at Queen’s University, where he won the Donald Gow Founder’s Medal for the highest academic standing in that program. He was a Saskatchewan nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship.

After university, Erin gained practical experience in government by working in the federal Treasury Board Secretariat, Department of Finance and Privy Council Office through the Accelerated Economist Training Program. He went on to work at the Canadian Labour Congress national office, the International Trade Union Confederation world headquarters in Brussels, and the United Steelworkers Canadian office. He is also a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. As president of the 200-member Progressive Economics Forum, he works with an elected executive to coordinate this organization’s activities across Canada.

Erin is an effective communicator in the national media. Since 2007, his commentary on employment, the cost of living, government budgets, interest rates and other economic issues has been quoted more than 500 times in the print editions of Canadian newspapers. He frequently and ably represents the left in televised panel debates, including with Kevin O’Leary on CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange, Ian Lee on CBC’s Power & Politics, Don Drummond on the Business News Network, Andrew Coyne on TV Ontario, Danielle Smith on The Michael Coren Show, and Brian Lee Crowley on CTV’s National Affairs.

Erin on Policy

Erin has clearly and consistently argued for a fairer return from the extraction of Saskatchewan’s non-renewable resources. In 2002, he wrote “Saskatchewan’s Oil and Gas Royalties: A Critical Appraisal,” published by the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy. This paper correctly envisioned the subsequent run-up in energy prices and contended that the provincial government should raise, rather than lower, royalty rates. Former Premier Allan Blakeney’s memoirs acknowledge Erin’s research contribution to the oil and gas chapter.

Over the past decade, he wrote numerous op-eds and letters in The Leader-Post and StarPhoenix making the case for improved energy and potash royalties. The Leader-Post covered his speech on resource royalties to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour convention in 2008. More recently, both newspapers reported his revelation that PotashCorp paid less corporate tax to Saskatchewan than to Trinidad in 2010.

Additional resource revenue would allow the provincial government to both invest more today in needed public services and establish a savings fund for future generations. Polling indicates that most Saskatchewan people support higher resource royalties. However, it is a complex issue that should be explained and developed over the coming years rather than just in the months leading up to an election. Erin has the knowledge and communication skills to advance a royalty revenue plan that would bolster the credibility of NDP expenditure proposals to improve healthcare, education, the environment, housing, infrastructure, child care and other public services.

Erin was a leading critic of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), which the Wall government adopted through the New West Partnership. In two papers published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and testimony before the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly hearings on TILMA, he explained how the deal uses largely unidentified and nonexistent “inter-provincial trade barriers” as a pretext to significantly and unduly restrict provincial policies, regulations and procurement. Erin’s writing on trade and “free trade” deals, which also includes a book chapter published by Routledge and a paper published by the University of Maine’s Canadian-American Center, is cited in recent books by Mel Hurtig and John Ralston Saul.

As both an economist and a trade unionist, he is the ideal candidate to counter the Wall government’s ongoing assault on Saskatchewan labour standards. An understanding of both economics and labour legislation is needed to explain how collective bargaining and workers’ rights increase incomes, consumer spending and economic growth. Erin’s 2009 article in the York University journal, Just Labour, notes that provinces with higher unionization tend to enjoy lower unemployment and higher labour productivity.

In working with Erin, we have seen his commitment to progressive values, knowledge of economics and public policy, and experience in politics and government. We believe that he is best qualified to meet the challenge of rebuilding the NDP in Saskatchewan.

Former Presidents of the Canadian Economics Association

Robin Boadway, Economics Professor, Queen’s University, Royal Society of Canada Fellow and Saskatchewan Rhodes Scholar

Pierre Fortin, Economics Professor Emeritus, Université du Québec à Montréal and Royal Society of Canada Fellow 

Lars Osberg, Economics Department Head, Dalhousie University

Former Federal NDP Candidates

Mel Watkins, Economics Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Rob Moir, Head of Social Sciences and Economics Professor, University of New Brunswick

Pierre Laliberté, Economist, formerly with the Canadian Labour Congress and United Steelworkers

Academic and Professional Economists

Stuart Wilson and Gary Tompkins, Economics Professors, University of Regina

Jack Boan, Economics Professor Emeritus, University of Regina

Robyn Allan, Former President, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and Former Economist, Crown Investment Corporation of Saskatchewa

Jim Stanford, Canadian Auto Workers’ Economist and Globe & Mail Columnist

Andrew Jackson, Chief Economist, Canadian Labour Congress and Packer Visiting Professor, York University

Brian MacLean, Economics Department Head, Laurentian University

Mike McCracken, Founder and CEO, Informetrica Ltd.

Maximilian Schmeiser, Economist, U.S. Federal Reserve, Saskatchewan Expatriate and Jack Boan Medalist

Kevin Young, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University

Paul Bowles, Economics Professor, University of Northern British Columbia

John Loxley, Economics Professor, University of Manitoba and Royal Society of Canada Fellow

Fletcher Baragar, Ian Hudson and Robert Chernomas, Economics Professors, University of Manitoba

Mario Seccareccia, Economics Professor, University of Ottawa, Roosevelt Institute Fellow and Former Instructor, Labour College of Canada

Brenda Spotton Visano, Economics and Public Policy Professor, York University

Hugh Mackenzie, Former Chief Economist, United Steelworkers and Director, Ontario Fair Tax Commission

Barrie Hebb, Economist, formerly with the OECD and the Federal NDP

Michael Rosenstock, Former Senior Economist, Government of Ontario and Former Director of Operations, Ontario’s New Democrats

Mike Moffatt, Economics and Public Policy Professor, Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario

Marc Lavoie, Economics Professor, University of Ottawa

Louis-Philippe Rochon, Economics Professor and Director of the International Economic Policy Institute, Laurentian University

Roderick Hill and Tony Myatt, Economics Professors, University of New Brunswick

Abdella Abdou, Economics Department Head, Brandon University

Arthur Sweetman, Economics Professor, McMaster University

Toby Sanger, Economist, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Economist and Former Chair of Women’s Studies, Simon Fraser University and Former Board Member, NewGrade Energy

Andrew Harvey, Economics Professor Emeritus, Saint Mary’s University

Duncan Cameron, Centre for Global Political Economy, Simon Fraser University

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