A Canadian Priorities Agenda

Policy Choices to Improve Economic and Social Well-Being

Jeremy Leonard, Christopher Ragan and France St-Hilaire October 14th, 2007

A Canadian Priorities Agenda is the culmination of a two year IRPP project designed to initiate a broad-based and informed public debate on the economic and social policy choices and priorities for Canada over the medium term. The underlying theme of the project is scarcity of resources and the need for choice: the everyday reality for policy-makers is that governments have limited means at their disposal – be it revenue, manpower or political capital – and must therefore choose carefully which policies to pursue and which to leave behind.

One key objective in this project was to bring together some of the best policy minds in the country to examine and deliberate these choices and priorities. The 45 individuals who played a role in the CPA process – the agenda setters who helped identify the broad policy challenges at issue, the analysts who submitted their policy recommendations, the critics who provided their assessment of the policies proposed, and the judges whose task it was to review the evidence and arguments presented and assembled a policy package from the proposals on offer – certainly qualify. Each has contemplated either in government or in advising government at the highest level.

Part I consists of eight sections, one for each of the broad policy challenges. In each section, the analysts present the evidence and make the case for their policy proposals, which are then scrutinized in two commentaries.

In Part II, the CPA judges – Wendy Dobson, Alain Dubuc, John Helliwell, Richard Lipsey, Carolyn Tuohy and William Watson – select their preferred policy package and explain why these policies are most likely to enhance Canadians’ economic and social well-being. In Part III, the editor – Jeremy Leonard, Christopher Ragan and France St-Hilaire – present their conclusions and observation on the results of the process.

A Canadian Priorities Agenda departs from the standard “silo” approach to public policy research and deliberation. This path-breaking volume is unique in this regard among recent contributions to Canadian economic and social policy analysis. It is an invaluable resource for all those engaged in improving public policy in Canada.

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