Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Beyond Equalization: Examining Fiscal Transfers in a Broader Context

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Beyond Equalization: Examining Fiscal Transfers in a Broader Context

Article excerpt

Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis (eds), Beyond Equalization: Examining Fiscal Transfers in a Broader Context (Calgary: The Fraser Institute, 2007), 127pp. Paper. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-88975-215-3.

Beyond Equalization is a collection of essays critiquing the pre-2004 equalisation regime in Canada in an attempt to engage in much-needed debate on the topic. Unfortunately it does not move beyond an overview of existing literature in examining equalisation from a centre-right and market-friendly perspective, and is interspersed with a curious legal argument as to why equalisation is unconstitutional.

The unifying thread that unites the essays is that decentralisation of fiscal responsibility from the federal government to the provinces would improve the overall financial performance of all provinces through greater accountability and democratic control of where revenue is raised and how it is spent. The first and final chapters of this collection of essays deal with this subject explicitly, while chapters three and four are basically overviews of existing publications from the Fraser Institute (the publisher of this volume) and other like-minded bodies. Overall, the work is poorly cited. Peer-edited journals and academic imprints scarcely feature, while the authors use the position titles of those writing the sourced material to bolster their arguments instead of analysing their arguments. Additionally, the same reports are used so often that the volume becomes repetitive.

The second chapter, which is based around the notion that equalisation is unconstitutional, would seem most out of place in what is otherwise an economic treatise, if it were not for the editors' explicit goal of ending equalisation. …

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