Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

Just Released — A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters

September 19, 2012 Comments off

A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters (PDF)

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General

During the course of our review we received information about other ATF firearms trafficking investigations that raised questions about how those investigations were conducted. This report describes one of them, Operation Wide Receiver. We plan to issue a separate report on at least one other ATF investigation that involves an individual suspected of transporting grenade components into Mexico, converting them into live grenades, and then supplying them to drug cartels. The OIG also is completing its investigation of an allegation that one or more Department employees provided to a member of the media a copy of a May 2010 undercover operation proposal drafted by one of the ATF agents who publicly testified about his concerns with the conduct of Operation Fast and Furious. Additionally, we are reviewing allegations that two ATF agents who publicly testified about their concerns regarding Operation Fast and Furious were reassigned to positions within ATF that could have subjected them to retaliation. We also will continue to review information that has been provided to us to determine whether other reports are warranted on additional topics related to Operation Fast and Furious, such as information sharing among ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the FBI regarding key figures in parallel investigations.

Country Analysis Brief: Canada

September 18, 2012 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Canada

Source: Energy Information Administration

Canada is a net exporter of most energy commodities and is an especially significant producer of conventional and unconventional oil, natural gas, and hydroelectricity. It stands out as the largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States, its southern neighbor and one of the world’s largest consumers of energy. Just as the United States depends on Canada for much of its energy needs, so is Canada profoundly dependent on the United States as an export market. However, economic and political considerations are leading Canada to consider ways to diversify its trading partners, especially by expanding ties with emerging markets in Asia.

Canada’s large territory is endowed with an exceptionally rich and varied set of natural resources, which enables it to rank among the five largest energy producers in the world. It produced an estimated 18.2 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of primary energy in 2009, relative to 13.0 quadrillion Btu of primary energy consumed. Its economy is relatively energy-intensive when compared to other industrialized countries, and is largely fueled by petroleum for transportation purposes, natural gas, and hydroelectricity.

Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border

September 14, 2012 Comments off

Measuring the Costs of the Canada-US Border

Source: Fraser Institute

Key findings

+ After ten years of post-9/11 border innovations, the costs associated with border crossing have not significantly decreased while government spending on border security has markedly increased. In order to develop performance-based and cost-effective border management policies, an outline of costs associated with the border is required.

+ After adding up the lowest values from the estimated ranges for all three types of costs (trade, tourism/travel, and government programs), we find an annual cost of C$19.1 billion in 2010 or nearly 1.5% of Canada’s GDP.

+ Canadian and American governments should provide detailed descriptions of costs and expenditures for specific border programs and new security measures. Furthermore, these costs/expenditures must be linked to expected outcomes and timelines. "Costs and Results" based evaluations should be undertaken on a year-to-year basis, and subsequently made public.

+ In December 2011, the governments of Canada and the United States issued a joint declaration called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. While the vision provides specific benchmarks and timelines for measuring progress, it does not tie these guidelines to government expenditures, or reductions in border crossing costs. Either we will continue with incremental and uncoordinated programs, creating some improvements but not lowering the overall cost of the border, or we will begin to create a new border regime.

Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2012 Edition

September 13, 2012 Comments off

Measuring Labour Markets in Canada and the United States: 2012 Edition

Source: Fraser Institute

This study measures the labour market performance of Canadian provinces and US states from 2007 to 2011 based on five equally weighted indicators: average total employment growth, average private-sector employment growth, average unemployment rates, average duration of unemployment, and average labour productivity.

Europe’s Lost Generation

September 10, 2012 Comments off

Europe’s Lost Generation (PDF)
Source: TD Economics


  • Youth unemployment rates are above 50% in the beleaguered economies of Greece and Spain. These are substantially above those in the U.S. and Canada which currently fluctuate around 16% and 14%, respectively. But do these figures really give you the full story?
  • Differences in labour force participation rates can have a material impact on the way the unemployment rate portrays the labour market.
  • Other measures are available which seem to paint a different picture – the ratio of unemployment to the population for Greece and Spain is far closer to those in the U.S. and Canada.
  • However, the seemingly different measures ultimately tell the same story – that young workers are facing difficult conditions all over the industrialized world, but those in Europe are facing almost impossible conditions.

In the wake of the 2008-09 recession, there has been enormous attention on the plight of younger workers. One statistic that is thrown out on an almost daily basis is the massive 50% youth unemployment rates in Greece and Spain. Comparatively, the youth unemployment rates in the U.S. and Canada only ever peaked at 19% and 16%, respectively. But do youth unemployment rates really give you the whole story? There are alternative measures to the unemployment rate which present a seemingly different picture of youth unemployment in Europe. In this report, we discuss some of the details of Europe’s labour market data and compare it to Canada and the U.S. in order to shed light on just how poor the situation is for European youth looking for work.

Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region

August 10, 2012 Comments off

Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region
Source: Fraser Institute

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the outlook for Alberta crude oil and bitumen production and an assessment of the economic attractiveness and feasibility of exporting oil to countries in the Asia-Pacific region instead of solely to markets in the United States. It also describes the extent of the new oil pipeline infrastructure that would be needed to allow oil exports to Asia-Pacific region under two scenarios: 1. no increase in oil sands bitumen production capacity from a base-case forecast; and 2. bitumen production capacity increased from that in the base case to supply Asian markets after 2026. The likely gross employment and overall economic (GDP) benefits from construction and operation of the required facilities are also discussed.

The report also examines unnecessary regulatory and other barriers that are inhibiting the development of the pipelines and port facilities required to ship crude oil, raw bitumen and synthetic crude oil (i.e., upgraded bitumen) to the west coast and on to oil refineries in Japan, Korea, China, India and other countries in Asia that are increasingly becoming dependent on oil imports.

Understanding ‘Canadian Exceptionalism’ in Immigration and Pluralism Policy

August 6, 2012 Comments off

Understanding ‘Canadian Exceptionalism’ in Immigration and Pluralism Policy (PDF)

Source:  Migration Policy Institute

Canada is far more open to, and optimistic about, immigration than the United States and countries in Europe, despite having a greater proportion of immigrants in its population than other Western countries. A frequently cited reason for this Canadian exceptionalism is Canada’s selection of most immigrants through a points system that admits people based on skills thought to contribute to the economy. Economic selection and a geography that discourages illegal immigration are not the only factors explaining Canada’s unique experience, however. This report, part of a Transatlantic Council on Migration series on national identity, examines Canadian national identity, public opinion,  immigration and immigrant integration policy, and multiculturalism.

Understanding Mexico’s Economic Underperformance

August 2, 2012 Comments off

Understanding Mexico’s Economic Underperformance (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Despite major economic reforms, fiscal discipline, privatization of state-owned enterprise, and strong growth in foreign trade and investment during recent decades, Mexico has underperformed economically relative to comparably situated nations. The report presents four arguments as to why Mexico has not sustained higher rates of economic growth: poorly functioning credit markets that inhibit long-term growth; unbalanced incentives toward informality in the labor market; inefficient regulation that diminishes the country’s comparative industrial advantage; and international competition, especially with China, which undermines export strength. The author offers policymakers a road map to expand economic opportunities.

Comparisons of disparities and risks of HIV infection in black and other men who have sex with men in Canada, UK, and USA: a meta-analysis

August 1, 2012 Comments off

Comparisons of disparities and risks of HIV infection in black and other men who have sex with men in Canada, UK, and USA: a meta-analysis (PDF)

Source: The Lancet


We did a meta-analysis to assess factors associated with disparities in HIV infection in black men who have sex with men (MSM) in Canada, the UK, and the USA.


We searched Embase, Medline, Google Scholar, and online conference proceedings from Jan 1, 1981, to Dec 31, 2011, for racial comparative studies with quantitative outcomes associated with HIV risk or HIV infection. Key words and Medical Subject Headings (US National Library of Medicine) relevant to race were cross-referenced with citations pertinent to homosexuality in Canada, the UK, and the USA. Data were aggregated across studies for every outcome of interest to estimate overall effect sizes, which were converted into summary ORs for 106 148 black MSM relative to 581 577 other MSM.


We analysed seven studies from Canada, 13 from the UK, and 174 from the USA. In every country, black MSM were as likely to engage similarly in serodiscordant unprotected sex as other MSM. Black MSM in Canada and the USA were less likely than other MSM to have a history of substance use (odds ratio, OR, 0·53, 95% CI 0·38–0·75, for Canada and 0·67, 0·50–0·92, for the USA). Black MSM in the UK (1·86, 1·58–2·18) and the USA (3·00, 2·06–4·40) were more likely to be HIV positive than were other MSM, but HIV-positive black MSM in each country were less likely (22% in the UK and 60% in the USA) to initiate combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) than other HIV-positive MSM. US HIV-positive black MSM were also less likely to have health insurance, have a high CD4 count, adhere to cART, or be virally suppressed than were other US HIV-positive MSM. Notably, despite a two-fold greater odds of having any structural barrier that increases HIV risk (eg, unemployment, low income, previous incarceration, or less education) compared with other US MSM, US black MSM were more likely to report any preventive behaviour against HIV infection (1·39, 1·23–1·57). For outcomes associated with HIV infection, disparities were greatest for US black MSM versus other MSM for structural barriers, sex partner demographics (eg, age, race), and HIV care outcomes, whereas disparities were least for sexual risk outcomes.


Similar racial disparities in HIV and sexually transmitted infections and cART initiation are seen in MSM in the UK and the USA. Elimination of disparities in HIV infection in black MSM cannot be accomplished without addressing structural barriers or differences in HIV clinical care access and outcomes.

CA — Police-reported crime statistics, 2011

July 26, 2012 Comments off

Police-reported crime statistics, 2011
Source: Statistics Canada

The police-reported crime rate, which measures the overall volume of crime, continued its long-term downward trend in 2011, declining 6% from 2010. The Crime Severity Index, which measures the severity of crime, also fell 6%.

CA — Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities

July 12, 2012 Comments off

Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities (PDF)
Source: Canadian Human Rights Commission
From press release:

Canadians have a better picture of how disability affects equality of opportunity, thanks to a new benchmarking study released by the Canadian Human Rights Commission today.

The Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities compares Canadians with disabilities to those without disabilities across a spectrum of indicators, such as education, employment, economic well-being, health, and housing. The report consolidates data from seven Statistics Canada surveys.

Too big to fail? Canadian banks are not immune from global crises

July 6, 2012 Comments off

Too big to fail? Canadian banks are not immune from global crises
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

A new report released by CCPA says that Canada is not immune to the banking problems we see abroad, and cautions that like all banks worldwide, Canadian banks are structurally vulnerable to instability.

The report, No More Swimming Naked: The Need for Modesty in Canadian Banking, examines how banks work, why they are inherently prone to instability, and how banking crises spread—even to banks and banking systems that appear to be stable.

According to the report, overconfidence is part of the problem. Complacency tends to encourage risk-taking among banks, while it deters Canadians from asking tough questions about banking. Yet this overconfidence ignores the fact that banking problems are often not apparent until systemic instability is growing.

The report cautions that current regulations have not eliminated these problems, and since governments have no alternative but to support large banks when systemic stability is threatened, this additional security creates a perverse incentive for banks to increase their appetite for risk.

Presentation Videos — Bridging the Border: Reinforcing Ties between the U.S. and Mexico – April 12, 2012

July 5, 2012 Comments off

Bridging the Border: Reinforcing Ties between the U.S. and Mexico – April 12, 2012
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

The April 12 panel, moderated by Atlanta Fed President and CEO Dennis P. Lockhart, explored the long-standing relationship between the United States and Mexico, two countries bound by history, geography, and trade.

Mexico has experienced a decade of relative stability, thanks to a series of fiscal and monetary reforms, explained Ed Skelton, a business economist at the Dallas Fed. Those reforms include central bank independence, fiscal discipline, and the adoption of a formal inflation target.

The country’s electoral system has also undergone extensive reforms, making it one of the most impartial systems in the world, said Robert Pastor, director of American University’s Center for North American Studies. Pastor argued that it is time for the United States, Canada, and Mexico to refocus on the hemisphere, where trade relations have stalled since 2001.

Economic Survey of Canada 2012

July 2, 2012 Comments off

Economic Survey of Canada 2012
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
From press release:

Canada has weathered the global economic crisis comparatively well but will have to become more productive to sustain its high standard of living, according to OECD’s latest Economic Survey of Canada.

The report, presented today in Ottawa, notes that a timely fiscal stimulus, low interest rates, a solid banking sector and revenues from natural resources helped Canada return to a stable growth path after the global economic crisis of 2008-09. With rising real estate prices and high household indebtedness now posing new risks, the OECD projects that Canada’s economy will grow by around 2¼ per cent in 2012, and by around 2½ per cent in 2013.

The report identifies sluggish productivity growth as the main long-term challenge facing Canada’s economy. Per capita income has increased in recent years, as more people entered the labour force and oil and other commodity prices soared, pushing up the value of the Canadian dollar. However, the amount of labour, capital and natural resources needed to produce a unit of GDP has remained largely the same over the past few decades.

Canada’s overall productivity has actually fallen since 2002, while it has grown by about 30% over the past 20 years in the United States. At the same time, income has shifted towards the resource-rich western provinces, while the regional economies of Ontario and Quebec are still adapting to increased external competition resulting from the high exchange rate.

Report overview and data available for free download. Full report available for purchase.

Strengthening State Capabilities: The Role of Financial Incentives in the Call to Public Service

June 21, 2012 Comments off

Strengthening State Capabilities: The Role of Financial Incentives in the Call to Public Service

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

We study a recent recruitment drive for public sector positions in Mexico. Different salaries were announced randomly across recruitment sites, and job offers were subsequently randomized. Screening relied on exams designed to measure applicants’ intellectual ability, personality, and motivation. This allows the first experimental estimates of (i) the role of financial incentives in attracting a larger and more qualified pool of applicants, (ii) the elasticity of the labor supply facing the employer, and (iii) the role of job attributes (distance, attractiveness of the municipal environment) in helping fill vacancies, as well as the role of wages in helping fill positions in less attractive municipalities. A theoretical model guides each stage of the empirical inquiry. We find that higher wages attract more able applicants as measured by their IQ, personality, and proclivity towards public sector work – i.e., we find no evidence of adverse selection effects on motivation; higher wage offers also increased acceptance rates, implying a labor supply elasticity of around 2 and some degree of monopsony power. Distance and worse municipal characteristics strongly decrease acceptance rates but higher wages help bridge the recruitment gap in worse municipalities.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories

June 8, 2012 Comments off

The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories (PDF)
Source: Centre for the Study of Living Standards
From press release (PDF):

The Centre for the Study of Living Standards today released a major study entitled “The Human Development Index in Canada: Estimates for the Canadian Provinces and Territories.”

This is the first study that has developed estimates of the Human Development Index (HDI) for the provinces and territories that are consistent with the official HDI estimates for Canada produced by the United Nations. Key findings from the study are highlighted below.

  • In 2011, Alberta ranked as the jurisdiction with the highest HDI in Canada, closely followed by Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia. Nunavut ranked last, and Prince Edward Island second last.
  • The HDI is based on life expectancy, average years of education attainment, expected years of education, and Gross National Income. For both life expectancy and average educational attainment, British Columbia ranked first among the 13 provinces and territories and Nunavut ranked last. For expected years of schooling, Quebec ranked at the top and Nunavut came in last, while for GNI per capita, Northwest Territories was in first place and Prince Edward Island was in last place.
  • In 2011, Canada ranked sixth out of 187 countries in the HDI, behind Norway, Australia, United States, the Netherlands and New Zealand. This ranking however hides considerable differences within Canada. The top four jurisdictions in Canada would rank third in the international rankings, between Australia and the United States and the Netherlands. Nunavut, with the lowest HDI among the 13 provinces and territories, would rank 38 th internationally and second lowest Prince Edward Island 24th.
  • An analysis of the growth rate of the HDI over the past decade gives a different story than the level of the HDI. Low ranked Nunavut fared best, with the HDI advancing at a 0.54 per cent average annual rate between 2000 and 2011. It was closely followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at 0.48 per cent. In contrast Ontario had the slowest growth in the HDI of any jurisdiction in Canada (0.25 per cent per year), closely followed by Alberta and British Columbia (both at 0.26 per cent).
  • The report provides a comprehensive picture of developments in life expectancy, average education attainment, expected years of schooling, and Gross National Income per capita for all provinces and territories over the 2000-2011 period.

The Big Banks’ Big Secret: Estimating government support for Canadian banks during the financial crisis

June 8, 2012 Comments off

The Big Banks’ Big Secret: Estimating government support for Canadian banks during the financial crisis
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
From press release:

A study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) estimates the previously secret extent of extraordinary support required by Canada’s banks during the financial crisis.

According to the study, by CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald, support for Canadian banks reached $114 billion at its peak—that’s $3,400 for every man, woman, and child in Canada.

“At some point during the crisis, three of Canada’s banks—CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank—were completely under water, with government support exceeding the market value of the company,” says Macdonald. “Without government supports to fall back on, Canadian banks would have been in serious trouble.”

Between October 2008 and July 2010, Canada’s largest banks relied heavily on financial aid programs provided by the Bank of Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and the U.S. Federal Reserve—all at the same time.

Over the entire aid period, Canada’s banks reported $27 billion in total profits between them and the CEOs of each of the big banks were among the highest paid Canadian CEOs. Between 2008 and 2009, each bank CEO received an average raise in total compensation of 19%.

Canada — Stealth Confiscation: How governments regulate, freeze, and devalue private property-without compensation

June 8, 2012 Comments off

Stealth Confiscation: How governments regulate, freeze, and devalue private property-without compensation
Source: Fraser Institute
From press release:

Canada is far behind Europe when it comes to compensating property owners for government restrictions on private property, concludes a new book published by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank.

“Unlike Europe, where governments of all stripes compensate private property owners when regulation acts as de facto expropriation, governments in Canada can wholly or partly freeze your property through regulation and not offer a dime in compensation,” said Mark Milke, Fraser Institute director of Alberta policy research and author of Stealth Confiscation: How Governments Regulate, Freeze, and Devalue Private Property—Without Compensation.

“That’s a major policy failure and a black eye on Canada’s reputation for fairness.”

In the book, Milke points out that Canada’s record of non-compensation for a loss of use from regulation sets it apart from other Western countries. A survey of 13 nations found Canada and Australia to be the most restrictive about compensating for regulatory takings. By contrast, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Israel, and the Netherlands provide the broadest compensation rights.

Canada — Fewer Young People Smoking, Drinking and Using Drugs – New survey reveals encouraging trend

June 8, 2012 Comments off

Fewer Young People Smoking, Drinking and Using Drugs – New survey reveals encouraging trend
Source: Health Canada

According to the latest results of the Youth Smoking Survey, only three per cent of Canadian students in grades 6-12 said they smoked daily in 2010-2011, down from 4% in 2008-2009.

The school-based survey also found that fewer students have even tried cigarettes once; a decline among those who had ever tried little cigars; and a drop in the percent of students reporting using alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.

“After seeing smoking rates hit historic lows in Canada recently, these new statistics are encouraging,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. “In particular, the drop in little cigar smoking suggests that the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act is having an impact on consumption of these products by youth.”

The Youth Smoking Survey, funded by Health Canada and conducted by the University of Waterloo’s Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, is a survey of Canadian youth in grades 6-12 that captures information related to tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2010/2011

June 8, 2012 Comments off

Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2010/2011
Source: Statistics Canada
One of the key components of Canada’s criminal justice system is the courts. The criminal court system consists of multiple levels of court with responsibility shared between federal, provincial and territorial governments. Each court is responsible for making decisions regarding the culpability of those accused of a criminal offence. In addition, for those found guilty (or who plead guilty), courts are responsible for determining an appropriate sentence to be imposed (Department of Justice Canada 2005b).

Using data from the adult component of the 2010/2011 Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS), this Juristat article presents information on the characteristics of criminal court cases involving adults (18 years and older).1 More specifically, it examines the number and types of cases completed in adult criminal courts, the decisions made in relation to these cases and the sentences imposed upon those found guilty. In addition, this article looks briefly at the length of time taken to complete adult criminal court cases and the factors that influence timeliness.

It is important to note that the data presented in this article represent approximately 95% of the caseload completed in Canadian adult criminal courts. In 2010/2011, information from superior courts in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as municipal courts in Quebec (which accounted for about one-quarter of all Criminal Code charges in that province) was unavailable.


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