Innis Lecture: Canadian Policies for Broad-Based Prosperity

29 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2008

See all articles by Daniel Trefler

Daniel Trefler

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


Canadian policy makers operate in the fog of myth, a myth that has been repeated so often it is mistaken for truth. According to this myth there is only one path to prosperity, and if we are to successfully travel this path, first charted by Americans, then we must abandon our most disadvantaged. We must sacrifice our core Canadian values of community and caring on the altar of competitiveness. Yet the facts of the last three decades scream out against this myth. Over that time Canada's per capita GDP fell by almost 20% relative to the United States. And this sacrifice of prosperity did not make us a more caring society. Instead, it depleted our fiscal resources by a staggering $68 billion per year and left us without the wherewithal to take care of our most disadvantaged. In this paper I debunk the myth that there is a trade-off between a prosperous society and a caring society. In place of the myth I offer up a cohesive picture of what ails Canada and how we can cure it.

Suggested Citation

Trefler, Daniel, Innis Lecture: Canadian Policies for Broad-Based Prosperity. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, Vol. 41, Issue 4, pp. 1156-1184, November/novembre 2008, Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Trefler (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

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