Editorial — Spring 2024

This initial release of the Perspectives Journal sets up the arena for debate among the progressive left of ideas and their applications for a more equal and just Canada.


Download Perspectives Journal No. 1 – Spring 2024 (.pdf)

The first issue of Perspectives: A Canadian Journal of Political Economy and Social Democracy arrives at a solemn time for reflection on the legacy of Ed Broadbent, who passed away during the assembly of this premier edition on January 11, 2024. Ed was one of Canada’s great public intellectuals; a politician who dedicated his career fighting for “ordinary Canadians;” and an internationalist who attempted to connect global working-class solidarity during neoliberalism’s apogee. Perspectives Journal was developed over the last year of Ed’s storied life, to continue building the movements and ideas on top of his foundational intellectual work for a democratic good society.

For those picking up this first issue of the “journal” you may have noticed that Perspectives Journal as an online publication was launched last fall in October 2023. The publication as a whole is a new space for the Canadian left-wing to share and discuss ideas of political economy, governance and working-class political strategy, while being grounded in the Broadbent Principles for Canadian Social Democracy. Since last October, Perspectives Journal has published a number of opinion articles, book reviews, and podcasts, not to mention the back-dated publication of original content from the Broadbent Institute’s blog, making available critical ideas and lessons developed by the Institute since its inception in 2011.

Perspectives Journal also maintains select pieces of research that has been previously produced by the Institute over the past decade and has become somewhat hidden under years of online accumulation. These pieces have been “resurrected” so to speak on Perspectives, such as Andrew Jackson’s 2017 Reflections on the Social Democratic Tradition re-published as a series of online articles, as they are certainly relevant for today’s movements and analysis, especially among younger Canadians looking to explore how social democracy fits into the 21st century Canadian context.

This journal as a hybrid publication connected to, but separate from, the opinion and podcast format content published by Perspectives Journal, serves the purpose of expanding on the ideas laid out in those other informal formats. Analytical thought delivered in this longer journal format is also critically reviewed, scrutinizes research more thoroughly, and gives intellectual weight to the left-wing ideas in a Canadian context while remaining applicable to movements working to win a better world. The journal will be a place for in-depth thinking on social democratic perspectives in Canada, providing an intellectual foundation for debates amongst the progressive left and with the Canadian mainstream.

The first issue maintains a number of essays that examine major issues of political economy, and the concerns of ordinary Canadians, from the broadly progressive points-of-view Canada’s leading researchers and experts. Broadbent Fellow Val Napoleon, Professor of Law at the University of Victoria, begins this inaugural issue with an intervention on Indigenous citizenship and civil society. In light of ongoing debates and high profile claims and contestations to Indigenous identity, Napoleon argues that “there is no pan-Indigenous legal order and no pan-Indigenous response to questions of Indigenous citizenship.” Laying out the contests and considerations of Indigenous citizenship, membership and law, her essay argues that there is no easy quick fix to these issues, but does conclude that the determination of membership and citizenship rests with their people and their laws.

Broadbent Fellow, University of Saskatchewan Professor of Political Science, and Perspectives Journal editorial committee member, David McGrane also contributes to this opening issue with an argument for democratic reform of Canada’s monetary policy, and looks at the historical reasons and circumstances behind the independence of the Bank of Canada and how it has been used to undermine Canadian social democratic policy. Strict political independence of the Bank of Canada was made to insulate monetary policy from popular pressure, focused on fighting inflation without strong consideration of the real human consequences of changing interest rates, slow economic growth, and soaring mortgage rates. As Canadians feel the inflationary pressures today, after more than a decade of quantitative easing set by the Bank of Canada and coordinated with other central banks around the world, McGrane asks why shouldn’t elected officials have some say in what the Bank of Canada chooses to do, especially when it’s policy choices undermine social democratic policy options that rely on increased public investment.

Professor James Mulvale from the University of Manitoba looks at the history of basic income in Canada and argues for its implementation as a complement to a social democratic policy agenda. While hotly debated among the Canadian left, the most strident advocates for basic income do not typically come from the libertarian wing that see it as a replacement for the social welfare system, but rather see basic income as a necessary gap filler that leaves no one behind. Mulvale considers the hesitations and limitations of basic income from the left, and acknowledges that it is by no means a panacea, but argues that a serious social democratic program needs to make basic income a central foundation on which to build a just and equal society.

Lastly, housing policy researcher Jeremy Withers looks at the rise of investor ownership of housing across Canada, in the first of a multi-part series that looks at its impact on today’s housing market. As accelerated home price increases correlate with increases in “investor” ownership, the number of owner-occupied homes has declined. While new initiatives to increase housing supply may help Canadians afford housing, these efforts may be confounded by the rapid increase in investor purchases of new homes. Taking an extensive account of the latest housing data from across Canada, Withers sets the stage for further analysis and policy options in addressing this element of the country’s housing affordability crisis.

This initial release of the Perspectives Journal sets up the arena for debate among the progressive left of ideas and their applications for a more equal and just Canada. A guiding thesis behind this new publication that’s come to light since the passing of Ed Broadbent, comes from Ed’s very own dissertation entitled The Good Society of John Stuart Mill. This journal’s first release alongside the Broadbent Institute’s 2024 Progress Summit, with the thematic title Making the Good Society, looks to survey this idea taken from Ed’s conclusion that:

[…] it is clear in principle that only a collectively owned economy can avoid exploitation, and thus make the good society realizable. It remains to be seen whether a nation, while rejecting Mill’s normative economics, can retain his other social values, and so make the co-operative individualist life a reality.

Ed’s examination of the democratic idealism of Mill, while remaining critical of the inegalitarian capitalism that his version of liberty relied on, is the kind of deliberation we hope to replicate in Perspectives. We will rely on Ed’s principles for social democracy to provide a non-authoritarian outlook that focuses on enhancing individual freedom through both social and economic rights. We hope to engage Ed’s legacy through this journal by hosting these deliberations and facilitating lively debate, grounded on our social democratic Broadbent Principles, to demonstrate to Canadians the best approaches to making a good society.

Download Perspectives Journal No. 1 – Spring 2024 (.pdf)

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