Todd Hirsch is the Calgary-based senior economist with ATB Financial and author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline.

Articles by this author

A rare Canadian political ceasefire

Maybe it's the lingering national glow of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Or perhaps the fact that it was a blazing hot summer in 2011. Whatever the reason, has anyone noticed how nicely our provincial …

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A shot of adrenalin for the family farm?

For years now, the death knell has been ringing for western Canada's farmers. We've been told the dismal news for years. Commodity prices are on an unstoppable downward trend. The family farm is dying. Rural …

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A wish list: From one Calgarian to another

Back in the 1980s, a phenomenon known as “western alienation” was all the rage. Many westerners — and particularly Albertans — were feeling shut out of the federal political machine. Even when the Mulroney Progressive …

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Alberta's love-hate relationship with big oil

Canada's regions have a long history of ”œlove-hate” rela- tionships with their industrial drivers. A lot of them resemble David Addison and Maddie Hayes, the lov- able private investigators played by Bruce Willis and Cybill …

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Alberta's new official sport

Professional sport is a big busi- ness in Alberta. In the hockey rink and the football stadium, the province has deeply rooted and passionate rivalries in sports. An old sport has ignited new pas- sions in …

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Alberta's surprising new premier

There's a fresh wind blowing across Alberta politics this fall, but the most surprising things about Premier Alison Redford have nothing to do with her gender. While a female leader in Tory Blue Alberta may surprise …

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An image update for Alberta?

An iconic piece of Alberta's history is about to change. Last year the provincial govern- ment finally decided that, after a quar- ter of a century, it was time to update the province's automobile licence …

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Buying local: Nice idea, lousy public policy

Something is intuitively appealing about the notion of supporting local businesses. Some municipalities have procurement policies that require them to buy from local vendors, or at least give local businesses preferential treatment. It seems only …

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Coming down the pipeline in 2012

A new year is supposed to be a time for change. New attitudes and goals are chased in the spirit of starting anew. Personal resolutions seek to put behind us the bad habits and ruts of …

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Did Albertans really want change?

The post-election dust has finally settled in Alberta. With a land- slide win in early March, Premier Ed Stelmach and his Progressive Conservative Party have more or less clinched their celebration in 2011 of 40 …

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Don't count the USA out!

Poor ol' America. Our BFF (best friend forever) and largest trading partner just can't seem to catch a break lately, particularly an economic one. With the unemployment rate stuck near 10 percent, millions of mortgages …

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Dropping out to get rich

Western Canada seems to be hogging all of the economic headlines lately. Highest job growth in the country. Soaring wages. Construction activity leading all provinces. It goes on and on. No matter what economic indica- …

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Economists calling all angels

Back in the ‘90s, Canadian songstresses Jane Siberry and k.d. lang sang a hauntingly beautiful duet about the beauty and pain of life, and all its unanswerable questions. “Calling all angels, walk me through this …

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Edgy Edmonton?

There's been a lot of attention paid to Canada's cities over the last few years. In 2007, Canada's cities are the engines of eco- nomic growth; politicians have come to understand that well-managed, functional and …

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Fun with math – the interprovincial way

”œI'm actually surprised that it took this long” was my ini- tial response to the journalist who called me back in September. New population estimates had been released by Statistics Canada, revealing a fast-growing population in …

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Get with the dance, Alberta

Pity the poor arts communities in Alberta. They just can't seem to get the respect they deserve. While the corporate community has for the most part been a great support- er of the arts, many small …

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Great scenery, economic uncertainty

Life in resource-rich western Canada has its share of ups and downs. Tucked away in the farflung northwestern corner of the country, a far-too-common economic drama is playing out. It's up, then down, back up, …

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Labour market ghost stories

He came to work Monday morning as usual, but instead of starting work, he made an announcement. ”œI quit,” he said, shocking his colleagues. Right there on the spot, the experienced welder hand- ed in …

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Lougheed gave Alberta its last good year

Pierre Berton wrote about Canada's “Last Good Year” being 1967, marked by our centennial, a world Expo, a booming economy and growing international confidence. But in 1967, Alberta was still a bit of a backwater, …

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Mind the gap

There has been a distinct difference in the rate of economic growth between Canada's regions over the past several years. Momentum has clearly favoured western Canada, where rising prices for energy, agricultural and resources have …

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Oil tethered to fundamentals

Canada's economy is still reeling from the Great Recession of 2008-09, particularly goods producers like the resource industries. To be frank, we need all the help we can get. And help is arriving. Crude oil — …

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Saskatchewan should pick its friends carefully

The company you keep says a lot about you. Take Saskatchewan, for example. In the run-up to the latest federal budget, Saskatchewan joined forces with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. The three supposed ”œhave-not” provinces …

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The economic colours of the season

It happens every year about this time. Stores stock up on the new clothes of the season, a quarterly ritual in which retailers convince shoppers (mostly women) of the new pieces that they absolutely must …

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The innovation riddle

Over the past several years, dozens of economists and politicians have jumped on the bandwagon linking innovation to economic growth. Management gurus and business schools go on about the imperatives of being creative and coming …

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The stampede to Saskatchewan

For years, the joke was that Alberta's greatest asset was Saskatchewan's public education system. The siren call of higher wages, plentiful jobs and a great lifestyle in Alberta has lured thousands of migrants from Saskatchewan …

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The state of oil

The setting couldn't have been lovelier — or more awkward. As over a thousand members of the business elite from the world's heavy-oil producing countries gathered during the first week of November in Porlamar, Venezuela, …

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The year in the West

It's been quite a year for Canada. Western Canada had a particularly active year, with a series of events that shaped national — and even international — news for economic, cultural and political stories. The top …

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Upgrading Alberta

He may have been out of poli- tics in Alberta for more than two decades, but when Peter Lougheed speaks, he still commands enormous attention. And recently, he's been speaking out on a problem that …

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Was it a "good" budget?

On March 4, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brought down Budget 2010, in which Ottawa announced the largest deficit on record ($53.8 billion) for this fiscal year and five more years of deficit spending — and …

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Western Canada's year in review

As usual, there's been much on the plates of western Canada's politicians and economists in 2011. Here's a summary of the Top 10 most important political and economic stories that have dotted western Canada, in …

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What the West wanted and what it got

The 1980s were meaningful years in Canada's eco- nomic development. It was a decade full of booms, busts, change and adapting to new realities. After the euphoria of Expo 67 and the nation's centennial was …

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What's in a GDP? It depends

In the world of public policy, econ- omists tend to debate the merits or drawbacks of a policy in terms of what it might do to the gross domestic product ”” the GDP. And while …

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When best intentions fail

“But you promised!” screeches the four-year-old. “You promised we'd get ice cream today.” A parent's nightmare: a pledge, made with the best intentions, derailed by an unexpected turn that makes a trip to the ice cream shop …

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Why the west will rise again

How the mighty have fallen! The one-time engine of the national economy, western Canada sputtered dramatically in 2009. According to data from Statistics Canada, the provincial economies of the three westernmost provinces were in much …

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