Fraser Institute

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The Fraser Institute
Fraser-institute-logo7526.jpg
Motto If It Matters, Measure It
Formation 1974
Type Public policy think tank
Headquarters 1770 Burrard Street
Location
Website www.fraserinstitute.org

The Fraser Institute is a Canadian public policy think tank. It has been described as politically conservative[1][2][3] and right-libertarian.[4][5] Its stated mission is "to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals."[6]

Named for the Fraser River, the Institute is headquartered in Vancouver, with offices also located in Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and ties to a global network of 80 think-tanks through the Economic Freedom Network.[7]

In April 2012, economist Niels Veldhuis was appointed president.[citation needed]

History[edit]

The Fraser Institute was founded in 1974 by Michael Walker, an economist from the University of Western Ontario, and businessman T. Patrick Boyle, then a vice-president of MacMillan Bloedel. It obtained charitable status in Canada on October 22, 1974, and in the United States in 1978.[8]

Sir Antony Fisher, previously instrumental in setting up the UK's Institute of Economic Affairs, was appointed acting director in 1975, until Walker became executive director in 1977.[8] In its first full year of operation, 1975, the Institute reported revenues of $421,389.[8] In 1988, revenues exceed $1 million, and in 2003, $6 million.[8]

From 1979 to 1991, the Institute's senior economist was Walter Block.

Political stance[edit]

The Fraser Institute describes itself as "an independent international research and educational organization",[9] and envisions "a free and prosperous world where individuals benefit from greater choice, competitive markets, and personal responsibility".[6]

Forbes has referred to the think tank as libertarian.[10] The New York Times has described the Institute as libertarian[11] and conservative.[2] The Calgary Herald called it conservative,[3] Langley Times classified it as right-of-center libertarian.[5]

Funding[edit]

As a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency, the Institute files annual registered charity information returns. In 2010, the Institute reported having $4.5 million CAD in assets and $10.8 million in annual revenue.[12]

The Institute does not accept government grants or payments for research, but depends on contributions from individuals, organizations, and foundations.[13] As the institute is a registered charity, individual donors may claim tax credits for donations, and corporate donors may claim tax deductions.

According to journalist Murray Dobbin, 31% of the Fraser Institute's revenue come from corporations and 57% from "business-oriented charitable foundations" such as the Donner Foundation and the free-market-oriented John Dobson Foundation.[14] In addition, a report stated that Fraser Institute received $120 000 in funding from oil giant ExxonMobil.[15] During 2008-2010, the US-based Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, both under the control of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, provided a total of US$500,000 to the Fraser Institute.[16][17]

Research and publications[edit]

Economic Freedom[edit]

The Institute is well known for its annual Economic Freedom of the World[18] index, which ranks the countries of the world according to their degrees of economic freedom. The Institute has also published regional and sub-national reports ranking the economic freedom of North America, Latin America, the Arab World, and the Francophonie.[19] These reports are distributed worldwide through the Economic Freedom Network, a global network of 80 think-tanks.[7]

Waiting Your Turn[edit]

Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada[20] is the Institute's annual report on hospital waiting times in Canada, based on a nationwide survey of physicians and health care practitioners. The twentieth annual survey, released December 2010, found that the total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and delivery of elective treatment by a specialist, averaged across 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, had risen from 16.1 weeks in 2009 to 18.2 weeks in 2010.[20]

Survey of Mining Companies[edit]

Every year, the global Survey of Mining Companies[21] ranks the investment climates of mining jurisdictions around the world, based on the opinions of mining industry executives and managers.

Global Petroleum Survey[edit]

An annual survey of petroleum executives regarding barriers to investment in oil- and gas-producing regions around the world.[22]

Canadian Provincial Investment Climate[edit]

A series of reports measuring the extent to which Canadian provinces embrace public policies that contribute to, and sustain, positive investment climates.[23]

Stance on firearms legislation[edit]

The Fraser Institute issued a number of articles and statements opposing Canadian gun control laws,[24][25] including firearms registry.[26]

School Report Cards[edit]

Every year, the Institute publishes a series of School Report Cards ranking the academic performance of schools in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Washington state based on the publicly available results of standardized testing mandated and administered by the provinces.[27] The website www.compareschoolrankings.org allows anyone to compare up to five schools at once, based on a variety of performance indicators.[28]

Tax Freedom Day[edit]

The Institute's annual Tax Freedom Day report calculates the day the average Canadian family can "start working for themselves" after having paid off the total tax bill imposed on them by all levels of government.[29] In 2011, Tax Freedom Day was June 6.[29] The Institute also offers a personal Tax Freedom Day calculator.[30] It is however important to note that averaging the tax burden of high and low income earners does not accurately reflect the burden carried by ordinary Canadians.[31]

Periodicals[edit]

The Institute publishes three magazines: Fraser Forum, a bi-monthly review of public policy in Canada; Perspectives, a French-language review of public policy in Quebec and la Francophonie; and Canadian Student Review, a look at current affairs written for students, by students.[32]

Other notable studies[edit]

In March 2010, the Institute released Did Government Stimulus Fuel Economic Growth in Canada? An Analysis of Statistics Canada Data,[33] a report critical of the Harper government's Economic Action Plan, concluding that the stimulus package did not have a material impact on Canada's economic turnaround in the latter half of 2009.

Education programs[edit]

The Institute periodically hosts free seminars across Canada for students, teachers, and journalists, focusing on key economic concepts and timely issues in public policy.[34] In 2010, the Institute hosted eight one-day student seminars, attracting more than 775 participants.[35]

The Fraser Institute also offers an internship program, to which more than 431 individuals applied in 2010.[35]

Other initiatives[edit]

Children First[edit]

Canada's first privately funded program of its kind, Children First: School Choice Trust,[36] offers tuition assistance grants to help parents in financial need send their children to an independent school of their choice. The program has been discontinued in 2012.

Donner Awards[edit]

Canada's largest non-profit recognition program, the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services[37] recognize non-profit social service agencies that, despite budget limitations, excel in terms of management and service delivery. Winners are selected every year in a variety of categories, and share in $60,000 prize money.[37]

School Chain Showcase[edit]

A global database of school chains, the multilingual website allows anyone to connect with school chain operators around the world.[38]

Governance[edit]

The Institute is governed by a board of trustees. Current members of the board include Peter Brown (chairman), Mark Mitchell (vice-chairman), and Edward Belzberg (vice-chairman).[39]

High-profile figures[edit]

The Institute has attracted some well-known individuals to its ranks, including founding member Friedrich Hayek and politicians such as former Reform Party of Canada leader Preston Manning, former Progressive Conservative Ontario premier Mike Harris, former Progressive Conservative Alberta premier Ralph Klein, and former Liberal Newfoundland & Labrador premier Brian Tobin.

Controversies[edit]

According to an article published in CBC News Online, some people allege that Michael Walker helped set up the Institute after he received financial backing from forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel, largely to counter British Columbia's NDP government[40] then led by premier Dave Barrett. The CEO of MacMillian-Bloedel at the time supported wage and price controls. The Institute has been criticized by trade unions for its recommendations to abolish minimum wage.

In late 1997, the Institute set up a research program emulating the UK's Social Affairs Unit, called the Social Affairs Centre. Its founding Director was Patrick Basham. The program's funding came from Rothmans International and Philip Morris.[41] When Rothmans was bought by British American Tobacco (BAT) in 1999, its funding ended,[42] and in 2000 the Institute wrote to BAT asking for $50,000 per year, to be split between the Social Affairs Centre and the Centre for Risk and Regulation.[41] The letter highlighted the Institute's 1999 publication Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy,[43] "which highlighted the absence of any scientific evidence for linking cancer with second-hand smoke [and] received widespread media coverage both in Canada and the United States".[41] At this time the CEO of BAT's Canadian subsidiary, Imasco, was also on the Fraser Institute's Board of Trustees.[42] The Fraser Institute ceased disclosing its sources of corporate funding in the 1980s.[42] In 2000 the Institute published another industry-friendly paper, a History of Tobacco Regulation by Filip Palda.[44]

In 1999, the Fraser Institute was criticized by health professionals and scientists for sponsoring two conferences on the tobacco industry entitled Junk Science, Junk Policy? Managing Risk and Regulation and Should Government Butt Out? The Pros and Cons of Tobacco Regulation. Critics charged the Institute was associating itself with the tobacco industry's many attempts to discredit authentic scientific work.[40]

In 2002, a study by legal scholar Neil Brooks of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives concluded that the Fraser Institute's widely promoted Tax Freedom Day (described as the date each year when the average Canadian's income no longer goes to paying government taxes) included flawed accounting. According to Brooks' study, the Fraser Institute's methods of accounting excluded several important forms of income and inflated tax figures, moving the date nearly two months later in the year.[45]

In 2004, the Fraser Institute issued a statement of support for the legalization of cannabis and its sale on the market.[46]

A report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2007 stated the Fraser Institute received $120 000 in funding from Exxon Mobil.[15]

The United Nations International Labour Office issued a report which criticized the Fraser Institute for making methodological errors and having "a strong conceptual bias." [47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ R.-O. Schultze, R. Sturm, D. Eberle (eds.). Conservative Parties and Right-Wing Politics in North America: Reaping the Benefits of an Ideological Victory? Opladen 2003, p. 244
  2. ^ a b Clifford Krauss (28 February 2006). "In Canada, private medicine spreads". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b "Fraser Institute to pay tuition for poor Albertans". Calgary Herald. 18 January 2006. 
  4. ^ Kai Nielsen. Equality and Liberty: A Defense of Radical Egalitarianism. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Allenheld, 1985, p. 216, footnote 13
  5. ^ a b Dan Ferguson (13 July 2011). "Passing grade for LMH". Langley Times. 
  6. ^ a b Mission Fraser Institute[dead link]
  7. ^ a b Economic Freedom Network Fraser Institute
  8. ^ a b c d The Fraser Institute at 30: A Retrospective Fraser Institute
  9. ^ Who We Are[dead link] Fraser Institute
  10. ^ Tim W. Ferguson (September 20, 2004). "Competitive and Not". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  11. ^ With Interest: Turning the tables on reform The New York Times
  12. ^ 2010 Registered Charity Information Return for THE FRASER INSTITUTE Canada Revenue Agency
  13. ^ Funding Overview Fraser Institute
  14. ^ Murray Dobbin. The Myth of the Good Corporate Citizen: Canada and Democracy in the Age of Globalization. Toronto, Ontario: J. Lorimer, 2003, p. 186
  15. ^ a b Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science, accessed 29 March 2012.
  16. ^ Vancouver Observer, 2012-04-25, retrieved 2012-04-26
  17. ^ Huffingtonpost Canada, 2012-04-26, retrieved 2012-04-26
  18. ^ McMahon, Fred. "Economic Freedom of the World: 2010 Report". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  19. ^ Fraser Institute. "Economic Freedom Network Regional and Sub-National Reports". Freetheworld.com. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  20. ^ a b Skinner, Brett. "Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada 2010 Report". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  21. ^ McMahon, Fred. "Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  22. ^ Angevine, Gerry. "Global Petroleum Survey 2011". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  23. ^ Veldhuis, Niels. "Canadian Provincial Investment Climate 2010 Report". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  24. ^ "Gun Laws do Not Reduce Criminal Violence According to New Study". Fraserinstitute.org. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  25. ^ "Some International Evidence on Gun Bans and Murder Rates". Fraserinstitute.org. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  26. ^ "Misfire: Firearm registration in Canada". Fraserinstitute.org. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  27. ^ School Report Cards Fraser Institute
  28. ^ Compare School Rankings Fraser Institute
  29. ^ a b Tax Freedom Day in Canada Fraser Institute
  30. ^ Personal Tax Freedom Day Calculator Fraser Institute
  31. ^ Ivanova, Iglika. "Are average Canadians paying too much in taxes?". The Progressive Economics Forum. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  32. ^ Magazines Fraser Institute
  33. ^ Veldhuis, Niels. "Did Government Stimulus Fuel Economic Growth in Canada? An Analysis of Statistics Canada Data". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  34. ^ Education Programs Fraser Institute
  35. ^ a b "Fraser Institute Annual Report 2010". Fraser Institute. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  36. ^ Children First: School Choice Trust Fraser Institute
  37. ^ a b Donner Canadian Foundation Awards
  38. ^ School Chain Showcase Fraser Institute
  39. ^ Board of Directors Fraser Institute
  40. ^ a b CBC News Indepth: Fraser Institute/
  41. ^ a b c Fraser Institute letter of 28 January 2000 to British American Tobacco chairman Martin Broughton, Letter to Martin Broughton regarding research program in emulation of the social affairs unit, disclosed via Legacy Tobacco Documents Library.
  42. ^ a b c Donald Gutstein, rabble.ca, 14 October 2009, Following the money: The Fraser Institute’s tobacco papers
  43. ^ John Luik and Gio Batta Gori (1999), Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy, Vancouver: Fraser Institute
  44. ^ Filip Palda (2000), "The History of Tobacco Regulation: Forward to the Past", Public Policy Sources, The Fraser Institute, July 2000.
  45. ^ Neil Brooks (16 June 2005). "Tax Freedom Day - A Flawed, Incoherent, and Pernicious Concept". Retrieved 2005-12-11. 
  46. ^ Eric Beauchesne, CanWest News Service. "Legalize Marijuana, Fraser Institute Advises $2-Billion Tax Source: Group Says Move Would Seize Control From Criminals", National Post, 9 June 2004. Southam Inc, 2004.
  47. ^ [1], accessed June 14, 2014.

External links[edit]