Fraser Institute advances free-market agenda with weekend seminars for journalists

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      It's that time of year again.

      Journalists across Canada are getting a free education in Hayekian economics, courtesy of the Fraser Institute.

      From May 28 to 31, the sessions take place in Vancouver.

      From June 4 to 7, the "Economics for Journalists" program moves to Toronto.

      Full bursaries are offered to cover the costs, including travel, accommodation, and meals. (For more details, see this article on

      The speakers are free-market proponents Jason Clemens, Scott Niederjohn, and Mark Schug.

      In his book Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada, Burnaby's Donald Gutstein pointed out that economist Friedrich Hayek sought to disseminate his right-wing ideas through what he called "second-hand dealers".

      These included media workers as well as teachers, church ministers, artists, and filmmakers. Anyone who could tell a story to reinforce his free-market and antigovernment ideology could be useful.

      If Hayek were alive today, he'd probably be proud of the Fraser Institute for doing such an exceptional job in cultivating new second-hand dealers.

      Among those tweeting the #Econ4Journos hashtag this weekend were Mike McKinnon and Candace Daniel of Global News, freelance news reporter Krista Sylvester, CKNW Radio's Charmaine de Silva, and 660 News in Calgary reporter Ian Campbell.

      Paul Krugman doesn't have nearly as much influence

      Yesterday, I wrote a short column suggesting that B.C. premier Christy Clark and her finance minister, Mike de Jong, are practising depression economics.

      It's a term popularized by Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, who's based at Princeton University. His support of fiscal stimulus in slow economic times has, at times, put him at odds with the Fraser Institute crowd.

      Krugman doesn't have an army of think tanks funded by wealthy businessmen getting his ideas before Canadian journalists. Instead, you have to read his books or his popular column in the New York Times, which is behind a paywall these days.

      That's why Krugman's views don't generate nearly as much attention as messages from the Fraser Institute in Canadian media outlets. That's good news for Prime Minister Stephen Harper as his Conservatives prepare for an election this October.



      Steve Cooley

      Jun 1, 2015 at 9:39am

      I would like to see a list of those who attended these seminars.


      Jun 1, 2015 at 3:15pm

      You spout the phrase "second-hand dealers" as tho this is unique to the evil old right wing. It isn't. Sympathizers, dupes, fellow travellers, conditioned herds and other tools have been used by the full range of economic and political ideologies. Many of the myriad protest groups from pro-abortion to anti-choice hold media "education" events, often with "educators" with no more academic credentials than a certificate from a community activist workshop. I don't agree with the bulk of the Fraser Institue's economic fantasies, any more than I agree with the other stimulus response tanks mainly because they don't actually do any "thinking." Broadbent, Howe, Fraser, policy alternatives and every other "think tank" begins with a conclusion and frames their "studies" to fit the predetermined conclusions.

      So yes the Fraser Institue is using "second-hand dealers" to make their point but so is everyone else. The Straight is a "second-hand dealer" for Translink propaganda, amongst other issues, so what makes the Fraser Institute worthy of special attention besides their position on the right of the political continuum?

      400 ppm

      Jun 2, 2015 at 5:52am


      Pseudo-debate, just like elections, and law and sport...GS and FI pretend to be on opposing "sides" but at the core they all believe the same thing, even if they don't know it. The plebiscite was a perfect example.

      He covers it very well:


      Jun 3, 2015 at 6:28pm

      Yes, poor Paul. His ideas get no traction, and being a mouthpiece for the US Fed is a really tough gig.

      Google search - Paul Krugman: appx. 23,300,000 hits
      Google search - Fraser Institute: appx. 2,510,000 hits

      So about an order of magnitude more exposure for Paul's obscure, almost unknown agenda. How about a rudimentary fact-check? Does reality have a "conservative bias", and is therefore discounted when it diverges from the author's beliefs?

      Also, how is it disputable that regulation has a cost? Between government enforcement and private party compliance, it very obviously must. If you don't believe that, try being a white-collar professional, self-employed tradesperson, or small business owner in the US, and comply with a tax code that is over 70,000 pages long. It's growing robustly every year, too. And the Federal Register, the codex of US laws and associated regulations, is even longer, growing at an average of 200+ rules EVERY DAY.

      Gets far worse if you're actually responsible enough to save or invest for a rainy day, and foreign investments, even some Canadian ones, heh...I'd refer you to a bookkeeper (formerly a CRA audit specialist) who could scoff at this properly, but she's a bit busy helping clients with, you know, compliance, required by, you know, regulations.


      Jun 11, 2015 at 12:23pm

      It is time to end the farce known as "think tanks". Remove ALL think tanks from non-profit status. If their ideas, thoughts, studies are so valuable, sell them for a PROFIT. Become a tax paying company, rather than institutes that only exist because of their status of being able to hand out receipts (more untaxed money). End them all. How many millions of dollars are wasted on "think tanks"