Fraser Institute

Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute is conservative and libertarian think tank based in Canada that espouses free market principles. Its stated mandate is to advocate for freedom and competitive markets. It generally opposes public policy solutions based on government spending, taxes, deficits, and regulation. Some of the public policy stands taken by the Institute include: greater free trade throughout the world, privatization of various government services, the freedom to own and acquire firearms without controls, marijuana legalization, competition in primary schooling, and greater private sector involvement in the delivery of healthcare insurance and services. In terms of present hot topics in public policy, the Institute opposes government regulatory action as a possible solution to global warming. They argue that regulations have "the potential to impose high costs on Canadian citizens and drastically increase the regulatory state, while providing little or no environmental benefit." [ [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/environment/index.asp?snav=en The Fraser Institute ] ]

The Institute (named for the Fraser River) is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was founded in 1974 by Michael Walker, an economist from the University of Western Ontario and businessman T. Patrick Boyle. The current executive director, Mark Mullins, was the Institute's previous director of Ontario policy studies. As a registered charity with Revenue Canada, the Institute must file annual registered charity information returns. In its most recent annual return, the Institute reported having $10.4 million CAD in assets, $6.9 million CAD in annual revenue, and $6.9 million CAD in annual expenditures. Fact|date=November 2007

Operations

Funding

The last year for which financial data is available for is 2004. The Institute reported in its 2004 year-end annual report that it had $6.9 million CAD in revenues that year. The annual report outlined that 62% of this sum came from charitable foundations, 25% came from corporations and 13% came from individuals. These percentages amounted to roughly $4.3 million, $1.7 million, and $0.9 million CAD, respectively. In 2004, $2.1 million, or roughly 49%, of funds donated to the Institute by a charitable foundation came from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, as per its 2004 registered charity information return with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Governance

The Institute is governed by a board of trustees. Current members of the board are: Hassan Khosrowshahi (chairman), Raymond Addington (vice-chairman), Mark Mitchell (vice-chairman), Edward Belzberg (vice-chairman), Gordon Arnell, Charles Barlow, Sonja Bata, Everett Berg, Tony Boeckh, T. Patrick Boyle, Peter Brown, Alex Chafuen, James Chaplin, Serge Darkazanli, James Davidson, John Dobson, Greg Fleck, Shaun Francis, Arthur Grunder, John Hagg, Raymond Heung, Paul Hill, Stephen Hynes, David Laidley, Robert Lee, Brandt Louie, David MacKenzie, William Mackness, Jim Main, James McGovern, Gwyn Morgan, Mark Mullins, Roger Phillips, Herbert Pinder, R. Jack Pirie, Peter Pocklington, Conrad Riley, Anthony Sessions, William Siebens, Arni Thorsteinson, Michael Walker, Peter White, and Catherine Windels.

Former members of the board of trustees include David Asper, whose family owns CanWest Global, Canada's largest media corporation; Barbara Amiel, wife of Conrad Black; and David Radler, Black's former business partner.

High-profile figures

The Institute has attracted some well-known individuals to its ranks, such as founding member Friedrich Hayek. The Institute maintains that it has an apolitical stance and refuses to align itself with any political party. For example, in recent years, it has brought into its fold former politicians such as former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, former Ontario Conservative premier Michael Harris, former Alberta Conservative premier Ralph Klein and former Liberal cabinet minister and Newfoundland and Labrador premier Brian Tobin.

Controversy

Though little known at the time of its founding, the Institute has been a source of controversy since its beginning. It was founded by T.Patrick Boyle with a grant from forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel Limitedfact|date=September 2007, at a time when MacMillan-Bloedel was in conflict with the left-wing NDP government of British Columbia then led by Premier Dave Barrett. The relationship, though, was short-lived as MacMillian-Bloedel broke ties with the Institute when it published a book opposing wage and price controls. The CEO of MacMillian-Bloedel at the time supported wage and price controls.

Critics of the Institute and other similar agenda-driven think tanks have claimed the Fraser Institute's reports, studies and surveys are usually not subject to standard academic peer review or the scholarly method. Institute supporters claims their research is peer-reviewed both by internal and external experts. [http://www.fraserinstitute.org/aboutus/peerreview/] The Institute's [http://www.fraserinstitute.org/commerce.web/publication_details.aspx?pubID=2958 Environmental Indicators (6th Ed)] has an academic article devoted to its flaws: McKenzie and Rees (2007), "An analysis of a brownlash report", "Ecological Economics" 61(2-3), pp505-515.

In 2002, a study by Neil Brooks of the left-wing Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives claimed the 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. The Brooks study stated that the 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. [cite web|url=http://www.policyalternatives.ca/index.cfm?act=news&call=1122&do=article&pA=BB736455| title=Tax Freedom Day - A Flawed, Incoherent, and Pernicious Concept| author=Neil Brooks|date=16 June 2005|accessdate=2005-12-11] The Institute counters that Professor Brooks confuses the aggregate tax burden with the tax burden borne by those who actually pay tax.fact|date=September 2007

In 1999, the Fraser Institute was attacked by health professionals and scientistsfact|date=September 2007 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.

The group has also come under fire from social conservatives, who feel it is too liberal in matters of social policy. For example, the Institute favors the legalization of marijuana. [ [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=pb&id=669 The Fraser Institute ] ] [ [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=pb&id=271 The Fraser Institute ] ]

Global warming

Ross McKitrick, a Senior Fellow of the Institute, has been a prominent critic of some scientific opinion on climate change. On February 5, 2007, the Institute published The Independent Summary for Policymakers, IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. [ [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=pb&id=886 The Fraser Institute ] ]

Publications

* "Caring For Profit: Economic Dimensions of Canada's Health Care Industry" (1987)
* "Privatization: Tactics and Techniques" (1988)
* "Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada" series (1990-present)
* "Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation" (1990)
* The Case for the Amero: The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union (1999) [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/amero.pdf]
* "Measuring Poverty in Canada", (a series articles/studies from 1992-2006), see related article Poverty in Canada
* "Immigration and the Welfare State in Canada: Growing Conflicts, Constructive Solutions" (2005), see related article Economic impact of immigration to Canada
* "Fraser Institute Report Card on Alberta's High Schools" (2006)
* "Independent Summary for Policymakers, IPCC Fourth Assessment Report" (2007) [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=pb&id=886]

Notes

External links

* [http://www.fraserinstitute.ca Fraser Institute of Canada]
* [http://www.policy.ca/policy-directory/Detailed/Fraser-Institute-278.html Policy.ca Profile: Fraser Institute]
* [http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/fraserinstitute/ CBC Profile: Fraser Institute]
* [https://apps.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/haip/srch/sec/SrchLogin-e?login=true Canada Revenue Agency registered charity information database: The Fraser Institute]
* [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Fraser_Institute SourceWatch: Fraser Institute]


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