insight & evidence

Reports, Publications & Podcasts


Links to reports, publications, and podcasts that feature the Policy Wonks.

2023 Reports, Publications & PODCASTS

Peter Nicholson on Atlantic Canada’s great energy transition
WONK Podcast hosted by Edward Greenspon – December 20, 2023
Public Policy Forum WONK Episode 4

This episode of WONK, host Edward Greenspon talks to Peter Nicholson, chair of the Canadian Climate Institute and author of the recent report Catching the Wind: How Atlantic Canada Can Become an Energy Superpower.

Nicholson has advised leaders of the OECD, major corporations and was instrumental in Canada’s deficit-busting 1995 budget. Today, the dean of public policy thinking in Canada has turned his efforts to the topic of wind power, and its potential to make Atlantic Canada the next great energy region. In this episode he talks about the urgent energy transition, why he ‘marches toward the sound of gunfire,’ and how he became mentor to a young Elon Musk.

Listen to the Public Polcy Forum WONK Podcast… 

NRC president Iain Stewart on the agency’s activities, priorities and future plans
Mark Lowey – October 25, 2023
Research Money, Inc.
NOTE: This is Part 1 of a two-part Q&A. In Part 2, to be published November 1, NRC president Iain Stewart talks about NRC’s renewal of its facilities and ensuring Canada’s strategic IP and research are protected during collaborations with other countries.

My favourite distillation of the subject is Peter Nicholson’s framing. He said Canadian companies’ propensity to compete on the basis of innovation is lower than you would expect.

My favourite distillation of the subject is Peter Nicholson’s framing. He said Canadian companies’ propensity to compete on the basis of innovation is lower than you would expect.

Read more… 

Catching the Wind: How Atlantic Canada Can Become an Energy Superpower
Peter Nicholson – October 13, 2023
Public Policy Forum

The game-changing potential of offshore wind power in Atlantic Canada, combined with an ambitious vision to develop it as an urgent national project, could turn the region into an energy superpower.

Read more… 

Repairing Health Care in Canada: Time to Take the First Step
Peter Nicholson – January 12, 2023
Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan

The commitment of Canadians to a publicly funded, universally accessible health care system is beyond question. But the failure of the system to meet the needs and expectations of the public has become abundantly apparent…

Read more… 

2021 Reports and Publications

Will Liberalism Prevail? If liberalism is to prevail in the West, what needs to happen?
Peter Nicholson – November 29, 2021
MAX Policy, Max Bell School of Public Policy, McGill University

History did not “end” in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR and the victory of the liberal democratic West. After a brief ascendancy, based on a fleeting US hegemony, liberalism once again faces existential challenges…

Read more… 

Future Proof: Connecting Post-Pandemic Canada
Peter Nicholson, Sean Speer, Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin, and Denise Williams
October 4, 2021

Two years after the federal government’s release of a national connectivity strategy, Canada’s need for high-quality digital infrastructure is more critical than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated what happens when everyone is not given equal opportunity to participate in the digital economy, access education and essential public services, and be connected socially. Connectivity is essential for a competitive economy that is increasingly reliant on data collection and flows, for access to services that are moving inexorably to digital platforms, and for nation-building. Digital connectivity plays a fundamental role in enabling communities to thrive economically and socially throughout Canada’s vast geography. We must view digital connectedness as a right of citizenship—much the way we have historically viewed roads, postal service, electric power and basic telephone service.

In this paper we ask: What public policy measures are needed to ensure that Canada’s digital connectivity infrastructure fully supports an inclusive, competitive post-pandemic economy? The answer is framed by what we believe are the two most significant issues:

1.) Should Canada set a new goal for broadband Internet access to replace the current 50/10 minimum and, if so, what should the new goal be?

2.) What public policy measures, if any, are needed to ensure that Canadian businesses and consumers obtain the full benefits of fifth generation (5G) wireless technology?

Download Future Proof: Connecting Post-Pandemic Canada

2020 Reports and Publications

Vivek Goel, Peter Nicholson, and Jeff Larsen – October 22, 2020

Testing is not an end in itself but is undertaken to inform the decisions needed to control the virus responsible for COVID-19 while minimizing unintended consequences. Our argument, summarized below, is that Canada should be testing a great deal more, as is the case in the majority of countries that have been successfully controlling the virus. But increased testing needs to be smart and targeted strategically because testing resources will never be unlimited, nor are tests perfect.

Download A “Smart” Testing Strategy To Control Covid-19 In Canada

COVID-19 and Canada’s Border: A Plan to Re-Open Safely
Peter Nicholson, Vivek Goel, and Jeff Larsen – July 28, 2020
Public Policy Forum

With COVID-19 raging out of control in the U.S., the last thing most Canadians want to contemplate is more entrants from abroad. But it could be a year before a vaccine arrives and much longer until it is administered globally. If COVID has taught us anything it is that, this time, we have to be ahead of the curve on border control.

Read more… 

Peter Nicholson, Vivek Goel and Jeff Larsen – July 14, 2020
Air Quotes Media

This paper proposes a procedure to manage international entry to Canada in a way that minimizes the risk of introducing COVID-19 infection and thus permits the nation’s economic and social activity to be safely restored to the greatest feasible extent. If required, the procedure could also be applied in respect of travel across provincial borders. 

Read more… 

July 8, 2020
Updated July 14, 2020

Management of the COVID pandemic can be likened to management of a forest fire—first you control the blaze; reduce it to a smolder; and then focus on spotting and snuffing out any sparks the moment they appear. 

Download Protecting Canada’s Border Against Introduction Of Covid-19… 

How to Let People In, While Keeping the Virus Out
June 23, 2020

June 23, 2020As summer heats up and social distancing requirements are relaxed, there is excitement that we can return to “normal”.  But at best we are talking about a “new normal”, and at worst we risk a second wave of COVID-19 and re-imposed restrictions or a lock-down.  The conventional wisdom is coalescing around a testing and tracing strategy to reopen the economy and society while preventing a second wave.

Download the The Border Dilemma…

A Five-Point Strategy to Reopen with Confidence
June 15, 2020

The COVID-19 lock-down has been achieving its purpose. The curve has more than flattened. New infections and deaths have trended down, although to varying degrees across provinces. But the emotional and economic toll is trending in the opposite direction.

Download the TEST, TRACE, REPEAT five point strategy…

Deny the facts. Downplay the risks. Then take action to protect human lives.
Canadian Institue for Climate Choices
April 21, 2020

On the occasion of the 50th Earth Day, Peter Nicholson offers his perspective on what this crisis tells us about tackling
climate change.

Read more…


An Action Agenda for Atlantic Growth
Recommendations of the Atlantic Growth Advisory Group

Atlantic Canadians themselves are the ones most responsible for seizing the opportunity and sustaining the momentum. But the long history of the region leaves no doubt that government must continue to complement the capabilities of the private sector and be a key enabler of its success.

Download the Action Agenda…

Canada must encourage business to break its low-innovation streak
Peter Nicholson – October 23, 2018
The Globe and Mail

Canada has been an economic success story for as long as the country has existed. In fact, the growth rate of Canada’s GDP per capita – the basic measure of raw economic performance – has matched that of the United States on average for the past 150 years. Herein lies a deep paradox. Innovation is what ultimately drives economic performance, yet Canadian businesses are innovation laggards among advanced countries. So what gives?

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Background Document to Support Recommendations of The Atlantic Growth Advisory Group

The Advisory Group believes that the recommendations developed in the previous chapters can make a significant contribution to the success of the Atlantic Growth Strategy. They form a coherent whole that is mutually reinforcing. They address opportunities where pan-Atlantic collaboration can achieve far more than individual governments acting separately. The recommendations build on good work already underway but they break a lot of new ground. They are, above all, practical, specific, and actionable. If implemented, the recommendations will have real impact.

Download the Background Document…


New and Better Ways
Field Guide for Nova Scotia’s Innovation Ecosystem

An innovative growth strategy for Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia is a wonderful place to live. We want to keep it that way—for ourselves, for our children, their children, and for generations to come. Lately, there has been a lot to celebrate. Nova Scotia received more immigrants in the first six months of 2016 than in all of last year or in any of the previous 10 years. Our population has hit 950,000, the largest ever…New technology-based startups have been springing up at an increasing pace—the acorns from which future economic oaks can grow. The multi-billion-dollar naval ships contract, together with exceptionally large new investments in oceans research, have set the stage for a world-class oceans-technology economic cluster in Nova Scotia.

Download Field Guide…


WE CHOOSE NOW ONE Nova Scotia Coalition Collaborative Action Plan
a playbook for Nova Scotians

Nova Scotia, like many other jurisdictions, has experienced significant depopulation in rural communities. Our report provides a roadmap to enable communities to build on their individual strengths, to collaborate within regions, and to be partners in creating the solutions to stabilize rural Nova Scotia.

Download We Choose Now…


Peter Nicholson on cost-cutting lessons from ’95
Gloria Galloway – March 1, 2010
The Globe and Mail

In 1995…the deficit was the issue, full stop. And the man chosen by then finance minister Paul Martin to rein it in was Peter Nicholson, an economics guru and senior vice-president at the Bank of Nova Scotia. The result was a budget that imposed steep spending cuts and tax hikes (though not on income) with the aim of cutting the deficit by $13.6-billion over two years…Mr. Nicholson talks about what it was like to craft a budget during those difficult economic times.



Information-rich and attention-poor
Peter Nicholson – September 11, 2009
The Globe and Mail

Twenty-eight years ago, psychologist and computer scientist Herbert Simon observed that the most fundamental consequence of the superabundance of information created by the digital revolution was a corresponding scarcity of attention. In becoming information-rich, we have become attention-poor.

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Peter J. Nicholson takes your questions on rich & poor
S. Sheppard -January 7, 2008
The Globe and Mail

“Statistics Canada reported recently that the earned income of the ‘average’ Canadian – the so-called median income – was the same in 2004 as in 1982,” Peter J. Nicholson wrote in his Globe essay The curious absence of class struggle.

Read more…
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