Don Drummond Report

A Model Document for Politicians to Play Game with

(written: February 25, 2012)

Importance of Finace: © Unknown. Photo Net

Importance of Finace: © Unknown. Photo Net

A report prepared by Don Drummond and three other Commission members on Ontario’s finances is an ideal document for a politician to brag about, pick and choose and take the credit of implementing selected recommendations at the time of election without alienating voters. (Selected recommendations that would carry long political mileage, but hardly make any dent in Ontario’s finances.) After all, the report has a total of 362 recommendations emerging from 20 chapters, covering every socio-economic aspects of the land (Ontario): ranging from health, education to intergovernmental services. Who will take seriously (especially politicians) to implement all 362 recommendations within given time frame.

The media is harping about the report like gospel hymn. No one is questioning the credibility, methodology and accuracy of heaps of numbers quoted in the report. What good a number is, if the data input, methodology and estimation techniques used in its calculation are not supported.

Methodology: © Alex Steiner. Photo Net

Methodology: © Alex Steiner. Photo Net

The report is silent on how many researchers were involved in the preparation of this colossal report. How long did it take to complete it? What methodology, modeling and assumptions were used to compute findings and making recommendations? Although there is a methodology described for the three scenarios: 2011 budget, status quo and preferred scenarios until 2017-18, but the presentation is journalistic and only related with debt and deficit.

There are no clear descriptions of methodology, data and assumptions used for each of 20 chapters of the report, even for such important areas like health and education. There are references to other research, but what techniques were used to convert findings of various scattered research to fit the Commission’s goal and to integrate with overall findings of the report – are absent. There should at least be appendices (if not separate working paper for each chapter) explaining these questions.

Which One is More Effective: © Perry Tourtellotte. Photo Net

Which One is More Effective: © Perry Tourtellotte. Photo Net

How serious a report will be with 362 recommendations, without arranging them in terms of importance and priorities? What are ten most important recommendations that need to be implemented by 2017-18 in order to save Ontario from its lethal journey towards Greece? How much saving and gain Ontario’s economy would reap from each of those ten recommendations, listed clearly one by one.

What would be socio-economic implications in terms of loss of job, unemployment and under utilization of resources, deterioration in public services and quality of life of ordinary citizens if these reforms and cuts are implemented? What would be the net gain to Ontario’s economy and society? After all, each implementation of these 362 recommendations would have some negative repercussions.

Should you take these recommendations seriously based on journalistic style research with every conceived recommendation under the sun, without priorities, without trade-off, without explanation as which one is the most important and which one is the least? Also, in places with preaching tone: “dos” and “don’ts” without objectivity and facts. I don’t think so.

© Mahmood Iqbal and 2012


About Mahmood Iqbal

An Economist (PhD) and a Professor (Part-time) at the Carleton University, Canada. The author of "No PhDs Please: This is Canada." Besides doing research on serious economic and policy issues for the last 25 years, like to write journalistic pieces on subjects of interest. An amateur Photographer. ... Blog appears to be appropriate venue to post my wondering thoughts without any peer pressure and academic review process.
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