Our Research

Phoenix: PSAC chief's "don't forgive" argument weakens union
REPORT May 11th

Robyn Benson’s charge to her members over the payroll debacle is at the heart of why unions in Canada are in decline.

Religion and the Good of the City: Report 1
REPORT May 1st

Popular communication and even academic research have tended to think it proper to overlook the contribution of religion to the social and cultural goods of the city even where evidence has suggested that it exists in substance and extent, both historically and at present.

In this, the first of a three-part series, we ask: How are we advancing the understanding of the socio-cultural good of religion—especially Christianity as a dominant faith in North America? How does religion contribute to the well-being of cities? What form do these religious public goods take? What are their shortcomings that would be valuable to address?

Read the other reports:

Planning for Social Environments
REPORT May 1st

This report is the first chapter of a dissertation project that examines how one might better understand the social infrastructure of our communities. The difficulties of measuring intangible social structures require ongoing experimental projects. Some of these experiments will lead to insight, others will identify dead ends. This current effort builds on existing work and proposes how that work could be applied in new ways.

Measuring phenomena as intricate and difficult as those arising from human interactions at neighbourhood scales requires careful methodological and conceptual framing. A strategy that balances directive progress with permissive exploration is needed. Around and through this open approach to exploration, novel methodologies such as the relationship between social capital and spatial use in urban areas can be considered for their potential to assist urban planners in understanding and evaluating the social impact of past, present, and future plans as a means of increasing the sophistication and effectiveness of urban planning strategies and evaluations.

Toronto's Increasing Daycare Surplus
REPORT April 25th

As the City of Toronto puts forward an expensive and expansive daycare space creation plan, new data reveal increasing daycare space vacancy rates

Why Religious Freedom?
REPORT April 20th

This critical paper on religious freedom and its relationship to the State by Professor Brett Scharffs of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University poses an important question: why should anyone care about religious freedom? The question here, though, is specifically directed towards those who are indifferent or hostile to, or uninformed about religious freedom.

Prof. Scharffs proceeds to examine a number of the crucial debates around freedom of religion and conscience through both an historical prism and by reviewing recent American jurisprudence dealing with this foundational, or as he terms it a "root" freedom. The arguments made by Prof. Scharffs are particularly cogent. Firstly, he articulates why religious freedom is a distinct freedom with deep historical and philosophical roots, distinct from freedom of speech, association, and assembly yet inextricably bound to them and they to it. He cautions against direct or indirect attempts to sever fundamental freedoms from the root of religious freedom—an act which would result in the withering of these related freedoms.

Secondly, in his examination of the role of the State vis-a-vis the guarantee of religious freedom he offers a valuable and timely distinction between what he terms monist and dualist views. Prof. Scharffs cautions against both secular and religious monism in which religious freedom and other freedoms are viewed as gifts of the State to citizens which can likewise be taken back by the State. He advocates for a dualism in which the State acknowledges the core principle that human rights are understood to be born by all human beings and derived from our inherent characteristics of reason and conscience and our ability to have empathy and compassion for our fellows. Prof. Scharffs raises grave concern about what he perceives to be "an erosion of the strong commitment to dualism that underlies not just the human rights worldview but most of Western history."

All the Daycare Research That's Fit to Print
REPORT April 13th

There’s been so much daycare talk in the news since the federal budget was released on March 22, 2017. That said, there’s even more daycare-related news that wasn’t reported.

We warned you, Toronto
REPORT April 12th

Back in 2014, Cardus published a paper on the tendering situation in Toronto and noted that "the structural framework for bidding on major municipal projects in is analogous to those which were present in Quebec that all parties suggest led to the culture of corruption traced in the Charbonneau report."

Lead us Not into Temptation
REPORT April 7th

Over at my other day-job, Comment magazine, I have written a review of Samuel Bowles’ recent book The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens. You can find it here.

At the Heart of Health
REPORT April 5th

Building on research released last fall by Cardus Family on the importance of emotional relationships to physical well being, program director Andrea Mrozek sat down with Dr. Sue Johnson to learn about a cutting-edge approach at the Ottawa Heart Institute. Healing Hearts Together is based on data demonstrating that strong family life can play a vital part in helping cardiac patients regain their health.

Freedom of Conscience and Religion
REPORT March 16th

This paper by Professor Douglas Farrow of McGill University is both a timely and forthright contribution to the growing discussion on the impact of the autonomy doctrine on a broad range of concepts, beliefs, and our understanding of truth itself.

The powerful criticism of this doctrine offered here is insightful. The paper offers a very helpful summary of the development of the autonomy doctrine philosophically and historically. In his arguments Prof. Farrow asserts that the increasingly widely held belief in the radical autonomy of the individual is having and will have a severely constraining effect on religious freedom. For Prof. Farrow the world is being fundamentally reordered in such a way around the individual that there is no longer any room for counter claims founded upon conscience and religious faith except insofar as they may be an aspect of a given person's individuality. Under the autonomy doctrine such claims must be assessed for what damage they might cause to another person's autonomy. The paper goes on to argue that under this conception of autonomy the human individual is no longer viewed as an accountable moral agent but rather a self-creating, self-measuring, and self-terminating being and no form of perceived religious intolerance must be permitted to infringe on this new conceptualisation of the social contract.

For Prof. Farrow, this development is a disturbing one. He examines how this idea has taken root in Canada not simply as broadly-held opinion but institutionally through legislation and regulation. Finally, Prof. Farrow assesses this increasing entrenchment of the autonomy doctrine particularly in how this doctrine misunderstands the human body and how ultimately certain fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of religion and conscience, will become subservient to this self-same doctrine.