I received my PhD from the University of Western Ontario and have been a Professor of Economics at UBC since then. My teaching and research have focused on the history of monetary and banking systems in Europe and North America. In 2000-2001, I served as Special Advisor at the Bank of Canada.
From 2001 to 2006 I was Head of the Department of Economics, and then served as senior advisor to UBC President Toope. From 2012 to 2015 I was Vice Provost and AVP at UBC and from 2015 to July 2017 I served as UBC’s Provost and Vice President Academic pro tem.
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Abundant land and strong property rights are conventionally viewed as key factors underpinning U.S. economic development success. This view relies on the “Pristine Myth” of an empty undeveloped land, but the abundant land of North America was already made productive and was the recognized territory of sovereign Indigenous Nations. We demonstrate that the development of strong property rights for European/American settlers was mirrored by the attenuation and increasing disregard of Indigenous property rights. We argue that the dearth of discussion of the dispossession of Indigenous nations results in a misunderstanding of some of the core themes of U.S. economic history.
I argue that in focussing on the role of natural resource exports (“staples”) as drivers of the extent and characteristics of economic growth, Canadian economic history has overlooked questions of resource ownership. Equally it has focused on the development of the settler economy rather than on that of Indigenous nations, with little acknowledgement of the relationship between the two. I review some milestones in the evolution of legal recognition of Indigenous land and resource rights, an evolution that has a direct impact on today's Canadian economy. I then survey some recent papers to demonstrate that the theoretical and empirical tools of economists can combine to provide important new insights into, and a more holistic picture of, the development of the Canadian economy.