Fraser Institute

From Academic Kids

The Fraser Institute is an economically conservative Canadian think tank. Its mandate is to advocate for competitive markets to better provide for the economic and social well-being of all Canadians. It is very critical of government spending, high taxes, and government deficits. While economically right-wing, it does not support social conservatism. It supports free trade, closer economic integration with the United States and privatization of government services.

The institute (named for the river) is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was founded in 1974 by Michael Walker , an economist from the University of Western Ontario. It is funded through donations and by the sale of publications.


High-profile figures

The Institute has a history of attracting notable individuals to its ranks. Economist Michael Walker is the founder and remains the Executive Director of the institute. In addition, former Ontario premier Mike Harris and Reform party founder Preston Manning are Senior Fellows at the institute.


Though little known at the time of its founding, the Institute has been a source of controversy since its beginning. It was founded by Walker with a grant from forestry giant MacMillan-Bloedel, at a time when MacMillan-Bloedel was in conflict with B.C.'s left-wing NDP government.

Critics of the Institute and other similar agenda-driven think tanks have noted the Fraser Institute's reports, studies and surveys are usually not subject to standard academic peer review or the scholarly method. The accuracy and reliability of the information they produce is therefore often questionable. The Institute also dedicates considerable energy and funding to actively promote their findings and their agenda to broadcast and print media, a practice not followed by most research foundations or in the research work of university departments.

Others point out that some of their research, like the Economic Freedom of the World Report, have been used in many papers that have been peer-reviewed. [1] ( Many other organizations like Greenpeace also publish research often not peer-reviewed and actively try promote their findings and agenda.

In 1999, the Fraser Institute was attacked by health professionals and scientists 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.


  • 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)

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