The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) is a non-profit research organization (or think tank) based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It aims at promoting economic liberalism through economic education of the general public and what it regards as efficient public policies in Quebec and Canada through studies and conferences. Its research areas include different topics such as health care, education, taxation, labour, agriculture and the environment. Its studies are often mentioned in the media.
|Montreal Economic Institute|
|President and CEO||Michel Kelly-Gagnon|
|Location||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
The MEI was incorporated in July 1987, after being created by a group of Québec intellectuals and businessmen as the continuation of the Institut économique de Paris à Montréal (which was directed by anarcho-capitalist Pierre Lemieux). MEI's activities soared in the late 1990s with the nomination of Michel Kelly-Gagnon as Executive Director. The Institute rapidly established a leading place in debates on economic policy in the province of Quebec and managed to attract leading academics.
Maxime Bernier served as its vice president, from May to November 2005, before he became federal Minister of Industry. Tasha Kheiriddin also briefly occupied this position from March to September 2006, before moving to the Quebec branch of the Fraser Institute. From February 2007 to October 2009, the vice president was Marcel Boyer, professor of economics at the University of Montreal. The vice president is currently Jasmin Guénette, former director of public affairs who came back after spending two years at the Institute for Humane Studies in Virginia.
While it rejects characterizations such as “right-wing” and “libertarian,” MEI advocates policies in line with economic liberalism, such as weakening Quebec’s labour laws, increasing the transparency of labour union financing, merit pay for teachers, and ending Canada Post's monopoly on letter delivery, as well as a general downsizing of the state. Commentators often characterize it as Quebec's equivalent to the Fraser Institute and say that it supports a corporate agenda. Former MEI vice president Tasha Kheiriddin placed it in the same group as the Fraser Institute as well as the National Citizens Coalition, Frontier Centre for Public Policy, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. An analysis of social networks on Twitter by the Institute for Research on Public Policy found that MEI is one of the Canadian think tanks with the highest “right-wing” scores, along with the Manning Centre, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the C.D. Howe Institute, the Canada West Foundation, and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. Its tax returns indicate that major support comes from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the conservative Donner Canadian Foundation, and the Chase Foundation of Virginia, which supports conservative organizations. It has also received funding from the Koch brothers' Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation.
Kelly-Gagnon has said that 65-70% of MEI's funding comes from foundations, with an additional 15-20% coming from individuals and the remainder coming from corporations; it does not accept funding from the public sector. Its 2015 budget was $2.3 million, and had a full-time staff of 12 as of March 2016. Several members of its board of directors and many of its fellows play a significant role in Quebec's economy as entrepreneurs or intellectuals.
From 2000 until 2008, the MEI prepared a ranking of Quebec high schools published in L'actualité magazine every fall.
Its studies are often mentioned in Canadian media. It plays in Quebec a role similar to that of the Fraser Institute in the rest of Canada.
The MEI was criticized by Le Devoir and universities about the ideological neutrality of their research. Their reasoning was also questioned on several occasions by the Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques based in Montreal.
Ethan Cox, a political organizer and writer, has said that “MEI is part of the same problem they have with money in the U.S. political process: corporate interests who can outspend critics have too much influence in our political process.”
The Montreal Economic Institute is a lone voice of classical liberal sanity in Quebec
The Koch brothers' Claude R. Lambe Foundation also funds the Montreal Economic Institute, the Fraser Institute's ideological counterpart on the east coast. ... The John Templeton Foundation ... also awarded the Montreal Economic Institute its 2004 Templeton Freedom Award Grants for Institute Excellence