’Stephen J. Harper 1991’

And so now we reach the inevitable point of any national affairs discussion at which Stephen Harper’s master’s thesis is unearthed and considered.

Here is Stephen Joseph Harper’s submission to the University of Calgary’s department of graduate studies in September 1991. If nothing else it perhaps demonstrates that whatever his bona fides as minivan-driving hockey dad from the suburbs, he was also once quite comfortable using the phrase “social optima.”

Kevin Milligan, a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, who says this work would merit an A grade (perhaps even an A+), passes along the following comments specific to the matter at hand.

“I believe some of the commentary about this is a bit overhyped–the thesis does not use Census data directly. However, both the inflation and unemployment measures that are used in the thesis rely on surveys that have methodologies that draw on the Census. This seems like a subtle point, but it does demonstrate how the census affects almost all data we use.

“In the absence of a reliable census, the other surveys could still measure inflation and unemployment. But without the census we would measure those things less well.”