VANCOUVER B.C. says modular housing is working — here’s what it will look like in Maple Ridge

MAPLE RIDGE, B.C.—With the latest phase of a controversial modular housing project set to open in Maple Ridge, B.C. Housing says newly released statistics show the province’s “housing first” strategy is working.

The new numbers, released Tuesday, are based on surveys at the first seven supportive modular housing projects in Vancouver and Surrey.

The surveys of those living in the Vancouver and Surrey modular housing, though, has found the vast majority — 94 per cent — of them remained housed after six months.

Eighty-four per cent said the housing had improved their overall well-being, and more than half said their physical health had improved.

“As you can see, it’s making a difference in people’s lives,” B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson told Star Vancouver.

“By bringing people inside, helping them stabilize their health and have some safety, they are better able to focus on their other issues, whether that’s addictions issues or mental health,” Robinson said.

The statistics come as the province prepares to unveil its latest supportive modular housing development on Burnet Street in Maple Ridge.

Star Vancouver was given an advance copy of the report and a tour of the new building on Monday. It includes 51 individual units, each with its own washroom, kitchenette, full-sized fridge and an air conditioning unit.

Like the existing modular housing project on Maple Ridge’s Royal Crescent, the Burnet Street site includes a lounge area with a flat-screen TV, an overdose prevention room and an industrial kitchen that will serve meals at breakfast and dinner

It will also have wraparound services for residents, including outreach workers, wellness checks, life-skills training, employment programs and referrals to community services and support groups. Sixteen on-site support workers from Coast Mental Health will help provide referrals to Fraser Health for treatment and other clinical services.

The only substantial difference between the two sites is that units at the Burnet Street location are substantially larger than those at the Royal Crescent site. MORE


Temporary modular housing in single-family neighbourhoods on the agenda for Vancouver city council
Toronto: Council to consider spending $12M on the creation of 651 affordable homes

Naomi Klein Knows a Green New Deal Is Our Only Hope Against Climate Catastrophe

In her new book, Klein argues that our current crisis cannot be separated from a long history and brutal present of human exploitation.

Naomi Klein. (Photo by Kourosh Keshiri)

When I spoke with Naomi Klein in August, it was day 13 of Greta Thunberg’s transatlantic crossing on the Malizia II, a zero-emissions racing sailboat. Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who doesn’t fly because of the carbon impact, was making her way to Manhattan for the UN Climate Action summit. Klein’s new book, On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal, opens with a portrait of Thunberg and a discussion of the youth climate movement. For decades, Klein writes, children have been used as mere rhetorical devices in the discourse of climate change. We have been implored to act on climate change for the sake of “our children.” But, as Klein told me, it is “obvious that this has not worked to inspire decision-makers to do what was necessary.” Now, young people are no longer content to be treated as tropes. “They are speaking and striking and marching for themselves, and they are issuing the verdicts about the entire political class that has failed them.”

The essays collected in On Fire also come together around a central verdict: that the climate crisis cannot be separated from centuries of human exploitation. Colonialism, indigenous genocide, slavery, and climate disruption all share a history. Not only did these historical processes establish the extractive industries that have led to climate change, but they established an extractive mindset, “a way of viewing both the natural world and the majority of its inhabitants as resources to use up and then discard,” Klein writes. Climate activism must fight both. We need a “shift in worldview at every level.”

For Klein, the Green New Deal represents precisely this. Formulated by climate activists and proposed by representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey, the Green New Deal offers a way to transform our infrastructure at the scale and speed required by climate change while simultaneously transforming the economic model and underlying worldview that has caused it. Detractors may call it a random laundry list of progressive initiatives, but for Klein the brilliance of the Green New Deal lies in its supposition that its initiatives—from renewable energy to universal health care—are anything but unrelated. Ecological breakdown and economic injustice are inextricably linked. The solution must be holistic. The Green New Deal offers a way both to “get clean” and to “redress the founding crimes of our nations.”

We spoke about the politics of the climate crisis and the “almost unbearably high” stakes of the 2020 election. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

—Lynne Feeley

Lynne Feeley: Many of the essays in the book focus on what you call the “deep stories” that are interfering with people’s willingness to confront the climate crisis. Can you discuss what these stories are and how they are blocking climate action?

Naomi Klein: Some are the economic stories of neoliberalism—about how things go terribly wrong when people try to work together and how, if we just get out of the way of the market and let it do its magic, the benefits will trickle down to everyone else. I’ve written a lot over the years about how the orthodoxy of neoliberalism—privatization, deregulation, low taxes, cuts to social spending—conflicts very, very frontally with what we need to do in the face of the climate crisis. MORE


On Fire Book Review: Naomi Klein Beckons Us to Look Behind the Burning Climate Curtain

Here are the main federal parties seeking your support on Oct. 21

These federal party leaders will officially kick off their campaigns on Wednesday.

Bloc Québécois

Leader: Yves-François Blanchet

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet THE CANADIAN PRESS

Age: 54

Political career: A former provincial environment minister under Parti Québecois premier Pauline Marois from December 2012 to April 2014.

Strengths: Blanchet is a seasoned campaigner, and has name recognition in Quebec where he was a commentator on an afternoon tv show, was once president of Quebec’s association for music, shows and film, and was the sole candidate who ran to lead the fractured BQ movement in time for the federal election.

Weaknesses: He will have to infuse the party with a raison d’être, and motivate volunteers and organizers at a time when Quebec races are very competitive.

Campaign slogan: Le Québec, C’est Nous (Quebec is Us)

Election challenge: To rally separatist and soft nationalist voters enough to return to relevance. Support for separatism in Quebec has waned in recent years and with it, public backing for the Bloc Québécois.
Conservative Party of Canada

Leader: Andrew Scheer

Conservative party Leader Andrew ScheerConservative party Leader Andrew Scheer THE CANADIAN PRESS

Age: 40

Political career: Scheer is the Ottawa-born and raised MP for a Saskatchewan riding, Regina-Qu’Appelle. He was first elected in 2004, and became Speaker of the House of Commons in 2011 at the age of 32, the youngest person to hold the role. He held the post until 2015 when the Conservatives lost the election. Stephen Harper stepped down as party leader. Scheer was elected leader in 2017 by party members after 13 rounds of balloting, with barely 51 per cent of the vote.

Strengths: Scheer has a pleasant smiling demeanour, and little political baggage having been a backbencher and later Speaker. He did not a make a lot of enemies despite many years in parliament.

Weaknesses: Unclear how much he can stand the political heat of debates or the campaign trail. He tends to turn on his heel when pressed by reporters and has been indecisive or slow to take decisions such as evicting a caucus MP.

Campaign slogan: “It’s time for you to get ahead.”

Seats at dissolution: 95

Election challenge: To win a majority government. Scheer must persuade voters who turned to the Liberals in 2015 that Trudeau let them down, and that the Conservatives are the only party with a plan to govern. The NDP has ruled out supporting a minority Conservative government, so it’s hard to envisage a path to power for the Conservatives other than winning a majority.

Green Party of Canada

Leader: Elizabeth May

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May THE CANADIAN PRESS

Age: 65

Political career: May became leader of the Green party in 2006 after stepping down as long-time executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. It took another five years before May notched a historic election win and was elected the first Green party MP in Parliament, representing the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Strengths: A lawyer by training, is quick to grasp policy; a likeable, experienced campaigner who could corner the environmental vote.

Weaknesses: May’s tendency to speak off the cuff leads her to blurt out odd statements. Like the time she said she offered to quit as leader if former Liberal attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould would join the Greens; that she would not stop Green MPs from bringing forward private members bills to limit abortion; that Jesus Christ was her personal hero, and that she stayed in politics because “I have to save the whole world.”

Campaign slogan: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward Together.”

Seats at dissolution: 2

Election challenge: Convert the party’s growing support among Canadians into actual seats and ensuring that support doesn’t bleed away to other parties on election day. If any of the parties come up short of a majority government, the Green party could leverage its seats in the Commons in return for action on its priorities.

Liberal Party of Canada

Leader: Justin Trudeau

Liberal party Leader Justin TrudeauLiberal party Leader Justin Trudeau THE CANADIAN PRESS

Age: 47

Political career: Trudeau began his political career in 2008 when he was elected MP for the Montreal riding of Papineau after a tough nomination campaign the year before. Elected Liberal leader in 2013, handily beating five other candidates to take the reins of a party that had been bumped to third place after bruising election defeats. Led the Liberals to defeat Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2015, and storm past the then-official Opposition New Democrats to a 184-seat strong majority government.

Strengths: An experienced and physically fit campaigner, Trudeau has honed his skills since 2015. He enjoys the cut and thrust of debates, scrums and meeting the public, can manage the hectic pace of a national tour, and has instant name recognition.

Weaknesses: Trudeau is a polarizing figure who stirs deep animosity among his opponents and is faced with burgeoning separatist sentiments in Western Canada.

Campaign slogan: “Choose Forward.”

Seats at dissolution: 177

Election challenge: Win. A repeat majority government is the brass ring. A minority government is a feasible consolation prize but only if the Liberals are able to win the backing of opposition MPs, such as New Democrats or Greens, to make it work.

New Democratic Party of CanadaLeader: Jagmeet Sing

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh

Age: 40

Political career: Singh was elected to the House of Commons in a 2019 byelection in Burnaby South, 16 months after he won the leadership of the federal NDP in October 2017. Singh came to Ottawa from Queen’s Park where he served as an NDP MPP between 2011 and 2017, holding the post of deputy party leader. He replaced Thomas Mulcair, who stepped down as leader in the wake of the 2015 election result.

Strengths: His sunny, optimistic style is appealing at a time when much of politics is dominated by partisan attacks. He has a strong personal story, centred on how he survived abuse by a taekwondo coach, and helped hold his family together through crises when his father was struggling with alcoholism.

Weaknesses: Singh is new to Ottawa on his first-ever federal campaign and he’s turned in a spotty track record so far as leader. As well, money troubles will hobble the party’s campaign ambitions.

Campaign slogan: “In it for you.”

Seats at dissolution: 39

The challenge: An optimistic view would be to win more seats but a more realistic goal may be to avoid steep losses that some predict in the face of weak pre-election poll results. Yet all might not be lost for Singh’s New Democrats. If any of the parties come up short of a majority on election day, they will be looking for support and the NDP could hold the balance of power. Singh has already ruled out backing the Conservatives but that could change after the election.

People’s Party of Canada

Leader: Maxime Bernier

Age: 56

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier

Political career: A libertarian and fiscal conservative, Bernier was elected in 2006 as a Conservative in the Quebec riding of Beauce. Son of a popular former Quebec MP Gilles Bernier, Maxime Bernier held several roles in Harper’s Conservative government, as minister of industry and then foreign affairs before he was forced to quit after leaving classified documents at a girlfriend’s apartment. Bernier ran for the leadership of the Conservative party in 2017, narrowly losing to Andrew Scheer. He quit Scheer’s party in 2018, declaring the Conservatives had abandoned “core” principles. He sat as an independent MP and launched the People’s Party of Canada as a self-described populist option.

Strengths: Bernier mustered a full slate of PPC candidates, a feat for a new party. He had a base of supporters among Conservatives, having won more than 49 per cent of votes in his former party’s leadership race, and could threaten Scheer’s candidates in some ridings.

Weaknesses: Practices an abrasive style of politics that has stoked divisions on hot-button topics such as immigration, multiculturalism and the environment. His personal insults of a teenaged climate change activist Greta Thunberg earned him scorn across party lines.

Campaign slogan: Strong and Free.

Seats at dissolution: 1

Election challenge: Bernier is trying to fashion his party as hard-right alternative and carve out support from the Conservative party he left behind. But his abrasive, even offensive, style of politics has already alienated potential supporters.


How to watch the federal leaders’ debates — and (maybe) get your question asked

English-language debate is on Oct. 7, two weeks out from election

Five party leaders will take part in one English and one French debate hosted by the Canadian Debate Production Partnership. The leaders are Elizabeth May (Green Party), Jagmeet Singh (NDP), Justin Trudeau (Liberal), Andrew Scheer (Conservative) and Yves-François Blanchet (Bloc Québécois). (Canadian Debate Production Partnership)

On Oct. 7, two weeks out from election day, five federal party leaders will face off as part of the English-language debate.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet have all agreed to participate. The debate will take place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., overlooking Parliament Hill.

The night will be broken down into different sections, each hosted by a veteran journalist, including Rosemary Barton of CBC News. The other moderators are Toronto Star’s Ottawa bureau chief Susan Delacourt, Global News anchor Dawna Friesen, CTV News anchor Lisa LaFlamme and HuffPost Canada’s Ottawa bureau chief Althia Raj.

They’ll be asking these leaders some of your questions.

The English-language debate will be broken down into different sections, each hosted by a different moderator. From left to right, they are: Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star; Dawna Friesen of Global News; Althia Raj of Huffington Post Canada; Lisa LaFlamme of CTV News; and Rosemary Barton of CBC News. (Canadian Debate Production Partnership)

How to watch

The debate will run 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on many different CBC platforms, including:

  • CBC Television and ​​CBC News Network.
  • CBC Gem.
  • YouTube.
  • Twitter.
  • Facebook.
  • CBC Radio One.
  • CBC Listen app.

The debate will be translated into French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Arabic, Punjabi and key Indigenous languages, and will also include American Sign Language (ASL), Quebec Sign Language (SQL), closed captioning and described video.

Several other independently organized debates are planned for the campaign, but Trudeau hasn’t agreed to all of them. Macleans hosted the first debate in 2015 and will do so again on Sept. 12. The Conservatives, the NDP and the Greens are participating, but the Liberals have said no. The debate will go on regardless.

The Munk Debates also hope to reprise their 2015 showdown focused on foreign policy on Oct. 1. Again, Scheer, Singh and May have said they will take part, but Trudeau is out. Organizers are pressuring him to change his mind or else they’ll set out an “empty chair.”

Trudeau, however, has agreed to a TVA debate in Quebec, which hosted a French-language debate in 2015. He will be joined by Scheer, Singh and Blanchet on Oct. 2. The Greens were not invited. MORE


Consultation or consent?

What is adequate consultation? When has consent been given?

You may have heard the news that the Federal Court of Appeal will soon hear six legal challenges to the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline project. The challenges will once again focus on the “consultation” with Indigenous peoples directly impacted by this project.

Before taking power in 2015, Justin Trudeau promised his government would not only consult First Nations, but would obtain consent from communities before projects like this one could proceed.

There has never been clear consent for the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Federal Court has already ruled once that public consultation for this 1,150 km pipeline expansion, which would take bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta to British Columbia for export, was inadequate, and it overturned the original approval for the project.

The federal government, now owner of the pipeline thanks to the use of more than $4.5 billion of public money (with another $9.3 billion expected to be spent on construction costs), started a second consultation process in June. But when the government announced it was approving the pipeline project again, Indigenous peoples argued that the outcome of that consultation was predetermined. They say the government, as owner of the pipeline, has a financial interest that overshadows the public interest.

We should all ask: what is adequate consultation? When has consent been given? Should consultation that simply gathers the feedback people provide be accepted, or does the government have a responsibility to act on when impacted Indigenous nations say no?

These legal appeals are examples of the lengths Indigenous peoples need to go to prove their rights are being trampled and how difficult it is to hold the government and corporations accountable to the law. On the flip side, land and water defenders are being unjustly jailed and fined for simply voicing their dissent. This is a double standard of law enforcement that is difficult to reconcile.

The court ordered the legal challenges be heard quickly and rulings are expected within months.

Thanks to the generous support of people like you, the Council of Canadians is working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and concerned people and communities to stop this pipeline.


Using Police to Belittle Indigenous Rights