CMHC sets target to make housing affordable for every Canadian by 2030

A construction worker shingles the roof of a new home in a development in Ottawa on Monday, July 6, 2015. File photo by The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

A federal housing agency hopes to see every Canadian with an affordable home by 2030 and has offered up a plan full of experiments to make it happen.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Friday that meeting that target will take help from governments and the economy — hence the aspirational nature of the goal.

“We believe that everyone in Canada deserves a home that they can afford and that meets their needs. We also believe that we are in the best position to make that happen,” Evan Siddall, the corporation’s president, writes in an opening message in the document. “We are single-minded in striving toward this goal and it will guide our work in the coming years.”

An estimated 1.6 million Canadian households are considered in “core housing need,” meaning that people live in places that are too expensive for them or that aren’t really suitable for them. MORE

Ten things you need to know about a ‘political interference’ scandal involving Doug Ford and the police

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney take questions from reporters at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Nov. 19, 2018. Photo by Cole Burston

Allegations of political interference that could damage the independence of the Ontario Provincial Police have exploded in a series of stunning headlines.

The allegations were raised in a nine-page letter that was signed by Brad Blair, the interim commissioner of the police force.

Ontario’s interim police chief says “Canadian democracy depends on” an independent review of process to appoint successor, amid complaints of political meddling.

Here are ten of the most compelling arguments and insinuations contained in the letter:

  1. That Blair was viewed as a “front runner candidate” for the job, based on his qualifications and experience.
  2. That key requirements for the job were modified two days after it was posted, removing the need for a candidate to hold a certain level of rank in a major police service. Taverner would not have met the initial requirements. This revelation was originally reported by iPolitics.
  3. That Sal Badali, a partner at headhunting firm Odgers Berdtson, told Blair “on numerous occasions that he had no influence on either the process or the outcome of the interviews.” Badali’s fellow panel members were a deputy minister and the deputy attorney general.
  4. That the hiring panel members “changed at the last minute.” Doug Ford’s chief of staff Dean French was due to take part in Blair’s second round interview but Blair saw him leave the building. Ten minutes before Blair’s interview was due to start, he was told that French would not attend.
  5. That Badali had told Blair that a hiring decision would be made following one of two scheduled cabinet meetings, but that it was in fact made before either meeting took place. In addition, Taverner was seen leaving the premier’s office on the day the decision was made.
  6. That French (Ford’s chief of staff) had requested the OPP purchase a large vehicle to be modified to Ford’s specifications, and asked for a sole source provider’s costs to be kept off the books during the command of his predecessor, Commissioner Vince Hawkes, who retired in November.
  7. That Blair met with Taverner at a Swiss Chalet after Taverner had been named to the job and that Taverner told him that he had run into a reporter after his second-round interview, and that the reporter accused him of leaving Ford’s office. He said Taverner told him he asked the reporter to “hold off on any story in exchange for providing this reporter with a first interview in the near future,” suggesting that Taverner knew he would be named to the job.
  8. That Premier Ford had made requests for specific officers to serve on his security detail so that he “would feel comfortable” — disrupting the chain of command within the OPP and a dedicated unit responsible for the security of the premier and the lieutenant-governor.
  9. That Premier Ford told the previous commissioner, J.V.N. “Vince” Hawkes that if the top cop would not address Ford’s security requests, that perhaps a new commissioner would.
  10. That the “perception of political interference in the hiring process has deeply affected the morale of the rank and file” at the OPP, Blair wrote. “OPP officers have shared with me their concerns that the process was unfair and their feeling that the independence of the OPP is now called into question.” They believe that this will affect public confidence in the police, which runs counter to principles of a democratic society as well as running counter to fully effective policing, Blair added. MORE


Ben Parfitt: Site C dam to electrify LNG industry is far from clean

In April 2010, when then-premier Gordon Campbell announced that B.C. was resurrecting plans to build the Site C dam, atmospheric scientist Andrew Weaver was along to lend support.

All energy has environmental costs. Hydroelectric power may be clean in the extremely narrow sense that the energy carried in transmission lines does not emit greenhouse gases. But it is dirty in countless ways. Consider just three: flooded farmlands and uprooted farming families, destroyed Indigenous hunting and gathering sites, and mercury-contaminated fish in reservoirs that are themselves sources of greenhouse gasses.

Weaver later became sharply critical of Site C. But unfortunately, his earlier arguments in favour of the project were co-opted by the government to justify providing more allegedly green energy to an expanding natural-gas industry that includes a major liquefied natural gas plant on B.C.’s north coast and a new 670-kilometre pipeline linking the plant to the Peace region where companies drill and frack for natural gas. MORE


Re: article Site C is not a project that support. We worked to convince the NDP that small scale renewables would be cheaper & provide more economic opportunities across BC but they chose to continue with Site C. 1/6 4:53 PM – 4 Mar 2019

Electric, driverless vehicles key to survival of Canada’s auto industry

If Canada’s auto industry is to have a successful future, governments need to focus on supporting electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as fuel-efficient gas vehicles, according to a new report issued Tuesday.

The report produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a progressive think tank, says auto companies might be attracted here by a skilled, educated and experienced labour force, but that is simply not enough.

Electric vehicles currently account for just one per cent of the market in North America, according to some reports.  (AP FILE PHOTO)

“A high-skill labour strategy only works if we have cars to build,” wrote the report’s authors, Charlotte Yates and John Holmes.

And that means electric vehicles and autonomous cars, because they play to Canada’s strengths in technology, and more importantly, because they are where the market is headed.

“They’re areas where we’ve got a proven track record. And they’re higher value for the companies,” said Yates, provost and vice-president at the University of Guelph MORE


The Future of the Canadian Auto Industry

There is hope! Five recent developments which might actually help fight climate change

In October 2018 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which provided a sobering update on the state of the environment. According to the report, “unprecedented changes” are needed to achieve the target of keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, after which the risk of extreme weather conditions – such as droughts, floods and forest fires – will significantly increase.

It’s not all bad news though. In need of hope, I turned to Lexology to see how lawmakers are responding to global calls for action and found that many countries are taking positive steps in this regard. Here are five recent developments from around the world which may actually help to mitigate the risks of climate change.

1. US Green New Deal

As the second highest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, many of us have a vested interest in what action the United States takes to mitigate global warming. One positive step in this regard may be Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, the outline for which was made public on 7 February 2019. According to Bergeson & Campbell PC, the policy package aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the transformation of the US economy. Among other things, the deal calls for:

  • a transition to 100% renewable energy;
  • investment in infrastructure and industry; and
  • a commitment to clean air and a sustainable environment.

Of course, the proposed package is just that – a proposal. As Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has pointed out, Cortez’s deal calls for action on issues well beyond the environment, and broad proposals such as these often struggle to attract sufficient consensus to gain approval. MORE

What is the Green New Deal — and why do Americans seem so obsessed with it?

Republicans warn of hamburger bans as they fixate on the climate plan splitting Democrats

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, has become of the face of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change and reshape the entire U.S. economy. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has dismissed the plan as ‘kooky’ and claims it would ban cows. (Caitlin Ochs, Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

What does the Green New Deal propose? Big picture, it aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and wean the U.S. off fossil fuels, though it stops short of calling for the all-out elimination of fossil fuels.

It aims to fix what the text of a 14-page resolution calls “systemic injustices” — deeply entrenched conditions that disproportionately affect low-income communities, people of colour, women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The economic stimulus plan is co-sponsored by two Democrats: The social media savvy New York congressional freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

A Green New Deal would bring universal “high-quality health care” to all Americans. It calls for a guaranteed job “with a family-sustaining wage” to anyone, as well as tuition-free public education. In addition, it would clean up environmentally hazardous areas that have been shown to disproportionately affect communities of colour and low-income families. MORE



Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson explains why “green growth” isn’t enough to save the planet.

Bees pollinate pollinating honeybees
(Photo: Ron Whitaker/Unsplash)

“Indigenous peoples have witnessed continual ecosystem and species collapse since the early days of colonial occupation,” says Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, an activist/scholar from the Nishnaabeg nation and author most recently of the book As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. “We should be thinking of climate change as part of a much longer series of ecological catastrophes caused by colonialism and accumulation-based society.”

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. (Photo: Courtesy of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson)

The mass death of insects is an observable and measurable disrespect for the diversity of life on Earth, to which we can and should compare other patterns of human practice.

“Indigenous knowledge systems are rigorous, they pursue excellence, they are critical and comprehensive,” Simpson says. “The global roots of the climatic crisis and the exploitation of natural resources are issues indigenous peoples have been speaking out against for hundreds of years.” The proof is in the pudding: Colonists were warned by word and weapon  that a system of individual land ownership would lead to ecological apocalypse, and here we are. What more could you ask from a system of truth and analysis than to alert you to a phenomenon like climate change before it occurs, with enough time to prevent it? That is significantly more than colonial science has offered.

The devaluation of indigenous political thought has nothing to do with its predictive ability. The ruling class produced by accumulation society simply will not put its own system up for debate. Thus the climate change policies we discuss—even and perhaps in particular the Green New Deal—take for granted not just the persistence of commodity accumulation, but its continued growth. MORE


Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?


Five Facts to Help You Assess the SNC-Lavalin Affair

Did Trudeau and his people do wrong? Some points to consider.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The spinmeisters are out. Let’s go over what we know. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

One thing we learned in the wake of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony is that Canadians should quit feeling smug about the hyper-partisan, fact-free state of politics in the U.S.

The reaction, from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s immediate and unsupported call for Justin Trudeau’s resignation to Liberal attacks on Wilson-Raybould’s ability to withstand the pressure of her former job as attorney general — when, in fact, her ability to withstand pressure seems one of the few certainties at this point — was marked mostly by partisan rhetoric. Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault went full Trump, calling the justice committee’s investigation a “witch hunt.”

Ignore the tidal wave of spin and misinformation. Here are five things to consider as you assess the rights and wrongs of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

First, it was legitimate for the prime minister, cabinet members and political staff to try to persuade Wilson-Raybould to step in and reverse the decision that SNC-Lavalin should face bribery and corruption charges over its activities in Libya. MORE

The best explanation of the SNC-Lavalin affair yet

Michelle Rempel gives a step by step description of how we got to the political scandal, the SNC-Lavalin affair.

This video is 9.44 minutes long. But it is worth taking the time to watch it if you want to understand what eventually led to the resignations of Jody Wilson-Raiboult and Jane Philpott and unmasked the corporate control of the Liberal party.


More than half of Canadians say charges against SNC-Lavalin should go to criminal trial: poll

Image result for trial

More than half of Canadians say fraud and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. should go to a criminal trial rather than a negotiated settlement where the Montreal engineering and construction giant would pay fines and avoid prosecution, according to a new survey.

The numbers, provided exclusively to The Globe and Mail and CTV News, are based on a Nanos poll of 750 Canadians from Feb. 28 to March 1. The poll comes after testimony from former justice minister and attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to a parliamentary justice committee on Feb. 27, when she alleged “consistent and sustained” political pressure from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other senior officials to shelve the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Before the committee, Ms. Wilson-Raybould alleged inappropriate conduct on the part of Mr. Trudeau and 11 people in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and the Office of the Minister of Finance. This included Mr. Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and former principal secretary Gerald Butts, as well as Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his chief of staff, Ben Chin. The committee will hear this week from Mr. Butts, who resigned shortly after Ms. Wilson-Raybould quit cabinet on Feb. 12, and hear again from Mr. Wernick.

SNC-Lavalin, which is facing criminal charges over allegations of bribery in Libya between 2001 and 2011, has been seeking a negotiated settlement in which a company admits wrongdoing and pays a fine, but avoids a trial. Last September, however, the federal director of public prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, informed the company that the prosecution would continue. MORE