Is Big City Real Estate Overpriced?

The current issue of Maclean’s features a typically provocative cover on “Real Estate 2008.” The “Buy? Sell? Panic?” headline caught my attention because I am currently selling a place in Ottawa and moving to Toronto. The story inside Maclean’s is far more soothing, suggesting that there is no risk of a real estate crash in major Canadian cities because: sub-prime […]

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Vancouver Dreaming

I was asked to submit a dream statement for a conference this weekend called Dream Vancouver. Here is my contribution: My Vancouver dream is like those ones when you are there in your house and are doing stuff – but it is not really your house here on planet Earth. My Vancouver dream is a lucid dream; I am not […]

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The Tax Back Guarantee in Action

As usual, the federal surplus has come in far larger than forecast: $14 billion for 2006/07. As legislated through the Tax Back Guarantee, all of the interest savings from this debt repayment will finance personal income tax cuts. Therefore, the 2006/07 surplus will reduce income taxes by $0.7 billion annually. This tax cut will barely put a dent in federal income […]

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Ontario’s Income and Property Taxes

To put some figures on yesterday’s commentary about the social-service download to municipalities and low provincial-income taxes, I checked the latest Equalization tables (which are publicly available from Finance Canada). In 2005/06, Ontario collected $22 billion of personal-income taxes. At national-average rates – an average dragged down by low-tax Alberta and by Ontario itself – Ontario’s income-tax base would have […]

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Too Little, Too Late

Premier McGuinty has pledged to relieve Ontario municipalities of $1 billion in disability-support payments and prescription-drug benefits if his government is re-elected. Municipalities will continue to pay for a further $3 billion of provincial social-service programs. During the Great Depression, Canada’s patchwork system of municipal relief proved totally inadequate. Subsequently, provincial governments established social-welfare programs and uploaded unemployment insurance to the federal […]

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TILMA: A Report from the Front Line

On Tuesday, I testified before the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on the Economy, which is holding public hearings on joining TILMA. The Legislative Assembly is broadcasting the hearings and promptly posting the recordings. To see my presentation, click “Video 1” for June 5 and use the bar immediately below the screen to advance the time to 48.5 minutes. A […]

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More Legal Analysis of TILMA

The Canadian Union of Public Employees released Steven Shrybman’s second assessment of TILMA at this year’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting. His first was for the Ontario Federation of Labour. Alberta-BC trade deal will undermine Municipal authority June 2, 2007 09:38 AM Calgary – A legal opinion produced by Sack Goldblatt Mitchell sheds damaging new light on the recent Alberta-BC Trade, […]

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The Taxpayers Federation Gets its Hands on the Reins of Power

Larry O’Brien’s train wreck of a mayoralty, which continues to play out on the Ottawa Citizen’s front pages, is an instructive microcosm of how things might look if the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) were running a government near you. O’Brien’s Chief of Staff is, of course, Walter Robinson, the CTF’s long-time Federal Director. UPDATE (May 26): Today’s National Post includes […]

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A Simple Alternative to Proportional Representation

I tend to be supportive of proportional representation for the usual reasons. However, there are some significant advantages to electing federal MPs (or provincial MLAs) from geographic ridings: individual MPs represent, and are accountable to, a defined group of citizens; these citizens have “local” MPs to whom they can raise concerns and from whom they can seek assistance; local issues are […]

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Alberta Municipalities on TILMA

It is good to see that the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association is paying attention to this issue: AUMA Wants Full Consultation on new Alberta-BC Trade Agreement Watch for upcoming public consultations on the recently signed Alberta-British Columbia Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA).

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We Went to Separate Schools Together

Today’s Ottawa Citizen has a good editorial on the existence of two publicly-funded school systems in several provinces. The original concept of one system for Protestants and another for Catholics has evolved into a “public”, secular system and a “separate” system that teaches some Roman Catholicism but is also attended by many non-Catholics. Many schools cannot afford needed supplies, many […]

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Police Investigate Ottawa Election

As the National Union of Public and General Employees reports, the Ottawa and District Labour Council played a key role in initiating this investigation: OPP investigation launched, thanks to Ottawa labour council The question remains – why was it left to an outside group like the labour council to take the initiative?Ottawa (28 March 2007) – Thanks to the Ottawa […]

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Red Ken’s Green Plan

The Guardian on Livingstone’s latest for the city of London: Cleaning up the Big Smoke: Livingstone plans to cut carbon emissions by 60% · Londoners given 20-year target to go green · Flights could drastically affect success of campaign David Adam and Hugh Muir Tuesday February 27, 2007 The Guardian A detailed plan to slash London’s carbon emissions by 60% […]

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Congestion charging in London

… is working nicely, says the Mayor: Charging ahead Ken Livingstone February 16, 2007 2:45 PM http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ken_livingstone/2007/02/of_course_the_catastrophe_didn.html In 2003, congestion charging was introduced in the most clogged-up central area of London against a backdrop of almost universal media scepticism and many gleeful predictions of catastrophe. Of course the catastrophe didn’t happen. London is now in the position of being the […]

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Climate change: urban design solutions

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan adds his two cents: good urban design, through higher densities and good public transit, needs to be part of the solution. It’s time to talk about urban density Tue 13 Feb 2007 As mayor of one of Canada’s biggest cities, Vancouver, I am frustrated with the nature of the debate on global climate change in this […]

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Congestion pricing in NYC

This article from the New York Times generally roots for congestion pricing in NYC. As someone who rides a bike to work, I tend to agree, though I am concerned that there would be a hit on some modest-income people who need a car to get to work or who live in areas that are designed for the car and […]

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