The (Right) News Rundown
- Doug Ford won the leadership race on the third round of balloting.
- After winning at a late press conference Doug Ford said, “Together we will return our province to where it belongs. We will make Ontario the leader of jobs and growth in Canada. Ontario will be open for business.”
- The result was expected to come in at around 3pm eastern. The actual result did not arrive until about 10pm in the evening.
- Nothing has been said by Christine Elliott but Tanya Granic Allen was behind Doug Ford while he was giving victory remarks. Caroline Mulroney tweeted, “Congratulations to our new leader, Doug Ford. Today, we leave this convention united with one common goal, finally firing Kathleen Wynne.”
- After the final round of balloting: Doug Ford (6,202), Christine Elliott (6,049).
- There were 1,300 ballots cast where the voter’s riding was unclear and with the close nature of the race that is believed to have caused the hold up.
- One member, one vote system, where each constituency is granted 100 points.
- While all this was happening it was reported that the result was very close, within half a percentage point.
- A recount was ordered and proceeded where Ford won again.
- At around 6:30pm caucus chair Lisa Thompson appeared to address the media to say that Hartley Lefton, the chair of the party’s leadership committee would address the media.
- An hour later the PC Party addressed the media telling those who had gathered to watch the vote to go home as they were unable to continue using the venue.
- Lefton said, “Members, I ask you to please go home to await the results. You cannot stay here. The media cannot stay here either. What I can assure is a continued fair election and accurate results and a new leader who will lead us into the next election.”
- The question that needs to be asked, was Christine Elliott holding this up?
- The media circus… Best outcome for Wynne. Anti Doug Ford retweets on Twitter from the usual suspects. Headlines such as “With Doug Ford, Ontario’s Tories take a big risk”
- Recall: According to recent polls anyone elected PC leader would still beat the incumbent government.
- Two weeks ago the BC NDP tabled their spring throne speech and budget where they introduced a new "speculation tax" intending to cool the rising housing market. Originally the tax was intended for foreign and Non-BC Canadian residents who don't pay income tax in BC and who leave their properties vacant either from long term living or rentals. The speculation tax would function more like an empty homes tax, because it provides exemptions for owners who put their second properties on the long-term rental market.
- It is meant to cover the main population centers of Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna, and others. It will be $5 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2018 and rise to $20 per $1,000 in 2019. That means an assessed property of $1M (which is not unheard of in those areas. left vacant in those regions would have to pay a whopping $20,000 per year in speculation tax.
- Premier John Horgan was adamant about not treating British Columbians as speculators in their own province. The tax was aimed at foreigners and residents of other provinces. Even if people lived in one part of B.C. and owned recreational property in another, they would not be captured so long as they already paid provincial income taxes.
- But a fact sheet on the speculation tax posted on the finance ministry website tells a different story.
- Question: “What about British Columbians with two homes? A resident who lives in Vancouver and owns a vacation property in Kelowna?
- Answer: “A non-refundable income tax credit will help offset the tax for B.C. residents.”
- Note, the non-refundable tax credit will HELP offset the speculation tax. But it won’t fully offset it unless the amount paid in speculation tax is less than the amount paid in provincial income taxes. For instance, the speculation tax, calculated at two per cent on assessed value, would levy $20,000 on a $1-million recreational property. But a British Columbian with an income of $100,000 a year would only get back the $7,000 or so that he or she would be paying in provincial income taxes.
- When this possibility was raised in the media, many British Columbians reportedly wrote into local newspapers to complain about the tax, and how it would hit vacation properties owned by British Columbians. The regions hit by the tax encompass popular vacation islands such as Salt Spring, Mayne, Pender, Saturna, Galiano and Gabriola, but the government did not include the Sunshine Coast or Whistler.
- Said one, "Kelowna and the Gulf Islands have many vacation or second-home properties and this sudden change may have a sharp negative impact on property values as families scramble to part with a property they can no longer pay the annual taxes on. In the small island vacation home areas, often the most expensive homes such as waterfront are second homes. The year-round residents live inland as this is more affordable. As the value correction occurs, the waterfront properties will drop in value relative to the inland properties, shifting the property tax burden toward the more affordable properties.”
- On the problem for seniors with recreational properties that have been in the family for years: “If they pay zero income tax because their annual income is low enough to warrant no tax — i.e. married couple making around $25,000 or so — they’d never recover the amount.”
- The very next day, Finance Minister Carole James realized that the Finance Ministry fact sheet caused a fluster. She says the ministry is working toward making it so that British Columbians are not targeted by the speculation tax, but did not provide any real answers. “All of the considerations are being looked at as part of the implementation of the tax. That’s why we said when we announced it in February we wanted to take the time to do this right, we wanted to make sure we looked at all considerations and that’s what we’re doing now. So details will come. I understand people have lots of questions, that’s understandable for a bold measure like this. But those details will come.”
- Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA Doug Routley, whose riding includes Thetis, Gabriola and Valdes islands, said he took complaints from his constituents to James and received assurances they would be addressed. Said Routley, “The minister and her deputy both assured me the tax introduced in the budget, not to be completed until May, will be tweaked and designed in such a way that it achieves as surgically as possible its intended purpose to curb speculation in the housing market by non-residents of B.C. The target is not B.C. residents who own a cabin.”
- B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen, whose riding of Saanich North and the Islands includes five Gulf Islands, said his constituency office has received more emails about this issue than any other. He said many of the questions are from retirees who own property they use on weekends or in the summer, and whose fixed incomes don’t give them the money to pay potentially thousands of dollars in new speculation tax costs.
- “For a retired fixed income couple or individual, assuming the fact they can pay the upfront tax, the unknown of whether they’d get money back at the end of the year when they file their income taxes is problematic,” said Olsen. He’s asked James to clarify the intended outcomes of the tax, and said he’s gathering stories from constituents to present to her in the hopes the tax can be changed.
- So while the NDP government may not have intended to have hit British Columbians, confusion in the Finance Ministry has set many against the government on this issue. Hopefully by the time the speculation tax is released in May, they will have ironed out all the wrinkles and figured out exactly who they want to penalize.
- A few weeks ago we talked about the ATB report that forecast positive economic growth in the coming months.
- We highlighted the issues that Alberta is facing: high unemployment rates and low investor confidence.
- This week this was ultimately confirmed in a new report released by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
- Prior to 2013 the cost difference between WCS (Western Canada Select) and WTI (West Texas Intermediate) was about 13%. This has since spiked to 47%.
- The Alberta government has identified this in budgets and fiscal updates as being a major issue to the province.
- As a reminder we currently receive around $44/barrel for our oil whereas the WTI price is hovering at around $66/barrel.
- The School of Public Policy report highlights the true issue that we face: after royalties, taxes, and lease costs the net value of a barrel is only around $14.38CAD.
- The School of Public Policy estimates that if we had unconstrained pipeline capacity the net value would increase to $26.59. An increase of roughly $12/barrel.
- We are never going to eliminate the difference between WCS and WTI because of our location and that most of our oil to come out of the ground requires more refining to be made useful.
- Taking these numbers into account:
- The provincial government is losing $7.2b a year.
- The private sector is losing $5.3b a year.
- And the federal government is losing $800m a year.
- This total $14b a year that is being lost.
- Kent Fellows, a research associate at the University of Calgary said, agrees that environmental concerns about pipelines and energy are important but, “A better way to think about this is where can we reduce emissions, where can we have environmental protections at the lowest cost? Where can we, sort of, balance those costs and benefits and stalling out pipelines is not a great way to do it because it’s costing us $14 billion a year. The value in these numbers is putting a price tag on it so that when the Alberta government is talking to the B.C. government, when the federal government is looking at these policies, at large, it’s a lot easier to see what the value is in getting the new pipeline.”
- Factoring out private industry, because there are those who don’t feel the rich oil companies should be getting richer, there is still $8b a year not being capitalized upon.
- The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce was also talking about the state of the economy this week.
- Janet Riopel, giving a talk named “Is the Recovery Real?” said, “Some might say the tide has turned … that we’re on our way back to prosperity, but has it? Are the difficult times truly behind us? That’s not what I hear. Things on the ground appear to be still as much of a struggle as ever. The news people read gives them hope and encouragement, but as of bottom-line impact, that’s another story.”
- The talk touched on areas such as the growing competitiveness gap between Canada and the US on taxes, the uncertainty pertaining to NAFTA, and delays relating to pipeline construction.
- She called pipelines “near-impossible” to construct.
- We’ve certainly seen this in BC and in the past with Energy East being cancelled.
- The spring session of the legislature started and one of the first motions that the NDP will debate this coming week affirms the province’s commitment to pipelines.
- Talk has moved from wine and the vineyard to the oil taps in the Lower Mainland and the current cost of gas there at upwards of $1.50 per litre.
- Economists say that if Alberta stopped shipping gas, prices could easily rise to $2 to $3 per litre.
- It’s certainly very interesting to see the government taking this approach as it was only last month that UCP Opposition Leader Jason Kenney suggested the exact same thing and he was called extreme by the NDP and mainstream media.
- All of these independent sources, the School of Public Policy in Calgary, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and now the NDP government are all re-affirming how important pipelines are.
- The media though has not shone the light on just how important this issue is to the bottom line of Alberta and Canada as a whole.
- They need to do that. They need to do that to bring this issue to Canadians just like we are. They need to do that so that the federal government will intervene on a timely basis.
- The Middle East and the United States aren’t ashamed of their oil resources. There is no reason why we should be either. We have better human rights than the middle east. And on both fronts our environmental standards are second to none. Our oil reserves represent an untapped wealth that can benefit all Canadians.
The Firing Line
- In November I covered Lindsay Shepherd, the teaching assistant who was sanctioned after showing a clip of a debate on gender neutral pronouns which included U of T professor Jordan Peterson. Just a few months later, the education system is going out of their way to show their political correctness.
- Two Canadian educational institutions this week faced blowback for campaigns intended to highlight the racial “privilege” of students.
- The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) put up posters encouraging students to “check their privilege” using a list of privileges such as “Christian,” “White,” “Heterosexual,” "Native English speaker," and “Male” [Link]
- Meanwhile, B.C.’s School District 74 put up posters featuring school administration officials highlighting their own encounters with racism and privilege. In one, district superintendent Teresa Downs stands next to a quote reading, “I have unfairly benefitted from the colour of my skin. White privilege is not acceptable.” [Link]
- The School District 74 posters were based on a City of Saskatoon billboard campaign that had faced similar criticism for allegedly tarring all whites as racists. One billboard in particular featured a white man alongside the quote: “I have to acknowledge my own privilege and racist attitudes.”
- SD 74 includes the communities of Ashcroft, Clinton, Lytton, Lillooet and Cache Creek in the Northern Fraser Canyon area Northeast of Vancouver. It is notable for having a high percentage of students with self identified aboriginal ancestry, currently standing at an overall average of 60%.
- A local CBC report on the matter quoted Kansas Field Allen, a parent who had taken to Facebook to complain that by encouraging students to be extra cognizant of racial identity, the School District 74 posters were sowing racial division. “I’d say 95 per cent of the people are in favour of having the posters taken down, and that’s from all races,” she said. After that report she was berated online for "raising white racist children.”, when in fact her children are half First Nations.
- This is a hotly contested debate not just online, but also between politicians. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen tweeted about the federal budget, saying it was "A historic #Budget2018 for racialized Canadians". Conservative MP Maxime Bernier took note of the term "racialized Canadians" and asked in his own tweet "I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same. Not to set some Canadians apart as being “racialized.” What’s the purpose of this awful jargon? To create more division for the Liberals to exploit?"
- This tweet was quickly jumped upon by Hussen's Liberal colleague Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who told Bernier "Please check your privilege and be quiet." She 'apologized' for the tweet and suggested they meet in person so they can try to resolve their differences on an important issue. Bernier replied by saying he isn’t interested in a meeting because the two share no common ground, and says Conservatives will support treating everyone individually without any labels at all.
- This led to a Global News article headline "Tory MP Maxime Bernier refuses to meet Liberal MP after apology for Twitter barbs on racial issues", which is obviously sensationalized from one particular point of view.
- MPs, and all Canadians, are constitutionally, and in every other way, entitled to free speech. It’s acceptable to offend others. What’s not acceptable is for anyone to be told their voice doesn’t matter because of their sex, gender or skin colour. Indeed, Wilfrid Laurier, the namesake of the university censoring Shepherd for displaying a debate of opposing viewpoints, once said "Anyone that who says that he is Canadian, but tries to impose their habits and customs on us, is not Canadian".
- It's clear that the Liberals are not above using identity politics as both a weapon and a shield, and the media is not holding them to account for it. No party should be trying to divide Canadians by driving a wedge through racial lines. After all, a Canadian is a Canadian because of our shared values and similarities, not because of our differences.
Word of the Week
Privilege - a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. "education is a right, not a privilege"
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Privilege of Leadership
Teaser: Doug Ford wins a close Ontario PC race, BC’s new foreign speculation tax may affect British Columbians too, Alberta is losing $14B by not having pipelines built, and white privilege school campaigns are causing racial division instead of awareness.
Recorded Date: March 10, 2018
Release Date: March 11, 2018
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes