Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday August 12, 2022
Cooler market helps housing consumers
You may have noticed the house around the corner with the For Sale sign planted on its lawn.
You may have noticed that the house didn’t sell in its first week on the market. Or week two. Three weeks have now passed, and there it still sits. Is it just because it’s summer? Or is it something else? It’s something else.
January 27, 2022
The correction in the housing market has arrived, as the latest numbers released by various housing groups show. The slowdown is more rapid and dramatic than most predicted. Days on the market are growing; active listings are up.
The most recent housing market forecast from the Royal Bank is predicting a national slump in resales outpacing previous peak-to-trough declines, as the bank phrases it, comparing its predictions of what lies ahead to, say, 1981-’82, or 2008-’09.
As the slowdown in the national housing market gained momentum last month, the average selling price of a home touched $665,850 — a decline of almost 20 per cent since February. Average selling prices have declined each month since February 2022, and are down by 1.8 per cent compared to what they were a year ago.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 24, 2020
Is the WE Charity affair Justin Trudeau’s sponsorship scandal?
With each new revelation in the rapidly snowballing scandal surrounding Ottawa’s aborted plan to contract out a multimillion-dollar student volunteer program to WE Charity, it gets harder to know whether to be more outraged, disgusted or flabbergasted – or some measure of all three.
July 9, 2020
Outraged that, in the middle of a pandemic that has left millions of Canadians out of work and Ottawa digging a deficit hole for the ages, our federal government somehow thought it urgent and appropriate to spend nearly $1-billion on a program that appeared to serve no one’s interest more than its own and those of the organization chosen to run it.
Disgusted that, as average Canadians struggle to set aside a few dollars every month to donate to their local church or food bank, the federal government would reward a charity that defiles the notion of do-gooding by offering “complimentary” trips across the globe to their rich donor friends in high places, absorbing funds that might otherwise have gone to actually doing good rather than just generating good PR.
December 14, 2016
Flabbergasted that, after already twice being entangled in ethics investigations due to his own disregard for the basic rules of conduct, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds himself at the centre of yet another such inquiry owing to what can only be described as his own hubris and gall for having the nerve to think that no one would notice.
We knew before this scandal erupted that Mr. Trudeau and WE Charity had for years formed a sort of mutual-admiration society. No other major political leader has appeared at more WE Day events or been greeted with more ebullient praise by the organization’s co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger. It had become hard to distinguish between WE Charity’s stated goal of “inspiring a generation of leaders and change-makers” and the blatant politics and campaign-style atmosphere that such forums provided Mr. Trudeau.
July 11, 2020
We learned a bit more about the incestuousness of this relationship when Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after participating in a WE Day event in London alongside Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton and actor Idris Elba. A picture posted on her Instagram account shows the trio with their arms around each other, along with Ms. Grégoire Trudeau’s mother-in-law, Margaret Trudeau, and sister-in-law Alicia Kemper. WE Days had become a family affair for the Trudeau clan.
September 22, 2017
We have since learned that Margaret Trudeau was paid more than $300,000 to speak at several WE Day events, which, no matter how much you admire her, should strike you as unsettling. Ms. Trudeau may be her own person, but nothing she does now can be considered separate from her son’s political career. That can be a double-edged sword for Mr. Trudeau, but not in the context of a WE Day event.
Now it appears that much of the apparatus of government jumped through hoops between April and June to drum up a program, the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), that – go figure – not a single federal department or agency or private-sector organization had the wherewithal to administer. None, that is, except for WE Charity, which just happens to have been facing financial disaster as the pandemic dragged on.
April 8, 2004
The closer you look, the more this situation resembles the sponsorship scandal of the late 1990s that tarnished the Liberal brand for more than a decade until Mr. Trudeau revived it.
The sponsorship program, concocted by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien’s government, involved doling out bogus contracts to Liberal-friendly advertising companies under the auspices of promoting federalism after the 1995 Quebec referendum. Then-auditor-general Sheila Fraser concluded that Ottawa “broke just about every rule in the book” in awarding such contracts, which lined the pockets of Liberal donors.
February 9, 2005
That scandal, which eventually spawned a public inquiry, led to criminal charges. And though there is no evidence of criminal activity in the awarding of the CSSG contract to WE Charity, there is a certain similarity in the absence of checks and balances in the procedures followed in outsourcing the grant program. The proposal appeared to sail through cabinet. If any ministers raised red flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest or lack of due diligence regarding WE Charity, we have yet to hear about it.
The sponsorship scandal started off small. The entire program did not involve large sums of money, given the overall size of the government. The program was peripheral to Ottawa’s primary missions, which made it seem kind of innocuous at first.
The WE Charity scandal is starting to look eerily similar. It’s an afterthought in the context of the current crisis Canada faces – yet it’s too rotten-smelling to ignore. (Konrad Yakabuski – The Globe & Mail)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 14, 2020
‘Social bubbles’ allow you to see friends as coronavirus lockdowns ease — but they might not work
As more countries look to lift their coronavirus lockdowns, “social bubbles” have been floated as an idea of how to ease restrictions, but experts say they could be difficult to put into practice.
A social bubble entails allowing people to form a group with a select number of people they are allowed to see socially outside their own household.
They have been put forward as a way to continue containing the spread of Covid-19, which has infected more than 3.6 million people worldwide and killed over 257,000, according to the latest figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
New Zealand — which has been heralded as an example for bringing its coronavirus cases down to zero — has already implemented social bubbles. It lifted certain lockdown restrictions last week and allowed people to expand their bubbles to contact with close family outside their own households.
April 18 2020
Meanwhile, Belgium is reportedly considering allowing people to socialize with a group of up to 10 people. It currently allows people to meet up with two others outside their household, so long they are outside and keep a distance from each other.
William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said social bubbles were “certainly a component of how, once the initial outbreak is under control, measures could be refined.”
However, he added that “as the size of the cluster grows, the probability that one of its members could become infected obviously increases.”
Mike Tildesley, an associate professor who specializes in infectious disease control at the University of Warwick, said that while “in principle, it’s a really sensible strategy,” practically it would be difficult to implement.
He also said that narrowing down a list of friends — and ensuring that those friends also have the same list — sounded like a “social nightmare.”
“You could envisage this situation where you name a group of friends, they name a group of friends that includes you, but it has some people that aren’t included on your list and all you’ve got is some sort of porous process that (the coronavirus) filters through the population more slowly that it did before,” Tildesley added. (CNBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday April 21, 2017
Speculation Swirls Around Kathleen Wynne
Premier Kathleen Wynne is slapping a 15 per cent “non-resident speculation” tax on foreign investors to help cool down southern Ontario’s scorching real estate market, the Star has learned.
March 29, 2017
Wynne will join Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Housing Minister Chris Ballard on Thursday against a backdrop of condo towers in booming Liberty Village to launch a massive plan to improve housing affordability.
A key plank in that would be the 15 per cent surcharge on offshore speculators, who are estimated to make up just 5 per cent of the current market.
Modelled on British Columbia’s “foreign buyers’ tax” in Vancouver, the levy would apply to home purchasers in the so-called Greater Golden Horseshoe who are not citizens or permanent residents.
November 3, 2016
It would affect sales in and around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Niagara, Kitchener-Waterloo, and encompass everywhere north to Barrie and Orillia and east to Peterborough. (Source: Toronto Star)
Meanwhile, Speculation about whether Premier Kathleen Wynne can continue to lead the governing Liberals is at a fever pitch.
Party stalwarts are hoping next week’s balanced budget from Finance Minister Charles Sousa will tip the scal
September 9, 2016
es for Wynne’s teetering political fortunes.
But with public and private polling showing the Liberals languishing in third place well behind the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats — even after Wynne’s 25 per cent cut in residential electricity rates — there is mounting uncertainty she will remain at the helm.
The Ontario Liberal Party’s chief fundraiser, Zak Bailey, has quietly resigned just seven months into a job made even more challenging by campaign finance reforms triggered by a Star series last year.
“You’d have to ask the party what their plans are,” Bailey said Monday, declining further comment. (Source: Toronto Star)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 29, 2017
Housing affordability measures will be in spring budget: Ontario Finance Minister
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa confirmed Monday he plans to include housing affordability measures in his upcoming budget.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has said her government is working on a “comprehensive set of plans,” to deal with rising home prices in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), as well as rising rental rates.
Sousa said he’d like to include those plans in the spring budget.
There is a “suite of options” available to Ontario, but the province must be careful to avoid “unintended consequences” from those measures, he said.
Sousa also spoke about pressures on both the supply and demand side of the GTHA housing market.
“Demand is high for a number of factors,” he said. “Could be speculators, could be people from outside the country, it could very well be the many who are now moving into Ontario creating that demand.”
“The degree of supply is in question and how to expedite that is also something we’re trying to address,” he added.
The housing package in the budget will concern the red-hot housing market in the GTHA, while taking into account different circumstances in the rest of the province, Sousa said. (Source: Globe & Mail)