Archive for category Federal Politics
It’s been no surprise that Canada has long been in a housing bubble. Foreign investors from China have been buying up property in Canadian cities for years, and reselling them to Canadians for way more than the property is worth. China seems to be intentionally creating a housing bubble in Canada. What Chinese investors are doing is buying up property, and immediately reselling the property to the highest bidder even before the closing date of the first sale. This cycle can repeat as much as 3 or 4 times prior to the closing date of the first buyer, artificially driving up the costs of real estate property. There are signs that the artificially created housing bubble is about to burst.
Last month the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (Canada’s financial watchdog) stated that Canadian banks need to be stress tested against a 30% drop in housing prices, echoing concerns from the Bank of Canada in June. Last week Chinese media has been warning investors in that country to pull out of the Canadian real estate market, and is expecting a housing crash one that could rival or even be worse than the US housing market crash of 2008.
In 2010 the director of CSIS Richard Fadden warned Canadians in an interview with the CBC that the biggest risk to Canadian security wasn’t from terror groups but from foreign powers that are infiltrating Canadian politics and influencing public servants, fueling a growing concern about economic espionage. Little was done to correct the housing bubble by the Conservatives when they were in power. Little has been done by the Liberals either since they have taken control of the House of Commons last year. Vancouver recently passed laws to increase taxes on foreign real estate investors to help curb the growing concern regarding this artificially created bubble, however there are a lot of doubts whether or not it will work.
Why hasn’t anything been done to completely correct this bubble and warn off concerns of economic espionage? Governments of all levels seem to be cashing in on the taxes of these sales, that’s one reason. The other is because any major correction in the housing market could see that bubble burst with fears of major economic instability. This leaves Canada’s economic future purely in the hands of China, in which it seems they are now moving to burst this bubble intentionally by warning off that country’s investors.
Canada shed 31,200 full time jobs last month. While our prime minister is running around the country shirtless, there has been no word on what our federal government is doing to curb the current housing crisis it inherited from the Conservatives. As result of the current series of warnings and years of inaction, we could be in for a very rough ride ahead. Ontario will be hit particularity hard. A large segment of our population, and many businesses here in Ontario can’t even afford to keep the lights on. Gas rates set to rise as well. There also has been absolutely no word from the Ontario government on what they plan on doing to also head this expected downfall in housing prices, and economic instability as a result.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement mostly negotiated in secret by quite a few governments bordering the pacific ocean. Canada has been a part of these negotiations and is committed to ratifying the treaty. Both US presidential candidates are now on the record against this treaty, while current US president Barack Obama has vowed to ratify the treaty in his lame duck session of his second term. So what exactly is the TPP?
I’ve come across a recently posted video on youtube that very clearly explains the TPP and concerns regarding the ratification of the treaty in the below video. Warning that this video is also NSFW and contains strong language:
For those of you who want an in-depth policy and law look at the concerns of ratifying the TPP; Canadian Internet law expert Michael Geist has an excellent in depth series of blogs on quite a few concerns with ratifying the TPP for those of you who like your policy research. I’ll be writing my own series of blogs on the TPP in the coming months as well.
This blog will be dedicated moving forward to following the conversations and policy discussions about Ontario’s new autism policy. The discussions going on right now are a national ethical and moral issue and those across Canada should be kept up to date as much as possible. On Tuesday there was a very emotional rally at our provincial legislature Ontario Queens Park by parents of autistic kids:
Two really good shows Wednesday on CFRB 1010 in Toronto discussing the protest and policy. The first commentary on the autism story gripping Ontario comes from the Beyond The Mic show hosted by Mike Bullard. Comments start at 4:45:
The second one was is from CFRB’s Live Drive show. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was on the show for a one on one follow up interview and she is digging in her heals on the new Autism policy. My comments were aired at 18:41 with an excellent discussion on them after by the hosts:
The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Court Martial Appeal Court and Tax Court are preparing to take the Canadian government to task on ensuring independence from the federal government regarding its data. Under the past conservative government, all these levels of the courts were to submit to a super-IT department as of September 1st of last year that would see all government services including Canadian courts using the same IT department. The move by the last government to amalgamate IT services was seemingly to save money and streamline IT security.
According to the Supreme Court of Canada, one super IT department could threaten its independence from Government. Briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press last week, and provided to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau days after taking office, shows the courts are gearing up for a constitutional challenge on data independence. The briefing stated:
“[The courts] must maintain control of their data, not only because of concerns about confidentiality, but also because an independent judiciary cannot tolerate having its sensitive information controlled by a separate branch of government.”
The briefing notes also warned that if the Government doesn’t backtrack on this soon, it could face legal action and likely a constitutional challenge by the top judges in Canada. Advice given to Trudeau on how to handle this situation by his advisers was redacted in the briefing notes.
Prior to September 1st last year when these new IT rules came into play, top court officials wrote a letter to senior bureaucrats in the Conservative government demanding that agents of Parliament such as the Auditor General, Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner should be exempt from amalgamated IT services. Yesterday, the new Liberal government went before the Supreme Court asking for a six month extension on right to die legislation. Should the court deny that extension, this spat over IT services and data independence could end up being an interesting back story.
Has the Conservative Party of Canada hacked into your profile and “liked” their Facebook page on your behalf without your knowledge or consent? Reports are popping up including one from a reporter at the CBC that they are being “like hijacked” by the Conservative party. According to a CBC report, the hijacked likes could be a result of embedded computer script in Facebook videos and links launching malware bought and paid for by the Conservatives. The computer script could have the potential to reach deep into your personal profile. When questioned on this, all the other parties denied that they are engaged in the activity of hijacking Facebook users accounts, however a Conservative spokesperson wouldn’t confirm or deny the party was behind the malicious hijacks.
In an e-mail to the CBC the Conservatives stated it was “an internal party issue.” The Conservatives may be acting against their own anti-spam laws with respect to this, and if the Conservatives are hijacking Facebook users accounts, one has to question what other information has been collected by the Conservatives (if they have access to your account to like their page) that was transmitted to the party which could be very personal information the Conservatives might use to profile you as a potential voter, which also could be against Canadian privacy laws.
Whatever the case maybe, hacking into users Facebook accounts is not just extremely creepy and potentially illegal; it’s also a form of stalking and desperation by a party who is not very popular on social media and having trouble getting their message out. Liking any Facebook page will automatically show updates to that page in your news feed. Facebook users are encouraged to look at their “activity logs” to ensure there are no unwanted Conservative Party Facebook page “likes”.
More to come on the legal aspect of all of this soon.
(Arab League Flag)
Like many Canadians I had a very heart felt response to the picture of the three year old who laid face down dead after trying to cross the Mediterranean for the EU escaping the Syrian civil war. What I found more disturbing was Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s cold response to the story on CBC, and subsequent inaction of the Conservative government for days on the issue.
The cold response coming from the Conservatives is something that also is very prevalent in some of the richest Arab nations in the world. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates’, Qatar, and Egypt have all received absolutely zero of the Syrian refugees. The only Arab nation to accept these refugees is Syria’s neighbor Lebanon.
Opposition parties here in Canada have been quick to blame the Conservative government for their cold response (and rightfully so), however no one from the Liberals, NDP or Greens are speaking about the inaction of the Arab nations we call allies on this crisis. There needs to be immense diplomatic pressure on the Arab nations to do their part if Canada gets involved in accepting refugees.
Why are the Arab nations not accepting refugees? Short answer is that they think it’s a problem with Western influence in the region, and we caused it. ISIS was born out of the US lead Iraq war and subsequent election of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who was a Shia Muslim. Shias were oppressed by Saddam Hussein. Once al-Maliki came into power, he started to target Hussein’s supporters. Rather than including them in the democratic process, many were thrown in jail and even executed out of vengeance. Historically what happens when a political group is excluded from the democratic process and oppressed? Often times it’s a revolution and/or civil war.
The Arab spring is a prime example of the 20 somethings in the Arab world rising against oppressive power. The Arab spring started in Yemen, spread to Egypt and then to Syria. ISIS and many terror related groups took the opportunity the Arab spring provided to recruit to their extreme ideologies, and has now become a threat to our Arab allies.
Every time we seem to get involved in Middle-Eastern politics, we seem to make a mess of it in large part because the politics in the Middle-East works much differently than here in Canada or the US. It’s based on different interpretations of religion. We should be playing a more supportive role in the region with our Arab allies in regards to these refugees than accepting large amounts of them here in Canada.
Almost all security experts that have been interviewed by media agree that security concerns regarding these refugee’s is a minimal concern, due to screening processes that are in place. Why can’t we work with other Arab nations on the security screening issues for these refugees so that they can be accepted by Arab nations?
Offloading tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of refugees in Canada may be the desired emotional response to the crisis, however where are all these families going to live? Social housing in Canada is falling apart. Federal funding for social housing has been completely cut off by the Conservatives. It’ll take years to repair, let alone create the amount of spaces needed to house these individuals. Jobs? Many coming over here from Syria I would suspect would be in the youth range and young families. Right now we have a youth unemployment crisis in Canada, which again will take years to solve. Then there’s also the culture shock especially for children who would be attending our public school system. We’re going to need social programs here to integrate these refugee’s into our society.
I’m in no way suggesting that Canada shouldn’t do anything, just that we stop and think past the emotional response we all have. We’re in an election right now, and serious questions need to be posed to our leaders regarding the logistics of all of this, when our Arab allies in the region are refusing to help, and turning their backs on their own people. Western nations shouldn’t be shouldering this responsibility alone. Why are we, and is accepting tens of thousands of refugees helpful to the spread of democracy in the Middle East?