An unpublished decision by a provincial watchdog has removed many details from view of the real estate investments of dozens of candidates vying for re-election, even as those assets surge in value to more than $36 million, a CTV News investigation has found.
Properties that may have once been middle class homes are now worth millions thanks to a housing crisis that has seen property values triple in just ten years, a government report found — and those properties need extra scrutiny, not less, critics say.
“MPPs can not have secret investments because it’s a recipe for corruption ,waste and abuse of the public, and the Integrity Commissioner should not be allowing them to have secret investments,” Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch said.
MPPs disclose their investments to Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, an independent officer of the legislature, who then decides which properties to disclose to the public as a guard against people in power using their position to benefit themselves.
That has meant disclosing the addresses of investment properties, where the MPPs do not live, use for recreation, or use while doing government business in Toronto.
But in 2018, the disclosures by the Integrity Commissioner for the PC candidate in Willowdale, Stan Cho, showed an investment unit without an address, somewhere on Redpath Avenue, a stretch of about 1 km in midtown Toronto. An analysis by CTV News using HouseSigma’s home valuation tool determined the property is worth about $706,000.
The Integrity Comissioner said that lack of disclosure was a mistake of his office at the time, related to the fact that particular building remained under construction. But by 2021, every property was disclosed to the public without an address, making it impossible for public watchdogs to use those listings alone to determine where MPP properties are and what the impact on them from government policies could be.
The office confirmed to CTV News that a group of MPPs approached the integrity commissioner and asked for more privacy, and he gave it to all of them, almost eliminating what Ontarians can know about what real estate their MPPs invest in.
“Certain MPPs raised concerns during their meetings with him in the fall,” said the Integrity Commissioner staff. “The Commissioner made the decision to omit the addresses prior to the public disclosure statements being finalized and filed.”
That included the dairy farm owned by NDP MPP John Vanthof in Evanturel — something Vanthof said he was surprised to discover, because he put the full details on his disclosure form.
“The first time I heard about the policy change was in my conversation with you yesterday,” he said.
Vanthof said it makes sense that some MPPs have investment properties as public life can be short-lived and it’s unreasonable to ask MPPs to completely divest of their assets. He said he supported disclosure to guard against conflict of interest.
But he said he also sympathized with the argument for privacy, as recently people emboldened amid the convoy protests in Ottawa have approached some of these properties, even though as investments the MPPs are rarely there.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it until during the convoy,” he said.
Cho himself didn’t respond to interview requests from CTV News. Earlier this year the Integrity Commissioner found no wrongdoing in a conflict of interest complaint that the proposed Bradford Bypass had been rerouted to avoid a property owned by Cho’s father.
Tense diplomatic relations may not impact trade, investment ties between India, Canada: Experts
NEW DELHI: The tense diplomatic relations between India and Canada are unlikely to impact trade and investments between the two countries as economic ties are driven by commercial considerations, according to experts. Both India and Canada trade in complementary products and do not compete on similar products.
“Hence, the trade relationship will continue to grow and not be affected by day-to-day events,” Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava said.
Certain political developments have led to a pause in negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries.
On September 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau India’s strong concerns about the continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada that were promoting secessionism, inciting violence against its diplomats and threatening the Indian community there.
India on Tuesday announced the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat hours after Canada asked an Indian official to leave that country, citing a “potential” Indian link to the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in June.
Srivastava said these recent events are unlikely to affect the deep-rooted people-to-people connections, trade, and economic ties between the two nations.
Bilateral trade between India and Canada has grown significantly in recent years, reaching USD 8.16 billion in 2022-23.
India’s exports (USD 4.1 billion) to Canada include pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, textiles, and machinery, while Canada’s exports to India (USD 4.06 billion) include pulses, timber, pulp and paper, and mining products.
On investments, he said that Canadian pension funds will continue investing in India on grounds of India’s large market and good return on money invested.
Canadian pension funds, by the end of 2022, had invested over USD 45 billion in India, making it the fourth-largest recipient of Canadian FDI in the world.
The top sectors for Canadian pension fund investment in India include infrastructure, renewable energy, technology, and financial services.
Mumbai-based exporter and Chairman of Technocraft Industries Sharad Kumar Saraf said the present frosty relations between India and Canada are certainly a cause for concern.
“However, the bilateral trade is entirely driven by commercial considerations. Political turmoil is of a temporary nature and should not be a reason to affect trade relations,” Saraf said.
He added that even with China, India has acrimonious relations but bilateral trade continues to remain healthy.
“In fact, bilateral trade is an effective tool to improve political relations. India must make special efforts to increase our bilateral trade with Canada,” Saraf said.
India and Canada have a strong education partnership. There are over 200 educational partnerships between Indian and Canadian institutions.
In addition, over 3,19,000 Indian students are enrolled in Canadian institutions, making them the largest international student cohort in Canada, according to GTRI.
According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), Indian students contributed USD 4.9 billion to the Canadian economy in 2021.
Indian students are the largest international student group in Canada, accounting for 20 per cent of all international students in 2021.
Benefits of educational partnerships are mutual and hence the current situation may have no impact on the relationship, Srivastava said.
Apple supplier Foxconn aims to double India jobs and investment
Apple supplier Foxconn aims to double its workforce and investment in India by next year, a company executive said on Sunday.
Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics, has rapidly expanded its presence in India by investing in manufacturing facilities in the south of the country as the company seeks to move away from China.
V Lee, Foxconn’s representative in India, in a LinkedIn post to mark Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 73rd birthday, said the company was “aiming for another doubling of employment, FDI (foreign direct investment), and business size in India” by this time next year.
He did not give more details.
Foxconn already has an iPhone factory employing 40,000 people in the state of Tamil Nadu.
In August, the state of Karnataka said the firm will invest US$600 million for two projects to make casing components for iPhones and chip-making equipment.
The company’s Chairman Liu Young-way said in an earnings briefing last month that he sees a lot of potential in India, adding: “several billion dollars in investment is only a beginning”.
Taiwan election: Foxconn’s Terry Gou taps star-powered running mate
Last month, Foxconn’s billionaire founder Terry Gou said he would run for the Taiwanese presidency in next year’s election, as an independent candidate.
He said the ruling and independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was unable to offer a bright future for the island and left Foxconn’s board following his decision to run.
The firm operates the world’s largest iPhone plant, in the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province.
Foxconn to double workforce, investment in India by ‘this time next year’
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