As the election campaign heats up, there are now many issues on the table. This is why I suggested earlier that you should choose an issue that was important to you and focus on that issue. It makes it easier to cut through all the verbiage.
Last week I discussed climate change, which is now finding its way onto the main stage of the election campaign. This week I want to discuss another issue that I think is important—communities. (In the past, parties talked about having a policy for cities, but when they realized that this excluded a large number of people living in small and medium-size towns, townships, and so forth, the language was changed to communities.)
Communities were in need of support before the pandemic and their position has been made worse by the pandemic. They suffer from a significant infrastructure deficit associated with roads, bridges, water, and wastewater. Many of these services are forgotten because they are hidden from public view, but they are quietly ticking time bombs. The pandemic has created additional pressures from both declining revenues and increasing expenditures.
Communities also need some assistance because of their position on the front line in dealing with the climate crisis. The decisions that communities make in areas like land-use planning and development have a major impact of climate. As well, communities operate a fleet of vehicle and other public works like power plants, community centres, and parks that can be either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. Small and medium-size municipalities, like Pelham, can develop public transit systems to reduce the use of private cars. Every city needs to install electric charging stations to deal with the coming dominance of electric vehicles. These initiatives cost money that communities don’t have.
These local government issues have been largely absent from the federal campaign. The only issue that is presently in the forefront that has consequences for communities is affordable housing. This is a re-run of an issue that was handled badly in the 2019 campaign and generally parties have shown that they didn’t learn anything from that mess.
The affordable housing crisis has been with us for some time, but was exacerbated by the pandemic. The parties have again suggested ways of dealing with the issue that prove that there has been no consultation with local governments. Just like in 2019, one of the main suggestions has been to assist purchasers by putting more money in their hands and easing mortgage conditions. Putting more purchasers with more money into the existing market will drive up prices and worsen the existing affordability problem rather than reduce it.
This time there is also the idea of significantly increasing the housing stock. This is approaching the issue in the right way, but I have a funny feeling about how this movie will end. This could be a great opportunity to re-think housing generally and develop some interesting and innovative ideas involving complete communities with mid-rise, multi-use structures in bikeable and walkable environments. My funny feeling is that the pressure to act quickly will drive us to take the 1950s subdivision plans off the shelf and build a bunch of Beaver Cleaver suburbs. Not only will this do little to solve the affordability crisis, but it will also worsen the climate change situation.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the main national organization representing communities, has suggested an agenda for this election. I have drawn from this list and inserted some of my own thoughts.
New and improved infrastructure— sidewalks, roads, bridges, water purification and wastewater treatment.
Better bandwidth especially in rural areas. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of good wi-fi connections. We need to deal with the digital divide.
Energy retrofits of existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient.
Funding for the improvement of municipal operations such as moving toward zero-emission fleets.
Increase and improve the housing stock with special emphasis on developing complete communities that are bikeable, walkable and welcoming to public transit.
Innovative public transit options for small and medium size communities. Toronto needs billions for a new subway line; that’s fine, but it’s not scaleable to municipalities the size of Pelham. Smaller communities need innovative transit systems to meet the needs of people with accessibility issues and to eliminate the need for families to buy a second or third car.
An election campaign provides a great opportunity to get often- overlooked items on the national agenda. We should take this opportunity to press parties to take these community issues seriously. ◆
David Siegel is Brock University professor emeritus of Political Science.
Renzo to Head KCL's Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law – Daily Nous
Massimo Renzo has been appointed as the new Yeoh Tiong Lay Chair and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law at King’s College London (KCL).
Professor Renzo, previously a professor of Politics, Law, and Philosophy at KCL and the acting director of the Yeoh Centre, was selected for the endowed chair and directorship following an open search to fill the position. He works in legal, moral and political philosophy, and has written on topics such as political authority, just war, humanitarian intervention, human rights, philosophy of criminal law, consent, and manipulation, among others. You can browse his writings here.
The Yeoh Centre was founded in 2014 with the aim of exploring “major issues in law and politics through the lens of philosophy.” Its previous director was John Tasioulas (Oxford). You can learn more about it here.
Politics Briefing: Quebec introduces legislation to ban pandemic-related protests near hospitals, other facilities – The Globe and Mail
Quebec’s Premier says he is taking a cautious approach to proceeding with legislation to outlaw COVID-19-related protests within 50 metres of hospitals, vaccination sites and testing centres, among other facilities.
“It’s never easy to say you cannot go on the street,” Premier François Legault told a news conference on Thursday, responding to a media question about why he had decided to proceed now with Bill 105.
The legislation, with details on prospective fines, was tabled Thursday by the province’s Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault in response to recent anti-vaccine protests outside such facilities.
“It’s not something that you can do every day. You have to be careful. We want to make sure that people will not win, trying to say that the law is unacceptable, and we cannot enforce it,” said Mr. Legault.
“We wanted to do it correctly and I think that also we need to have the support of all the other parties, and I think that it’s the right time.”
Provisions of the bill will cease to have effect when the public health emergency declared in March, 2020, ends.
More details on the legislation here.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
TRUDEAU FACES CABINET CHALLENGES – Justin Trudeau will have to contend with the defeat of three female cabinet ministers as he crafts his senior leadership team in what’s expected to be a quick return to governing. Two senior government officials told The Globe and Mail Mr. Trudeau will outline his government’s next steps once Elections Canada has finalized the seat counts, which could be as early as Thursday. Story here.
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT O’TOOLE LEADERSHIP – In the first public challenge to Erin O’Toole from within his own ranks, a member of the Conservative Party’s national council says the Tory Leader should face an accelerated leadership review for “betraying” members during the election campaign.
LIMITED DIVERSITY IN TORY CAUCUS – CBC has crunched the the numbers, and concluded that the vast majority of the MPs making up the new Conservative caucus — nearly 95 per cent — are white, even as the country’s racial makeup is diversifying. Before this election, 9 per cent of Tory MPs were BIPOC. Story here,
LPC CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF TAKING RIVAL PAMPHLET – A Calgary resident says he has doorbell security camera footage showing Liberal candidate George Chahal, the night before the election, approach his house in the Calgary Skyview riding and remove an opponent’s campaign flyer before replacing it with one of his own. He posted the footage to Facebook, which has now received thousands of views. Story here.
FORMER LPC CANDIDATE TO SERVE AS INDEPENDENT – Kevin Vuong, who won the Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York as a Liberal candidate, said he will serve as an Independent MP, days after his party said he will not sit as a member of the caucus. Story here.
TWITTER BERNIER BAN – Twitter restricted People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier’s account, preventing him from posting any new messages for 12 hours after he used the platform to encourage his supporters to “play dirty” with journalists covering his campaign. From CBC. Story here.
KENNEY FENDS OFF LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE – Jason Kenney appears to have quelled another challenge from within his own caucus. A non-confidence vote against the Alberta Premier was withdrawn on Wednesday, but he committed to an earlier-than-planned leadership review, to be held well in advance of Alberta’s 2023 general election. Don Braid of The Calgary Herald writes here on how Mr. Kenney survived this fight against his leadership.
NEW CHARGES AGAINST FORMER SNC-LAVALIN EXECS – SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and two of its former executives are facing new criminal charges related to a bridge contract in Montreal nearly 20 years ago, plunging the Canadian engineering giant into another legal maelstrom as it tries to rebuild its business after years of crisis. Story here.
FORD LOOKING FOR CHILDCARE DEAL – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he wants to make a child-care deal with the federal government. The province has acknowledged it was in discussions with Ottawa about a potential agreement into the last hours before the federal election was called in August.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
“Private meetings,” according to an advisory from the Prime Minister’s Office.
No schedules released for party leaders.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether this is the end of majority governments in Canada: “But in Canada, for one reason or another, the grip of two-party politics has been broken – irrevocably, it seems. As a result, something else that is not supposed to happen under first past the post has been happening, with remarkable frequency: minority governments. This is not just the second straight federal election to produce a Parliament without a majority party: it is the fifth in the past seven, 11th in the past 22.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on why, if any federal leader should be stepping down, it’s the likeable Jagmeet Singh: ‘Strange business, politics. While a bit short of a majority, Justin Trudeau wins a third successive election by a large margin in the seat count. Yet some critics say he should be put out to pasture. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suffered a drubbing in the 2019 election, losing almost half his party’s seats. With much higher expectations, he did badly again in Monday’s vote, electing (pending mail-in vote counts) only one more member. Yet hardly anyone says a word.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why the knives are out for Erin O’Toole, but not Jagmeet Singh: “Theoretically, Mr. O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh should be in the same boat. Both failed to channel national frustration over a pandemic election call and turn it into material support; both delivered underwhelming results. But Mr. Singh, who led a campaign that saw the party claim 25 seats as of this writing – just one more than it held before – doesn’t appear to be in immediate jeopardy of losing his job. The saga of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who was turfed by his party when the NDP won 44 seats in 2015 (that is, about 75 per cent better than it did on Monday), offers an explanation for why.”
Jen Gerson (Maclean’s) on why Tories should not “do that stupid thing” they’re thinking of doing: “If you dump your affable, moderate, centrist leader at the first opportunity because he didn’t crack the 905 on his first try, and you replace him with someone who will chase Maxime Bernier’s vanishing social movement like a labradoodle running after the wheels of a mail truck, you will wind up confirming every extant fear and stereotype this crowd already holds about you and your party.”
Steve Paikin (TVO) on advice for Justin Trudeau, inspired by the political experiences of former Ontario premier Bill Davis: “I think if Davis were still alive, he’d tell the current Prime Minister: “A lot of people are underestimating you right now. They think you’re damaged because you called this snap election, and it didn’t work out as you’d hoped. Well, I’ve been there. My advice, Prime Minister, is to reach out. Be more collegial and less ideological and adversarial. Establish a good working relationship with your opponents.”
Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.
Japan’s ruling party puts legacy of Abenomics in focus.
Japan’s widening wealth gap has emerged as a key issue in a ruling party leadership contest that will decide who becomes the next prime minister, with candidates forced to reassess the legacy of former premier Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policies.
Under Abenomics, a mix of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies and a growth strategy deployed by Abe in 2013, share prices and corporate profits boomed, but a government survey published earlier this year showed households hardly benefited.
Mindful of the flaws of Abenomics, frontrunners in the Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership race – vaccination minister Taro Kono and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida – have pledged to focus more on boosting household wealth.
“What’s important is to deliver the benefits of economic growth to a wider population,” Kishida said on Thursday. “We must create a virtual cycle of growth and distribution.”
But the candidates are thin on details over how to do this with Japan’s economic policy toolkit depleted by years of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus.
Kono calls for rewarding companies that boost wages with a cut in corporate tax, while Kishida wants to expand Japan’s middle class with targeted payouts to low-income households.
The winner of the LDP leadership vote on Sept. 29 is assured of becoming Japan’s next prime minister because of the party’s parliamentary majority. Two women – Sanae Takaichi, 60, a former internal affairs minister, and Seiko Noda, 61, a former minister for gender equality – are the other candidates in a four-way race.
Parliament is expected to convene on Oct. 4 to vote for a successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who announced his decision to quit less than a year after taking over from Abe.
A government survey, conducted once every five years and released in February, has drawn increasing attention to trends in inequality during Abe’s time.
Shigeto Nagai, head of Japan economics at Oxford Economics, said the survey revealed “the stark failure of Abenomics to boost household wealth through asset price growth.”
Average wealth among households fell by 3.5% from 2014 to 2019 with only the top 10% wealthiest enjoying an increase, according to a survey conducted once every five years.
Japanese households’ traditional aversion to risk meant they did not benefit from the stock market rally, with the balance of their financial assets down 8.1% in the five years from 2014, the survey showed.
“We think the new premier will need to consider the failures of Abenomics and recognize the myth that reflation policies relying on aggressive monetary easing will not solve all Japan’s problems without tackling endemic structural issues,” Nagai said.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda defended Abenomics and said the pandemic, not slow wage growth, was mainly to blame for sluggish consumption.
“Unlike in the United States and Europe, Japanese firms protected jobs even when the pandemic hit,” Kuroda said when asked why the trickle-down to households has been weak.
“Wage growth has been fairly modest, but that’s not the main reason consumption is weak,” he told a briefing on Wednesday. “As the pandemic subsides, consumption will likely strengthen.”
(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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