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Vancouver, Surrey voters elect new mayors; bring promises of more police, RCMP stays

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VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia ushered in a wave of sweeping political change throughout the province in municipal elections Saturday that saw new mayors elected in Vancouver and Surrey and other major communities.

Vancouver businessman Ken Sim defeated Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, posting an overwhelming victory after losing the mayor’s race to Stewart in 2018 by less than 1,000 votes.

Sim, 63, paid tribute to his immigrant parents in an acceptance speech that noted the historic election of Vancouver’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor.

“The path to get here was incredibly long,” said Sim. “One hundred and thirty-five years after the first Chinese head tax was paid just for the right to come here and work on building a railway, Vancouver has elected its first Chinese mayor.”

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“The history of this moment is not lost on me,” he said. “But the honour really goes to those whose shoulders I stand on.”

Sim said he’s paying tribute to Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian trailblazers who helped him and others in the city achieve success.

“Thank you for not giving up on the promise we can make Vancouver a better city,” said Sim to cheers and claps from his supporters. “Look, you can’t lose if you never give up.”

Stewart said the past four years, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid overdose crisis and housing issues were difficult for Vancouver, but “I do think we got the city through pretty hard times.”

The former federal New Democrat MP said, “This is not the result we wanted. But we have to respect it.”

In Surrey, Mayor Doug McCallum was defeated by challenger Brenda Locke, a member of Surrey council and a former B.C. Liberal member of the legislature.

Locke’s victory speech included a pledge to keep the RCMP in Surrey despite McCallum’s initiative to replace the Mounties with a civic police force.

“We need to keep the Surrey RCMP right here in Surrey,” she said.

The municipal elections also saw major shifts across B.C., with new mayors elected in Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton and Victoria.

Voters casting ballots Saturday in Vancouver said housing was the top campaign issue, with public safety and support for vulnerable people also on their minds.

Across B.C. voters said they wanted to see politicians tackle the big issues confronting almost every community.

“I think that definitely housing is a priority for everyone in Vancouver,” said artist Taz Soleil. “For me, housing, especially for marginalized people, is a priority.”

Soleil said she backed candidates who promised more housing options and supports for low income people.

Margaret Haugen, who accompanied a friend to vote at downtown Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Center, said affordable housing was the issue she was most concerned about this election.

“The Downtown Eastside has just gotten progressively worse,” said Haugen, adding too many people there are living on the streets.

From Vancouver and Surrey to the smaller Interior communities of Princeton and Clearwater, campaigns focused on issues that typically fall beyond the municipal realm, such as affordable housing, health care, violent crime and mental health and addiction.

Stewart promised to triple Vancouver’s housing goal over the next decade to 220,000 homes, while Sim pledged to hire 100 new police officers and 100 mental health nurses.

Stewart and Sim were among 15 mayoral candidates in Vancouver.

Vancouver released data showing increased numbers of advance voters this year compared to 2018.

In the 2022 election, 65,026 people voted in advance polls in Vancouver, up from 48,986 in 2018.

The advance polling results were different in Victoria, the city said in a statement.

In 2022 4,613 people voted in advance polls in Victoria, slightly less than the 4,791 people who cast advance ballots in 2018.

In Clearwater, incumbent Mayor Merlin Blackwell said health care was the top issue in his North Thompson community, where the local hospital’s emergency department experiences regular closures.

He said small-town issues of dog parks and potholes were on the back burner in this campaign with residents wanting local government to improve health care and fight crime.

McCallum faced consecutive challenges, first at the ballot box against seven other candidates, then in court on Oct. 31 as he faces trial on a charge of public mischief.

“We have work to do and we have our work cut out for us,” said Locke, adding that includes improving health care, public safety and easing the permitting process for housing development.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2022.

 

Dirk Meissner and Nono Shen, The Canadian Press

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Bank of Canada raises key interest rate to 4.25 per cent, its highest since 2008 – CTV News

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The Bank of Canada has raised its overnight rate by 50 basis points to 4.25 per cent, marking its seventh rate hike in nine months. The last time the bank’s policy rate was this high was in January 2008.

The inflation rate remained high at 6.9 per cent in October, well above the bank’s 2 per cent target. Higher gas prices put upward pressure on the cost of most goods and services, according to the Consumer Price Index released by Statistics Canada last month.

The bank says the economy continued to operate in excess demand during the third quarter and the labour market in Canada remained tight. With unemployment remaining at historic lows, Statistics Canada reported average hourly wages rose by 5.6 per cent year-over-year in October.

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The bank says tighter monetary policy is affecting domestic demand in the Canadian economy, with declines in the housing market and consumption moderating during the third quarter. Since its monetary report in October, the bank continues to expect economic growth to stall through the end of this year and into the first half of 2023.

“The November GDP data showed us that economic activity in Canada had already started to shrink,” said Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Given that slowdown, any hopes for a soft landing have been crushed by today’s rate hikes.”

During a press conference following the bank’s last rate announcement on Oct. 27, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem signalled “the tightening phase will draw to a close, we are getting closer, but we aren’t there yet.”

On Wednesday, the bank did not rule out further rate increases to tackle inflation.

“Looking ahead, Governing Council will be considering whether the policy interest rate needs to rise further to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation to target,” reads the release.

However, experts think it will be difficult for the bank to raise rates during a period of low growth.

“It will be very hard for a central bank to raise interest rates when the economy is in a recession,” said Kevin Page, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy President and CEO. “I think it is highly probable that the central bank will not need to raise interest rates in the short term (next three to six months).”

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blamed the cost of living crisis on the federal government’s increased spending during the pandemic.

“It’s another uppercut for Canadians,” said Poilievre. “It’s all because of the inflationary deficits and spending of Justin Trudeau.”

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for other measures to help combat inflation.

“The federal government has to do more to look at the solutions around inflation,” said Singh during a press conference in Ottawa. “Some of those solutions include acknowledging that high profits in the corporate sector — corporate greed — is contributing to the cost of living going up.”

In the House of Commons, Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault defended his government’s policies to address the increased cost of living.

“The bank is doing their job. We’re doing our job by making sure we have the fiscal fire power to face what’s going to come,” he said during Question Period. “We’re helping Canadians to buy a new home, we’re advancing the payments for worker benefits and we’re also making sure student loan interest gets removed forever.”

The next policy rate announcement is expected on Jan. 25, 2023.

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Media shunning transparency law due to worsening delays, journalist says

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Veteran journalist Dean Beeby says reporters are abandoning the federal Access to Information Act as a research tool because turnaround times are terrible and getting worse.

The access law allows journalists and others who pay a $5 fee to request documents — from internal emails and expense claims to briefing memos and studies — but it has long been criticized as antiquated and poorly administered.

Federal agencies are supposed to respond within 30 days or provide valid reasons why they need more time to process a request.

The law has not been significantly updated since its introduction almost 40 years ago, and many users complain of lengthy delays as well as heavily blacked-out documents or full denials in response to their applications.

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Beeby, an independent journalist who spent much of his career at The Canadian Press, says bureaucrats now realize they face a much bigger blowback from releasing information than from withholding it — and the law provides a rich menu of excuses to keep things buried.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Google releases Canada’s top searches of 2022

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From serious news stories to fun diversions, Canadians have done a lot of Google searches this year.

The internet search engine released its list of the most viral web searches in Canada for 2022.

Here are the Top Search Trends this year: 

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  1. Wordle
  2. Ukraine
  3. World Cup
  4. Queen Elizabeth
  5. Betty White
  6. Bob Saget
  7. Anne Heche
  8. Canuckle
  9. Johnny Depp
  10. Will Smith

“Over the last couple of years, Canadians were facing a lot of uncertainty. This year was all about supporting each other and embracing the new normals,” said Google trends expert Habiq Ali.

“Wordle was the number one top trending search term in Canada. But it was also the number one top trending search term around the world, so this web-based word game has really taken the world by storm.”

Top Canadian News Search Trends:

  1. Ukraine
  2. Rogers outage
  3. Monkeypox
  4. Lisa LaFlamme
  5. CNE
  6. U.S. Midterm Elections
  7. Saskatchewan stabbings
  8. World Cup 2022
  9. Oscars 2022
  10. Freedom Convoy 2022
 

Canadians weren’t just Googling games and current news events, they were also asking ‘Why?’

Why…

  1. Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?
  2. Why is Rogers down?
  3. Why did Will slap Chris?
  4. Why is Ukraine not in NATO?
  5. Why is there a formula shortage?
  6. Why is gas so expensive right now?
  7. Why are truckers protesting?
  8. Why is there a Tylenol shortage?
  9. Why is cryptocurrency going down?
  10. Why did Liz Truss resign?

Another question they asked was ‘how:’

How to…

  1. How to watch the World Cup
  2. How to do a rapid COVID test?
  3. How to help Ukraine?
  4. How to get a vaccine QR code?
  5. How to create an NFT?
  6. How to pronounce Kyiv?
  7. How to evolve Charcadet?
  8. How to “respec” in Elden Ring?
  9. How to evolve Cosmog in Pokémon Go?
  10. How to pronounce Qatar?

Canadians were also heavily plugged into pop culture and entertainment. From the infamous Will Smith Oscars slap to the Johnny Depp defamation trial, here were the top celebrities, movies and shows of the year:

Top Celebrities

  1. Johnny Depp
  2. Will Smith
  3. Amber Heard
  4. Chris Rock
  5. Adam Levine
  6. King Charles
  7. Jada Pinkett Smith
  8. Julia Fox
  9. Bruce Willis
  10. Mary J. Blige

Top Movies

  1. Encanto
  2. Top Gun
  3. The Batman
  4. Thor: Love and Thunder
  5. Turning Red
  6. Black Adam
  7. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  8. Morbius
  9. Uncharted
  10. Don’t Worry Darling
 

Top TV Series

  1. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
  2. Euphoria
  3. Stranger Things
  4. Inventing Anna
  5. The Watcher
  6. House of the Dragon
  7. Moon Knight
  8. Yellowstone
  9. The Boys
  10. The Summer I Turned Pretty

It was also a very busy year for sports fans with the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

Top Sports Searches

  1. World Cup
  2. Olympic medal count
  3. Calgary Flames
  4. Olympics
  5. CFL scores
  6. T20 World Cup 2022
  7. Asia Cup 2022
  8. Canada Soccer
  9. Golden State Warriors
  10. Indian Wells tennis

Top Athletes

  1. Guy Lafleur
  2. Novak Djokovic
  3. Antonio Brown
  4. Serena Williams
  5. Eileen Gu
  6. Kamila Valieva
  7. Felix Auger Aliassime
  8. Mitchell Miller
  9. Johnny Gaudreau
  10. Kirby Dach

“It’s a really interesting way for us to look back at the year and see what inspired us and what intrigued us,” Ali told Global News.

“From a social perspective and from a political perspective, it kind of just shows us what’s top of mind for Canadians this year.”

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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