Friday December 6, 2019
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Cleaning the air by first cleaning the waste

by Kelly Harris

From 2008 to 2015 Ontarians paid $37 billion more than the market price for electricity according to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.

The December 2015 AG report also found the then Liberal Government overruled expert advice, tearing up two long-term Ontario Power Authority plans for the electricity system. The AG called the decisions politically motivated actions driving up prices for consumers.

Self-regulation okay – but better coordinated regulation a must

by Kelly Harris

One of the largest complaints of provincial regulators I fielded while working for the credit union trade association was the swiftness of authorities to resolve issues with unhealthy institutions.

Not underhanded mind you, but institutions whose revenues have flat lined or retracted. Often the institutions, once salvageable, had become more of a burden to rescue than a benefit. If the regulator had the power to act more quickly then the credit union that is taking over the merger could be in a better place.

Time to stress test housing options

by Kelly Harris

There are more than 10,000 people on the Niagara Region’s affordable housing wait list and that number is bound to get bigger with the economic success of the province.

Sure, that sentence likely doesn’t make sense, but the fact is, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, homes in the region have appreciated by more than 80 per cent in the past five years. New pressures including the expansion of the Go Train will bring more and more families to the region – even some whose breadwinner or winners work in Toronto.

The Risk of Shared Equity

by Kelly Harris

An Abacus Data poll this past summer ranked “Housing Affordability” as the fifth most important issue for Canadians heading into the Oct. 21 federal vote. The issue of housing affordability was only three per cent less important to those polled as “Climate Change.”

Still, I don’t remember any marches or rallies on home buying during the election. Perhaps that is why the policies the parties presented for those issues left so many Canadians wanting.

Ontario does not have a revenue problem…

by Kelly Harris

Hidden amidst the announcement of more money for health care, education and accelerated deficit reduction in the 2019 Fall Economic Statement Nov. 6, was an interesting comment on environmental programs in Canada.

The best predictor of future behaviour…

by Kelly Harris

On Wednesday, Nov. 6 Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips will give his mid-year report card on the province’s finances during the Fall Economic Statement (FES).

It will go something like this: “Thanks to the hard work of Ontario’s all star ministers the province is ahead of schedule to balance the budget within four years. By targeting efficiencies, and not cuts, the province is protecting the services Ontarians need most, and thanks to the great work of Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli, making Ontario open for business, we have been able to increase revenues all the while lowering taxes.”

Benching Ford Nation – the wrong plan?

by Kelly Harris

More than 7,000 Liuna members from across Ontario marched on Queen’s Park to protest the government and hear the leader of the official opposition speak.

It was April 23, 2018, the government they were protesting was that of Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne and the opposition leader they were there to hear speak was new PC Leader Doug Ford.

And you want to be my Latex Salesman?

by Kelly Harris

Joe Biden served Barrack Obama for eight years as his vice-president. By all accounts he wasn’t a total disaster and from what I know he never wore black face.

Mr. Biden is in the fight of his life for the Democratic Party nomination in the United States, the same country Mr. Obama was president. So you would expect the former leader of the so-called free world to support his friend, former running mate and fellow American. Nope.

In politics you complain up

by Kelly Harris

There is an old adage in politics that you complain up. Anyone who has watched a Niagara municipal council meeting understands that. And when a senior level politician complains down it is often seen as petty almost oafish.

Then there we were Wednesday. Justin Trudeau used Doug Ford’s name nine times in a single announcement. It wasn’t the most he has invoked the Premier of Ontario, that was on this writer’s birthday, Sept. 23, when he said “Doug Ford” 13 times.

#43 the Seinfeld Election – The Election about nothing

by Kelly Harris

So I walked into Canadian Tire after being a panellist on the John Oakley Show in Toronto, Monday and found myself looking at an assortment of canoes and kayaks on sale for season’s end.

One particular blue kayak caught my eye and the price tag only $399. I turned to my friend and said, “ya know, if I buy that I’ll still have $1,600 left for other camping gear.”

Rae-Day Relic still Regulates Ontario Credit Unions

by Kelly Harris

Hidden deep in April’s budget delivered by then finance minister Vic Fedeli was a commitment to modernize credit union rules in Ontario.

The decrepit Credit Union and Caisses Populaire Act, 1994, was written before, well, the Internet and is one of the few surviving relics of the Bob Rae era in Ontario. So if you happen to be one of the half-million or so on the Niagara peninsula and Golden Horseshoe that is a credit union member, take comfort knowing that Rae-days may be gone, but the rules governing your life savings remain largely the same.

Debating the debates

by Kelly Harris

The value of debates during an election campaign has long been in question and never moreso than following the MacLean’s/CityTV Leaders’ Debate Sept. 12 in Toronto.

The strategy of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipping the debate was pretty simple. It was a frontrunner strategy where he saw no upside as the NDP was floundering; the Greens were cutting into their votes and the Liberal attack on the Conservatives hadn’t changed since the 1990s – just go with ‘hidden agenda’.

Canada must be, A Just Society

by Kelly Harris

The World Justice Project 2019 Rule of Law index ranks Canada 9th in the world with high-scores for “no improper influence” and “no corruption.”

I wonder what next year’s rankings will find given the SNC-Lavalin Scandal and the ham-fisted way the government mishandled it and continues to do so. The amazing thing about this, if it was ever really about jobs, is that there was a way to do it properly.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been damned if he does and dammed if he doesn’t for most of his tenure at the top of Canada’s natural third party.

First off, Queen’s Park’s former best-dressed Member of Provincial Parliament decided to introduce himself to Canadians before running for a seat in the House of Commons. This was decried by some as a bad move because Ottawa was where the national press is. So he ran and won a seat in Burnaby – a place he has no ties to and doesn’t represent an NDP power-base because it’s on the wrong side of Canada for national media attention.

The golden parachute

by Kelly Harris

Shortly after the 2011 provincial election I made the decision to take the Queen’s Park Golden Parachute and move on to greener pastures. My numbers may be wrong, but I clearly remember they were a grand total of 12 to 14 weeks and the paycheque I cashed was nowhere near the $450,000 plus two senior staffers to former Premier Kathleen Wynne pocketed.
So I was a little incredulous to see the former premier defend the decision saying it was in line with other jurisdictions, when from my experience it wasn’t even in line with her own – albeit the opposition side of things. I immediately felt what it is in line with is the entitled way her government acted for many years when dealing with Ontarian’s money.

Why keep the cost of carbon hidden?

by Kelly Harris

The Ford Government has given Ontario gas stations until Aug. 30 to place stickers informing motorists of the cost of the Federal Carbon Tax.

The idea of course is to inform motorists and carbon consumers of the additional tax. The number one issue for Canadian voters heading into this year’s election is the cost of living and new taxes, well; they increase the cost of living.

It’s the Cost of Living, stupid

by Kelly Harris

In the past 20 years of covering elections, working on elections and managing politicians there is a common thread of top issues. It is always health care, health care, and health care. Unless of course, as former President Bill Clinton famously said, “it’s the economy stupid.”

So small wonder the federal parties seem to be tossing about to figure out an agenda that has neither of those issues as number one. Health care, because everyone says it in polling regardless of the reason, I suspect, so they don’t feel stupid, is sitting at number two on the latest Abacus Data issues poll July 15.

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