Emerging policy themes in election 2019

[♪♪♪] If you’d been to our
previous events, you know that we’re not so,
so interested in party fortunes. Who’s up in the polls,
who’s down in the polls, and we really like
to focus on policy. Now over the last week, one of
the dominant stories in the news was about Mr Trudeau’s
blackface and brownface incidents in the past. And of course there’s been a
lot of dissecting of that. “Are the liberals going to lose
because of this,” and so on. But there is a policy dimension
to that story that we had hoped to touch on first, as the
first part of this event today. Interestingly,
I’ll just– as a side note, the NDP so far is the only party
that has a specific section in its platform
that’s about racism and systemic racism in the country. So, just a point of interest,
because we’ve all read all of the platforms and all of
the various releases from the different parties. So, I’ll start off with a
question for all of you. What– what kind of concrete
policy responses could the parties have to deal with racism
and discrimination in Canada? So, I’ll start with you,
Jennifer, and we’ll go along. So, kind of trying to
link this back to policy. I think that the broader issue
does actually highlight some systemic issues with
racism in the country. I mean, what was going on that
the school in question at the time didn’t see fit to
pull a teacher aside and say, “This isn’t okay.” What made it okay for them
to even put this in a public brochure, to publicize
what they were doing? And I think a lot of that
comes back to issues around inequalities in terms
of economic opportunity, in terms of
political representation, even in terms of
cultural representation. So current government has tried
to make some strides in terms of gender-based analysis plus–
-Can you just explain, maybe there’s somebody here that
doesn’t know what gender-based analysis plus is supposed to be. So, if you study public policy
at all, this is the wacky idea that perhaps things might be
different for people depending on their
individual characteristics. I know, it’s mind
blowing, isn’t it? But that you might actually
get better policy proposals and better policy implementation if
you’re actually taking account of those individual differences
at the time that you’re designing the policy. Now the GBA part, the “G”
in that stands for gender. But the plus part is
supposed to be looking at intersectionality as well. So thinking about
issues around race, right, around
ethnocultural minorities, around linguistic minorities,
around what it’s like for people who are
immigrants to the country. So– so that has some promise,
but only if we start getting more serious about that. Do you know, in Canada, we don’t
actually even do a good job of tracking, for example,
race as a characteristic when we’re evaluating or
when we’re measuring household assets and debts? So we don’t even
have a good sense of, like, what’s the racial
wealth divide the way that other countries do, here. So there’s that. And the NDP has problems that
they’re going to be addressing, some of these issues
in terms of looking at racial wage inequalities. I haven’t seen much else from
the other parties at this point. I think the focus that
was on Mr Trudeau’s behaviour kind of did miss,
perhaps, an opportunity to have a greater conversation. I live in Toronto and racism
is a very hot button topic there on many levels. Whether it’s with the
police force or within the public service, or other areas. So, conversations that are had
do involve some of the things that you were talking about,
i.e. a lens as to how do you best encourage
both representation and participation in things
like the police or in government structures for people who would
be considered racialized and face discrimination,
either at the hiring level or at the education level? I think that
what the government– First of all, you know,
it’s not– it’s not a question
of lip service, but representation
is very important. And in terms of candidates,
in terms of seeking out and ensuring that there is a
represent– representation of what Canada’s reality is,
is the first order for all political parties. So they could have,
I think that, even making that– that sort of
statement or tying it to that, could have been a positive
step that was probably missed. That said though,
I think one also has to address the issue
of divisiveness. When we do talk about
race, it is a divisive topic, a divisive subject, and as
leaders rising to the occasion and saying that, you know, we do
not want this to become what it is in other countries,
i.e. the United States, where the kinds
of sometimes affirmative policies have
actually received backlash. So I think that you
have to see a kind of, I don’t know, a way of
moving forward as a leader, and not necessarily simply the
concrete stuff you were talking about, but the greater, I think,
leading of a population of people to feel inspired
to tackle these issues on a personal or
professional basis themselves. I would say that
the GBA+, like, it is an underlying issue in a
lot of policies that we don’t actually realize that have–
that are being debated right now, like Bill C-69,
the environmental bill, has a component in it in
terms of gender-based GBA+ analysis, in terms of the
provisions in there to improve, or at least it’s proposing to
improve how Indigenous people are consulted and
participating in– in, in the review
of major projects. So, these
proposals have been there, you know, whether the proposals
are complete enough or whether they’ve been debated, I
don’t– I don’t think they have, but– but these
issues are on the table, and we haven’t necessarily seen
a full debate of what has been proposed, what
could make it better, or whether there are–
there are areas to improve. So, on the same subject, I want
to read a quote on Québec’s Bill 21 that was
written by Tejpal Singh Swatch, who’s an
Edmonton-based accountant, and he was writing for
the CBC earlier this week. And he said, “In practice, it is
discrimination against people in turbans, hijabs, kippahs,
and other religious symbols. Yet federal leaders have
offered little more than craven platitudes and
only when pressed.” Does it seem incongruous? Mike, I’ll start with you. And Natasha, I know
you want to weigh in. Does it seem incongruous or
maybe just expected that none of the leaders want to deal with
Bill 21 and the discrimination that many people say
that they’re facing? People leaving the province
because they can’t teach there or have a public
service job there. Well it’s all– Yeah, Jagmeet Singh,
this– this– this weekend on Tout le monde en parle,
actually, I think, backing away
from– from– from the possibility of intervening if–
if he were, if he were elected. So yes, all– all the leaders
are kind of afraid to weigh into this issue directly. The federal government, I think,
would have some powers to intervene with its own
legislation or to participate in legal challenges, and,
yeah, they don’t want to. But yeah, I’ve seen, having
grown up in Québec I’ve– I’ve seen how politicians deal
with issues in Québec and– and how sometimes
there is a fear to stand out. Mmm-hmm. Tasha? With the number of seats
up for grabs in Québec, unfortunately, I am not
surprised the parties are taking these positions. Bloc Québecois, and you know,
you get into the horse race, but they are doing much
better than they have been in the last year. And because of
that, all parties, all federalist parties are
nervous and they do not want to, you know, go on this road. And I think that is also a
missed opportunity because I do believe– I mean, Bill 21
definitely targets people of racial minorities. I mean, I was sitting
next to a woman on an airplane just a week ago who was
exactly in that situation. She had done her PhD in
biochemical– biochemistry. She had a husband. They would move from Egypt eight
years ago to Québec to settle there, and she had a hijab
on and she had brown skin, and she said, you know. She goes, “If I get a
job somewhere else, I’m going to move.” And she’d been educated in
Québec by the Québec taxpayer and she was a
contributing citizen, a wonderful person
from what I could gather in our conversation. This is the reality of
Bill 21, and the parties will not touch it. And I think that is
shameful, quite frankly, that they will not. But the reality is that they
don’t want to lose potential seats, especially outside
the region in Montreal, and this is where a lot of the
battles in Québec City and in other parts of the
province are taking place. So that is why we’re
seeing what we are. Jennifer? I don’t know that there’s
much more I can add on that. I mean, I would say the
Québec Premier recently, you know, kind of issued
a dare, or almost, right? And I’m sure that no party
leader really wants to take him up on that dare in
terms of the debate. I would say, I mean, what I’ve
heard from the major parties is sort of, they– they’re not
necessarily closing the door to intervening, but they’re
certainly not willing at this stage to commit, you know, and
that’s– I think you’re right. I think it is a missed
opportunity and the, you know, saying that they
personally disagree but they’re not necessarily
going to take action, tends to reinforce
that systemic– the systemic barriers. So, one more
thing on this topic. We really can’t discuss
Indigenous policy which– without talking about
systemic racism in Canada. The Indian Act back in 1876
was deliberately put in place to erase Indigenous language,
culture, history, law, viewed as sort of
lesser than the white system. And of course, today we see
Indigenous people are still vastly overrepresented
in the prison system, access to education,
healthcare, social services, is not equal to what
other Canadians receive. Mike, during this campaign,
and you did touch on Bill C-69, but have you noticed, what
is the quality of discussion, I guess is what I
wanted to ask you, around Indigenous policy so far? We’re two weeks into the– Yeah, probably not as
deep is it– as it should be, and it’s complicated,
and there’s– Yeah, I would say in general,
the population hasn’t fully understood or has– hasn’t
fully been educated about, about history, about
the systemic issues. There was this moment during
the debate where there was a discussion about
major energy projects, and– and I mean, I think
most you might– might have heard this– this, these
comments about holding hostage that were raised
by one of the leaders. So that kind of
view, it– it, I mean, I think that this view, based on
the reporting that I’ve done and the feedback that I get from–
from– from people across the country, there is perhaps a
misunderstanding of what it means to consult,
what it means to engage and respect First Nations. So that, you know, that– that’s
a part of the debate that we– we could explore
more as a country. We could explore more what the
United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
actually means, whether it is
practical to apply it here, and how the best way to apply
it would be in terms of major projects that want to be done. [Jennifer] Thank you. So, I want to move on
to tax system issues, and a lot of promises
made towards families. It seems a lot of the platform
announcements so far have centred around what we
would call in the media “pocketbook issues”
or affordability, and also a lot of it directed
at young families. So, just to start, what
do we make of this frame, this affordability frame
that has emerged in the first two weeks
of the campaign? Jennifer, I’ll start with you. Well, it seems to poll well,
but I’m having a– generally I’m having a little bit of a
hard time in terms of finding empirical evidence for
affordability crunches, or at least
understanding what that might actually mean on the ground. So, you know, I tried to
do a bit of a dive on this. If– if you’re on Twitter
there’s a whole bunch of graphs waiting for you to go
and explore and play with if you want. You must follow
Jennifer during this campaign, I have to say,
I’m like, I’ll go online, “What is Jennifer
saying about this?” So, I just want to
say like, you know, the data that we have
on this basically says, yeah, that there are small
numbers– important but small numbers of Canadians who
are falling behind on their bill payments or missing
their housing payments, right? There is sort of a
bigger chunk of Canadians, about one third who don’t have
the kind of liquid savings that they would be able to fall back
on in case of an emergency or to handle, like, some
big lumpy payment. But when you actually
look at things like, are we paying more than
our household incomes at the average, there’s some, like, a
lot of the numbers are actually either flat or
slightly declining. And yet, you know, families with
young kids do certainly face cost challenges that
other households do not, namely childcare. Right? But the evidence on this stuff
is actually pretty mixed when you’re getting down to like,
what do the numbers say in terms of affordability? [Jennifer] Mmm-hmm. Tasha, what– why– why
are we hearing this frame? I haven’t crunched the numbers. I just– I just know
that housing prices, I track because I just
bought a house and I had to for the past year. In major areas such
as Toronto, Vancouver, and now even in
Prince Edward Island, in Charlottetown,
they’ve gone through the roof. They’ve almost
doubled in a year in PEI, believe it or not. So, this is something
that people are facing. Housing is becoming, I think,
the biggest affordability, which explains why you saw the
recent housing affordability announcements,
extensions of mortgage times, and we’re going to
talk about that, I know, in our
conversation specifically. But the
affordability frame, I think, I’m not surprised that it is out
there and it’s– it’s not just for the people with young kids,
but it’s the notion that the middle class is falling behind. And that’s kind of the opposite
of what we saw in the last election, where it was
very positive towards the middle class. Now we’re being told that we’re
not doing as well after four years, a little strange, but at
the same time I think that there is that sense of anxiety
people have when they feel that, and in fact this is the first
year that– in ten years that the average worth,
net worth of a Canadian has actually decreased. People are using their savings
to pay down debt instead of investing them. And that shows that
people are nervous about debt, they’ve accumulated too much. So I think this anxiety is
what the parties are playing on, even if the numbers don’t
necessarily fully back it out. There’s a fear out there. [Jennifer] Mmm-hmm. Mike? Yeah, I think if
jobs are being created, and maybe there’s– there is
growth– growth in the economy, yeah, the underlying feeling,
I think across the country, is people feel they
have less money to spend. And probably because of housing. I’m in the process of moving
right now from– from Gatineau, Québec, to Toronto,
and you know– [Laughter] –seeing my housing costs
more than double. So yeah, I know firsthand I have
less money in my pocket now. So, I’m looking to see what–
what politicians can do. No, I’m– I’m lucky, actually. But I think that politicians
are speaking to this issue. That’s– that’s
what I think that, that I hear them saying that,
and I think if you look at what happened in the
last US election, you know, that– that was
a big issue in terms of what the president was– was speaking to
in all the language that he was using. He was appealing to people
who felt they were left behind, and politicians now,
if they want to win, they have to find a way to– to
speak to those people in a way that they’re promising to put
more money in their pockets. So if we look at the biggest,
the– the bigger tax promises, the Liberals are promising to
increase the basic personal amount up to 15,000 by 2023-24. The Conservatives over the
same timeframe are promising a universal tax cut with the
tax rate on income under 47,000 reduced by one and a
quarter percentage points. Both plans costing
about $6 billion. So, I want to start with
those two parties first. Jennifer, what do you think we
should understand about– about the Liberal and Conservative
approaches to these big tax cuts? What are the– are the
differences between those two proposals important? Okay, so some similarities,
some differences. Number one, they both come in
at about the same fiscal cost. At maturity, about five,
somewhere between $5.5-6 billion a year. That’s not insignificant. The design actually here
really, really matters. For those of you who
are not tax nerds, basically– So if you think about the cut
to the bottom bracket, right? What is that going to do? Well, that’s going to reduce
the effective– that’s going to reduce the statutory tax rate
on the first $47,000 of income. It also reduces the value of all
those non-refundable tax credits like your, you know, the
volunteer firefighters tax credit and the age amount
and all that sort of stuff. So those also come down. But then what that means
is that it carries through, because this one isn’t capped
for upper income people, right? So it carries through
all of those other, sort of stepwise, you know,
parts of the tax system, which means that actually the–
the– the net effect in terms of the dollar value of the
savings for people is actually, tends to be higher, right, in
sort of the upper-middle ranges of income earners. The basic
personal amount instead, is sort of saying okay,
here’s– here’s a set of income, a dollar value of income that
you get to claim that you don’t have to pay tax on at
that lowest marginal rate. The Liberals have designed it in
such a way that it’s also capped so people who are in those
upper tax brackets aren’t able to claim it. So the net effect is that the
Liberal design is a little bit more progressive. But what I would say is that the
other thing they share in common is, neither of the parties have
really explained why we need tax cuts at this point, when taxes
right now are sitting at 15% of GDP in terms of
federal revenues, are sitting at about 15% of GDP,
which is about where we left them, you know, in 2008,
and have had them steadily. So it’s not like, sort of, the
tax burden in Canada has been rising exponentially. It’s also not entirely clear
that they painted the picture that this is the– this is
the way to fix that mythical affordability challenge, right? So, some similarities,
some important differences in terms of distribution. So, we have– on that point, we
had an event on the tax system in January which some
of you might have been, and Alison Christians who’s
from– a tax lawyer from McGill, as she was making the case that
our political leaders never tell people that taxes
are a good thing. They’re always saying
that you want to cut them. On that– so on that note the
NDP is promising a wealth tax of 1% on wealth over
20 million, and a boost to the top marginal tax rate. And the Greens are proposing
a guaranteed livable income, which would upend big
portions of the tax system, as it would get rid of a
range of income supports. Tasha, what do you make
of the focus on tax cuts? I think I know where your
general thinking is on this, but is it supported with– by
evidence that we need this for, in general, for the economy? Or is it just something that
the parties say because they want our votes? Well, parties always say
things that want our votes. But in terms of tax cuts, when
you do look at– for example, we take
Ontario as an example, the Mike Harris tax cuts
did precede an era of great economic growth. It also did cut
back on services, particularly in areas
like health and education, where people felt that they were
receiving less services perhaps. But it goes hand in hand with
the idea that the state is less responsible and some of that
responsibility is given to the individual to be able to use
that money for their own needs. And that goes the
affordability piece. So yes, there has been,
in the United States as well. There was evidence after the
Reagan tax cuts that you saw then subsequent administrations
reaping the benefits of that. I mean, you know, Bill Clinton
reaped the benefits essentially, and then actually engaged
in welfare reform of his own, pushed by the Republicans,
but still, reducing the size of the state does have a benefit in
terms of freeing up capital for people to deploy in the economy. The question is
how it’s deployed. So of course, if it’s– if it’s,
if the tax cuts are spent on certain things, if people will
spend that revenue on certain items that stimulate the
economy more than others, you will have a greater benefit. So the question is again,
what are people doing with that money? If they’re just
paying down debt, for example, that tax cut is not
necessarily going to stimulate the economy as much as
if they were going out, you know, to buy a fridge or
buy something that was produced. So, remains to be seen whether
these tax cuts will do what they say they want for the economy,
but certainly they make people feel and they will help
address that affordability gap. It does go hand in hand. People will get
the sense that yes, I have more money to
be able to, you know, buy those lessons for my child,
and in fact those– that’s one of the areas that
I should mention too, is this targeted tax cut. The boutique tax cuts,
the Conservatives are returning to that for things
like transit cuts, or other tax
credits for transit, tax credits for kids
lessons and this kind of thing, because they know that that
stimulates people’s– voter’s appetite for their
party, if not for perhaps for the economy as much. But it makes you want
to vote for them, so. So, in policy options Eugene
Lang who works at Queen’s Policy School, right after the writ
drop he wrote an article about recessions and
campaigns and he said, “We will be told we
have butter and guns, lower taxes, shrinking deficits,
and all manner of federal spending initiatives paid for
chiefly by a growing economy and the revenues it
generates for federal coffers.” So he was trying to make the
point that nobody wants to talk about a recession
during a federal campaign, even though if you open the
paper on every given day there’s an article about,
are we heading for a recession? And my good friend Heather
Scoffield at the Toronto Star has pointed out, all the parties
seem to have also at the same time taken aim at the
corporate sector and– and subsidies
and corporate taxes. Both the NDP and the– and the
Greens would like to reverse corporate tax cuts. Are we– in this campaign, are
we missing a whole conversation about the general
health of the economy, whether we’re
girding for a recession, are we sort of living in this
kind of fantasy world of tax cuts and spending where–
whereas we could be heading over the cliff in, I don’t know when? It’s a big question. But Mike, maybe
I’ll start with you. Well, I think, I think in
general in all campaigns, we fail to look– we fail
to look mid to long-term. I mean, our system is designed
to look four years ahead, um… And yeah, I mean, not only on
economy but on– on issues like climate, I mean, we’re–
which– which also has– has an economic–
has economic implications. So, if you want
to look long term, the global economy,
there are a number of things, yeah, that the parties
have not fully addressed. In all the policies we see in
terms of whether they are costed or not, yeah, all the parties
say that they– they’ve costed their platforms but have they
looked holistically at every– every impact of their policies? Probably not. So yeah, we could–
we could do a little bit more there in digging. I think the issue is what
provokes the recession? And we saw in Canada,
last recession was provoked by falling oil prices. So this is something that the
government has no control over. So I’m not surprised that they
wouldn’t necessarily go there. I mean, the international
monetary crisis as well, I mean, Canada did very well
pulling ourselves out of that by engaging the federal
government, actually, and backstopping banks, and
large amounts of spending went into deficit which was not
something that a Conservative government would,
you know, on the– on the face of it, want to do. But I think that to talk about a
recession is a negative thing. And campaigns, I mean,
this campaign started off as a campaign of fear and it still
slightly is going there against, you know, the Conservatives. Especially in Ontario,
the Ford factor, the fear factor, is if you know,
equating one party with another. If you get Scheer in,
you’ll have lots of cuts is sort of the message. That fear is being
used to coalesce people, but it’s less a fear of
economic downturn as a fear of the other guy. And I think it’s easier for
parties to demonize their opponents rather than
the economic system. Thank you. Yeah, okay. I just wanted to
jump in and say that, so, you know, the
global projections around, where is the economy–
global economy headed from the IMF, have been downgraded
now, twice in the last year. Canada has been, you know,
downgraded once but we’re staying– we’re staying
steady at this point. At, you know, kind of a
more modest rate of growth. So even if you
think in terms of, you know, the short term
projections, right? If you believe the tax cuts
actually have a stimulative effect on the
economy, then is it wise, is it prudent to actually be
releasing those tax cuts before it’s clear whether or not
we’re going into a recession? And I agree that there is also
some concern that the more you say the word recession, the more
likely that it actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s almost like a Monty Python
or Fawlty Towers kind of skit. Like, don’t talk
about it, anyway. So, I do wonder whether or
not it actually is wise, right, for parties to be coming
forward and essentially saying, like, we’re not
gonna hold our powder. We’re not even gonna
wait and see what happens, we’re not going to give
ourselves that– that room in terms of potential
need for fiscal stimulus, because we know that people,
individual consumers are actually responsive to,
you know, signals in terms of marginal changes in price. So if you’ve already
changed the price, if you’ve already lowered taxes,
you’ve now left yourself less room to handle things when
and if the recession takes it– it takes effect. The other thing I would say
is that none of the parties, you know, granted
its early days, right? We’re still only on day 15. My God, does it ever
feel longer already. But none of the parties have so
far really kind of made it clear how they plan to pay for the
tax cuts that they’re proposing. I added it up. I think the Conservatives
are now somewhere in the neighbourhood of about
$9 billion in tax cuts in total and that’s, you know, cumulative
stuff from the boutique tax credits, the broad based stuff
as well as the changes to the taxation on corporations
that they’re promised. It’s not clear, right? Where is– where is the
new revenue coming from or what’s going to be cut? The other thing that we haven’t
talked much about are the trends in the economy, Mike. Automation, more gig
workers, more green jobs, transition to green jobs,
the shift to intangibles in the economy like
data as a commodity. With fewer workers,
a need for fewer workers. So, all this might ultimately
mean a much smaller tax base from which to draw. What have you heard
from the parties so far? If much on this particular
side of the economy… Yeah, I think both the– the–
the NDP and the Greens have– have talked about, um…either
through regulation or taxation, of– of…of some of the…the
Internet companies that are, whether they be Netflix,
um…the– the– the social media companies, um…
that are, you know, either selling products
without– without– without charging taxes. These are, these are
aspects, you know, as– as the economy shifts to the
sharing economy or gig economy, that there are a lot of players
coming in that are not being taxed in the same way as
Canadian companies so there is an exploration there. The two larger parties I think
have been reluctant to go there. There’s one really fascinating
policy that I saw in the Green Party platform about, and I
don’t exactly know how it’s going to work from the
way they’ve worded it, but they’ve talked about adding
more taxes to large corporations to compensate for the
decline in taxes collected, income taxes collected from
workers who are losing their jobs, so that tax would apply
only to large corporations, not to small businesses. It– it– it– it needs to
be explained a bit further, but it’s an interesting, I mean,
it’s an attempt to address the issue, but yeah,
it hasn’t quite been– So they could hire
fewer people, yeah. I was going to add there,
I think that that sort of big picture is, it’s similar
to the recession conversation. The big picture of how
the workforce is changing, the fact that automation is
stealing– it’s in quotes, it’s “taking” people’s jobs,
replacing them, and people are moving
to this gig economy, is something the government is
not talking about because it doesn’t quite
have a handle on it. None of the parties
are talking about it, anyway, because it is
something that again, it’s almost also, it’s
slightly beyond their control. And the re– policy response
to it isn’t really clear. I mean, would you
change the tax system to, I mean, Elizabeth– I don’t think that
policy makes much sense. But to try and find the money
that’s out there that’s not being put into your coffers. We know a Netflix tax was
incredibly unpopular because people say, well, you know,
it’s going to– it’s gonna come to me. It’s going to be passed through. And that is–
nobody wants it to be– no party wants to give the
impression they’re going to be taxing you by taxing the company
that’s providing that service, because that’s the
link they will make. So, I think they’re
behind on this one. As parties are always
behind dealing with technology, but it probably does deserve a
larger space in the campaign. On that point on
the Netflix tax, do you think that the…the
paradigm has changed a little bit since the last election in
the sense that there’s far more negativity towards big tech
than there was four years ago? A cellphone bill
too, that proposal, that is the most naked,
shameless appeal for votes. “We’ll cut your
cell phone bill.” Really, how? You know, regu– you’re going to
force companies to just cut the bill? That one, it’s–
it’s popular, though, because everyone
has a cell phone. So, the liberals know
people respond to it. But I think it’s
incredibly irresponsible. Yeah, and we all see
the ads from the US, where they get, you know,
their cellphone for $20 a month, for unlimited data. Yes.
[Laughter] There’s also a range of what we
would call– and we mentioned this, Tasha mentioned
this, boutique tax credits. A lot of them proposed by
the Conservative Party, so, a return to
the fitness credit, the arts credit,
the transit credit, but the Liberals
have introduced, I think in the last budget
or a couple budgets ago, a teacher’s tax credit. Why do you think this
remains such a popular tool? Even though there’s a
lot of…if you read, economists are not
so crazy about this, right? No, no. [Laughter] Not so crazy, I don’t know. About that, yeah, so,
why are they so popular? A couple of different reasons. So number one, I think
that there’s a belief, right, that for politicians
to have– to feel like they are delivering a policy that has a
direct connection with voters. This is one way to do it. It allows for
microtargeting, you know, voters get to feel a little bit
of a sense of reward when they fill out their
annual tax return, and get to check that
box to claim their credit. But if you actually look
at the net effect of these, right– I mean, I’m not saying
that every single tax credit is a bad idea, but
you’ve got to think, on balance, are we better
off actually paying people, like a cash cheque up front, or
is it more efficient to deliver these things
through the tax system? And a lot of cases, when it
comes to things like making children’s arts
programming more affordable, it’s an insane way to try and
actually deliver that promise, right? In terms of lowering the
effective cost of arts programming for kids. Because if you think about it,
from a household perspective, they’ve got to front
the money, first of all. Pay for all the lessons, and
then at the end of the year, claim some portion of that back. That doesn’t
actually do anything, in terms of changing relative
prices at the time that the bills have to be paid, or
increase the supply in any way, shape, or form. I mean, I think a lot of this
stuff is also attractive to federal parties, because it lets
them skirt having to deal with provinces, right? If it’s– if it’s a tax credit,
you don’t have to negotiate with provinces,
including difficult ones, at the moment, right? Around, “How are we going to
do this cost-shared spending program that might actually
create a greater supply of things like children’s arts
programming,” if that’s what you really care about. So, there are a lot of
reasons that they do it. It is striking to
me how much, though, of what’s been promised so
far in this campaign is– like, it’s nostalgic. It’s, like,
people are– you know, parties are wishing it was
back in 2014 or something. [Jennifer Ditchburn] Mmm-hmm. Well, one party probably does. [Chuckling] Um, the party that’s–
and to piggyback on that, boutique tax credits
are driven by data. And they’re driven by
who’s voting for you. And so if you look at
where, for example, the conservatives
are looking for votes, it’s suburban families
who take the GO train, and take transit, for example. Or have their kids in programs. Or who feel they really
should get out to the gym more. They’re they’re
targeting voter bases, based on the data they
have, and that’s what these targets are for. They don’t necessarily– I agree
with you– get people to the gym, and a lot of
people don’t even use them. But the idea that they’re
out there is something that’s appealing because it seems like
the party is talking to you. And so you are more likely
to think that party has your interests at heart,
in a general sense, even if you don’t
use the tax credit. So, Tasha, we touched
on it very briefly, about that– all of
the goodies on housing. The Conservatives and the
NDP would like to increase the amortization period on
insured mortgages to 30 years. The Liberals would expand the
first time homebuyer incentive. Are these good ideas? The extension of
the amortization, no, in fact, that
was rolled back, I believe by the Conservatives. Because it encourages debt. Which is one of the
biggest problems Canadians have, the whole affordability piece. That debt is
underpinning all that, we are incredibly indebted,
and that is just stretching your debt. It’s not– it’s not helping you
address the actual root of the debt, which is either,
you’re buying too much house, or the house is too expensive
for where you want to buy it. And this is something people
don’t want to talk about, much. It’s, you know, everyone thinks
they want to be able to afford a house in a certain place,
and we can’t do that anymore. Demand is such that
in major markets, you can’t. I think though, that
the affordability piece, the second policy that
you were talking about, I think that maybe
there’s some value to it? But I think that people,
generally– housing is an issue that is not dealt
with at a macro level. I mean, the federal government,
tinkering with the stress test, for example, actually hurt a lot
of people and made it harder for them to afford a house. So, sometimes when
government acts at that level, it’s more of a
regional or local level. Housing is– there
are hot markets, and not. So, if you if you
have a blanket policy, it can actually hurt
some markets very much. So, I’m going to move on to
another big policy area that was kind of quiet until this week,
and that’s climate change and the environment. So, on Friday there’s going
to be the Climate Strike, come to cities across Canada. The UN Secretary General’s
Climate Summit happened this week. The Liberals came out with
the broad strokes of a renewed policy on climate change,
although it was pretty vague. And we’ve heard already from
the Conservatives before the campaign. And of course the Greens and
the NDP both have their policies published right at the
beginning of the campaign. So, Mike, you’ve been following
energy and environment for many years. What stands out for you, so far,
from what you’ve read from the different parties
on their platforms? Uhh, what’s missing, probably? Okay, tell, tell. You know, a few months
ago, the Bank of Canada, for the first time, it listed
climate change in its list of financial risks to the to
the to the Canadian economy. And, um, they talked
about, at the time– I mean, it’s been years in the
making, because other, some other central banks have
already started to do this, and maybe the Bank of
Canada is catching up. But, they talked about
the risk of fire sales, um, causing a crisis in markets. They talked about the fact
that not only consumers, but investors are also turning
away from investments in sectors that are– whether
they be fossil fuels, whether they be
carbon-intensive. I was– I was on a
farm in Saskatchewan, about six weeks ago, and was
talking to a cattle rancher who was saying that, you know,
they don’t see raising cattle as
being productive in the future,
because they sense that these things like Beyond
Meat, Impossible Burger, these are not fads. These are trends that consumers
are starting to drive and push. So, there is there is
a significant absence, in terms– in terms of
the discussion we’ve had, in terms of what the parties
have introduced to try to tackle these issues. You know, I think that there’s,
there’s a discussion now, about just transition and
about shifting the economy. Uh, I think in, what the
liberals introduced yesterday, they talk– I mean, they were
they’ve been afraid to talk about how to– how– they’ve
talked about a just transition, for the coal industry, but
they’ve been afraid to address this for political reasons, and
for fear of backlash in Western Canada. But they talked about a just
transition act, yesterday. I don’t know what that is, or
what will be in– in that just transition act– So, away from the fossil
fuel industry, to green jobs, or other jobs. Is that was it means? Yeah, but it– not only,
it– it requires a policy, where you have to find ways to
support the workers that are inevitably going to be, um, in
industries that will no longer exist if we’re
going to be net zero. If the planet is actually going
to continue operating in– in a way that’s livable, by 2050 scientists say
that we have to be net zero or we
have to be close to it. So, that kind of economy, unless
you have a magic way to capture carbon from tailpipes and cars,
there’s a whole shift that has to take place. And that means, the people
who are producing oil and gas, who are working–
more than, you know, hundreds of thousands of
people, across the country, that are working in
these industries, you have to find
ways to support them, as these jobs disappear and
finding ways to train them. So, whether it’s improving EI,
and allowing and encouraging training, and a lot of– yeah,
there is discussion in some of the platforms about
requiring payroll taxes. I think the NDP has
talked about a 1% payroll tax, as you have in Québec right now,
for– for companies that have to spend 1% of– 1% of
someone’s salary on training. You know, these
sorts of ideas, I mean, there’s– you know, we talk
about boutique tax credits, I think we have
boutique climate policies, in a lot of– in a lot of the
party platforms right now. And we do need
something more comprehensive, in terms of
addressing what scientists, what economists,
say we need to do. So, there seems to be, so
far, consensus on the centre and centre left,
around carbon pricing. The Conservatives are
still obviously against carbon pricing. Is there any hope, you think,
of some kind of cross-partisan consensus, at any point
on this, to move forward? -On carbon pricing?
-Mmm-hmm. I don’t think we’ll
see it in this election. I don’t think that the
Conservatives are on that road. They’ve made it very
clear, in their policy, they are in favour of
developing technology, versus tax– versus
increasing taxes. And I think it’s a
road that, in fact, they– I think it actually is
a road they could do more on. Because I think the liberals
actually have gone on that one a little bit now as well. They’ve said, “You know what? “We’re going to
incentivize production of “technologies as well.” They’re going to give, I think
it’s a 50% reduction in taxes to companies who will be
producing new carbon capture, or green technologies. So they recognize that the
private sector has to drive– there has to be a
substitute there. Or there has to be something
that consumers can actually turn to, to replace the oil and
gas that they currently use. I mean, it’s a fallacy to say,
“Everyone get an electric car,” if there’s no car
stations anywhere. But if there’s no– if there’s
no market pressure for them to buy the, the more efficient… The problem is that the
Liberals’ plan on carbon taxes, as well, is a bit
of a Swiss cheese. Because you’ve got so
many exemptions for various industries who
want to– you know, they say, “Well, I need to
have– I can’t do this within a period of a
certain number of years, you’ve got to reduce for me.” And then the other
industries will say, “Yes, well, what about us?” So, you have a
situation where, yeah, there are carbon taxes. But you also have ways
of– I don’t want to say, exempting yourself. But the government will
recognize your industry needs a longer period to transition,
et cetera, et cetera. So you end up with a
patchwork, essentially, of carbon taxes. And that– again,
for the individual, the consumer, then, the consumer
who gets a rebate from the government, in Ontario’s case,
what is the incentive to use less carbon-intensive products,
if you are getting a rebate? The Conservatives will say–
and you can argue me here, I know–
[Laughter] The Conservatives
will say, look, it’s going to increase the cost
of living beyond which what the average person can bear. And that’s
because it’s not just, you know, that the taxes
you pay on oil and gas. It’s everything else that
is using– transportation, or a manufacturer, that is
affected by the carbon taxes. So, it does have
an economic cost, and balancing that,
especially in voters minds. Voters don’t– they
love the environment! They don’t want to pay for it. Every poll tells
us the same thing. Public Policy Forum had
a recent poll on that. It’s that– it’s that. How do you solve that
conundrum, in voters minds? Okay, so, that last part
I will 100% agree on, that there is, you know,
there is an appetite for carbon pricing and for
climate change action, as long as somebody
else pays for it. [Tasha] Pays for it, exactly. I would say that– so, Andrew
Leach has a wonderful explainer on how it is that actually
having the carbon price, even with the rebate, will
actually make a difference here. And the bottom line is, because
if you price all of the goods, then the relative cost of the
less carbon-intensive goods will fall.
Right? So, notwithstanding the fact
that you’re getting some rebate, you’re– you’re interested in
buying things that are cheaper because there’s a new
price on the other, more carbon-intensive goods. That’s, I mean– [Tasha] Least you’re out there. It’s very straightforward
that way. I would say
though that– I mean, all of the parties have a
price on carbon in some way, shape, or form. So, even though the Conservative
Party is saying that they’re against carbon pricing,
their regulatory regime is, de facto, a price on carbon. We just don’t know
what it is, right? And you’re putting government in
the position of dictating market mechanisms, in terms of how
emitters should actually be adapting their business
practices and production. The NDP is also in kind of a
funny position in terms of, like– I get it, in terms of
where their voter base is, but they’re also
proposing things like a national
automotive strategy which, I know they’re saying– this is
about transitioning the Canadian economy to
lower-emission vehicles and becoming a world
leader, and that kind of thing. But all of the parties
kind of have this thing where they have these,
sort of, carve-outs for some sort of heavy emitter,
and actually all of them have some form of carbon pricing. Some are just
clearer than others. So, health. [Laughter] All these big, big policy areas. So far it’s kind of curious,
but the only big item on health care that’s really been
discussed is pharmacare. The NDP wants to introduce it
immediately and fund it to the tune of
$10 billion annually. And health care, of course,
continues to be one of the top issues that are identified by
Canadians as their key issue. Is there anything that we should
take away from the promises that we’ve heard on this,
to date, on pharmacare? I’ll throw that to
the panel in general. Well, I think that
pharmacare is the– sort of, the new frontier, if you will. Because we have
universal Medicare. So, what else can you make
universal at this point? If we want to make anything,
it’s gonna be pharmacare. Yes, drug prices have
gone up significantly. Continue to go up. Especially, and
this is the thing, for certain drugs, you
look at the United States, that is the closest, I guess,
window we have to another health care system. And you see people there who
can’t afford their insulin coming to Canada to buy it. This fear of not being
able to afford life-sustaining medications, is very
real for some people. So, we look at that. We don’t want to have
that situation in Canada. Is pharmacare the way to go? The provinces were certainly
heading in that direction. So, the federal– there’s very
little risk for federal parties to say, “Let’s have pharmacare,”
except the reality is that there are many people who have
the equivalent of pharmacare through their employers, and
the impact on that industry, on the insurance
industry, on all that, is not really being factored in. Rather than having
universal pharmacare, why not have a more
targeted type of pharmacare? Because universal jives
with our view of healthcare in this country. I think that’s why the parties
have gone there on this one. Even if, economically,
it doesn’t necessarily make the most sense. Should– should we find it a bit
weird that no one’s talked about the health escalator,
that– the healthcare transfer escalator which, you know, has
been a big bone of contention with the provinces, under Harper
and then under Trudeau? It kept– the
escalator, it was 3, 3.5%. Why isn’t anyone
talking about that? [Chuckling] Because there’s no money? [Laughter] Because they’ve spent it all. On other things. Is that, basically,
the bottom line on that? Well, yeah, I think so. Like, I wanted to
jump into– on, on the pharmacare issue, that
if all the political parties are really concerned about
Québec– it’s quite interesting, this is not really
an issue in Québec because there is a drug
insurance plan in Québec right now. And, yeah, what’s missing in
this debate is– in terms of working with the other
the other provinces, you know, if the Liberals
say they want to introduce pharmacare, and meantime, you
have a leader who is attacking all the– well, some of
the provincial premiers, that is going to be a difficult
task to– to– to implement. But yeah, like, I mean, there
has been little said about money that could be spent
to improve, or boost, the funding for the provinces. And, yeah, I think that
if there were promises, and they were costed, it would
be difficult for any of the parties to deliver on
that after the election. Some of the issues that–
and I’m going to get to your questions,
we have two mics here if you have a
question for the panel. Um, policy areas that
we haven’t heard about. What jumps out at you? We– when we started
talking about this on the phone, there were a bunch. And then things
started coming out. You almost can’t keep track
of everything that comes out. But one thing that struck me
was that there is very little on foreign policy and trade. Does that– is that
surprising at all? I don’t know if
it’s that surprising, considering that there was
some criticism of the way the government handled
NAFTA 2.0, CUSMA, USMCA, whatever
you want to call it. And then that sort of died down. There was a little bit of
that at the beginning of the campaign,
but I think that overall, foreign policy to me is– it’s
sort of the Achilles heel of this government
which may explain why the Liberals decided
to eschew the Munk Debate on foreign policy. Because, contrary
to the last time, they are on the
defensive about it, and it’s not necessarily
their brightest spot. So, I think that foreign
policy never also really runs elections. It’s never really
a ballot question. So, I think that is why you
don’t really see a lot of it, even though it is
very important. I think if the trade
negotiations with the United States and Mexico
were still ongoing, we– that might be
a different story. But, yeah, tend to agree. It’s not, generally speaking,
kind of a ballot box question. [Jennifer Ditchburn] Mike,
anything that’s jumped out at you? That hasn’t–
hasn’t been raised. I don’t think I have
anything to add on that. Yeah. I just want to say, though,
I haven’t heard an awful lot about Indigenous policy. -And I do find that surprising.
-This is true. -Yeah.
-And disappointing. There’s been very
little on Indigenous policy. So I have a couple of– of our–
a bunch of general questions. And I will take your questions,
if you want to go to the mic. I will see you. Should the Liberals and the
Conservatives have shared their platforms upfront? So we still have this weird
situation where people want to release their policy
in dribs and drabs. The Greens and the NDP, God
bless them because I can just go to your site and
read your platform, put them out right away. So do we think this is an old–
an old thing that should be scrapped or does it
make sense still? I think if you’re
going into a campaign, if you’re going into leaders’
debates and you don’t have a platform, that does make it
difficult for members of the public to evaluate and decide. So I would be in favour, yeah,
of seeing the platform right at the beginning from all parties. I find it ironic that, you know,
the Liberal Party is not costing out, the same with the other
parties are relying on the POB to cost out their
platforms for the election. And I think they
may be taking a cue, bizarrely, from Doug Ford in
Ontario who didn’t cost out his platform at all during
the election and won. So I’m not sure. I’m a little disappointed in
terms of the accountability and like you said, how are you going
to pay for the tax cuts and other things that
you’re promising us? I don’t know. Look, historically we actually
had a long time in Canada where we didn’t even have
written election platforms. We got used to this kind of in
the mid ’90s of having people come out with their blue book or
the red book or the yellow book, whatever your colour book. I’m a bit agnostic as to
when it should come out. Some parties like to
do it even before the writ drops. What I would say is this, is
that before the election day, some important time
before Election Day– I’ll let you decide
what that means for you– I would like to see not only the
full list of all the promises but also the full
costing and, you know, I think it’s still early
enough days, although the written platforms
are out for both the NDP and Greens, I don’t know what
a lot of those promises are going to cost.
-Good point. Because they don’t
actually have their costing out. I suspect that, you know, the
parties like the Conservatives and the Liberals who are coming
out with promises that have numbers attached, I’m going to
give them the benefit of the doubt and say that
even if the PBO isn’t necessarily
releasing costing on particular things that maybe the PBO
services are still being used. So, I’m willing to wait and see. I think the Greens,
to be fair to them, are going to release
their costing today but uh, I see you. Hello. My name’s Alex,
nice to meet you all. I’m also going to
draw my own experience as Mike did earlier. I am also in the process of
buying my first condo right now but something that’s not
talked about a lot in that affordability piece and
the housing piece is rent. So we have this– there’s
this stress test that I’m going through actually right now and
one of the things that I find frustrating is
they’re like, well, you know, we have to see if
you can afford these levels– whatever. My rent is currently higher than
that right now and nobody– none of the policies seem to–
or parties seem to address that actually a lot of Canadians are
renting and renting prices are even higher in some
cases than mortgage prices. And there’s no controls about
that at all and that’s a huge affordability issue
for a lot of people. So I’d like to see what
you guys think about that. That’s a great question. Is that because our politicians
are skewed towards families of a certain income bracket, and
not people who might be– although there are many families
who rent as well but I’ll leave it to you guys. I am thinking that probably any
regulation around renting is a provincial or
municipal responsibility. I– don’t quote me 100%
on that but I’m just thinking that the federal
government in terms of levers that it has, for example, things
like the stress test and other things through
the Bank of Canada, they have levers. I’m not sure how that would
apply to rent which is charged by property owners. It’s business. Business is traditionally seen
as a more provincial field of jurisdiction so
that might explain it? There are like, in terms of some
affordable housing policies, I remember we had covered, like,
some announcements that were made in Vancouver when
I was at National Observer, some affordable housing
complexes where there were grants given to developers or
property developers provided that they kept the rental
cost below a certain level. So that, I mean, there were–
there was such a limited number of units available though so
whenever you do it I guess it is extremely costly for government
to do it but it’s just a choice if the government
wants to do that or not, whether it makes sense fiscally. But I think that there are some
levers there that governments could use but they also would
have to do it in partnership with the province
and the municipality, I think, in order for
it to be successful. So it is challenging and
it requires all levels of government. Maybe multi– like, a multi
partisan group of people to get together and agree on it. And there I’ll just interject
that the NDP is proposing half a million units of affordable
housing over the next 10 years and they would waive the federal
portion of HST on construction of affordable units. There’s my little cheat sheet
of party platforms, so there is something there that’s sort of
directed towards renters but not a whole lot. Um, John, I’ll get to
Chris and then you. Chris? Two quick questions
about political strategy, not economics. One is about Bill 21 in Québec. So I think the three panelists
agreed that the parties were pretty uncomfortable with
Bill 21 but they didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole
because it would lose them seats or votes mostly
outside of Montreal. So… ..would they consider an act
of political collusion where the parties come together and
jointly announce that they are opposed to Bill 21? And then they kind of take
that off the table as– as a distinguishing
feature between them. So does that ever
happen in politics? That’s the question for Bill 21. And the second question is about
the Liberal’s announcement for net zero. So, up until about two days ago,
I would have argued that the Liberals had a very coherent
and probably the most coherent climate policy on offer. But when they come out with a
net zero announcement for 2050 with no way to get there, it
kind of looks like they’re making stuff up on the fly and
I’m wondering if they are making stuff up on the fly
because as of this week, it looks like the Conservatives
are presenting a serious challenge on the right and so
they’re trying to shore up some votes on the left? Is that a
reasonable interpretation? You want to start with Bill 21? Yeah, I was going
to say, nice idea. It’s never gonna
happen because the Bloc Québecois is never
gonna sign on to that and it’s a factor for all the parties
outside the all of Montreal. Second question, I would say
with what’s happening with the UN and Greta Thunberg and Greta
Thunberg being in Montreal on Friday, this is
environment week, which is why the Liberals are
focusing and announcing that kind of dramatic, I
guess, target if you will. Do you want to talk
about the net zero? Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I think that the
Liberals have seen that they have some votes they can get
from the Greens or the NDP and they are trying to
shore up that vote. They might be able to shore it
up to a certain extent from a political strategy
in Québec, like, with someone like
Steven Guilbeault as front and centre in their
campaigning in Québec, yeah, I mean, from a
political standpoint I see in terms of what they announce
that’s what they’re targeting. On the Bill 21… I believe that there
are some in Québec, among the Conservatives and
the NDP that might support it. Within those parties and among
their– among either whether it’s your candidates or
whether it’s the rank and file, the people who are who could
be voting for these parties. And maybe, yeah, from the
Liberals too probably outside of Montreal. So all, you know, they’re all
kind of catering to voters who are kind of on the fence about
the issue or might indirectly support it. I’ll go to this question. Hi, John Stewart from the
Canadian Nuclear Association. I’d like to ask the panel about
two areas that are very relevant to the energy transition. One is innovation, which was
supposed to be a core sort of cross cutting concern for this
government when they came in but which we haven’t heard
much about recently. And the other is, well, which
we’ve heard surprisingly little about recently, but is
very important to the energy transition. And the other is
regulatory burden. Which the major
business associations such as, you know, the business council
and Chamber of Commerce have done extensive work on in recent
years but which nobody talks about and which is a
real concern for the energy transition because regulatory
burden treats new projects as though they are happening in
a greenfield context where if they’re replacing our
Brownfield situation, the regulatory burden has
the effect of slowing down the replacement of dirty
infrastructure with clean infrastructure. So could you talk about
innovation and regulatory burden? Right.
Okay. [Laughter] Okay. On innovation policy,
well I gather, so, you know, the Trudeau
government had put in place some measures with
regards to, you know, kind of some
strategic sectoral things. I don’t know that anybody
kind of understood in general whatever happened
with any of those. There was also some talk around
sort of building a human capital and skills in an agenda. To me these things feel cyclical
like I’ve seen this movie before, that
about every 15 years, why are we talking about skills? Well, because it’s time. It’s just on the cycle now. I do worry about any of these
grand plans and grand designs. You know, government is
generally not great at picking winners but likewise in terms
of the point around regulatory burden, I also wanted to
say– I noticed for example, the Conservative Party has now
come out with a– what was it? It was better than 2:1 in
terms of reducing red tape, that every time they introduce a
new regulation they weren’t just going to cut one regulation,
they were gonna have to cut two or it might even be higher
than that in terms of the ratio. I worry about those kind of
blunt approaches for reducing regulatory burden. I think the issue that you were
pointing to suggests more of a thing like regulatory sandboxes
where you create kind of carve outs for particular
purpose areas where you want to encourage and permit greater
innovation and trial and test different approaches. So I think those
are two live issues. I think they’re complex. I think that they’re
multifaceted and I certainly don’t have a silver bullet to
recommend on either of them, unfortunately. [John Stewart] I was actually
thinking of the impact. Okay. I was– I was wondering if you
were talking about the impacts. I mean, the Conservatives
obviously don’t like the Impact Assessment Act. And I think that they are one
party that’s probably the most vocal on countering that. I think that the Liberals are
caught between sort of two poles on this one because they have
to please their left of centre environmentalist constituency
that is very upset with them for purchasing a pipeline. And so they cannot backtrack
on any of the regulatory stuff that’s in there because if they
do then that swings too far to the right for their taste. So they– I don’t think
you’re going to have a huge conversation around that. I’d like to see a
bigger conversation, maybe in the debates we will. I’d also say that, I mean,
perhaps we’re gonna get there in the next few weeks but
there’s been quite a few voices including people who have
written reports for the IRPP on, you know, the way we can
stimulate innovation on the demand side, more
protection for Canadian patents. Jim Balsillie has been quite
a vocal person on the scene talking about protecting our… ..inventions and our– our– I’m thinking “patrimoine”. Technological
products in Canada. But it’s true that it hasn’t
come up in the campaign just yet. I’ll go to this last question
and I have a few more to wrap up and Tasha
has a radio interview at 9:05 so we’ll be
on time today. Alicia, I just want to address
the issue of the policy on affordability and the
question on renters. It– renting is a
provincial jurisdiction. So the Liberal– the federal
government cannot touch that but they can look into affordability
through the measures such as giving the $10,000
rent– you know, interest free, which I
think is an excellent idea. And as a lawyer that does
work in that area I have, you know, that would really help
the low income or the ones that do not have rich parents
or parents that can give them loans. So in that respect, it’s good. The issue of a national housing
strategy has been in and out of the Liberal platform for years. And so it– the only way that
the federal Liberals can really touch on that would be in terms
of their own programs that are under their jurisdiction. They cannot encroach on
provincial jurisdiction. Thank you. So just to wrap up I have a
few other general questions. What do we think of the
Parliamentary Budget Officer’s costing of the promises? [Laughter]
Seriously. -Useful, not useful?
-Gentleman’s work. Really, it’s amazing. It’s fantastic. From what you’ve heard and what
you’ve read of the different party platforms, is there one
that you think that the next government should implement
even if it’s not their own? Even if it’s not their own? That happens. They steal things
from platforms. They do. I think they steal them– I
think they steal them usually during the election as much as
possible if they think that’s where directions
are going to go. Considering we haven’t seen
everything from the Liberals and the Tories, it’s
hard to say whether holus-bolus, you know, you
should drag these policies into the public sphere. I’d like to see the tax cuts
implemented by whoever gets in, which is going to be one of them
most likely in either a majority or minority situation. So I’m not too
concerned that won’t happen. In terms of other stuff, I know
what I don’t like to see but… Go ahead. Well, I would not like to
see the NDP’s wealth tax, for example. The chances of that are small
but if they held the balance of power, who knows, right? In a budget that could
be part of the mix, so. And I would not like to see us
go as far in terms of carbon taxes because now Catherine
McKenna has said the $50 a tonne is not necessarily set in stone. So how high is that going
to go, remains to be seen. Mike, is there anything
that jumped out at you at the platforms that you think,
“Gosh, that’s a good idea “and they should all do it”? Well, the thing
about carbon pricing, I mean, the Conservatives
have carbon pricing in their platform. I mean, they apply it– they
say that industry will pay. So when industry pays, I mean,
if they have to invest it in a technology fund, I mean, some–
somewhere there is money that they are going to be putting
in that will be passed on to consumers. So one way or the other we pay
now or we pay a lot more later, I think in terms
of– in terms of that. So I– you know, that
would be one thing. I mean, I want to address like,
the Impact Assessment Act and one kind of
interesting thing. I mean, I’ve heard from a lot
of industry groups that there is too much regulation but in
decades or more than 100 hundred years in Canada
so many projects got approved without actually
being evaluated. And this act in terms of the
reporting that I have done previously, we see that there
were projects approved that were not approved based on evidence. We see cases where consultants
were fudging or manipulating these reports that they were
doing to support assessments. So it kind of minimizes the true
impact of projects and the act itself doesn’t
actually address this, doesn’t actually ensure that
there is more evidence used. It takes a first
step towards it. So I think, you know, these
issues have to be addressed. If you’re going to scrap an
act that basically in some ways restores different things that
were taken out through Bill C-38 was it? The 2012 budget act. Some of what C-69 is doing is
restoring stuff that was taken out and building
towards other improvements. I think that that is important
in terms of having a sustainable economy, that and having
evidence based policy. These are things that are
worth debating at least and talking about. So last question, if you had the
opportunity to draft a question for the first
English language debate, what would it be? So I always worry that parties
are drafting platform ideas but they haven’t necessarily
thought through implementation. They sort of say,
oh well, whatever, you know, details,
that’s a winner’s problem. So at the same time, believe it
or not, the evidence is pretty clear that in power,
elected parties try really, really hard to actually
implement what they’re running on or at least make it look
like they’ve implemented what they’re running on. So I would want to be asking
about implementation and ask the leaders where are the pieces in
your platform where you’re most worried about implementation and
are you– how are you going to communicate to Canadians if and
when you’re having a hard time keeping your commitment. Tasha? I would address an issue that
hasn’t really been discussed much, which is federalism and
rifts that have appeared in our country over energy
policy in particular. And I would say how are
you going to recognize– reconcile, rather, climate
policy and energy policy in a way that helps also keep
the country together. Great one. We like it at the IRPP. I think I like that so much I’m
gonna– I’m going to second what Tasha just said. [Laughter] I have one. I have one too. This is what mine would be. I’m going to add– okay. That is, to find out what each
of the leaders will do to try to build a cross– cross-party
consensus on climate action. Which actually is part
of the Green platform, but… Let’s give a warm
thank you to our panel. Thank you very much. [♪♪♪]

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