Tag Archives: Canada

Cool Gadgets at the Toronto Auto Show

 

Juliana Chiovitti and Tom Henheffer check out some new gadgets hitting the road this year from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Honda.

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Filed under Broadcasters/Publications, Journalism, Television/Web Video, Toronto Star, Toronto Star at the Auto Show

Kids sitting in a $2.5 million Bugatti Veyron at the Toronto Auto Show

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Coyne v. Wells on the looming election

Why the Liberals are worried and how Layton became the man to watch

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Filed under Journalism, Maclean's.TV, Television/Web Video, Uncategorized

Could the penny die?

Nick Kohler discusses the penny’s history of hanging on against the odds

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The election: parties changing places?

Canada is changing.

New parties might throw out the old, and our entire elective system could get an overhaul.

And few want change more than Mary Lou Babineau. She’s the Green candidate for Fredericton.

“People are feeling quite uninspired by politicians today. … They’re looking for some energy and some

Mary-Lou Babineau, Green Party Candidate for Fredericton, with her daughter and a constiuent.

Mary-Lou Babineau, Green Party Candidate for Fredericton, with her daughter and a constiuent.

innovation. Something new.”

Strong majority governments under the Liberals and Conservatives have been the norm throughout Canadian history, but a new political environment may be emerging.

“I do think that the era of these huge majority governments is coming to an end. … and I think that one or two MPs can make a difference in parliament.”

The new power of individual MPs can be linked to the collapse of Liberal support. The party is at 27 percent in national opinion polls, 12 points behind the Conservatives and only 10 ahead of the NDP. Despite this, the support for leftist parties (60 percent between Liberals, Bloc, NDP and Green) far outweighs support for Conservatives.

Richard Meyers is a political science professor at St. Thomas University.

“In some ways what we’re going to see here is the 90s in reverse.”

In the nineties far-right parties like Reform took votes away from the Conservatives. Now the leftist vote is split between Greens, Liberals and the NDP. This split, combined with the fact Canadians generally vote more to the left, means we may be in for a long stretch of minority governments. And the Conservatives will probably be at the helm.

“What you’ll see is Harper is going to be in government, not because he has a majority of Canadians behind him, I think it’s very far from that.”

This situation is exactly what the smaller leftist parties, like the Green and NDP, are hoping for.

“The NDP thinks this is our big chance to bump off the Liberals and become the number two party. To become the real alternatives to the Conservatives.”

This has already happened in Great Britain, where the Liberals and Conservatives used to have a stranglehold on parliament. But, the further left-leaning Labour party managed to squeeze out the weakened Liberals. There’s also a similar situation in British Columbia, where the provincial Conservatives have been left behind by the NDP and Liberals.

Even Amanda Wilkinson, president of the St. Thomas University Young Liberal Association, thinks the Liberals could be in trouble.

“I don’t want to say no and I don’t want to say yes. … There’s a possibility, but the majority of Canadians have never voted far left.”

If the Liberals are made into Canada’s “third party,” a new chapter may open in Canadian politics.

“I have to believe and I do believe that change is going to come with this election,” said Babineau.

“A two party system is not a favorable system to have. … The Green party is in favor of changing our electoral system to proportional representation.”

Currently, Canada uses the plurality system, where one Member of Parliament is elected in each constituency across Canada. The party with the most members forms the government. The problem with this system is that it can be unrepresentative of the popular vote, making it difficult for small parties to get elected. Proportional representation, on the other hand, gives parties the same percentage of seats as their percentage of the popular vote.

Both the Greens and NDP want to implement this system. If the Liberals are brushed aside, the NDP could win a minority government. If this happens, and the Green party is strong enough (which it could be, it’s doubled its percentage in national opinion polls since last year), the two parties could change Canada’s electoral system.

Meyers is skeptical.

“It’s not going to happen in Canada. Is it a workable or possible idea? Absolutely.”

He doesn’t think the Greens and NDP will be able to beat the Liberals and Conservatives, who are both opposed to proportional representation. However, he says the NDP could take out the Liberals as Canada’s “second,” party.

“It’s a real possibility. I wouldn’t bet on it myself right now. But it would not shock me if in the last weeks of the campaign there was a big surge of support away from the Liberals and toward the NDP. ”

From there, anything could happen.

This article originally appeared in HERE Magazine

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Quebec leaves

A report on a mock constitutional conference at St. Thomas University. Filed in winter 2008.

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Why the poor aren’t poorer after all

Why the poor aren’t poorer after all

(This article originally appeared in Maclean’s Magazine)

Many studies have come to the depressing conclusion that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer—but according to a new report from the Fraser Institute, it’s not happening here.

In The Economic Well-Being of Canadians: Is There a Growing Gap?, Chris Sarlo, an economist at Nipissing University, argues that most studies of the issue so far have been too narrow. The accepted figures show that the income gap between rich and poor has grown by nine per cent since 1969. But Sarlo says those reports don’t take into account the “underground economy” of unreported incomes common in the repair, renovation and hospitality industries. Sarlo values this economy at up to $50 billion a year, enough to seriously skew the statistics on incomes.

To overcome that shortcoming, rather than analyzing income rates, Sarlo’s report analyzes rates of consumption. By doing so, he found that Canadians with incomes in the lowest five per cent have actually purchased higher numbers of new “key facilities” (things like air conditioners and dishwashers that help increase quality of life) than those in the highest five per cent since 1985. Since that consumption rate isn’t declining, he says, it shows that the gap isn’t getting wider. “Given the data we have, as tarnished as it may be, it’s just not obvious that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.”

Not everyone agrees with Sarlo’s happy conclusion. Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says the rich under-report their incomes just as much as the poor. She also criticized Sarlo’s emphasis on consumption, claiming that the poor can afford more time-saving consumer goods because of a decrease in the price of electronics, not because their incomes are staying on par. “He’s using his skills to define away the issue of inequality,” she says.

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