Op-Eds

The 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples made prominent reference to a 1613 treaty between the Dutch and Mohawk: “Three beads of wampum separating the two purple rows symbolize peace, friendship and respect. The two rows of purple are two vessels travelling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, is for the Indian people, their laws, their customs, and their ways. The other, a ship, is for the white people and their laws, their customs and their ways. We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our own boat.” The intent of much Canadian Indigenous policy since 1996 has been to "strengthen the canoe.” Overall, this has been a worthy exercise in the pursuit of reconciliation with those wanting to...
This week’s review of the Ontario government’s pre-election financial report from the provincial Auditor-General reconfirmed what The Globe and Mail reported last weekend: The government is using an accounting trick to shrink its reported deficit and debt. It is hiding the cost of borrowing to subsidize electricity prices over the next few years by inventing an “asset” – revenue from the higher prices Ontario’s electricity consumers will pay later on – to keep the borrowing from showing in the government’s bottom line. Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk’s review concludes that the pre-election report is not a reasonable presentation of Ontario’s finances. Her concerns deserve wide attention – not just in Ontario, but throughout...
As of April 12, municipalities in Ontario will be able to implement inclusionary zoning, allowing them to require affordable housing units in residential developments. The province’s willingness to grant municipalities this authority reflects its broader commitment to modernizing Ontario’s planning regime. But one relic of this old regime remains: Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act. As the province continues to overhaul its planning legislation, it is time to revisit Section 37 and either repeal it or significantly amend it. Section 37 allows municipalities to secure “benefits” from developers in return for allowing buildings to exceed height and density restrictions. As I note in a recent report for the C.D. Howe Institute, over the...
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Friday that she will not allow the City of Toronto to proceed with road tolls. I’ll leave the politics of this decision to others, but the economic consequences of the decision will be more congestion and myriad problems for cities reliant on unsustainable provincial grants. How did we get here? About a decade ago, the province granted the City of Toronto – and only Toronto – the power to levy tolls on roads it operates, among other new tax powers. There was a catch, however: The province retained the final say by having to pass a regulation allowing such a road toll. In December, Toronto City Council voted in favour of asking the province to allow Toronto to place tolls on...
Last May, the provincial government took steps to modernize Alberta’s Municipal Government Act. One of the major changes was a call for forced inter-municipal cooperation, where arbitration would bind municipalities through shotgun marriages with the goal of squeezing out efficiencies in service production. Forced cooperation of this nature, however, has been shown to be harmful elsewhere in Canada. The provincial government should instead look towards a more flexible model for enhancing inter-municipal cooperation, such as British Columbia’s regional districts. Inter-municipal cooperation can be an effective means of providing services while not sacrificing economies of scale and scope. Municipalities may voluntarily...