Towards a managed wind-down: the conversation we need to have

Nov 26, 2020
An enduring lesson from COVID-19 is that where there’s a will there’s a way. Faced with a pandemic, governments have risen to the challenge and made profound changes that would have seemed impossible mere months before. We now need to shift this out-of-the-box thinking to the existential threat posed by climate change. The need to… View Article

What federal leadership on long-term care standards should look like

Nov 24, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic second wave once again ravages long-term care homes in Canada, we must reckon with the obvious: it is time to set a higher standard for this care. The federal government promised as much in its throne speech, and we have taken this as an invitation to propose standards informed by the… View Article

Time to mobilize like we mean it

Nov 17, 2020
Lessons from the Second World War for the climate emergency Even before the arrival of COVID-19, the history of the Second World War was making a remarkable comeback. Our movie theatres (remember those?), Netflix offerings and bookstore shelves were full of modern reboots of our mid-century wartime experience. Then the global pandemic struck, and suddenly,… View Article

Alberta’s energy war room reveals its true colours as a propaganda mill

Nov 6, 2020
Last week my report “Reassessment of Need for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project” was published by the Parkland Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The Canadian Energy Centre (aka Premier Jason Kenney’s “War Room”) took exception to my report and wrote a hit piece designed to discredit it,“A Matter of Fact: CCPA report… View Article

TMX: What’s at stake?

Oct 29, 2020
New research from veteran earth scientist David Hughes concludes that the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project (TMX) makes no financial sense. In fact, Alberta heavy oil producers can expect to lose money on every barrel of oil they produce and move through TMX. Contrary to claims that bringing heavy oil to tidewater for export to… View Article

Reality Check: Progress on child care in BC, 2012-2020

Oct 9, 2020
In the early days of the current BC election campaign child care took centre stage when NDP leader John Horgan recommitted his party to fully implement the $10aDay Plan1 if elected on October 24. Public discussion and commentary followed in the media and from other parties. Questions were raised about the progress achieved on child care… View Article
Aerial photo of two cars in a minor accident

Creeping privatization is not the fix to auto insurance in BC

Oct 8, 2020
As part of BC’s election campaign, the BC Liberal party pledged this week to move away from universal public auto insurance by opening up basic coverage to private insurance corporations. The claim made by party leader Andrew Wilkinson is that cheaper rates will follow from having private corporations sell insurance plans (using the old litigation-driven,… View Article

Losing sight at Site C

Oct 8, 2020
Court documents and FOI materials show BC Hydro knew shale would move at troubled construction project, yet Hydro proceeded with river diversion BC Hydro approved the pouring of massive amounts of concrete to build a buttress at its problem-plagued Site C dam project months before a critical drainage tunnel was completed to draw water away… View Article

Why a PST cut is a bad idea and directions for reform: A backgrounder on consumption taxation in BC

Oct 5, 2020
The BC Liberals have made a bold policy announcement that appears to be the centrepiece of their campaign: a one-year rollback of the 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST), followed by  a reduction to 3% until the COVID-19 pandemic is over (although in reality there would be strong pressure to stay at the lower rate). This… View Article

Tax cuts won’t cure what ails us

Oct 2, 2020
Major tax cuts are on the table in BC’s election—namely, cuts to the provincial sales tax (PST) and speculation tax. But these proposals won’t help us meet the challenges the province faces. Whether the goal is economic stimulus, helping households in need or addressing long-term gaps in our social and physical infrastructure, tax cuts are… View Article

New federal sickness benefit falls short

Oct 1, 2020
Workers in Canada will have access to a federal paid sick leave benefit, but it doesn’t go far enough. The new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit applies to people unable to work because they have or may have COVID-19 or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID. It also applies to people undergoing treatments, people with… View Article

For better or worse, it’s election time—let’s get on to the issues that matter

Sep 30, 2020
Since the provincial election was called last week, the focus of debate so far has been the timing. But like it or not, we’re headed to the polls in less than a month—and it’s time to shift gears to focus on the many urgent issues at stake. Top of that list of course is the… View Article

Vancouver’s Secured Rental Policy and the battle over density

Sep 28, 2020
In North American cities with growing populations and economies, a similar political story on housing affordability is playing out. Calls to permit more dense housing supply—also known as upzoning or changes to land use regulations to allow multi-unit buildings on “single-family” detached lots—pit older, wealthier homeowners against younger, less affluent, renters who feel shut out… View Article

Now is not the time to panic over the federal debt

Sep 22, 2020
Public policy in Canada remains haunted by large deficits that prevailed in the 1980s and early 1990s. With COVID-19 economic response pushing the federal deficit to an estimated $343 billion in 2020/21, some pundits are starting to beat the deficit panic drum again.  Don’t let big numbers scare you. Here’s why we shouldn’t be worried. … View Article

Canadian billionaires’ wealth skyrocketing amid the pandemic

Sep 16, 2020
When you add up the total wealth growth of Canada’s richest 20 billionaires since the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, their wealth has ballooned by $37 billion. Data from Forbes’ annual billionaires list and their “real-time billionaires” listing shows that Canada’s top 20 billionaires have amassed an average of just under $2 billion in wealth gains… View Article

Site C’s radical makeover: What the ‘L’ is going on at problem-plagued dam construction project where costs keep piling up and completion remains years away?

Sep 11, 2020
BC Hydro knew 30 years before it started building the Site C dam that its chosen location for the most expensive publicly funded infrastructure project in British Columbia’s history had big problems.  In fact, by the 1980s, BC Hydro had done tests showing that the ground at Site C had serious flaws “due to the… View Article

Massive public investment, not austerity, is the answer

Aug 18, 2020
A depression is still around the corner if the Canadian government does not continue to radically intervene in the economy. We have all encountered the dark outlines of the crisis facing us by now. Everywhere there are warnings of mass unemployment unseen in decades, already vulnerable workers—young, racialized, women—hit hardest, entire industries at risk, a… View Article

BC LNG: Economic bonanza or environmental and economic nightmare?

Aug 17, 2020
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) has been embraced by British Columbia’s government as a budding engine of growth for the provincial economy. Claims by industry lobby groups of tens of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenue make headlines. Is it true there really is a free lunch? As a scientist who spent a career… View Article

A Big Fracking Mess: As Site C dam construction bogs down in geotechnical problems, thousands of earthquakes triggered by fracking operations occur nearby

Aug 12, 2020
Earthquakes triggered by natural gas industry fracking operations near BC Hydro’s troubled Site C dam construction project are far greater in number than previously thought, raising troubling questions about whether they are adding to the already formidable geotechnical challenges at the site. Not only are more earthquakes occurring in proximity to the costliest public infrastructure… View Article

After the rush: Fort Nelson needs firm government commitments to reclaim lands abandoned by fossil fuel industry

Jul 30, 2020
In the face of the economic fallout from COVID-19, it’s easy to forget that some communities in British Columbia were in deep fiscal distress long before the pandemic began. Fort Nelson is a good example, and a textbook case of why senior levels of government need to be mindful when they roll out recovery plans… View Article