Trans Mountain pipedreams and other energy follies: Why Canada needs a viable energy plan

Nov 13, 2018
Like it or not, we need to plan for a major transition over the coming decades from our reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy. Fossil fuels are the major source of energy for Canadians and people around the world (providing 85 per cent of global primary energy in 2017). But hydrocarbons—oil, gas and coal—unfortunately… View Article

Pro rep leads to better public policy

Nov 8, 2018
Debunking the claims of proportional representation naysayers This post is part of a series explaining the benefits of proportional representation and debunking myths from the ‘No’ side of BC’s 2018 electoral reform referendum. More from the series is available at policynote.ca/pr4bc. Over the last few months, I’ve spent quite a lot of time debating and… View Article

How fast can we get to 100% renewables?

Nov 7, 2018
This piece draws on research and a presentation in Vancouver by Mark Jacobson from Stanford University, who delivered the 2018 Gideon Rosenbluth Memorial Lecture. You can listen to the audio or watch a recording of the live video stream below, and you can download Mark’s slides here (PDF). It is well established that we need… View Article
Image: The massive Sunrise Plant, the largest gas plant built in Western Canada in 30 years, sits on farmland near Dawson Creek. It was one of three gas plants in a row exempted from provincial environmental assessments. © Garth Lenz

Shielding fossil fuel corporations from public scrutiny: The new “neutral”?

Oct 31, 2018
British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office bills itself as a “neutral” provincial agency. But there is evidence that this is not the case, and that BC Environment Minister George Heyman — who is tasked with “revitalizing” the province’s environmental assessment law — needs to make serious reforms. When a public regulator makes major decisions behind closed… View Article

The power of ideas and research: A note from CCPA-BC’s incoming Director

Oct 26, 2018
I first encountered the CCPA when I was a university student trying to make sense of the world and my place in it. I’d moved out to Vancouver at 19 with a longing to explore this beautiful coast, a passionate if somewhat disorganized commitment to social justice, my cat, and not a whole lot else…. View Article

BC’s speculation tax is a key piece of the housing affordability puzzle

Oct 25, 2018
The BC government has brought forward legislation to implement one of its major policy measures on housing: the speculation tax. In a defence of the tax earlier this year, we outlined why the speculation tax represents an important step in addressing the housing crisis. The tax covers a limited set of geographical areas in BC that have a high demand… View Article
Photo: © Garth Lenz

Who owns and benefits from Canada’s fossil fuel sector?

Oct 23, 2018
Many Canadians—politicians and business people in particular—are quick to tout the value of the fossil fuel sector to our national economy. But who primarily benefits from these industries? The major investors in Canada’s fossil fuel sector (oil, bitumen, gas and coal) have high stakes in maintaining business as usual, rather than addressing the industry’s serious… View Article

Dangerous precedent: Petronas subsidiary gets free pass after building unlicensed fracking dams

Oct 22, 2018
In a decision without precedent in its 25 years of existence, British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has told Progress Energy that two massive unauthorized dams that it built will not have to undergo environmental assessments. The decision comes after the company made an audacious request to the EAO to have the two dams declared… View Article

Getting to pro rep: How I plan to rank the options

Oct 19, 2018
Debunking the claims of proportional representation naysayers This post is part of a series explaining the benefits of proportional representation and debunking myths from the ‘No’ side of BC’s 2018 electoral reform referendum. More from the series is available at policynote.ca/pr4bc. During these weeks leading up to the electoral reform referendum, I’ve been giving a… View Article

Pro rep will indeed mean more minority governments — bring it on!

Oct 16, 2018
Debunking the claims of proportional representation naysayers This post is part of a series explaining the benefits of proportional representation and debunking myths from the ‘No’ side of BC’s 2018 electoral reform referendum. More from the series is available at policynote.ca/pr4bc. Among the fear-mongering claims of the ‘No’ side in BC’s electoral reform debate, a… View Article

Designated Indigenous seats: A possibility for political inclusion?

Oct 15, 2018
As the Federal Court of Appeal’s quashing of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) showcases, a wide chasm remains between the federal government’s platitudes of reconciliation and real action. Canada, the Court ruled, has again fallen short of its obligations to consult with and accommodate Indigenous peoples—to say nothing of the right to free, prior… View Article

Housing platforms and platitudes in the 2018 Vancouver election

Oct 11, 2018
It should be no surprise that Vancouver’s growing housing affordability crisis is the top issue going into the election. All candidates are in favour of affordable housing, of course. Sorting out the chatter from concrete plans, however, can be difficult—not least because of the way Vancouver’s municipal politics has fractured going into the election, with… View Article

Workplace rights in BC should reflect the realities of the 21st century economy

Oct 9, 2018
For the first time in 25 years, BC’s workplace rights are being reviewed. Disappointingly, however, the fulsome consultation needed to develop policies for the realities of 21st century workers is not happening. BC’s workplace laws were written in the 20th century when there were no smartphones and most workers spent their careers in permanent full-time… View Article

LNG Canada: Short-term politics trumps long-term climate responsibility

Oct 4, 2018
LNG Canada’s final investment decision to build a natural gas liquefaction facility in Kitimat is a triumph of short-term politics over long-term responsibility to act on climate change. Exaggerated numbers have been used to sell the project to the public, while risks have been downplayed. The politics of liquefied natural gas (LNG) have a certain logic… View Article

Elite private schools rake in public funds while special needs students go without

Oct 2, 2018
Every year the BC government provides hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding to private schools, including elite prep schools. Given that BC’s public education system has been severely underfunded for most of the past two decades—and is still failing to adequately support students with special needs—this use of public resources is hard to fathom…. View Article

Fighting poverty through tax credit reform

Sep 21, 2018
One way to fight extreme inequality is to have a progressive tax system. We mostly think about this in the form of progressive income tax brackets, which are structured so that those who have higher incomes pay higher tax rates. Other taxes, however, like sales tax or the carbon tax, are not necessarily progressive in… View Article

Climate change and the duty of professional engineers and geoscientists: A call to action

Sep 13, 2018
There has been a great deal of recent media coverage both for and against the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX). Much of it is political, but of utmost importance are the ramifications for the planet. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that the expansion’s approval was based on science, and he is convinced of… View Article

Paved with good intentions: A guide to evolving climate policies in BC

Sep 12, 2018
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, an economics professor of mine used to say back in the late 1980s. Concerned about the federal government’s inability to reign in fiscal deficits, hell back then was hitting a “financial wall” where the markets would no longer lend or would only do so at catastrophically… View Article

The new school year begins with more affordable child care and better education funding for all ages — but challenges remain in the education sector

Sep 10, 2018
It’s back-to-school season and this September, BC students of all ages are returning to schools facing a very different funding environment. That’s because in its first year in power, BC’s new provincial government made a major shift in direction in education policy, significantly increasing education investments for students of all ages. The largest and perhaps… View Article

Land wealth is a massive source of inequality in BC

Sep 4, 2018
Many of us worry about income inequality in BC, and so we should. But here’s the thing—bad as income inequality is, wealth inequality is worse. And in our province, that wealth inequality is driven in large part by real estate—who owns it, and who doesn’t. The ownership of real estate wealth in BC is highly… View Article