Wednesday, March 20, 2019


   A doomed Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 that crashed shortly after takeoff on March 10 had "clear similarities" to an October 2018 crash of the same type of airplane, according to Ethiopia's transport minister. Today, Reuters sheds light on exactly what happened that fateful day last year off the coast of Indonesia.
   According to a new report, the cockpit voice recorder of the October crash which killed all 189 people onboard reveals that the pilots were scouring the plane's manual to understand why the plane kept lurching downwards - only to run out of time before it hit the water, reports Reuters, citing three people with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder contents.


   Canada is in a transportation conundrum. The economic rise of Asia has pulled huge volumes of grain, minerals and oil exports westward over the challenging Rocky Mountains and into B.C. ports — taxing existing rail infrastructure and causing ships to line up for days. Blood is boiling as grain farmers, oil and mining companies fight over rail cars, port delays and lost business – forcing the government to continuously send money to shore up infrastructure.
   As rail companies like Canadian Pacific Railway have said, we need to relieve some of the pressure and move more products eastwards where the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping navigation system has 50% capacity up for grabs. Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan already send grain exports eastwards with great success but there is an imaginary line in Saskatchewan where the transportation costs undermine the business case to use this route for key international export markets – and one of the reasons is the cost of pilotage.
    For the uninitiated, pilotage is an unknown, unseen quantity. You’ve probably never heard of it. In ports and other specific channels, ships are mandated by law to have a pilot come on board to help with navigation. Most of the 3700-kilometre Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway is within a mandatory pilotage zone as are other areas along the east and west coasts.
     Unsurprisingly, pilotage costs have a long history of increasing at rates that far exceed the rate of inflation. Just in the past five years, fees, salaries and benefits paid to licensed pilots have increased 3.4 times more than CPI. For example, on the St. Lawrence River, the hourly cost of pilotage exceeds the cost of the entire crew of a vessel, or more than double the cost of a vessel’s captain.


Ahoy there, relatively young and middle-class Canadian! Did you vote Liberal in 2015? And are you, shall we say, somewhat less enthused about that prospect four years later, for various reasons we needn’t go into here?

Now, what if Justin Trudeau were to offer you a down payment on a shiny new condominium?

Well, that’s just the kind of guy he is. Starting this year, so long as your household income is below $120,000, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will pitch in 5 per cent of the price of your first home — 10 per cent if it’s a new home, the construction of which the government hopes to incentivize.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


  Opposition MPs on the House of Commons justice committee stormed out of the committee meeting today after dominant Liberals MPs voted to end any further probe into the SNC-Lavalin scandal, opting for a motion to discuss other issues such as hate crime.
  At the committee meeting today, Liberal staffers handed reporters documents describing a motion to address ‘an increase in hate crimes’, advocating for legislative amendments to reduce its digital propagation and to draft a report by June.
  “We’ve heard 13 hours of comprehensive testimony from over 10 witnesses,” states the letter from the five Liberals. “No witness was prevented from providing evidence on any relevant information during the period covered by the waiver, which was the focus of the Committee’s review.”


  The  Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO)  notes that government fees have been rising in many cases well above the rate of inflation. One mining fee climbed by 1,371%.
   Motorists may have noticed the pinch over the past decade – the FAO found that between 2011-12 and 2017-18, vehicle and driver registration fee revenue grew at an average annual rate of 10.1%.
   “In 2017-18, the province generated $2.9 billion in service fee revenue,” the FAO commentary said. “Vehicle and driver registration fees, at $1.9 billion, made up 65% of all fee revenue.” The most common in 2017-18 were Highway 407 East tolls on the publicly operated portion with 11.9 million transactions, followed by licence plate stickers with 6.8 million transactions in southern Ontario and vehicle permits with 3.3 million transactions.


  When Quebec Finance Minister Éric Girard tables the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s Year 1 provincial budget Thursday, he is expected to walk the line between delivering on election promises and not allowing Quebec to slip back into the debt trap.
   But bolstered by staggering surpluses, expectations are that Girard will use his budget to sprinkle the province with much needed spending — particularly in health, education and help for seniors — and slice a chunk off the debt as a precaution.
   Quebec’s finances are in much better shape those in deficit-ridden Ottawa.

   Apparently,  over reliance on equalization payments is not a factor in Quebec's low productivity rate...


Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Canada’s oldest rape crisis centre, has been stripped of city funding after refusing to rescind its policy of only serving female-born women.

In a statement, the organization said they were the victim of “discrimination against women in the name of inclusion” and accused Vancouver City Council of trying to “coerce us to change our position.”

Meanwhile, the measure was cheered by activists who have long singled out Vancouver Rape Relief as a bastion of “trans-exclusionary” behaviour.