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Money Justin Ling: There's a political reckoning coming over Canada's housing crisis

16:20  18 february  2020
16:20  18 february  2020 Source:   nationalpost.com

Douglas Todd: Think B.C. has a lot of housing regulations? You ain't seen nothing

  Douglas Todd: Think B.C. has a lot of housing regulations? You ain't seen nothing The world’s most populous countries, India and China, don’t allow any non-resident foreign nationals to buy their real estate. The city of Berlin just moved to protect 1.5 million tenants by freezing most rents for five years. The Netherlands is cutting back on sudden reno-victions by making sure 70 per cent of an apartment building’s tenants agree before landlords makes improvements. In Canada, it’s British Columbia that arguably has the most rigorous housing restrictions, with a 20 per cent foreign-buyers tax and a speculation-and-vacancy tax.

Of course, there will be those who say that maybe the boundaries are outmoded or need changing. Over the last century, we tinkered with and loosened the unspoken rules governing access to public office and opened our political order to a wider array of people and ideologies.

There ' s also little doubt that Tuesday' s legal stunners, and the news that White House Counsel Donald McGahn testified to Mueller for 30 hours, have So while it may seem that Trump' s political and legal luck is holding, it may erode over time and the furor surrounding Tuesday' s convictions could be a

a sign in front of a house© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

This month, for the first time in about a century, the dominance of Ireland’s two natural governing parties has been challenged.

When the votes were counted two weekends ago, the centre-right Fianna Fáil party narrowly came out with the most seats, while the equally centre-right Fine Gael was reduced from a minority government to third place.

Coming up from the left wing was the republican Sinn Féin, led by an affable Mary Lou McDonald. She seems likely to form some kind of government, possibly with help from smaller left-wing parties.

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There is growing backlash against the established political order, and no party or politician is safe. It’ s certainly a novel approach, given past fights over Quebec’ s past referendum questions. The novelty doesn’t end there . Québec solidaire doesn’t have a leader: It has two co-spokespeople.

Последние твиты от Justin Ling (@ Justin _ Ling ). i'm the feeling when you think there ' s one more step on the stairs but then it' s not there, but with journalism. @foreignpolicy @globeandmail @nationalpost.

McDonald’s success was Taoiseach Leo Varkar’s peril. A liberal leader with a large international profile, he was seen as an Irish Justin Trudeau — right down to his love of quirky socks.

Varkar was popular abroad, in part over his sharp criticism of Brexit, but at home his popularity tanked. In his failure is a cautionary tale for Trudeau.

Mary Lou McDonald standing in front of a refrigerator:  Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Sinn Fein, speaks in London on Feb. 13.© Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Sinn Fein, speaks in London on Feb. 13.

Ireland has seen 29 consecutive quarters of inflation in its housing rental market — they went down in December by a tenth of a percentage point. McDonald and Sinn Féin seized on a growing anxiety over the mounting prices.

“We’re not doing another five years of the housing crisis. That is not on the agenda,” McDonald told a scrum of reporters as the results came in.

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Things got pretty lit in the seat of Canada ' s government on Wednesday night after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got physical with some opposition MPs. Justin Ling @ Justin _ Ling . bad month for the political elbow. Move over , burnt toast.

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In 2018, monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin sit around 1,400 euros ($2,018), according to public and private data.

Toronto rents have surged in recent years. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates a one bedroom runs about $1,400, but real estate listings report average market rent is north of $2,000. An incredibly low vacancy rate, of about 1.5 per cent, is responsible for both cities’ eye-watering prices — there are more renters than available apartments. And it’s only going to get worse, unless something is done.

It’s not just a centre-of-the-known-universe problem. Housing prices have been climbing steadily across the country, taking rent prices with them. Vacancy rates in many major cities are below two per cent. These costs have far outstripped inflation, as well as wage growth for renters.

Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie:  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a panel discussion at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on Feb. 14, 2020.© Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a panel discussion at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on Feb. 14, 2020.

There are a litany of reasons for the crunch: a lack of purpose-built rental housing, real estate investors hedging their bets on further price growth, armies of HGTV-inspired house-flippers, money laundering, increased urbanization, short-term rentals, as well as a confluence of localized issues.

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American and Canadian firefighters and fire experts have been flown in over the past month to help 7. Fire activity may increase over the course of the day. A report by the Australian Broadcasting What about the political response? A real sense of frustration has been building, from the Australian

Justin Ling is a freelance journalist who covers defence, security, politics , and people who make mistakes. A year after a gunman killed six in a Quebec City mosque, the province’ s leading party is coming out against a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.

But, unlike Canadian politicians, McDonald didn’t shrug off this crunch as an intractable problem.

Her party’s manifesto offers a wide breadth of solutions to the housing crisis. A three-year rent freeze across the country. Six and a half billion euros to build 100,000 new public affordable homes, in five years. A suite of reforms for both public and private housing. And, perhaps most interesting of all, setting a housing price reduction as a policy objective.

Contrast that with Canada, where the very painful squeeze of a housing shortage is on virtually every young person’s lips from coast-to-coast-to-coast — from Vancouver, where the crisis began in earnest; to Charlottetown, with the lowest vacancy rate in the country; to Iqaluit, where even the existing housing stock is in desperate need of replacement.

And what have our politicians done?

a sign in front of a brick building:  File photo. File photo.

In his first mandate, Trudeau’s government gave itself credit for supposedly tackling the crisis, promising its plan would build 100,000 new housing units in a decade. That is a farce. The Parliamentary Budget Officer wrote in a 2019 report that the Liberals’ plan actually “slightly reduces targeted funding for households in core housing need” from the previous Conservative government.

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The report continues that “it is not clear” that the Trudeau government’s plans “will reduce the prevalence of housing need” — pegged by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in 2016 at roughly 1.7 million households who are in need of better or more affordable housing.

In this past election, the Conservatives honed in on the issue, promising to use the federal government to rush the construction of new homes. But it was the NDP that made the most aggressive pitch for new affordable housing, pledging to build 500,000 new affordable homes — a mix of public and private — in the next decade.

All three parties, however, made big, expensive, promises to use CMHC to underwrite the mortgages of Canadians looking to buy homes. That is likely to pressure housing costs up, not slow the growth.

Canada is a country of 37 million people, where more than one in 10 families need better housing, and the most ambitious plan on the table gets us halfway there in a decade? Compared to the scope of the problem, and put next to McDonald, it all looks rather pathetic.

There are good reasons for Ottawa to do more. Building and maintaining rental housing is a dependable source of income. Affordable rent also helps diversify economies — letting housing speculators and the wealthy force out coders, entrepreneurs, artists and service workers would be ruinous for the start-up and tourism economies. Encouraging would-be homeowners to put their investment dollars into the stock market, not the housing market, also has positive knock-on effects.

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Beyond that, if something doesn’t get these prices under control, the market may be heading for a sharp correction as people give up — that’s only going to hurt the very first-time homebuyers all the parties desperately want to lock into ever-longer mortgages.

Trudeau isn’t the only one at risk. Politicians across the country appear blithely unaware there’s a housing crisis — one of few exceptions includes Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who recently adopted new rules requiring at least 40 per cent of units in new development be social and affordable housing.

There is no monopoly on solutions here, either. Pitching money into government-built affordable houses, like this country did after the Second World War, is a sure-fire solution. Using supply-side policies to kick-starting private development in purpose-built rental units is a good bet, too.

If prices keep mounting in Canada, that political reckoning is coming.

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