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Poilievre plans to punish big cities ‘for egregious cases of NIMBYism’

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It’s rare to see news coverage of Canadian politics in U.S. outlets, but it’s even more extraordinary to see leadership race policy proposals appearing south of the border.

A recent Washington Post column highlighting the housing plans of several Conservatives might be a sign of how important housing has become as an issue for young voters, or it might be a sign that the debate in Canada is genuinely fascinating for policy wonks.

This week, Ontario MP Scott Aitchison overtly campaigned on YIMBYism (yes-in-my-backyard) and Pierre Poilievre took a big swing at big-city NIMBYs (not-in-my-backyard).

In our weekly round-up of the Conservative leadership race, we look at housing policies, Canada’s controversial dairy supply management system, and Jean Charest’s latest policy proposal on health care.

A crackdown on gatekeepers

Pierre Poilievre plans to punish big cities “for egregious cases of NIMBYism and gatekeeping” with a new policy proposal that aims to address the housing shortage.

Poilievre’s plan would require “severely unaffordable” big cities to increase housing development by 15 percent or risk losing some federal funding. The plan will also pay municipalities $10,000 for each extra home built and would also encourage high-density development on land near transit projects.The plan also promises to sell off 15 percent of the government’s buildings and stop the federal government from “creating cash to fund government deficits.”

Ontario MP Scott Aitchison also encouraged a “yes in my backyard” spirit on the campaign trail this week, arguing it was the best way to fix the country’s housing crisis.

The issue has even gotten some play in U.S. media.

Centre-left columnist Matthew Yglesias, who runs the Substack newsletter Slow Boring, wrote that it’s surprising to see right-of-centre politicians in Canada offering solutions to fix the housing shortage. In America, Donald Trump and his allies have attacked similar plans as an attempt to “abolish the suburbs.”

“In Canada, as in the U.S., the federal government finances a fair amount of local government activity. So it makes sense to tie funding to new housing permits. If towns and cities want money for infrastructure, they need to do their share to add to the national housing supply,” wrote Yglesias.

“In the U.S., this is considered a daring left-wing idea,” he wrote. “On the economics, (American conservatives) could learn a lot from their conservative friends north of the border.”

Conservatives wade into supply management again

Aitchison also made some waves this week with a plan to wind down Canada’s dairy supply management program.

Aitchison argued that the artificial limits on supply raise prices for Canadian consumers of dairy, poultry, and eggs, which is particularly troublesome at a time when inflation is reaching its highest level in decades. The plan would also compensate farmers who would lose out when the program is abolished.

Poilievre has recently argued that this kind of compensation would make abolishing the program more expensive than keeping it.

Maxime Bernier ran on a similar proposal during the 2017 Conservative leadership race and was ultimately defeated in part by dairy farmers turning out to support rival candidate Andrew Scheer.“Many dairy and poultry farmers across Canada breathed a sigh of relief… as Andrew Scheer defeated front-runner Maxime Bernier to become the leader of the Official Opposition and the Conservative Party of Canada.” https://www.realagriculture.com/2017/05/dairy-farmers-made-difference-in-scheers-surprise-win-over-bernier/

Charest tests the water on private health-care delivery

Jean Charest rolled out a new policy proposal this week that would allow the provinces more flexibility on how to deliver health care and which could open the door to more private surgeries being paid for with public dollars.

Charest said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how desperately low Canada’s health-care capacity is and that this option would prevent any further lockdowns.

“In every category, from ICU and hospital beds per capita, to doctors and nurses per capita, to wait times for basic procedures, Canada is near the bottom of the OECD rankings despite spending more than most countries that outperform us,” Charest told the Toronto Sun.

As the former premier of Quebec, Charest oversaw a system that allowed more private delivery than the rest of Canada due to a 2005 Supreme Court case.https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2237/index.do

The issue has long been controversial in Canadian politics and caused one infamous episode in the 2021 federal election when a videoAfter the edited video was posted, O’Toole sought to make clear his support for universal health care, blasting the Liberals for “American-style misleading politics.” https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/federal-election-2021/what-does-erin-o-toole-actually-want-in-terms-of-private-health-care-1.5561134 posted by Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland accusing then-Conservative leader Erin O’Toole of supporting private health care was flagged by Twitter as “manipulated media.”

Half of Canadians are having trouble coping financially: Poll

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Economic concerns have pushed aside the pandemic as a top source of worry for Canadian families, even as many Canadian cities battle a sixth wave of COVID-19.

Asked to name the number one thing that worries them and their families, 37 percent of Canadians chose cost of living, according to a poll designed by Public Square Research in partnership with The Hub.

With inflation coming in second place with 13 percent, the survey demonstrates that household finances are the dominant issue for half the country right now.

More than half of Canadians are also having trouble coping financially, with 51 percent agreeing that they are having difficulties. Thirty-six percent of Canadians say they are struggling a little and finding it hard to cope some days, nine percent of Canadians are struggling a lot, while three percent of Canadians say they are “close to breaking down,” and another three percent say they can’t keep going on like this.

On the other end of the spectrum are the 49 percent of Canadians who say they are managing well right now. The poll was conducted between April 8 and April 11.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who has based his leadership campaign around cost of living concerns and removing “gatekeepers” in Canadian life, has seen his campaign buoyed recently by large rallies and strong social media engagement.

A recent Abacus DataAbacus Data conducted a national survey with a sample of 2,000 Canadian adults from April 4 to 9, 2022 survey found that Poilievre’s launch videoI’m running for Prime Minister to give you back control of your life was generally well-received, even by voters who normally associate with other parties. The survey found that 52 percent of people agreed with the message of the video, while 24 percent disagreed and 24 percent neither agreed nor disagreed.

Poilievre also commands the support of Conservative voters on the question of who would make the best prime minister, according to The Hub‘s poll.

Respondents were asked to name the best choice for prime minister in a head-to-head battle against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and, in that scenario, Poilievre pulls in 53 percent support of Conservative voters compared to seven percent for Trudeau and with 40 percent choosing neither option.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown draws the support of 30 percent of Conservative voters, compared to seven percent for Trudeau and 63 percent choosing neither option. Jean Charest pulls in 27 percent support, with Trudeau getting six percent and 67 percent of Canadians choosing neither option.

Among the general population, Poilievre still leads the other leadership contenders in a head-to-head with Trudeau but appears to boost the prime minister’s numbers. Twenty-two percent choose Poilievre as the best choice for prime minister compared to 37 percent for Trudeau and 41 percent for neither option. On that question, Charest pulls in 14 percent support, compared to 34 percent for Trudeau and 52 percent for neither option.

As the Liberal government enters its seventh year in power, some eyes are turning to the question of who will succeed Trudeau as Liberal leader.

Among all Canadians, people are just as likely to say that deputy prime minister and finance minister Chrystia Freeland would make the best prime minister as Trudeau. Among Liberal voters, Trudeau is still dominant with 62 percent saying he’s the best choice, compared to 30 percent for Freeland.

The survey also asked Canadians how they feel about the recently signed governance agreementHow the Liberal-NDP agreement will work and what it might mean for Canadians between the Liberals and the NDP.

While 60 percent of Canadians said it was nice to see party leaders working together for a change, 51 percent of voters said it “feels like a power grab.” Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed that the NDP was acting wisely to “leverage their power to get things done,” although more Liberals agreed with this than NDP voters, with 82 percent and 81 percent respectively.

Responses about the agreement are heavily correlated with partisanship, with Liberal and NDP voters supporting it and Conservative voters seeing it as a threat.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have registered to participate in the Maru Voice online panel. The research involved an online omnibus survey of 1,567.Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation in the Maru Voice panel rather than a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.