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More signal. Less noise. Welcome to The Hub’s new website!

News

Today at The Hub we are excited to debut a brand-spanking website filled with new features, functionality, and perks to improve how you consume, interact with, and support our independent journalism and commentary. 

Let’s start with what we have built to help you better access our content, based on your feedback and the help of our developer Uncommon Sense.   

For starters, you are going to see a lot more use of colour. Each of our major content areas, from news, to commentary, to podcasts, to DeepDives, has a colour code. This will help you quickly scan our homepage and dig into the content you want, fast. You will also see on our homepage more curation of the stories that really matter and where we think you might productively spend your time. 

Staying on the theme of efficiency, you can now use our new continuous scroll function to seamlessly transition from one article to the next, without having to click away to another page on the site. You can also swipe right and left to scroll between thumbnail summaries of news articles, data graphics, commentaries, and long-form journalism. Our goal is to help you get to the content you want as quickly as possible, while also giving you a sense of everything we publish.  

If you let us keep a cookie on your web browser (note we have a strict privacy policy not to share your data with third parties) the site will start to learn what content you enjoy by topic area (e.g. economics versus politics) and format (e.g. news versus commentary). Your reading preferences will show up in a sidebar called “Recommended for You” and in continuous scroll. At any time, you can go to our home page and see all our content unfiltered by your reading habits. 

We are also announcing the integration of WhatsApp as The Hub’s interactive discussion forum, for our readers to analyse and debate the day’s news and commentary. We are excited by how WhatsApp can help us foster a two-way conversation with you about the issues you care about, allowing us to better understand what topics and debates you want to see in our digital pages day in and day out. The Hub’s WhatsApp community will feature two groups, one where you will be sent The Hub’s latest news and commentary each day directly to your device. The other will serve as a discussion board for readers to debate the issues.

Note that the new Hub WhatsApp community will replace Hub Forum, our current daily web-based discussion thread. Thank you to everyone who took part in Hub Forum! 

One big difference with the new site is that you will begin to see that some content is accessible to subscribers only. We are doing this selectively to reward our users who have gone the extra mile to financially support our independent journalism. So, what does this change mean for you as a regular Hub reader? 

First, if you are a Hub Fellow or previously were a paid Hub subscriber you automatically have access to all the paid content on the website, in our new and improved newsletters, and on our podcast feed. For Fellows, this access is for as long as The Hub keeps publishing. For previously paid-up subscribers (monthly or annual), this is for six months starting June 1, 2024, and encompasses the benefits summarized in our new Hub Hero membership level. To reiterate, if you were a paid-up subscriber as of May 2024 all your benefits remain the same and they are grandfathered until November 30th of this year.  

To access subscriber-only content on the new website, simply input the email associated with your existing Hub subscription when prompted. You will be automatically enrolled in our new paid newsletters and as a valued financial contributor, you will have access to the full-length editions of all our podcasts. 

If you are not a paid subscriber, you can continue to access TheHub.ca. The choice is yours: either pay-as-you-go to read our best content or join at one of three different subscription levels starting at $10 per year. You can upgrade to the next subscription level at any time by only paying the difference. Each level unlocks more benefits and again supports our independent journalism. 

This is both an exciting and uncertain time for digital news and commentary outlets like The Hub. In the space of just a few years, our industry has been transformed by fast-changing consumer habits (e.g. most young people get their news, alas, on TikTok), massive government intervention into the funding of newsrooms in Canada, and across-the-board declines in once semi-reliable revenue sources such as email newsletters and digital subscriptions.

But against this increasingly volatile backdrop, The Hub is thriving. In the last 30 days, and just three years since our founding, over one million users engaged directly with one part or another of our digital publishing platform encompassing TheHub.ca, our email newsletters, podcasts, and social media. 

And we are still growing. We are adding new reporting capacities, such as data visualization journalism. The depth and sophistication of our commentary offering supersedes anything in the mainstream media. Our podcast feed is generating over a million annual downloads per year. Our new DeepDives series is driving the public conversation on important policy issues. And we are doing all this without taking a dollar in government subsidies, ensuring we remain genuinely independent and beholden only to our subscribers.  

In sum, we hope you enjoy the new website and continue to make The Hub an essential part of your daily news routine. And please keep your feedback and comments coming to editorial@thehub.ca. Many of your suggestions and ideas helped shape the website’s new design and functionality. 

Thank you! 

Rudyard Griffiths, publisher
Sean Speer, editor-at-large
Harrison Lowman, managing editor
Luke Smith, deputy editor
Amal Attar-Guzman, content editor & podcast producer
Alisha Rao, content coordinator
Kiernan Green, data visualization journalist
Taylor Jackson, research & prize manager

Canada’s soaring car thefts are far outpacing criminal charges

News

Surging car thefts in Canada are outpacing criminal charges in a major way when it comes to thieves being brought to justice for stealing vehicles.

According to Statistics Canada data compiled by The Hub the same week that the federal government released its strategy to tackle the auto theft crisis, car thefts across Canada have risen by the tens of thousands in recent years, while the number of criminal charges for car thefts have remained around the same.

Take Ontario for instance. In 2022, there were 37,041 car thefts in the province, a 34 percent increase from 27,527 in 2021. Yet Ontario charges for car thefts only rose by an additional 88 charges or four percent.

Ontario’s rate of criminal charges per car theft has risen the most sharply, from 10 thefts per charge in 2019 to approximately 18 thefts per charge in 2022. 

The trend is consistent across the country’s most populous provinces, where car theft has increased massively, with vehicles being sold overseas.

From 2021 to 2022, Quebec car thefts rose by over 7,000, while resulting charges rose by only 337. Alberta saw nearly 3,000 additional thefts, but only 140 additional charges.

British Columbia holds the record for the worst rate of criminal charges per car theft—26 stolen cars for every single charge in 2022. 

As University of Ottawa criminologist Michael Kempa wrote in The Hub in March, when it comes to rising car thefts, Canadian law enforcement has so far signalled that citizens are “on their own.” 

He was responding to Toronto police constable Marco Ricciardi’s controversial suggestion that drivers make their car keys available near the front doors of their homes, to avoid home invasions and violent confrontations.

“Suggesting that citizens simply give up and make it easier for car thieves to steal their property reads like an admission that the police have lost control over a dangerous and costly problem,” said Kempa.

Kempa added that there are a minuscule number of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) agents monitoring thousands of shipping containers passing through the Port of Montreal, the node through which many stolen cars are shipped.

“Even if police know a vehicle is in a particular port yard, it becomes a needle in a haystack. There is but a minute number of border agents literally working against the shipping clock to find it,” he wrote.

The Hub reached out to the Toronto Police Service to ask why criminal charges for car thefts have not kept pace with car thefts between 2021 and 2022.

“There has been a dramatic spike in auto thefts over the last several years, with over 3,990 vehicles stolen in Toronto so far in 2024. Around the clock, we have investigators aggressively working to address auto thefts in the city,” Toronto police media relations manager Stephanie Sayer said in an email. “Auto theft is among the top three revenue generators for organised crime groups, and it’s not an issue that police services can tackle alone.”

The federal government’s National Action Plan on Combatting Auto Theft was released this week. It focuses on “disrupting, dismantling and prosecuting the organised crime groups” responsible for these rising rates of car theft. 

To address the issue, the Action Plan seeks to amend the Criminal Code with tougher penalties for thefts tied to organised crime, money laundering, and youth involved in the theft who would otherwise face minimal jail time. There will also be new offences regarding the possession and distribution of electronic devices that assist with car theft, says the plan. 

The federal government wants to share more information between municipal, provincial, and national police services for criminal investigations, charges, and prosecutions. According to the Toronto Police Service, collaboration between Ontario’s police services resulted in the recovery of 15,000 stolen vehicles in 2023.

The CBSA has also been asked to enhance penalties around false reporting or failing to report export goods.