Archive | May, 2018

Both working-class and ‘elite’ voters favour Doug Ford in Ontario election, poll shows

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Doug Ford’s folksy appeal to “the people” and disdain for “the elites” may be winning him support in the June 7 election, but a new poll shows there is no class war in Ontario.

Both working-class and so-called “elite” voters favour Ford’s Progressive Conservatives over Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Andrea Horwath’s NDP, according to the poll by New Square, a non-profit initiative focused on probing the views of Ontario’s working class and how they differ from elites.

Both listed government mismanagement and health care as the most important election issues, according to the online poll of 1,000 English-speaking Ontarians conducted between May 10 and May 14.

Neither group is happy with the leadership choices. Almost half of respondents agreed “none of the leaders stand for me,” says the poll released Monday.

Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected to participate rather than on a random sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. However, of online polls of this size, the confidence interval is equivalent to 95 per cent.

Although the poll found no evidence of a war between the working class and higher earners in Ontario, deep poverty does appear to be a factor, as does where one lives.

“The results don’t show any support for Trump-style populism at this point,” said Heather Bastedo, New Square’s managing director. “The only caveat is that people in Ontario are hurting, and that’s something to watch.”

Housing, crime and jobs are the top three quality-of-life concerns for those living outside the Greater Toronto Area, where Ford and Horwath are ranked very close — at 16 per cent and 15 per cent respectively — among those with a preference, the poll shows. Wynne trails at 6 per cent.

But inside the GTA, where housing and transit are more important, Wynne is rated more favourably at 14 per cent, ranking second to Ford who leads with 18 per cent. Horwath runs third with 12 per cent in the GTA, the poll showed.

 “Everyone talks about the working class, and how populism could change things, but few, if any, have spoken to ordinary people to find out,” Bastedo said. “We wanted to amplify working-class voices and determine their influence in the coming provincial election.”

New Square defines a working-class person as having one of the following characteristics: a job that is physical; earning an hourly wage rather than a salary; an annual income of less than $35,000; unstable, part-time or precarious work; or dependent on government assistance, family or charity for support. Elites are defined as everyone else.

The survey of 500 working-class and 500 elite Ontarians asked a series of political, lifestyle and economic questions, and is an attempt to find out how Ontario’s working class differs from the elite and if that difference is driving voter choice in the election, she said.

“What we found was where you are living is likely to affect you. If you live outside the GTA you are likely to vote differently,” Bastedo said. “If you are working class, you’re not necessarily going to vote differently. But if you are (economically) hurting in that group, you are.”

Almost 90 per cent of those polled are concerned about the province’s rising cost of living, with nearly six out of 10 feeling the squeeze when it comes to the price of gas, groceries and electricity. Three out of 10 say they are struggling with almost everything while about 15 per cent listed just one economic concern and where therefore deemed to be unaffected by cost-of-living increases.

Those who are feeling the squeeze and have a political preference favour Ford and Horwath, while those who are struggling are most likely to support Ford. People unaffected by the cost of living prefer Wynne, according to the poll.

“There is no class war. The difference lies in what is motivating their political choices,” Bastedo said. “If you’re feeling the squeeze or struggling, your issues and choices will be different, and a lot of Ontario is feeling the squeeze.”

When it comes to party identification, both groups identify most strongly with the PCs, however more elites (26 per cent) than working class (22 per cent) identified as Tories. More elites (23 per cent) than working class (16 per cent) also identified with the Liberals. Slightly more working-class respondents (12 per cent) identified with the NDP than the elite (10 per cent), the poll shows.

Working-class respondents were the least likely to have a clear party affiliation with 21 per cent unsure versus 13 per cent of the elite.

“It is clear that with the greater number of working-class Ontarians unsure about their party choice, their final decisions could have a large impact on the results,” Bastedo said.


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Moody’s sounds ratings warning shot over Ontario budget

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

A major debt-rating agency is sounding the alarm on the Liberals’ big-spending pre-election budget.

Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook on the province of Ontario’s ratings from “stable” to “negative” in the wake of Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s March 28 spending plan, which featured a $6.7-billion deficit.

While not a credit downgrade to Ontario’s “Aa2” rating, it is a warning shot.

 “The outlook change to negative from stable on Ontario’s ratings reflects Moody’s expectations that spending pressure will challenge the province’s ability to sustain balanced fiscal results across multiple years,” the agency said in a news release.

“Furthermore. Moody’s assumes that the financing requirements will be larger than previously assumed, leading to an upward trend in the debt burden and a faster rise in interest expense than previously anticipated,” it said.

“With an election set for 7 June, the government released a 2018 budget that introduces a number of new spending initiatives and materially increases the capital infrastructure spending relative to previous plans. While this budget may not be implemented post-election, in Moody’s opinion, it highlights growing spending pressure that will need to be addressed in the near future.”

The rating service warned that “downward pressure on revenue generation would be amplified if the province were to face unexpected negative economic shocks.”

Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli said there are grave risks from spilling so much red ink.

“Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals broke their promise to run a balanced budget for years to come, and are plunging Ontario into years of deficits,” said Fedeli (Nipissing).

“The Wynne Liberals are trying to buy the people of Ontario with their own money, and they need to realize there are consequences to their actions,” he said.

“Interest on our debt is already crowding out the services we all depend on like our schools, our hospitals and our roads. Ontario cannot afford a change in our credit rating.”

Wynne, for her part, emphasized that “the ratings agency maintained, confirmed, our rating.”

“It’s not a credit downgrade; it’s a forecast,” the premier said, noting “our economy is growing.”

“We are leading economic growth in the country; we’re outstripping the growth in the United States and … our unemployment level is the lowest that it’s been in 20 years,” she said.

“So those are really good indicators of a healthy economy, but, at the same time, not everyone’s feeling that. Not everyone’s feeling the benefit of that, and, so, my responsibility is to look at that and say ‘okay, what is it that people need at this moment?’ And what we hear from people around the province is that investment in them is what’s needed.”

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Why you’re paying more at the gas pump

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

With the average price of gas hovering around $1.30 per litre in Toronto on Monday — up from $1.07 a litre at this time last year — motorists are bracing for a summer of pain at the pumps.

Drivers are paying a higher price when they fill up because the price of the benchmark West Texas crude oil is up more than $22 (U.S.) per barrel year over year.

That surge has stoked fears that gas prices during the peak driving season may flirt with Canada’s all-time average high of $1.42 (Canadian) set in late 2008, when crude prices reached more than $147 (U.S.) per barrel.

On Monday, traders pushed the June futures contracts for the U.S. benchmark to $70.73 (U.S.) a barrel — its highest price since late 2014.

Prices at the pump here are soaring for a number of reasons, largely because of what’s happening beyond our borders.

First, U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will decide this month whether to extend sanction waivers negotiated as part of the 2015 deal that freed Iran to export oil in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

Though he’d originally set May 12 as the deadline, Trump in a surprise tweet Monday said he will announce a “decision” on the deal Tuesday.

If he does pull out of the Iran deal, the expectations are that the U.S. will reimpose sanctions on the Middle East oil giant. Such a move would cut global crude supply, pushing prices higher.

According to some analysts, reimposing sanctions on Iran could reduce the country’s oil sales by 300,000 to 600,000 barrels a day, or perhaps as much as 1 million barrels a day.

Trump has signaled he will pull out of the agreement unless it is revised, but he faces intense pressure from allies to remain, though with tougher terms for Iran.

Another factor is the near collapse of Venezuelan oil production. If ConocoPhillips is able to enforce an arbitration award against Venezuela’s state-run oil company, it would further reduce the company’s already diminished output.

That threat of a reduction in supply coincides with production cuts by OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, that have helped reduce a glut that was depressing prices. The OPEC deal was reached in 2016 and began to take effect last year.

However, there may be a glimmer of hope for motorists.

Analysts note the possible political fallout for Trump as mid-term U.S. elections approach should high crude prices crimp consumer spending and economic growth. The average price of regular gasoline in the U.S. rose 7 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $2.90 on higher crude costs and the phasing-in of summer-grade gasoline used to curb air pollution.

There is also the question of whether shale oil drillers will pump up production to reap the benefits of the high crude prices or if they will exert the market discipline needed to protect current price levels.

“It’s been a tug of war,” between growth in U.S. shale output and OPEC supply restraint, said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst, Canada, at gas price tracker GasBuddy.

He suggests that the global oil supply is now largely in sync with demand following the OPEC production cuts, but political tensions are enough to sustain crude and pump prices at current levels in the short term.

McTeague also said that the pump price could rise above $1.40 cents per litre in Canada “on occasion” this summer if unexpected crude supply disruptions materialize.

But he also added that the oil price is more likely to correct in coming weeks — and pump prices could fall significantly — if Trump does not abandon the Iran deal.

“The overhang from years of oversupply by OPEC may still remain for the balance of the decade,” he wrote in a blog post.

An anomaly observers have noted is that the price of oil appears to have been decoupled from the value of the Canadian dollar, long considered a petro currency. Despite the run-up in oil prices, the loonie barely budged over the past two sessions. On Monday, the Canadian dollar was trading at 77.47 (U.S.), down 0.01 of a U.S. cent.

McTeague said the separation is mostly due to the price discount on diluted bitumen which makes up about 60 per cent of Canadian oil output, versus the much higher price for refined light crude.

That means the Canadian economy is not enjoying full benefits of West Texas and North Sea Brent crude price gains. The bitumen/refined crude price gap has widened this year on factors including carbon taxes and delays in oil pipeline expansion.

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Doug Ford will Cut Gas Taxes by Ten Cents Per Litre

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Predicts a Liberal/NDP carbon tax agenda that would see prices at the pump soar to $2.00/litre!

Oakville — Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford today announced that an Ontario PC Government will cut the price of gas by ten cents per litre. These savings will be achieved by eliminating the Liberal/NDP cap-and-trade scheme, reducing Ontario’s provincial fuel tax, and stopping the Liberal/NDP carbon tax.

“These are real savings that will lower the cost of filling-up your car and leave more money in your pocket, while at the same time supporting families and businesses by keeping the costs of goods and services low,” said Ford. “Ours is the only Party that understands that gas is an absolute necessity that not only gets people around, but also fuels our economy.”

High gas prices have been shown to have negative impacts on the economy, increasing the cost of transporting everyday items such as food products families buy at the grocery store, as well as increasing costs on other goods and services. Lower income individuals and families tend to be negatively affected the most by rising gas prices as they have less money to spend on other necessities, and often go further into debt as a result.

Ford highlighted how Kathleen Wynne’s cap-and-trade scheme, supported by Andrea Horwath’s NDP, is already adding 4.3 cents per litre at the pump. He also highlighted that the cap-and-trade price-tag is projected to grow by an additional 428 per cent which, on its own, will add 23 cents per litre to the price Ontario drivers pay for gas.

“For an average driver, that’s an additional $500 a year for gas alone — just to pay for Wynne’s cap-and-trade scheme,” said Ford. “If you need to drive a car to get to work, to school, or to pick up your kids from daycare, the Liberals and the NDP will have their hands in your pocket every time you fill up your car.”

Ford highlighted that the Liberals and NDP are following the example of British Columbia, which was the first jurisdiction in Canada to impose a carbon tax, and where gas prices have already soared to $1.61 per litre – the highest price ever paid by drivers anywhere in North America.

“Make no mistake, one of the biggest things the Liberals and NDP agree on is imposing new tax-grabbing schemes on Ontario families and businesses,” said Ford. “The Ontario PC Party is the only Party who can stop the Liberals and NDPs plans to soar gas prices to $2.00 per litre,” concluded Ford.


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Ontario is most at risk in Great Lakes region to NAFTA disruptions, BMO reports

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Ontario is most at risk among economies in the Great Lakes region to any NAFTA trade disruption as the Canadian province relies on U.S. exports for a quarter of its output, according to a report from Bank of Montreal.

“Its economy is arguably the most integrated with the U.S. through well-established supply chains,” said the report by Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at the bank.

Quebec by contrast has only about 11 per cent of its economy tied to U.S. exports, given its diverse shipments to regions such as Europe, according to the report presented Friday at the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Montreal. U.S. states in the Great Lakes region have much less to lose from the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, with areas such as Michigan relying on Canada and Mexico for about 7 per cent of gross domestic product.

The $6-trillion economy in the Great Lakes area will expand 2.2 per cent this year, up from 2 per cent in 2017, according to the report. That will top growth for Canada alone, which is pegged at 2 per cent. Michigan will have the fastest growth for the region, at 3 per cent, followed by Indiana at 2.6 per cent.

The Great Lakes area accounts for 30 per cent of the combined Canada-U.S. labour force and economic activity, and would be the third-largest economy in the world if it were a country, trailing only the U.S. and China, according to the report

“Uncertainty on the trade front is currently the biggest concern” for the region, according to the BMO report.

Senior trade officials from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are scheduled to resume talks in Washington on May 7 in a bid to reach a deal on a revamped NAFTA.

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Andrea Horwath Offers No Details on Child Care Costs

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Families Need to Know How Much They Would Pay

 (TORONTO)—Andrea Horwath’s child care plan is full of holes, while providing no answers for families earning more than $40,000 about how much they’ll be expected to pay for the NDP proposal.

The NDP says those middle class families would pay an average of $12 a day, on a sliding scale, depending on how much they earn. But when pressed for specifics on who will pay what, Andrea Horwath had no answer and couldn’t say if there would be a ceiling on costs.

Andrea Horwath openly admits that with her sliding scale approach, many families will get no help at all covering the cost of child care. She says she wants to help working families, but isn’t accounting for the fact that, particularly in urban areas, even middle class families are struggling to afford the high cost of child care.

Even more troubling is the NDP promise to ignore for-profit child care, removing thousands of spaces families currently rely on and making it impossible to create the number of new spaces they’d need to make their plan work.

The NDP plan also has no details about how they would pay for the 202,000 not-for-profit child care spaces or how they would build the necessary workforce. Yet again, the NDP platform falls short on identifying how they intend to pay for their promises.

Dr. Gordon Cleveland, respected academic and child care expert, said “the NDP plan is generous but completely unrealistic”.

“Andrea Horwath’s plan leaves some families out and leaves others on long wait lists. It would do nothing to make child care more accessible or affordable for families,” says Liberal candidate for Milton Indira Naidoo-Harris. “The NDP plan is irresponsible, making promises to families they can’t keep.”


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Real estate association says it won’t target individual candidates in pre-election campaign

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) says it has no plans to back away from its campaign promoting home ownership to parties and candidates in the upcoming provincial election.

But OREA won’t be moving ahead with billboards supporting or criticizing individual political candidates, a spokesperson said Monday.

That clarification comes in the wake of reports of industry squabbling between OREA and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). On Sunday, The Canadian Press reported that TREB president Tim Syrianos sent OREA a letter telling it to step back from a “misguided and ill-advised” campaign that could negatively affect Toronto-area realtors by highlighting the home affordability challenges in the region, which has had a slow start in some areas this year.

The campaign called “Keep the Dream Alive” urges politicians to help make home ownership affordable to millennials. “Rising home prices have pushed home ownership out of reach,” says the material on the association’s website.

Syrianos also suggested that endorsing or undermining certain politicians violated OREA’s mission to promote policies rather than people.

Targeted billboard advertising was only “one element of an election plan” OREA circulated to its board, of which Syrianos is a member, said Matthew Thornton, association vice-president of public affairs.

“Our board decided not to move forward with the program. It was a pilot initiative they were considering, and upon further review they decided not to move forward,” he said.

That decision was made before Syrianos’s letter leaked to the press, he said.

In it, the Toronto board president warned OREA against trying “to supplant TREB and overtake our expertise and well-respected voice.”

Syrianos also objected to OREA’s plan to use an “Ontario Realtor Party” as part of its campaign. The Ontario Realtor Party is the profession’s voice promoting the dream of home ownership and protecting the real estate profession, according to the association’s website.

TREB refused Monday to comment on the letter. It referred to a previous joint statement with OREA saying that “the letter is not reflective of the long-standing and positive relationship between OREA and TREB who jointly remain committed to helping create a new generation of homeowners.”

OREA represents 39 Ontario real estate boards, but about 50,000 of its 70,000 members belong to the Toronto board.

Thornton stressed that political campaigns aren’t new to OREA. He said the association successfully lobbied the province against allowing municipalities outside Toronto to levy their own land transfer tax.

The “Keep the Dream Live” campaign will move into a second phase in September through November, he said.

“It’s an opportunity for us to continue to promote this message that young people are struggling to afford a home, and policy-makers need to take this issue seriously,” said Thornton.

OREA CEO Tim Hudak is the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party. Last year, OREA lost its main function and key revenue source as the training provider for new realtors in the province, and it announced it would rebrand itself as the voice of the real estate industry and an advocate for home ownership.

The internal strife is typical of industry associations that have different tentacles or sometimes local, provincial and national arms, said James McKeller at the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“It’s hard to figure out the motives of both of these organizations. They pretend they’re representing the public, but they’ve never given any evidence of that in the past,” he said.

Meantime, Bosley real estate agent David Fleming said he would be happier if TREB represented the interests of active agents, rather than the 50,000, who are licensed to practice, many of whom help transact one or fewer sales each year. But the board is dependent on its large membership for revenue.

Meantime, he said, OREA is “trying to figure out what is our purpose and they don’t even really know.”


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Priyanka Chopra arrives at Prince Harry-Meghan Markle’s wedding in style

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Among 600 guests, our desi girl Priyanka Chopra was one to attend Prince Harry-Meghan Markle’s wedding. Priyanka looked drop dead gorgeous in a lavender Vivienne Westwood skirt and blazer combo teamed with a classy hat. Priyanka Chopra and Meghan Markle are good friends and that she got invitation for the royal wedding was revealed by Piggy Chops months ago.

The actress also once confirmed in an interview that she is not a bridesmaid in Harry and Meghan’s May 19 wedding.

Priyanka Chopra said, “I’m super excited about her and her big day,” Chopra, 35, said of her close friend. “It’s not just going to be life-changing for both of them, it’s life-changing for the world that needs to see strong women as icons, and I think Meghan has the potential to be that.”

Britain’s Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle got married at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England.

Oprah Winfrey, Victoria and David Beckham, George and Amal Clooney, Idris Elba and singer James Blunt were among the other guests.

Talking about the bride, Meghan looked gorgeous as a bride as she headed towards the Chapel.

Priyanka and Meghan are good friends for a very long time. While talking about her friend’s wedding, Pee Cee had said, ““This ever-smiling, strong free spirit found her prince, fell in love and in turn made a cynical world believe in fairy tales again. But more than anything else, Meghan is an important influencer in a world that needs strong public figures to respect and look up to. People the world can be inspired by. Meghan, standing shoulder to shoulder with Harry, will be a princess for the people.”

The newlyweds sealed their relationship with a passionate kiss.


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Married couple Sonam Kapoor, Anand Ahuja to settle down in London

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Grapevine strongly buzzed that Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja will settle down in London. The actress, who has many movies lined up for filming would be shuffling Delhi, Mumbai and London.

The ‘Neerja’ actress has cleared the air in an interview to Mid-Day and said, “I have been shuttling between Mumbai and London for the past two years. It seems no one noticed this so far. My life isn’t going to change much; what has been happening for the past two years will continue.”

Sonam, who has just returned from Cannes film festival has changed her surname to Sonam Kapoor. Regarding changing her surname, the newly married actress said, “Just changing my name doesn’t make me any less of a feminist. Kapoor is also my father’s name, a man’s name. I wanted to keep both my identities. It was my personal choice. Somebody judging me for my choice is like challenging what feminism stands for.”

Not only Sonam but Anand also changed his name post marriage and netizens are highly impressed with his latest move. He is now known as Anand S Ahuja.

When the actress was asked how life changed after marriage, she answered, “Life remains the same after tying the knot. Women need to stop thinking that marriage is life-altering. If it doesn’t change a man’s life, why should it change anything for a woman?”

The actress who has two films in the pipeline ‘The Zoya Factor’ with Dulquer Salman and ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ with daddy Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao and moreover, gearing up for the release of ‘Veere Di Wedding’.


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Dia Mirza, Ranbir, Karan Johar, Shahid Kapoor announce 19th IIFA

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

The 19th IIFA is going to kick-start and Bollywood stars Shahid Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Kartik Aaryan and Dia Mirza along with filmmaker Karan Johar arrived in the capital to announce the 19th edition of IIFA. This year, the award show will take place from June 22-June 24 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Filmmaker Karan Johar, whose association with IIFA dates back to the year 2000 said, “IIFA is much more than an award ceremony. It has now been entrenched in the DNA of our film fraternity. It goes beyond being just a ceremony of entertainment. It’s industry award that awards excellence on every platform. Also, it’s like an industry holiday. Everyone comes together as a true bonafide film fraternity.”

Talking further about it, he added, “It’s an emotional journey for me. I remember my father (Yash Johar) being the part of the first advisory board of IIFA. He sat diligently in an old school way trying to seat movie stars so that they would get the right placement. From then to the year 2004 when he was awarded the lifetime achievement award, that particular IIFA in Singapore will remain special to me forever. It is that IIFA that I search for on YouTube and listen to the speech I gave for my father. Its that image of me hugging my father that beautifully lies in my memory as that was the last time I hugged him on a public platform.”

This year, the IIFA award ceremony will be hosted by Karan along with Riteish Deshmukh. Divulging details about what can be expected from the lavish event this year, Karan said, “This year we have a very rare appearance of Ranbir Kapoor who last performed in IIFA Bangkok 10 years ago. We have a debutant Kartik Aaryan who has delivered a 100-crore movie and will be hosting the IIFA Rocks event. Just like me, there is glamorous Dia Mirza. Then there is Shahid Kapoor who has been a friend of IIFA and he has been a solid support.”

Ranbir Kapoor will be performing this year at IIFA and the actor chose not to divulge any details. Instead, he said, “I am very nervous when I dance for the live audience as there are no retakes or cuts.” When asked if he gets irritated when someone doesn’t get his or her steps right during the rehearsals, Ranbir very calmly added, “No, when I am rehearsing it’s not only like I am rehearsing for myself. This rehearsal time is also fun time as we discover new steps.” Jokingly, he added, “I rehearse in the hotel room while having a shower, sitting on the pot, eating dinner, I always keep memorising the steps.”

Later in the conference, Karan also mentioned that Salman Khan is the best host. On being asked who hosts the best after parties, Karan revealed, “It’s always Salman Khan, who has the best after parties. He is definitely the man who brings everyone together in one room. So every time there’s IIFA and Salman is there, there’s always a big after party in his room.”

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