Posts Tagged ‘Charles Sousa’

Something borrowed, something blue.

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Watching the news conference events last week at Toronto’s Liberty Village, you could not help but note what a modern setting it would be for a wedding. This must have been just a rehearsal though as Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered their promises. They even had something borrowed to tell us and they both looked blue.

The premier and her treasurer were there to attempt to cool the rapidly rising prices in the real estate market in the Toronto area. They had a potpourri of solutions ranging from one borrowed from Vancouver and rent controls for income properties. What they did not have was realistic solutions for the Toronto area.

It hardly seemed to matter that the situation in Vancouver was quite different. With as many as 60,000 high-priced properties sitting vacant in the west coast city, these properties had become targets for vandalism and salvage. When a 15 per cent foreign-buyer tax was imposed by the province and the city increased real estate taxes for vacant homes, foreign buyers switched their interest to the Seattle market. And Vancouver is not sure how much home prices will go down, if at all.

The difference is that in Toronto foreign investors might be just under five per cent of the market and are hardly a major problem. The tax will unlikely earn much for the province. Nor would an additional city vacancy tax earn much for Toronto.

In all their plans, these politicians had no comment on the real estate flipping that is a constant headache in the Toronto market. Maybe there are fewer at current prices but the people who can buy cheap, put some lipstick on the property and then sell for a healthy profit are still a major cause of prices going up 33 per cent year over year.

While it would be difficult (and boring) to cover all 16 points of the Ontario government’s proposed program (that have yet to be passed in the Legislature). The only other important change will be the extended rental controls. These have now been extended to all rental properties in the area around Toronto.

These changes will limit landlords to a 2.5 per cent increase in rentals (which can be routinely applied every year). Owners will also be able to pass on the costs of major property improvements.

To allay the usual complaints that rent controls are a disincentive to developers, the province will be passing a number of tax incentives for developers and funding a $125 million worth of incentive payments. How long that will last, we do not know.

What probably makes the politicians blue is that they have caused havoc and confusion to the spring sales for about 45,000 real estate agents during their busiest season. They should have more political smarts.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The mad mathematics of Ontario’s Whigs.

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Maybe Ontario teachers were on strike back when little Kathleen Wynne and Charles Sousa were there to learn mathematics. It would be the only excuse for the utterly ridiculous decision of the Ontario government to sell part of Hydro One and not the Liquor Control Board stores. As children, our Premier and Finance Minister must have also missed being taught about the goose that laid golden eggs.

They have certainly laid an egg by suggesting that the province should sell 60 per cent of Hydro One. This part of Ontario Hydro does the distribution of electrical service throughout Ontario. Its pricing is entirely under the control of the provincial government and its agencies. It pays a reasonable dividend to the province of a controlled ten per cent into provincial coffers every year. By selling off 60 per cent of Hydro One you are giving up 60 per cent of that dividend and subjecting the board of Hydro One to constant pressure by the new shareholders to improve the profitability.

The point is Hydro One was never designed to be a stand-alone company. It is an integral part of the electrical services in the province. Since it is a monopoly, it only makes sense for it to remain a crown corporation.

Beer and booze are not integral to anything political except repressive control and lots of taxes. The difference is you can rent out this goose to lay some golden eggs for entrepreneurial retailers. The province still gets all the taxes. That is what makes selling the Liquor Control Board stores a brilliant move. The province can make more money from better distribution, convenience and better merchandising than it ever did before. And a smart sell-off of the LCBO stores can produce more than $9 billion in cash for other projects.

And we can also stand and admire the political wisdom of our sage leaders.

Sharing this wisdom with an old friend the other day, he said: “But I like the LCBO stores.” The good news for him is that in selling off the LCBO stores there will be many of them that stick with the old boring institutional style of selling booze. They will suit his comfort level.

For those of us excited by venturesome merchandising, weekly specials, special buys and case lots, there will be entrepreneurs out there to meet our needs. And convenience stores can provide the occasional six pack or that emergency bottle of bingo to go with our Kraft Dinner tonight.

Any Ontario resident who is satisfied with the how this government wants to retail alcoholic beverages is hardly likely to have any appreciation of good wines, single malt scotches or craft beers.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Two Tory budgets for the price of one.

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

It was Ontario’s turn this past week. How often do we get two Tory budgets at a time? On Tuesday, we had a laugh at federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s expense. And then, right on the heels, Thursday we had a budget redux from Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa. There was a new beer tax in Charles’ budget so he must be one of those tax-and-spend Liberals we hear about. Frankly, this liberal would not give you two cents for either budget.

Sousa betrayed Ontario Liberals when he agreed with Ed Clark of TD Bank to raise money on Hydro One—and on the backs of hydro users. Mind you Premier Wynne told Clark to do that and who complains when a banker does what he is told? What Wynne, Clark and Sousa failed to do was put beer in convenience stores where it would be more convenient for the purchaser. They also failed to sell off the Liquor Control Board that would have made much more money for the province than Hydro ever could.

But to follow on the federal budget’s long-term proposals, Sousa had his own ten-year plan for infrastructure. If it had been a 20-year plan, it could have been the most expensive ever. The only problem is that the voters are getting weary of the same-old, same-old promises. The Queen’s image on all those bills is fading badly.

In neither budget was there any help to get our young people working. Promises on the never-never plan are just not winners. What Joe Oliver and his friend Stephen Harper do not understand is that you need to have income to get benefits from tax credits and cuts. Now that Joe and Charles have told us what they are doing for the one per cent, maybe they can give some consideration to the rest of us.

And why the hell, would Charles Sousa decide that the only tax he wanted us to impose was on us beer drinkers? How much tax did he levy on himself and the rest of the Scotch drinkers? This is discriminatory and unfair and we still have to put up with those rotten, smelly, over-priced Beer Stores. Oh sure, now we can pick up a six pack along with the weekly groceries but who is going to take the time to go into a huge grocery store just to get a case of beer? It shows how little the Ontario Liberals know about merchandising.

What we have are two levels of government so out of touch with reality that they fail to pay attention to our real needs. They are offering us nothing but ideology in budgets that are supposed to be about the current tax year. Sure a ten-year plan helps the big plans but if it is vague enough, who knows what they are really doing?


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to