52

The promptitude of your gratitude


 

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities thanks the Conservatives for promising nearly $2 billion for housing and homelessness. Small problem: the Conservatives haven’t promised it yet. This is how a well-oiled campaign rolls….

Subject: Statement by FCM President on Conservatives’ $1.9 billion commitment to national housing and homelessness programs

Statement by FCM President on Conservatives’ $1.9 billion commitment to national housing and homelessness programs

Source: Canada NewsWire

Sep 17, 2008 19:33

News release via Canada NewsWire, Toronto 416-863-9350

Attention News Editors

OTTAWA, Sept. 17 /CNW Telbec/ – The following is a statement from FCM President Jean Perrault, Mayor of Sherbrooke, on the Conservative Party’s commitment of more than $1.9 billion in funding over five years in support of housing and homelessness programs throughout Canada.

“Today’s campaign promise of more than $1.9 billion for housing and homelessness programs is a clear, positive and timely response to Canada’s homelessness epidemic and the growing need for more affordable shelter. This announcement demonstrates strong leadership on an issue that touches Canadians literally where they live.

In January, 2008 FCM released its National Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness. At that time we called on the Government of Canada to lead a plan to eliminate homelessness within a decade, and, as a first step, extend vital federal housing programs beyond their planned expiry in March 2009. When implemented, today’s commitment would extend those programs and lay the ground work for a long-term strategy to confront homelessness.

We are further encouraged by the Conservative Party’s commitment to work with other governments and communities “to implement concrete, long-term solutions to these challenging issues.” This co-operative spirit will help ensure that today’s funding commitments not only meet immediate needs, but contribute to lasting solutions.

Municipal governments fund, manage or support many of Canada’s homeless shelters and much of the country’s public housing stock. Federal funding support not only helps local governments perform these roles, but eases the burden placed on police, emergency and social services when housing and homelessness programs are underfunded.

Along with investments required in infrastructure, public transit, policing, and rural and northern sustainability, the growing need for affordable housing is an issue that is simply too costly, and too important, for local property taxpayers to fund alone. Not only is today’s commitment a response to one of the most fundamental needs of the citizens we serve – it is a step toward stronger, more sustainable cities and communities.

We encourage all parties to contribute to the public discussion on housing and homelessness, and outline plans to invest in the places Canadians call home.”

The announcements every day of these opposition parties are mind-bogglingbillions and billions of dollars every single day.”

— Stephen Harper


 

The promptitude of your gratitude

  1. This would be a very clever tactic on the part of the FCM, if the Tories had in fact no plans to fund homelessness initiatives. They couldn’t really deny it, or they’d look like they were second-guessing themselves.

    Seriously, though, what a tough place I’m in, Average Voter that I am. On the one hand I want to help the homeless, etc.; on the other hand I don’t want to see the Gov’t tossing billions this way and that. Election promises depress me.

  2. I’m with Jack Mitchell on this one. I think the FCM is pulling Harper’s chain, or if you prefer, tugging at his vest.

  3. On the contrary. I bet they had it all planned for an announcement but with the Liberal spending plans, the campaign took a different tack and focused on that. So they couldn’t very well attack the Liberals and then announce $2B in spending in a provincial jurisdictional matter no less. So they can the announcement but forget to tell the FCM or the FCM decided to go ahead anyway.

  4. Jack, would it make it any better for you to realize that a large part of this money is simply not being yanked out from under the social housing we have now?

    “as a first step, extend vital federal housing programs beyond their planned expiry in March 2009.”

    I don’t know how much of the 1.9 billion this accounts for, but I for one am heaving a big sigh of relief. Or, I guess I will once they actually announce this.

    I live in social housing, although I’m not subsidized (and if you didn’t know, that’s how it works. It blends market rent tenants and subsidized tenants together, presumably to prevent slums. And it seems to work at least in my complex. And so give Jack Layton and Olivia Chow a break.)

    The place would have had to be sold, I imagine. I can’t see my regional government having the funds to keep many of these social housing projects afloat.

    But I don’t see how our Federal government can afford the billions and billions of promises in the last two weeks, either.

  5. Good point about the extension, Jenn. Very much in favour of social housing, myself.

    In general I guess it makes sense to save one’s big spending announcements (not incl. this one) for a campaign, but perhaps like you I get this queasy feeling that they haven’t been thought through very carefully beforehand (as one might do for a real budget).

  6. Help, please, fellow irregulars. I’m having trouble finding “social housing” under the federal powers enumerated in the Constitution. Or, for that matter, anything to do with “run-of-the-mill municipal stuff.” I have no doubt someone will come through to relieve me of my ignorance, for which I humbly offer my gratitude in advance. Which, it seems, was the point of Paul’s post.

  7. madeyoulook, unallocated powers go to the federal government.

  8. Sure, Jack, but I am almost certain municipal issues are explicitly the province of the, well, provinces.

  9. Heh, I bet you’re right, madeyoulook, but that’s not the position of the municipalities!

  10. Of course not. Any lower level of government will be only too pleased to suck taxpayer $$$ from a higher level of government. It saves them the political responsibility of responsible stewardship of raising it themselves. Of course, to be fair, the provincial government in most places severely starves the tax-raising abilities of the municipalities, mostly I suspect to allow the premier and prov ministers and MLAs/MPPs/MNAs to show up for the ribbon-cutting nonsense. So lower governments go on burning through other governments’ money. Somebody once said there’s only one taxpayer…

  11. It’s a shame the Fathers of Confederation didn’t realise how urbanised we were going to get. It would be nice to give the major urban centres taxing autonomy, but of course the hinterland would hate that since they mooch off urban taxpayers. Which, I think, is why provincial governments can’t deal with things like homelessness. Given the unsatisfactory constitutional situation, however, isn’t federal funding at least a tolerable stop-gap strategy?

  12. isn’t federal funding at least a tolerable stop-gap strategy?

    Well, if you like provincial governments whining and b!tching about federal intrusion, all the while failing to do their own job, I guess it’s a splendid continuation of the state of governance in Canada.

    You will no doubt conclude that I am not-so-much a fan…

  13. I’m with you in principle, madeyoulook. I hate all this fed-prov bickering, the culture of regional grievance, etc. You know, Dion is the guy who really believes in maintaining BNA Act divisions of powers, at least in the abstract; but today’s big higher education announcement is a bit suspect from that POV.

    Clarity, dude. I want clarity.

    But in the short term I don’t see Ontario or BC doing anything real about homelessness, and somebody does have to do something.

  14. Agree with you on Dion. I recall reports that he was the strongest defender of provincial authority at the Chretien cabinet table. He even pushed it a bit far for my division of powers taste, when he called Quebec’s language legislation, notwithstanding clause and all, a “great Canadian law.”

    And I think the feds stay above the fray when they deal with research funding and direct payments to students, and away from the nitty-gritty education issues that belong to the provinces. Although, if higher education is such a winner for the students, they can invest a little more mightily in their own future prosperity by borrowing to pay tuition rather than feeling entitled to their entitlements. But, dear me, there I go again on my right-wing tangent.

    Your cited provinces, and no doubt others, will continue to do nothing if the feds keep swooping in with some sort of monopoly on a so-called solution. I think you will agree with most observers that homelessness is not a roof-and-mattresses shelter problem, it is mostly a mental health problem. And the provincial health systems deserve a MAJOR slap upside the head for how that’s been handled.

  15. Couldn’t agree more about the complete failure to deal with mental health issues. Every day in Toronto I pass a dozen people who, by any sane (as it were) definition, should be in-patients.

    You are probably right about the vicious cycle of federal intervention and provincial apathy, too. Damn.

    But I think the homelessness problem itself is not just mental health at all. A large proportion of the homeless population – invisible to us – is single mothers and their families, or whole families. For them it really is a question of beds & mattresses and having somewhere to go while they figure out how to turn the corner.

  16. Help, please, fellow irregulars. I’m having trouble finding “social housing” under the federal powers enumerated in the Constitution.

    The Constitution? That old thing? Nobody reads that anymore. Unless it’s the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians just can’t get too interested.

  17. If macleans.ca could possibly tolerate this degree of agreement between JM and MYL without the foundation crumbling…

    I am with you on the single mothers and poor families, often single-parent, also suffering from homelessness, or probably more appropriately called serial miserable-addresses. Although I would add that there is a major mental health issue going on that created the single-parent struggling family (addiction of many stripes, domestic violence, zero-responsible parent abdication, depression, mana, psychosis…). But how anybody feels that a federal government in Ottawa is supposed to have the answers, or that it should just pay out willy-nilly to the municipalities and cross fingers as to results, well…

  18. I agree (again, wtf?) that willy-nilly is bad, but I don’t think it quite applies in this case. The Feds are focusing on Homelessness Partnering with other authorities, including the Homelessness Parnership Initiative. Given the tangled constitutional situation, this sort of approach strikes me as fruitful.

  19. Yep, that’s precisely what has me worried. The feds must have trademarked “partnership” and “various stakeholders,” which often, sadly, ends up meaning “bringing enough people together to get nothing done.”

    Forgive me, my cynicism comes from years of observation.

  20. So what is the structural problem that prevents cities from dealing with city issues (or provincial governments from funding the cities)? Overrepresentation of rural ridings provincially? It doesn’t seem to stop the federal parties from promising money to cities (well, at least it hasn’t stopped the Greens from doing so).

    I do honestly wish I could believe that if the federal government butted out, the provinces would butt in, but in terms of competence my own observation, FWIW, is that the provinces are more incompetent and, usually, more frightened of the hinterland.

  21. Jack, and the rest of the conservative boosters here, let’s be clear. Harper has laid upon himself the mantle of protector of provincial jurisdiction. He blasted Dion for sowing the seeds of Quebec separatism with his tax shift which apparently intrudes on provincial jurisdiction.

    But it’s ok when Big Daddy intrudes on provincial jurisdiction to give support to municipalities?

    And regarding post-secondary support, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have plans to provide support to students. I’m not really sure giving individuals money/tax credits infringes on provincial jurisdiction.

  22. “I do honestly wish I could believe that if the federal government butted out, the provinces would butt in, but in terms of competence my own observation, FWIW, is that the provinces are more incompetent and, usually, more frightened of the hinterland.”

    Wow, a conservative arguing for a bigger, more powerful Ottawa?

  23. I will not claim it is the only problem, but a major problem is indeed a fiscal imbalance. The feds have a lot of taxation authority, but when you parse down what it is they are s’posed to do (defend the borders, deliver the mail…), Ottawa is awash in cash (annual operations – wise, I fully recognize Trudeau and others left us a gift that keeps on giving…). So the provinces come calling, with various degrees of “don’t tax so much, we need the room to raise tax revenues ourselves” and “pay us billions but don’t you dare tell us how to spend it” and “sure we found oil, but equalization means we need to be more equal than others.” So the provinces are awash in cash. Then the municipalities, who actually do a lot of the expensive dirty work (garbage, sewage, drinking water, police, fire, building permits, street paving, recreation facilities, social housing), and who are actually the most revenue-starved of the levels of government, have to go begging to whichever capital has a sugar daddy.

    It’s all nuts.

  24. Yes. But Harper is stepping on provincial toes. Which he said he would not, should not do. Has decried it for years even.

    Except when he needs votes?

  25. Andrew, that’s the sad thing about all politics being local. I wonder how much foreign policy and enforcement of a common market gets discussed at candidates’ debates in all the ridings. My guess, based on the few I have been to: zip.

    Even the PM debates. Mulroney and Turner had at each other over free trade with the USA. Magnificent! Something that belongs to the feds! Stockwell Day was compelled to hold up a “no two-tier health care sign.” Sigh. And on and on. Biggest issues over several federal elections? Health care and education. To repeat: it’s nuts.

    And I think Jack Mitchell would get a bit of a chuckle for being accused of the crime of being a conservative, Andrew. I’d call him more of a surely-there’s-an-answer-somewhere-so-we-must-do-something pragmatist. And yes, I meant that as a compliment. I disagree with that approach sometimes, but I respect it.

  26. Ultimately, I agree that the solution is probably in provincial governments managing social housing. Municipalities can’t afford it. And if one does a good job, it will be deluged by residents of the cities that do a poor job.

    This isn’t to say I’m terribly opposed to federal involvement in social housing, though frequently it is used as a vehicle for political leverage through strings. What I am struck by is the startling internal inconsistency of the Harper campaign regarding federal involvement in provincial jurisdiction. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

  27. “Jack, and the rest of the conservative boosters here, let’s be clear…”

    Yes! I’ve been called a lib, a Green, and a Conservative in one day! Whoo-hoo, I’m really keeping the flame alive.

    It really is funny, I have to say, how stupidly partisan many of the comments on these blogs are. Funny because knee-jerk partisanship is not something I ever associated with Canadian politics. (This is my first year back after 6 years in the States.) We’d all be Democrats down there (well, kody wouldn’t be), so the name-calling just seems artificial.

    Anyway, Andrew, thanks for making my day!

  28. As implied here, division of responsibility – provincial, federal, municipal – is inappropriate to present day realities. Many on the right argue that bureaucracies are wasteful and doubtless they can be. Their solution is to starve the underpinnings of good government. Witness the fiasco unleashed in the markets through deficient regulation. I would argue it is our system – not bureaucrats or politicians by themselves – that inevitably leads to waste of effort. Bureaucrats set to work in one direction, only to be steered in another one at the drop of a hat (or a writ) owing to the short tenure of their political masters. Likewise, longer range political initiatives fail to take hold, and we’re subjected to incremental, often over-budget, wasteful and ineffectual “baby steps” like the gun registry for example. And combining these structural defects multiplies the inefficiencies. Unfortunately, real political reform is stifled by political self-interest on all sides. Oh for the political courage to set in motion the changes we need. It will probably take a catastrophe to motivate real change – a Great Depression perhaps?

  29. Hey Paul If we are being snarky this morning, I think your post could use an update as the links provided by Kevin and JK show the announcement was made while you were busy editing film.

  30. Paul,

    As someone who’s been studying housing and homelessness expenditures all summer, I can tell you that this mostly represents the renewal of the federal government’s housing programs (set to expire in March 2009) at exactly the same costs. The HPS and RRAP hhave been funded at their current costs since 1999 (the HPS was then called the National Homelessness Initiative). The AHI was an eight-year, $2 billion cost-shared agreement with the provinces and territories to build more social housing ($1 billion from feds, matched by the provinces), so this extends it for another five years.

    In fact, what this actually represents is a decline in housing expenditures, since the Tories brought in the $1.4 billion Affordable Housing Trusts in 2006, allocated proportionally to the provinces. These trusts were put into a pot to be spent on housing, and allocated over a 3-year period. It was not renewed. So I hardly think that this can be deemed reckless spending on the part of the federal government.

    And for those of you interested in the jurisdictional issues surrounding housing and homelessness (small plug), the Canada West Foundation will be releasing a report next week detailing just that.

  31. Nothing like an election to show how poorly Canadians are served by their media.

  32. Actually, if you head on over to my blog, JK/JWL, you’ll see that it’s not quite that simple. The announcement was, in fact, made, but to a select group of local reporters. The release announcing the funding was printed on John Baird’s Conservative party letterhead, which is probably why it was mistaken by the FCM as a “campaign promise.” But according to the minister who made it, it was actually a government announcement.

  33. Kady I could carless about your excuse.

    Bottom line I woke up read this came here and Paul said the annoucment never happen, that is factualy wrong.

    Second I could careless if it was only a select group of repoters. But thanks for the spin.

  34. JK, I hope you find your vehicle soon; there’s nothing worse than going carless! In the meantime, I really think that if you check out my post, you’ll see that this is hardly a case of carelessness by Wells, or myself. It was, to put it mildly, an unusual way of making a $2 billion announcement.

  35. JK appears to be trying to out-Kody Kody.

  36. Kady I did read your post, It’s just spin to me. “They did not call us” “it was on Bairds letterhead” give me a break, those are excuses.

    But thanks for the spell check.

    John K

    I am not trying to out do anyone. I went to http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/ this morning like I always do. Read that story then finally made my way here and wells posted that somthing I read never happened.

    I said it did happen, I don’t care that they did not call Wells or Kady that’s just spin and excuses.

    That’s all I am saying.

  37. When you say “they”, who, exactly, are you talking about, out of curiosity, JK? The department making the announcement? Because they didn’t call *anyone*. Or do you think it’s okay for a Conservative candidate to pick and choose media to alert to a government spending announcement, and use his political – not ministerial, political – campaign letterhead to issue the release? Do you really, cross your heart and pretend the positions are reversed and this was a Liberal government that did this, think that’s okay?

  38. “When you say “they”, who, exactly, are you talking about, out of curiosity, JK? ”

    The CPC.

    “Or do you think it’s okay for a Conservative candidate to pick and choose media to alert to a government spending announcement,”

    I don’t care who the CPC alerts in the Media. It is 2008 it will hit the net, Sorry just b/c you feel bad b/c the CPC did not call you up is not my problem.

    “and use his political – not ministerial, political – campaign letterhead to issue the release”

    NO!!! ok you win this just changes everything I will take a big gulp of the Kady juice and try to manufature some outrage over that…..

    “Do you really, cross your heart and pretend the positions are reversed and this was a Liberal government that did this, think that’s okay?”

    Ha,ha,ha I am getting dizzy from the spin…

    First it was not the liberal party and second I would not care. Just like I did not care about this annoucement. I am just pointing out that Paul said the CPC did not annouce this, when the CPC did.

  39. JK, did you not realize this was a government announcement? As in, the Government of Canada? Not the Conservative Party? I think you’ve missed a critical aspect of the story here.

  40. For the record, the Conservative Party War Room has been nothing if not efficient at getting its announcements out to me, Wells, and everyone else on the mailing list.

  41. “JK, did you not realize this was a government announcement? As in, the Government of Canada? Not the Conservative Party? I think you’ve missed a critical aspect of the story here.”

    Yes I did, but it is easier to type CPC. But I will for now on say government, if that makes you happy. So sorry for that you are correct I am wrong, not the CPC, the Government…Check I got that..

    So to clarify.. I don’t care who the GOVERNMENT alerts in the media it will still hit the net…

    The government not calling you is a YP not an MP. Sorry I just don’t care who the GOVERNMENT alerts in the media. That has more to do with journalist ego’s then me.

    But I do get the premise of what you are saying the GOVERNMENT did not alert Paul or you, so that is your excuse for saying that the GOVERNMENT did not make this annoucment.

  42. “Yes I did, but it is easier to type CPC. But I will for now on say government, if that makes you happy. So sorry for that you are correct I am wrong, not the CPC, the Government…Check I got that.”

    Therein the problem with the entire Conservative Party. You see, the party in power does not equal the Government. The Government is the Government, which the party in power directs and is responsible for. The party in power is a political party. The failure to grasp this is really indicative of the complete ignorance of the Conservative Party about how the nation they apparently wish to lead is organised. From the froth you’re frothing, JK, it does seem you might, in your anonymitude, be a Tory person as opposed to Tory supporter, and frankly you’re digging yourself deeper with every over-paragraphed post. Besides the general indignity of blaming the media.

  43. Yeah, I think that JK just made it clear that he/she has a serious lack of understanding of our political system, so I’m not going to waste any more of poor Colleague Wells’ thread explaining the difference between a governing party, and the government.

  44. I’ve learned so much.

  45. Jack Mitchell says..

    “From the froth you’re frothing, JK, it does seem you might, in your anonymitude, be a Tory person as opposed to Tory supporter, and frankly you’re digging yourself deeper with every over-paragraphed post. Besides the general indignity of blaming the media.

    WTF… are you talking about?

    I don’t belong to any party, I am just someone who likes to read about politics well I am at work(the only reason I got into politics is b/c I bought Wells book and liked it). Blaming the media? I shell out 5 bucks for macleans every week, and come here and give them hits Jack, you are darn right I will complain, if I think somthing is wrong.

    But maybe you are right macleans is free on the net why give them my cash? Should I just shut-up give them my money and never complain. Or just not post and never by there magazine. I am starting to think ladder is the best way to go.

    For the record I like Harper and the CPC that does not mean I am a card carrier of the party, but in your little world if that makes you feel better all the best.

  46. Kady I do understand that it was the Government, I am just not anal like you, and don’t get paid to make sure I say Government.

    But your right I will not comment anymore on Macleans so be happy.

  47. Oh, I think it’s great that you comment here. Please don’t leave on my account. But it worries me that you think the government equals the governing party.

  48. Good grief, JK, what on earth are you frothing about? Check the date at the Ottawa Citizen paper you quote.

    Now note how Paul’s article came out before the Ottawa Citizen article. Note the date on the letter from the FCM President. When he posted, Paul was entirely correct.

    The point remains. The conservative candidate attempted to take credit for government spending in his riding as if it was a campaign action. On the day he did so, Prime Minister Harper was villifying the other parties for spending billions of dollars, and basically kept their own couple billion dollars of spending here under wraps until today.

  49. Sorry, JK, my surmise was quite wrong and I apologise.

  50. Commenting about Gratefulness and Gratitude – Have you seen the trailer on the upcoming doug Vermeeren film? (Mr. Vermeeren is the creator of The Opus) The trailer is challenges science and faith one against another in some kind of GRATITUDE EXPERIMENT (www.MMPWmovies.com) as he cals it. I am agnostic and believe that scientific evidence and fact are far too strong to let airy fair new age mumbo jumbo dictate my life… Good luck with that.

Sign in to comment.