talking points

Talking points: Of real estate and First Nations' fate

Speed read the news with our Talking Points round-up—our short takes on the week’s news—and sound like the smartest person in the room.

A sold home is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says there is mounting evidence that house prices in a number of Canadian cities are out of whack with incomes and other economic fundamentals.The latest report from CMHC says there is evidence of overvaluation in nine of the 15 real estate markets included in the research. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A sold home is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Need an answer for that? Trying to look like the smartest person at the dinner party? Our Talking Points have you covered. Read our short takes on some of the big stories from the week that was:

Richer than you think

As real estate prices float up beyond reach, there is one bright side—for homeowners at least. Canadians’ net worth increased by 4.3 per cent last year, to $680,098 per household, compared to a 4.1 per cent increase in debt per household, to $133,170, thanks in part to soaring real estate prices. In Vancouver, average household net worth just surpassed $1 million, making it Canada’s first “city of millionaires,” according to a survey by Environics Analytics. Meanwhile, the U.S. just saw its biggest rise in median income since before the 2008 economic collapse. The Census Bureau reported a 5.6 per cent rise in median income last year, leading one senior adviser to call it the best economic census data “ever.”

Beating records, blind

At the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, four runners beat the times of medallists at the other Olympics last month. An Ethiopian, a Kenyan and two Algerian runners all ran faster than American gold medallist Matthew Centrowitz in the 1,500-m track event. Centrowitz finished with a time of 3:50:00 (though this was a notably slow time, due to the runner’s particular strategy that day), while the paralympian Abdellatif Baka secured gold with a time of 3:48:29. Many people who heard the news assumed the Paralympians must have been using prosthetic blades. The runners didn’t need them; their handicaps are visual impairments.

Points for proactivity

NASA doesn’t stop thinking about tomorrow, or the 22nd century. It has launched a spacecraft to target an asteroid, called Bennu, which could come apocalyptically close to Earth by 2100. In a four-year mission, the $800-million OSIRIS-REx will reach the asteroid in 2018 and bring back a sample to Earth. NASA then hopes to figure out how to reposition Bennu and save the planet. Someone’s got to do it.

Target down

The Pentagon confirmed that an American drone strike in Syria has killed a top ISIS leader. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani had been credited with videos portraying horrific executions and encouraging terrorist attacks. Russia also took credit for the militant’s death, reporting on Aug. 31 that a Russian airstrike left him dead. (The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in Syria shortly afterward, but Syrian government planes dropped barrel bombs in the hours following the deal.) It’s a matter of “he-said, he-said” on the front line, but bottom line: Adnani is dead.


North Korea detonated its fifth nuclear bomb, slightly larger than the one dropped on Hiroshima, causing a 5.3-magnitude earthquake last week. Analysts say the action could have been timed to celebrate the state’s 68th birthday, or to attract the attention of the world leaders meeting in China for the G20 summit, or to advertise their bombs to sell to other rogue nations like Syria and Iraq. Days later, when the country made a plea for foreign aid to deal with widespread flooding, it received little sympathy. South Korea described the bombing perfectly as “maniacal recklessness.”

Paranoid much?

The Turkish government suspended 28 of the country’s mayors, arresting 12 of them, under accusations of links to either terrorist groups or to the movement blamed for a military coup in July. The government, which is in a state of emergency, has already fired 50,000 people following the attempted coup, including 11,285 teachers. The mayoral suspensions affect two provincial capitals, where residents are protesting against undemocratic use of power. Trustees are temporarily filling their positions. As for the teachers, there’s been no word on finding replacements, and children return to school this week.

The price isn’t right

A report from Food Secure Canada has found that people living in three northern Ontario reserves allocate more than half their incomes to food. People in Fort Albany, Moose Factory and Attawapiskat must spend as much as $1,900 on food per month for a family of four, compared to $897 for the same-sized clan in Toronto. What’s worse, in 92 First Nations communities, as of the start of August, it’s still unsafe to drink the water.

Looking for leadership

Federal Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch was criticized by interim leader Rona Ambrose for proposing to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values” (a proposal that 67 per cent of Canadians support, according to a poll by Forum Research). Rival Tony Clement suggested pre-emptively jailing potential terrorists if they can’t be monitored 24/7. And Peter MacKay announced he won’t run for leadership, shortly after Stephen Harper took a new job at the law firm Dentons. The NDP, meanwhile, is reportedly looking to get rid of Tom Mulcair earlier than expected. No wonder Canadians prefer to watch the politics south of the border.

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