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Canadian Steel Tariffs Hurt Construction… and all Canadians

By Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.
This piece first appeared in the Sunday Province on July 15, 2018, and is available for all media outlets to publish, free-of-charge.


Last Halloween, Justin Trudeau launched a thousand photo ops by wearing a Superman costume into the House of Commons. Now it’s time for the Prime Minister to show Canadians what kind of Man of Steel he wants to be.

Canada is in the early stages of a potential all-out trade war with the United States, brought about by the general anti-free trade leaning of the Trump administration and specifically by the new tariffs imposed by Washington on American imports of Canadian steel and aluminum.

In response, Canada levied $16.2 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods entering Canada. The tariffs were strategically chosen to apply to items produced in targeted U.S. congressional districts so that American communities that depend on Canadian markets feel pain. By doing so, Canadian officials hope to apply enough pressure on congressional representatives that the Trump administration reconsiders their ill-advised tariff measures. So far so good.

However, included with Canada’s retaliatory measures is a 25% duty on imported steel products, which will impact B.C., whose sole source of Canadian steel is a relatively small mill in Edmonton that supplies just one-tenth of what B.C. needs. Local demand for steel cannot be met by steel mills in central Canada – the reality we face in B.C. is that nearly all our steel comes from the U.S., Turkey and Asia.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect more than 25 years ago, the continent’s economy has evolved into a complex, intertwined series of supply chains that help reduce costs by increasing efficiencies and by building mutual competitive advantages. The benefits have been substantial, mutual, and in the best interests of both countries. Read more

TRAINING THURSDAY: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – The Myths and the Mastery

Have you ever wondered how emotionally intelligent you are, or what your Emotional Quotient (EQ) is? Let our training department help you answer these questions with our half-day workshop on July 24 in Burnaby called Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – The Myths and the Mastery!

This workshop is designed for all employees and has proven to be an exceptionally powerful and practical learning experience that will benefit participants in their professional and personal lives. You’ll learn how to build better relationships, learn to stay calm and deal with stress more effectively, deal with difficult people and negative energy, and achieve greater happiness.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • What EQ really means in practical, everyday, real world terms
  • Why EQ is a far more important success factor than IQ 
  • The EQ – Happiness Connection
  • How to identity your current level of EQ
  • The predictable attitudes and behaviors of low EQ people 
  • Four sure-fire strategies on how to develop truly healthy EQ
  • How to deal with unreasonable people with low EQ 
  • How to achieve the delicate balance of intellect and emotion and make “common sense decisions 
  • How EQ impacts your ability to build and sustain productive relationships
  • How to assert yourself to ensure you get your needs met without appearing like a bully
  • How to stay positive around negative people

You can register for this workshop or any of our other courses at www.icba.ca/training! And while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to our training newsletter at www.icba.ca/trainingnewsletter. We look forward to seeing you at some of our upcoming courses!

Saying Farewell to ICBA Icon Ed Rempel

Ed Rempel
Ed Rempel

Yesterday, hundreds of friends, family, and employees of Ed Rempel gathered in Abbotsford to say goodbye to the gentle, generous man who helped found Rempel Bros. Concrete, Lower Mainland Steel, Greenbank Sand and Gravel, Lower Mainland Concrete Products and ICBA.

As Bill Kerkhoff mentioned in his tribute, Ed was a life member of ICBA, one of our founders, and one of our first presidents. Importantly, he and his brother Ewald made sure open shop contractors had the concrete they needed to build their projects in the tumultuous 1970s and 1980s, helping make the construction industry a fair, even playing field for all companies.

Thank you for everything, Ed. We will never forget you.

And our love to Myrtle-Ann, his wife of 60 years who holds a dear spot in our hearts.

For more on Ed’s contributions to ICBA, see https://www.icbaindependent.ca/…/…/11/remembering-ed-rempel/

Ed’s family put together this lovely video tribute:

TRAINING THURSDAY: Navigating Human Rights Law (Breakfast Session)

What are you doing for breakfast on July 18? Our training department invites you to our next Burnaby breakfast session on Navigating Human Rights Law. 

Do you have an employee requesting human rights accommodation, such as a parent requesting childcare accommodation or an employee requesting accommodation for a physical or mental disability? Which ones should you grant?

What about an employee claiming discrimination on the basis of a protected ground under the Code (age, sex, race, disability, family status, religion, etc.)? Have they filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal? How do you respond to such a complaint? Our breakfast session is here to help you answer these important questions. We know that navigating human rights in the workplace can be complicated, and we want to help you prepare.

Here’s what’s covered:

  • Human rights protections in BC
  • An employer’s legal obligations
  • When to accommodate
  • When and how to investigate a human rights complaint
  • How to respond to a human rights complaint filed with the Tribunal

You don’t have to be a member to attend any of our courses, but you will save on your course fees! Register now at www.icba.ca/training.

IN THE NEWS: ICBA Files Lawsuit Against NDP’s Prop Rep Process

Last week, ICBA filed a suit against the NDP Government’s flawed, rigged proportional representation referendum process. The news media has taken notice:

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew recapped our arguments
  • FSJ’s Energetic City posted our full filing
  • Black Press
  • Canadian Press
  • News 1130
  • Business in Vancouver looks at why ICBA filed:“We think that a strong stable government, a majority government – whether it’s from the left or the right – is fundamentally important to our economic prosperity, our long-term economic growth,” Gardner said. “All of the big projects and initiatives that have defined British Columbia have been the result of a government which has a majority putting a vision in front of British Columbians and pursuing those goals. When you go to proportional representation, you’re going to have fringe parties from the left and right, you’re going to have ballot with 25, 30 parties on it, it will be confusing, there will be a lot of backroom dealing, there will be more instability. And instability is not good for our economy.”

NEWS RELEASE – Prop Rep Referendum Violates Canadian Charter: ICBA Court Petition

BURNABY – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) filed a 49-page petition in B.C. Supreme Court late yesterday seeking an injunction to halt the NDP Government’s rushed, rigged proportional representation referendum.

The petition lays out arguments that the prop rep referendum process is flawed legally and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including:

  • It is not consistent with the NDP Government’s own Referendum Act, which calls for “a clear statement of the majority of voters on whether to implement a well-defined and comprehensible new voting system, or to keep the existing electoral system”;
  • It violates foundational constitutional principles, which require a binding referendum on matters of fundamental importance, “endorsed by a clear majority on a clear question”;
  • It does not meet sections 2(b) and 3 of the Charter, “which give British Columbians the right to meaningfully participate in a fair and comprehensible referendum process”;
  • It does not meet sections 2(b) and 2(d) of the Charter, which require that “British Columbians be able to fully express themselves and debate fundamental changes to the design of the democratic system”;
  • The regulations unlawfully restrict freedom of expression, freedom of debate on matters of public interest, and freedom of association; and
  • The Rural-Urban prop rep option, which is not in existence anywhere in the world, violates sections 3 and 15 of the Charter as it creates two different electoral systems that would operate simultaneously.

“Whether people support proportional representation or not, the process set out by the Horgan Government was rushed, the questions are confusing and the rules restrict voters from getting the information they need to make an informed decision,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “On fundamental democratic issues like this, British Columbians have a constitutional right to a clear question, open debate, and as much information as possible.”

ICBA wants the court to quash the referendum’s regulations, declare that the process has been unconstitutional, and issue an injunction staying the vote until the legal deficiencies have been remedied and the constitutional challenge can be adjudicated.

ICBA, which has been joined in the action by the Canada West Construction Union and Kenneth Baerg, is represented by Peter A. Gall, one of Canada’s most accomplished litigators.

“It’s not fair and it’s hard not to think that the NDP are rigging the referendum to the result they want – this is a betrayal of the democratic principles that form the basis of our government,” said Gardner. “This process is fundamentally flawed and should be restarted to ensure its integrity.”

The full, 49-page filing can be found HERE.

IN THE NEWS: ICBA’s Big Gas Tax Cut Campaign

Our new social media campaign, “Get Canada’s Big Gas Moving” has been going crazy. With more than 42,000 video views in 18 hours, it has started to pop up in the mainstream media.

Global BC interviewed our comms director, Jordan Bateman, and played part of the Big Gas commercial on The News Hour last night:

Jordan was also on the front page of The Province and quoted in this story:

We were also quoted in the StarMetro and apparently the Big Gas ad made it onto CBC Radio (we’ll post the clip when it’s available).

Here’s what Breakfast Television Vancouver said:

NEWS RELEASE: Government Should Be Cutting B.C.’s Big Gas Taxes, Not Hiking Them

BURNABY – Today’s surprise announcement by the TransLink Mayors that they have received the blessing of the NDP Government to hike the TransLink gas tax to 18.5 cents per litre is another sign of how the NDP’s promise of affordability was just a cynical campaign slogan.

This latest 1.5 cents/L gas tax increase, combined with their April 1st 1.1 cents/L carbon tax increase, and their commitment to hike the carbon tax by 1.1 cents/L every year, solidifies the Lower Mainland’s position as the highest gas tax jurisdiction in North America. By April 1, 2019, the Lower Mainland gas tax will be at least 54 cents per litre:

  • 18.5 cents/L to TransLink
  • 10 cents/L to federal government
  • 8.5 cents/L to provincial government
  • 9 cents/L to provincial government in carbon tax (set to rise 1.1 cents/L every year)
  • 8 cents/L in GST (will increase as gas prices increase)

“With drivers already stretched thin by near-record gasoline process, the NDP have made it even worse. We already had the highest gas taxes in North America, and now the NDP have made it worse,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA’s Communications Director and the leader of the No TransLink Tax campaign that defeated the TransLink sales tax in 2015. “If this is how the NDP makes good on their promise to make Lower Mainland life more affordable, taxpayers say, ‘STOP! We can’t afford any more of the NDP’s affordability’.”

With the Canada Day long weekend approaching and gas supply stretched thin in the Lower Mainland, analysts predicted prices would skyrocket. Today, the ICBA launched a new campaign calling on the NDP government to work to increase the Lower Mainland’s gas supply and to cut gas taxes.

The campaign includes this cheeky video, making the case to lower B.C.’s Big Gas prices by cutting our Big Gas taxes and getting a Big Gas pipeline built to move Canada’s Big Gas supply.

“We never imagined the NDP and TransLink mayors would kick off the long weekend by hiking already out-of-control gas taxes,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This is a critical issue to construction contractors and businesses, who must move goods and services around the region. Higher gas prices drive up the cost of everything in B.C.”

The NDP’s tax hiking isn’t limited to the Lower Mainland. Earlier this year, the NDP increased the Capital Region’s gas tax by 3.1 cents/L to third-highest in North America, paying 45.3 cents/L in direct gasoline taxes. That includes:

  • 5.5 cents/L to BC Transit
  • 10 cents/L to federal government
  • 14.5 cents/L to provincial government
  • 7.8 cents/L to provincial government in carbon tax (set to rise 1.1 cents/L every year)
  • 8 cents/L in GST

The rest of B.C. has a slightly lighter tax burden, paying 38.8 cents/L in direct gasoline taxes, but that still includes a 1.1 cent/L carbon tax hike approved by the NDP:

  • 10 cents/L to federal government
  • 14.5 cents/L to provincial government
  • 7.8 cents/L to provincial government in carbon tax (set to rise 1.1 cents/L every year)
  • 7.5 cents/L in GST

View ICBA’s Big Gas tax video HERE.