Our Jordan Bateman gives you the heads-up on mixed government messaging on housing and energy.
🏠 Ah, government – where all too often the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and in fact often works at cross purposes. At a time when housing is more expensive than it’s ever been, and the federal government has said affordability is a top priority, we see another piece of the bureaucracy come forward with regulations that will drive costs up even more. Writing for the Financial Post today, the Fraser Institute’s Ross McKitrick says new federal energy efficiency rules will drive up housing costs by $55,000 per unit – a government-authored price hike of 8%. It will also slow construction, harm GDP, and cause tradespeople to leave the industry. A lesson from COVID was that governments can move fast and effectively when everyone is aligned with a goal. Housing affordability needs to be addressed with the same singularity of purpose across all ministries – everyone needs to be on the same page.
🛢Speaking of division within government, the eyes of the energy industry were on Calgary this week for the World Petroleum Conference, the world’s largest energy sector conference. And the messaging of the Trudeau federal government and the Danielle Smith Alberta government could not have been more different. Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson painted oil and gas as a sunset industry – promising to eliminate fossil fuels by 2050. But Premier Smith, after saying Wilkinson’s comments were “tone deaf” and went over like a “lead balloon”, had a much stronger message: “This is not an industry that’s winding down. It’s an industry that’s transitioning away from emissions. We know that we have to deal with emissions on an urgent basis. But we also have to make sure that we’re dealing with reliability and affordability and energy security.” Saskatchewan and Newfoundland leaders were there too: “The world needs more clean Canadian oil and gas,” said Saskatchewan’s energy minister. For the sake of Canadian prosperity, let’s hope the provincial views win out.
🗣 B.C. mayors and councillors are gathered at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference this week in Vancouver, and the topic is housing, housing, housing, getting more money from the B.C. government for infrastructure to serve housing, and housing. As Cowichan Valley Regional District director Ben Maartman said: “You know, I’m a simple farmer … I just can’t keep adding to my herd without being able to look after them, resource them, care for them, and house them.” Schools, roads, sewer, water, electricity: it’s all needed, and the province has been quick to demand housing approvals and slow to hand out cash to help. No solutions yet – but you can bet the cities aren’t going to go away quietly on this one. It’s yet another example of how various levels of government are not working or pulling together to meet the goal of affordability.