“A massive social policy experiment is unfolding in Canada to provide families throughout the country with child care for an average of $10 a day. The plan, which was introduced in 2021 amid the turmoil of the pandemic, aims to spend up to $30 billion Canadian by 2026 to bring down child care costs for parents and to create 250,000 new slots.
The federally backed effort brings Canada’s safety net closer to that of other Western democracies that have stepped up on child care, including Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, and Australia, and it could prove an inspiration to other countries whose systems still lag, like the United States.
Almost three years in, Canadian families are already seeing a significant drop in price, paying hundreds of dollars less for care each month than they were prior to 2021. Canada is making “solid progress in offering more affordable child care,” concluded a think tank report issued in October. Five of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have already reached the $10-a-day child care goal ahead of schedule, while others have reduced their fees by over 50 percent. ($10 in Canadian currency is roughly $7.50 in US.)
In addition to reducing costs for parents, the plan has created about 52,000 new child care spots”
“”The Chinese Communist regime, often with the aid of other governments, is systematically hunting down its political and religious exiles, no matter where in the world they seek refuge,” Nate Schenkkan and Sarah Cook reported in 2021 for The Diplomat.
“Fox Hunt is a sweeping bid by General Secretary Xi [Jinping] to target Chinese nationals whom he sees as threats and who live outside China, across the world,” FBI Director Christopher Wray charged in a 2020 speech. “We’re talking about political rivals, dissidents, and critics seeking to expose China’s extensive human rights violations. Hundreds of the Fox Hunt victims that they target live right here in the United States, and many are American citizens or green card holders.”
In April of this year, authorities arrested two men accused of helping establish a secret Chinese “police station” in New York’s Chinatown. “The PRC, through its repressive security apparatus, established a secret physical presence in New York City to monitor and intimidate dissidents and those critical of its government,” according to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen.”
“Turkey’s government, it should be noted, cooperates with Beijing to silence Muslim Uyghur refugees who fled to Turkey, and it has sought assistance in muzzling its own dissidents. “Uzbekistani security services helped abduct a man from his apartment in Tashkent and return him to Turkey,” notes Freedom House.”
“The United States doesn’t make it easy for talented foreigners to permanently settle in the country, even if they work in critical fields and stay in legal status. For workers on H-1B visas, a nonimmigrant classification reserved for highly skilled, highly specialized laborers, it can take years to adjust to a green card. For Indian nationals, it can take decades.”
“”America hasn’t streamlined its immigration system in over two decades,” says Sam Peak, a senior policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity. “Canadian policy makers continue to find new ways to take advantage of that.””
“The summer often brings severe wildfires to western Canada, especially as climate change continues to dry out vegetation and heat up the atmosphere. 2021 was a particularly devastating year, with blazes destroying entire towns.
Provinces in the east — including Quebec and Nova Scotia — are somewhat more safeguarded from fires, or at least devastating ones. Air coming off the North Atlantic Ocean typically keeps the region humid and cooler, making it less likely to burn, per Reuters.
The forests out east also tend to be less flammable, Reuters notes. Unlike western forests, which are dominated by fire-prone evergreens, eastern forests also have broadleaf deciduous trees, which are less flammable (their branches start higher off the ground and their leaves contain more moisture).
But under the right conditions, even eastern forests can burn.
This spring brought the right conditions across parts of the east — namely, low humidity and rainfall, and lots of heat. By the end of April, large parts of eastern Canada were abnormally dry, according to the country’s drought monitor. Some places, such as Sydney, Nova Scotia, recorded their driest April on record. When forests are dry, they ignite more easily.
“What’s unique about this year is that the forests are so dry that the fires are many times larger than they normally are,” Matthew Hurteau, a biology professor at the University of New Mexico, told Vox’s Rachel DuRose.
Still, there needs to be a source of ignition. And for the fires out east, it was likely a combination of lightning strikes, people (who might, say, toss a cigarette butt out their window), and human infrastructure (such as trains, which can create sparks).”
“It’s certainly true Canada has some of the most unaffordable housing prices in the developed world. Average home prices are ten times average incomes. Compare that to the U.S., where median home prices are 4.3 times median incomes, per National Association of Realtors’ data. OECD figures show that Canadian home prices have grown 43 percent faster than incomes since 2015.
And as homes have gotten more expensive, foreign homebuyers have become an increasingly popular scapegoat.”
“foreign buyers make up only 5 percent of homeowners in the country. Squeezing out such a marginal part of the market probably won’t have a huge effect on prices.
Foreign buyers made up around 4 percent of New Zealand’s housing market when the country implemented a ban on nonnative buyers in 2018. Home price growth continued unabated after the ban.
A heavy tax on foreign home purchases in British Columbia has managed to reduce “foreign-related” purchases from 10 percent of all sales to between 1 to 2 percent. One study of the policy showed it reduced home price growth by 1 percent, and that minimal benefit faded after a few months.
Such are the pitfalls of trying to marginally curb demand in a hot market without enough supply. Behind every eliminated foreign buyer are multiple domestic home purchasers competing over an insufficient stock of homes.
Canada’s national housing finance agency estimates the country will be short some 3.5 million homes by the end of the decade. That’s within spitting distance of the U.S.’s own estimated shortage of 4 million homes—a country with nearly ten times Canada’s population.
The country has all the limits on supply that the U.S. does, including density restrictions in the urban core and growth boundaries on the exurban fringe. Both prevent new housing from being built to meet demand. As a result, prices in the country stay stubbornly high.
Canada’s local and provincial governments are starting to address this problem with proposals to loosen zoning restrictions. Done right, that will unleash developers’ ability to add much-needed supply.
At the federal level, it appears more politically practical to run with unproductive bans and to scapegoat foreigners.”
“In January, when an undersea telecommunications cable connecting this far-flung Arctic archipelago to mainland Norway and the rest of Europe was damaged, Norwegian officials called to port the only fishing vessel for miles, a Russian trawler. Police in the northern city of Tromsø interviewed the crew and carried out an investigation into the incident, which was seen as a major threat to the security of Norway and other nations, including the United States. Had there not been a back-up cable, the damage would have severed internet to the world’s largest satellite relay, one that connects the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA and other government agencies from around the world to real-time space surveillance.
The investigation’s findings were inconclusive, if worrisome. Something “man-made” had damaged the cable, but Norwegian police could not prove the Russian fishing vessel was responsible, authorities told me. The police allowed the fishing boat crew to return to their ship and set back out to sea.”
“today, this Arctic desert is rapidly becoming the center of a new conflict. The vast sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean is melting rapidly due to climate change, losing 13 percent per decade — a rate that experts say could make the Arctic ice-free in the summer as soon as 2035. Already, the thaw has created new shipping lanes, opened existing seasonal lanes for more of the year and provided more opportunities for natural resource extraction. Nations are now vying for military and commercial control over this newly accessible territory — competition that has only gotten more intense since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
“For the past two decades, Russia has been dominating this fight for the Arctic, building up its fleet of nuclear-capable icebreakers, ships and submarines, developing more mining and oil well operations along its 15,000 miles of Arctic coastline, racing to capture control of the new “Northern Sea Route” or “Transpolar Sea Route” which could begin to open up by 2035, and courting non-Arctic nations to help fund those endeavors.
At the same time, America is playing catch-up in a climate where it has little experience and capabilities. The U.S. government and military seems to be awakening to the threats of climate change and Russian dominance of the Arctic — recently issuing a National Strategy for the Arctic Region and a report on how climate change impacts American military bases, opening a consulate in Nuuk, Greenland, and appointing this year an ambassador-at-large for the Arctic region within the State Department and a deputy assistant secretary of defense for Arctic and Global Resilience. America’s European allies, too, have been rethinking homeland security, increasing national defense budgets and security around critical energy infrastructure in the Arctic as they aim to boost their defense capabilities and rely less on American assistance.
But 17 Arctic watchers — including Norwegian diplomats, State Department analysts and national security experts focusing on the Arctic — said they fear that the U.S. and Europe won’t be able to maintain a grip on the region’s energy resources and diplomacy as Russia places more civilian and military infrastructure across the Arctic, threatening the economic development and national security of the seven other nations whose sovereign land sits within the Arctic Circle.”
“In Norway’s High North, a term used to describe the Norwegian Arctic territories, no fewer than seven Russian citizens have been detained over the last few months for flying drones, prohibited under the same bans for Russian airlines in European airspace. The drones were discovered flying near areas of critical infrastructure. One of those arrested in October was Andrey Yakunin, 47, the son of Vladimir Yakunin, the former president of Russian Railways and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was sanctioned by the State Department after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.”
“The lesson here should not be that assisted suicide is bad, but heavy government involvement in health care decisions has an inescapable distorting influence. At the very least, how Canada manages health care access is a massive contributing factor. A survey from 2016 found that Canadians wait longer to access health care services than citizens in 11 other countries. The United States is one of the countries of comparison, but the survey also looks at other countries with government-managed health care systems like the United Kingdom and France. A 2020 study from the Canadian Family Physician journal notes that the country simply provides less freedom and opportunity for people seeking medical care than other countries, even when healthcare is centrally planned: ” What these countries do differently than Canada is they allow the private sector to provide core health care insurance and services, require patients to share in the cost of treatment, and fund hospitals based on activity (rather than the global budgets that are the norm in Canada).””
“The so-called “freedom convoy” is nominally protesting a vaccine mandate for truckers, implemented in mid-January on both sides of the US-Canada border. But the demonstrations have swiftly ballooned into a broader far-right movement, with some demonstrators waving Confederate and Nazi flags. Protester demands include an end to all Covid-19 restrictions in Canada and the resignation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The demonstrators, which have included as many as 8,000 people at their peak, have terrorized Ottawa: blockading streets, harassing citizens, forcing business closures, and honking their extremely loud horns all night. Ottawa police, who have proven some combination of unwilling and unable to restore order, have even set up a special hotline to deal with a deluge of alleged hate crimes stemming from the protests. In the first week of February, it received over 200 calls.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has declared a state of emergency, and Trudeau’s government has deployed hundreds of Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the protests. As the situation in Ottawa continues, the freedom convoy movement has expanded across the country. Demonstrators have shut down at least two border crossings between Canada and the United States.
But while the protests are generating a lot of noise and attention, the eruption actually points up a counterintuitive fact: The Canadian far right is weak and ineffectual, especially when it comes to pandemic restrictions.
Canada’s provinces have generally employed strict Covid-19 measures such as school mask mandates and vaccine passports, including during the recent omicron surge. They have enjoyed broad public support in doing so; even the strictest restrictions are less controversial in Canada than in the US. The current demonstration is quite unpopular with the general public, divisive even inside the center-right Conservative party.
This doesn’t mean the movement will accomplish nothing. It has already contributed to a revolt against the Conservative party’s leader and is serving as an important organizing node for far-rightists. The border crossing blockage is putting more stress on the US-Canada supply chain, costing (by one estimation) $300 million a day in economic damage. Internationally, the freedom convoy has inspired copycat efforts in both the United States and France.
But it’s important to understand the broader context in Canada. News coverage of the convoy, especially from sympathetic anchors on Fox News, may lead Americans to believe that Canada is in the midst of a far-right popular uprising. In reality, the mainstream consensus in Canada about Covid-19, and the nation’s institutions in general, is holding. The so-called trucker movement is on the fringe, including among Canadian truckers — some 90 percent of whom are vaccinated.”