Marijuana - Learning from Washington State

July 16, 2018

Rick Garza

Marijuana, What Can We Learn from Washington State?

 

On October 17, 2018, Canada will become the second nation, after Uruguay, to legalize marijuana. In doing so we have stepped outside of our commitment to the United Nations to restrict the use of Schedule 1 controlled substances. To date, the UN and other nations have not responded negatively to our new legislation.

 

Perhaps they are waiting and watching before determining if a response is required. Perhaps we can establish national protocols that will become an international standard. But where do we turn to for insights into the path from prohibition to legalization?

 

The first state in the United States to legalize marijuana was Washington State, what lessons can we learn from its experience with legalization?

 

Does marijuana use increase? Do DUI’s rise, how do you measure, monitor and ensure the highest standards? And how do you ensure use among teens does not increase? The issues are many and they cover everything from policing to public health, growing, producing, quality, retail and tax collection.

 

Will banks allow marijuana producers, processors and retailers to open bank accounts? Without them how are taxes paid? In Washington State, the national banks all said they were not going to launder drug money. The state had to pass a bill that allowed local banks to accept money from registered marijuana retailers and producers. Do we have to do the same here in Canada?

These are just some of the many issues that will arise and need to be addressed.

 

We invited Rick Garza, the Director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the lessons our neighbour to the south has learned since legalizing marijuana in 2012.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

 

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Mark Jaccard - Reducing Carbon Through Regulations

July 8, 2018

Ep 198 Mark Jaccard

Reducing Carbon Through Regulation

Carbon taxes make governments feel good about their commitment to reducing the production of greenhouse gases. They are, however, not an effective tool, it annoys taxpayers who simply pay more while continuing to live their lives the way they did before.

 

In British Columbia the money, in part, goes to low income earners, Northern and Rural Homeowners and as a tax incentive to industries that reduce their emissions. According the government’s website, these incentives help keep BC industries competitive. And finally some of the money is dedicated to, “supporting investment in eligible emissions reduction projects”

 

But, are carbon taxes really working? Following the introduction of the carbon tax in BC, emissions did drop, however, as of 2014, which is the last reporting year on the provincial government’s website, total emissions had returned to 2008 levels.

 

An alternative approach to changing behavior is to simply change the rules. The government has the power to tweak, refine and enhance rules without having to pass bills in the house. Rules manufacturers and industry have no choice but to follow.  

 

Regulations provide legislators with the ability to force the market into new ways of functioning that taxes do not. California is an example that demonstrates the effect regulations have on the altering of industry and consumer behaviour. The push to move toward electric vehicles has largely come about thanks to a shift in regulations rather than an increase in taxes.

 

We invited Mark Jaccard, a professor of sustainable energy in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at SFU, to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the ways in which we can nudge, control or force all of us to transition away from fossil fuels.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

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Michael Geller: Vancouver, a Real Estate Tragedy Unfolds

July 2, 2018

Ep 197 Michael Geller

Vancouver, a Real Estate Tragedy Unfolds

The tax upon tax upon tax that was implemented to make housing in BC, and in Vancouver in particular, affordable is having the opposite effect. It all started with the City of Vancouver’s Empty Home Tax which was designed to bring up to ten thousand empty homes into the rental market.

 

The prediction appears to have significantly missed the mark.  Currently, the City of Vancouver has devoted more than $10 million dollars to a program that may turn a few hundred empty or underutilized homes into rental units.

 

The provincial government of Christy Clark jumped on the bandwagon and imposed a Foreign Buyers Tax which is being challenged in the courts as unlawful and discriminatory. The John Horgan government, sensing the time was right to continue to meddle in the market, added not one but two new taxes with the objective of cooling the market and making housing more affordable.

 

It’s true, the market for homes over $3 million has cooled while at the same time, it has set the condo market ablaze making the only affordable housing less affordable.

 

We invited planner, developer and commentator Michael Geller to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the crisis that continues to unfold in BC’s real estate markets.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

 

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Who Will Build Renewable Energy: Jamie Houssian

June 25, 2018

Ep 196 Jamie Houssian

Who Will Build Renewable Energy?

 

The energy transition has been underway for more than 25 years, solar, wind, run of river and geothermal are all energy sources that hold promise in our ongoing determination to move away from fossil fuels. Interestingly, utility companies are not building them, rather they are turning to the private sector as suppliers.

 

That means private enterprises are taking the risks, they’re buying or leasing the land, building the power sources, maintaining them and carrying the debt for decades. The costs are significant and the investment is not for the faint of heart.

 

A solar power plant regularly includes 45,000 or more panels, a wind turbine costs between 1.5 and 2.5 million dollars to put in place, then add in the cost of running transmission lines to the grid, run of river projects can easily run into the millions of dollars. These are investment decisions that regularly are shaded with the desire to invest in a healthier planet.

 

Then there is geothermal which many people believe is the holy grail of renewable energy. That holds true until you examine the cost of development versus the long-term payback. For independent companies, the price of geothermal and payback the equation does not add up.

 

The women and men who venture into the renewable energy sector are brave and they are devoted to ensuring we have power sources that will reduce the impact on Mother Earth.

 

We invited Jamie Houssian of Elemental Energy to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the business of renewable energy.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

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John Thompson - Resources for Future Generations

June 15, 2018

Ep 195 John Thompson

Resources for Future Generations

 

French President Emmanuel Macron says, “There is no planet B”, in other words we need to take care of planet A. The statement is offered in the spirit of our environmental performance.

It suggests we need to change the way we extract, use and burn the minerals, elements and fuels of the earth or face an uncertain and potentially dire future.

 

The challenge of our time, however, lies in how to shift from where we are, to where we need to be. And recognizing at the same time the pressure to maintain our lifestyle and protect the economy will be intense as will the growing pressure to stop harming the planet.

Can science and technology provide solutions? How will we build those devices, design the systems and the vehicles we require? Where do the resources come from and are there enough essential elements?--

 

These are the questions that are being asked at, “The Resources for Future Generations” conference, an international event dedicated to the availability and delivery of resources to sustain future generations.

 

We invited John Thompson, the Chair of the conference to join us for a Conversation That Matters about strategies that will identify gaps in our knowledge base ensuring we meet the needs of future generations.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

 

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Taryn Skalbania: Participatory Democracy in Action

June 12, 2018

Ep 194 Taryn Skalbania

Participatory Democracy in Action

 

Margaret Mead said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.”  That statement epitomizes bare-knuckled democracy.

It’s underway right now in 21 communities in British Columbia. Communities that are fed up and they’re not going to take it anymore. They’ve come together to petition the Provincial Government to change regulations that favour resource developers over local citizens, local governments and the environment.

The BC Coalition for Forestry Reform says it’s time to put an end to a Campbell Government regulation that handed land use oversight back to the companies that are logging and mining on Crown Lands. The regulation is called, “professional reliance” or self regulation. Since its introduction more than 15 years ago the coalition says, “watersheds have come under attack and there is nothing local governments can do to stop it.”

The Coalition contends “professional reliance” puts logging companies in a conflict of interest. They say, “how can a company be entrusted to protect that very environment it utilizes to make money. The environment loses”

We invited Taryn Skalbania of the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the right to roll up your sleeves and make sure your government represents everyone’s interests.

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

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Tom Davidoff Putting the brakes on Vancouver’s Housing Market

May 31, 2018

Tom Davidoff

Putting the brakes on Vancouver’s Housing Market

 

Vancouver’s housing market is a political and financial minefield. Measures to create housing for those who can’t afford Vancouver’s sky-high real estate appear to have backfired. The target started out as offshore, namely mainland Chinese buyers who were investing in Vancouver real estate. The new rules and taxes, however, appear to be a rich vs poor tax grab.

 

The City of Vancouver jumped in with both feet and created an empty home tax. Then the Provincial Government of Christy Clark was cajoled into introducing a foreign buyers tax.

Once in power, the NDP government decided to go two better. It introduced a “School Tax” and a “Speculation Tax” both with the stated purpose of making housing more affordable.

 

The consequences are doing little to improve affordability at the entry point to the market. The market for homes over $3 million has slowed down and prices of those properties are slipping. Despite the new taxes, those homes are still unaffordable.

 

Potential buyers have instead turned their attention to the lower end of the market and in doing so have set it ablaze. Prices for condos are soaring and pushing those properties out of reach from the very people the new taxes were designed to assist.

 

We invited Tom Davidoff, an Associate Professor at the Sauder School of Business, the man many see as the driving force behind the tax initiatives that have been introduced for a Conversation That Matters on his reasons for wanting to change the real estate market in Vancouver.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

 

Please become a Patreon subscriber and support the production of this program, with a $1 pledge https://goo.gl/ypXyDs

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LNG, First Nations - It’s time to decide

May 23, 2018

For LNG in BC it’s crunch time. The LNG Alliance says the time is now – decide to move forward and build and then start selling Natural Gas in 2023 or 2024, which is projected to be the next market window.

 

LNG Canada recently appointed a joint venture engineering firm as the prime contractor for the Kitimat site the company has cleared and is preparing for the building of a $40 billion dollar facility. The company, however, is yet to make its final investment decision. All signs suggest that will happen in late 2018.

 

Unlike Kinder Morgan, the government of British Columbia is firmly behind the project and appears to be going out of its way to accommodate the development of the Liquefied Natural Gas industry. Looming in the background is Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver who is as opposed to LNG as he is to the movement of oil.

 

And what about First Nations? Are they in support of the project? The First Nations LNG Alliance is an organization that represents 15 communities along the TransCanada Pipeline route that support the pipeline and the LNG facilities.

 

We asked Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith to join us for a Conversation That Matters about the risks and the benefits of supporting LNG Canada and other proponents in the development of an energy-based projects.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

 

Please become a Patreon subscriber and support the production of this program, with a $1 pledge https://goo.gl/ypXyDs

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Why We Want Kinder Morgan Built, Cheam, Chief Ernie Crey

May 20, 2018

Why We Want Kinder Morgan Built

Cheam, Chief Ernie Crey

 

 

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is without a doubt the most divisive issue in Canada. It has the potential to tear at the fabric of our Confederation. The Federal Government, the governments of BC and Alberta and First Nations governments are all in a titanic battle.

 

A number of First Nations along the pipeline route do not want to see it built and others are anxious to see the oil flow through their territories.  The Frog Lake Nation of Alberta owns and operates an energy company and it says that without the pipeline, they can’t sell their oil. An outcome they say will doom them to continued poverty.

 

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia is adamantly opposed to the project and recently sent a delegation to Kinder Morgan’s annual general meeting in Houston to voice its concerns.

 

The various positions within indigenous communities reflect the divisions over the pipeline throughout the rest of the country. First Nations like cities and provinces have rights that require consultation, agreement and consent.

 

While many First Nations leaders are opposed to the pipeline, 33 Indigenous communities have signed agreements with Kinder Morgan supporting the project and they are speaking out because they say their position is being misrepresented. Simpcw Chief, Nathan Matthew made it clear his band supports the project and he stated that no other organization or First Nation has the authority to speak on the Simpcw’s behalf.

 

Cheam First Nations Chief Ernie Crey has taken to social and mainstream media to voice his support for the project. We invited Chief Crey to join us for a Conversation That Matters about his Nation’s reasons for supporting the building of the controversial pipeline.

 

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

 

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LNG = Fracking with Brad Hayes

May 10, 2018

Ep 19o

Brad Hayes

LNG = Fracking

 

Now that the Premier of British Columbia has gone out of his way to accommodate the building of a massive LNG production facility in Kitimat we have to ask, where will the gas come from?

The answer of course is, it comes from under the ground in both BC and Alberta.

Natural Gas is the byproduct of decayed plant and animal life that was compacted and pressurized by layers of sand and rock over millions of years. Deep under the earth’s crust in temperatures that exceed 120 degrees Celsius, the organic matter cooks and eventually the carbon bonds in the organic material break down and fossil fuels are formed. This is known as, "Primary Gas."

Secondary Natural Gas accompanies oil which cooks for many millions of years more.

Getting that gas out of the ground means drilling and it also means hydraulic fractured drilling also known as fracking.

What exactly is fracking? How is the operation carried out and more importantly is it a process we want to be a by-product of the LNG industry we’re inviting to set up shop in British Columbia?

We invited Brad Hayes, the Director of the Canadian Society of Unconventional Resources, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and a respected expert on fracking to join us for a Conversation That Matters about fracking.

Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue presents Conversations That Matter. Join veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week for an important and engaging Conversation about the issues shaping our future.

Please become a Patreon subscriber and support the production of this program, with a $1 pledge https://goo.gl/ypXyDs

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