Divining political identity, blog by blog

Special to the VOICE

Officially, political parties are banned in Ontario municipal politics. There are moves, sometimes, by local politicians in various locales to introduce the notion, but so far parties remain verboten.

When I read the Mayor’s weekly blog last week, which will, I suppose, be entered into the official minutes of the Town’s next Council meeting, I wondered why the Mayor was so political in his admonishment of a certain politician. Near the end of the Mayor’s summary of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting earlier this month in Ottawa, a gathering which was well attended by Town Hall figures, the Mayor wrote, “Shockingly, one party leader also spouted a lie that needs to be quashed. Mr. Brown, leader of the opposition, told the hundreds of delegates that the Government broke their promise of extending GO Rail to Niagara.”

Frankly, I’m more shocked when a politician isn’t lying, but that’s just me. The Mayor’s claim was followed by an explanation citing a problem with the timing of the request from the Region and subsequent reaction time from the province. The Mayor defended the provincial government, stating, “How can anyone blame the government for inaction?”

The problem was clearly tardiness on the part of the Region, finger-wag.

We can now safely assume that the Mayor, and by extension, the Town of Pelham, are not supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Since we are looking at party affiliation in municipal politics, let’s see which party the our Council could belong to.

We certainly spend taxpayers’ money freely, so maybe we are supporters of the NDP.  But when we spend this money freely, we only pay for the best and most municipal administrators, and the biggest, most elegant Town buildings, so maybe we support the Liberal Party. They certainly like to buy expensive stuff like gas plants and wind turbines.

Then again, in the same message, the Mayor points out the Town’s desire to preserve green space and keep the urban boundary in check, so maybe we are Green Party supporters.

For sure, we can safely assume that the Mayor and possibly a majority of Council are not Conservatives. We can also make a pretty good guess as to which party they do belong to.

According to people who are supposed to know such things—in this case RBC and Ratehub—Canadians are spending too much of their income on mortgage payments. According to Canada’s Mortgage and Housing Commission, we should spend only 30% of our income on our mortgage. In the GTA, people are spending 72% of their income on mortgage payments. In Vancouver, it’s 80%. Saint John, N.B was lowest at 34%. The average mortgage amount has climbed 5% to around $200,000 this year. There are 6 million mortgages in Canada right now. Other debt is averaging $22,154, for things like credit cards and car loans. Unsecured, high-interest, short-term debt, which 6.4 million Canadians hold, is up 5.5% to an average of $20,500. This debt is for things like furniture and appliances. You can even buy a blender or coffee maker on the monthly payment plan. Isn’t credit a wonderful thing.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is worried. So worried that measures I mentioned in an earlier column have evolved from mere rumours to a name: B-20. The Residential Mortgage Insurance Underwriting Practices and Procedures regulations will solidify some fairly drastic measures.

As mentioned before, stress-testing all mortgage applicants, insured and uninsured, especially uninsured, for 2% above prime and 3% for more risky borrowers, will try to contain the pending damage from the housing correction that is now going on in Ontario and across Canada. As Central Banks move to tighten credit, they can raise interest rates or tighten loan regulations, or do both. The amount a qualified buyer will be able to borrow could fall as much as 18%. So either a house buyer can borrow more from the Bank of Mom and Dad, which is averaging $40,000 today, or the prices of houses will continue to fall. How much they fall is unknown, but a return to the historical average is likely. Check your MPAC statement from 2016 to find that particular number. Prices do tend to overshoot the average downwards in a correction, sometimes by as much as 20%, depending on the severity of the bubble.

This was a severe bubble. The OFSI is charged with one task: to protect financial institutions from bad debts. B-20 could take effect later this fall. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

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The Voice of Pelham
Pelham's independent news source from the heart of Niagara.