daily: Wednesday, November 27

How to fix Ontario’s property-tax system — and how not to
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on Nov 27, 2019
Some 3,200 Canadian National Railway employees were to be back on the job this morning after their union reached a tentative agreement with the company Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)



Good morning, Ontario

Here's what we're following

CN workers back on the job 

Some 3,200 Canadian National Railway employees were to be back on the job this morning after their union reached a tentative agreement with the company Tuesday, the Globe and Mail reports. The week-long stoppage, the longest rail strike in a decade, posed a risk to the entire Canadian economy because half the country’s exports move by train. The agreement will come as a relief to many industries, including farmers in southwestern Ontario who experienced a shortage of propane normally shipped by rail. The deal still must be ratified by union members.

Oneida residents point to double standard on water safety

A joint investigation between the Toronto Star and the Ryerson School of Journalism reveals the Oneida Nation of the Thames’ water system has failed to meet provincial standards since 2006 and sometimes contains elevated levels of pathogens such as E. coli. Meanwhile, the township of Southwold next door draws its water with a treatment system that received a $176 million upgrade last year, underscoring that the federal government’s campaign to end boil-water advisories on First Nation reserves has far to go. Indigenous Services Canada says its test results indicate that Oneida’s water quality is having no impact on health, adding that it takes the community’s concerns “very seriously” and is working with residents to improve water quality.

Auditor general won’t review green energy contracts 

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysysk tells CTV News she will not open a new investigation into the cancellation of wind-farm contracts. “Based on the review of the contracts and estimates of the payment, I find the audit to be clean,” she added. Earlier this week, the NDP had asked Lysyk to investigate the true cost of tearing up 750 wind contracts after learning the government set aside $231 million for cancellation fees, despite initially claiming such a move would cost “nothing.”

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Word Bomb: How do you say Toronto? 

Tkaronto, York, Toronto the Good, T-Dot, Hogtown, the 6ix: Canada’s largest city has gone by many names over the years. In this season finale recorded live at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, podcast hosts Pippa Johnstone and Karina Palmitesta explore the myths and origin stories behind Toronto’s many monikers.

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How to fix provincial property-tax systems — and how not to 

When it comes to property tax, Ontario’s municipal property assessment corporation, MPAC, assesses plots of land according to their “highest and best use,” and not the structures currently standing on them. This presents big problems for small businesses in urban centres, which pay taxes on assessments that far outrank their scale. Political columnist John Michael McGrath reports on some new ideas suggested by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance about how to reform the process.

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The Agenda: The power of nostalgia  

Between the Full House reboot, the return of acid-wash jeans, the rise of Pokémon Go, and the classic sitcom Friends becoming one of the most-streamed shows on Netflix, one would be forgiven for thinking it’s the ‘90s again. The Agenda explores the power of nostalgia, why it’s more popular than ever, and how companies are harnessing that power.

The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote

Every election, campaign teams across North America wring their hands over how to appeal to a younger generation of voters. In this 2015 documentary, 22-year-old Dylan Playfair sets out on a border-crossing road trip to find out. He visits then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau before heading to the Burning Man festival in Nevada to talk to fellow millennials about why his generation isn’t interested in voting. What he finds are engaged citizens who don’t trust political systems, and are trying to change attitudes through art, music, and activism instead.

Tonight on TVO

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Highways and our transportation future 

Earlier this year, the Ontario government announced plans to revive the Greater Toronto Area West Highway, also known as Highway 413. Called the missing link in Toronto-area highways, GTA West is meant to address congestion and bring relief to drivers. But is building another highway the right approach to changing the transportation landscape? The Agenda looks at the pros and cons of the proposal. 

9 p.m. — Jim Galloway: A Journey in Jazz 

Filmed in Scotland, Kansas City, New York, Toronto and Vienna, this film follows the path of Canada’s ambassador of jazz. After graduating from the Glasgow College of Art, Scots-born saxophonist Jim Galloway immigrated to Toronto in 1964, where he founded the Wee Big Band in the 1970s, co-founded the Toronto Jazz Festival in 1987, and established himself as a multi-instrumentalist and music writer. Galloway, a Juno Award-winner, died in 2014 at the age of 78.

From the archive

April 2014 — John Kastner on the documentarian’s life 

Veteran filmmaker John Kastner began his career as an actor, appearing in television and radio programs, before moving on to producing them — and making a series of award-winning documentaries about Canada’s criminal justice system in the process. In this Doc Studio clip, Kastner discusses Out of Mind, Out of Sight, his 2014 film that profiles the lives of patients at the Brockville Mental Health Centre. “I do love changing closed minds,” he says. “It’s just a remarkable experience to watch people who come with all their prejudices against [people with mental illness] — ‘lock ’em up and throw away the key!’ — and at the end they end up laughing and applauding for the patients in the film.” Kastner, winner of four Emmys and a Gemini Academy Achievement Award, died last week at the age of 73. 

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