Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

A different approach to an Uber problem

It seems there’s no end to the Uber drama in Canada. Major urban centres across the country continue to debate how best to deal with the supposed ride-‘sharing’ service. Vancouver is leaning toward regulating the service, in a similar manner to taxis; Calgary’s already proceeded to do so. Montréal has banned the service until it can decide how to deal with it. Edmonton, Ottawa and now Toronto have passed bylaws to legalise the service, with conditions.

One possible approach that has received little consideration to date is co-optation. Given what appear to be the company’s future designs, that could prove a critical oversight.

Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part two

Map 1 Usually take public transit to work
Map 2 Usually vehicle passenger to work
Map 3 Usually drive vehicle to work

Source(s): 2006 Census (20% sample) topic-based tabulations

As previously discussed, variable-rate tolling as a means of moderating traffic congestion in Canada makes little sense. Unable to cite relevant research to support its “toll everything everywhere” proposal, the recent paper from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC) instead turned to reviewing anecdotal evidence from the USA, Canada and Sweden.

Notably, the Canadian examples referenced were Toronto and Calgary. As previously mentioned, the CEC conceded Toronto’s 407 ETR did not work as intended. The Calgary example, along with one from San Francisco, of a variable-rate parking scheme, has neither proven effective nor popular. Another example, of a distance-traveled toll scheme in Oregon, likewise neither proven effective nor popular (and highlights an important privacy issue). 4 of the 6 anecdotes CEC could come up with were ineffective and unpopular.

Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part one


It’s déjà vu all over again. By extolling the virtue of variable-rate tolls on all highways and bridges leading into major Canadian central business districts, the recent paper by Montréal’s latest conservative think tank, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC), mimics the 2008 proposal by the even more conservative Montréal Economic Institute.

The latest proposal was dead on arrival. The recently elected Prime Minister of Canada had campaigned on a promise to scrap his predecessor’s toll plan for the new Champlain Bridge in Montréal. Québec’s Transport Minister, also the Minister responsible for the Montréal region, immediately scuttled the CEC proposal. In doing so, he succinctly made a point that all such proposals glance over: “What are we offering as an alternative?”

Environment Health

Earth Day 2015: On 45th anniversary, little cause for celebration

If American television is anything to go by in the lead up to the 45th Earth Day anniversary (on April 22, 2015), there should be some concern about how many more remain to be celebrated. Given the increasingly unnecessary to downright unhealthy reasons for the continued exploitation of our limited natural resources, there seems little sense to the ever-expanding environmental destruction.


Environment: 400 ppm CO2 and the ‘disconnect between what we know and what we do’

ource: The Keeling Curve, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

While observed CO2 concentration barely glanced it for the first time ever last Spring, the 400 parts per million (ppm) level was clearly breached last month (April 2014). The figure is a significant milestone. A plurality of environmental scientists have noted that exceeding the 400 ppm CO2 concentration levels will ” make it progressively more and more difficult to avoid further substantial climate change.”

Some critics simply dismiss science and scientists out of hand, to rather humorous effect (Doomsaying math whizzes just don’t understand capitalism Brian Lee Crowley, The Globe and Mail, March 21, 2014). Others proffer more thoughtful, nuanced equivocations. For example, some suggest if humans indeed had any impact on the rapid rise in CO2 concentration over the past half century, the human population explosion is the more likely culprit.

While there certainly is a historical correlation between population growth (PDF) and CO2 concentration, as the old adage goes, correlation is not causation. What that increasing population has been doing and, more importantly, how it’s been doing it has been the primary focus of most contemporary research on the topic.

So where does Canada fit into this picture? Facing increased scrutiny over its environmental record, it doesn’t help that Canada’s per capita fossil-fuel CO2 emissions are among the highest in the world, and, despite the country’s relatively tiny population, that Canada’s total fossil-fuel CO2 emissions are also among the highest in the world.

If there’s one thing Canadian policy-makers can hang their hats on, it’s that Canada’s overall share of industrial CO2 emissions hasn’t risen as much as some developing market economies’.


Environment Population Transportation

Canada’s (somewhat less) vast emptiness

In Canada, a lack of population doesn’t necessarily translate to a lack of roadway…


… as demonstrated by the Canadian road network map above.

A lot of Canada’s dirt-based wealth can’t be immediately transported via pipeline and/or rail. The remarkable expanse of road infrastructure through the northern Prairies and into the Territories (and, to a lesser extent, northern Ontario and Quebec) – from which a great deal of that wealth is extracted, but where hardly any Canadians reside – speaks to that.

That being said, Canada’s still pretty empty. Few today would choose to live much further north, given Canada’s bitterly cold northern climate. That climate also limits Canada’s dirt-based wealth potential, making it difficult to grow things in and/or dig thing out of all that land up there.

Climate change may ‘fix’ that in the foreseeable future, however. As one of our favourite Econ profs once not-so-jokingly put it (off-the-record): Canada has the most to ‘gain’ from global warming – which goes a long way to explaining its environmental policy, or lack thereof…


Free Paris transit *


Smog forces Paris to offer free public transport
Henry Samuel, The Telegraph March 14, 2014

Accountability Environment Foreign policy Governance Media Trade and investment Transparency

Keystone XL: Canada’s environmental record underscores US reluctance to approve project


NC6 submissions from Parties included in Annex I to the Convention
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2013

BR1 submissions from Parties included in Annex I to the Convention
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2013

Over the last couple days various Canadian media outlets have reported on the federal government’s quiet submissions to the UNFCCC late last month, in which it conceded likely not meeting its 2020 GHG emissions reduction targets.

For some reason, none of the articles include links to the actual reports. Above are links to UNFCCC Annex I countries’ National Communications (NC) and Biennial Reports (BR). They include reports from Canada (PDF), the United States (PDF) and fifteen other industrialised economics.

Canada’s report is an interesting read, if only for the myriad excuses proffered for its failure – which include the popularity of pick-ups and SUVs

Since 1990, there has been a 33% growth in transportation emissions in Canada, an increase that was mainly driven by an increase in cross-border trade, on-road freight transportation activity and a shift in personal vehicle ownership from cars to light-duty trucks.

By contrast, the US government promoted its recent submissions to the UNFCC on the Department of State website, touting its efforts and successes in reducing emissions. If the US wants to continue making progress on its environmental record, it’ll likely want to distance itself from Pig-Pen as much as possible. The US decision on Keystone XL will be telling.

Apologies to the Fraser Institute for ‘smearing’ Canada’s environmental record – with Canada’s official environmental record. (That canard was posted a week before the government’s hush-hush UNFCCC submissions.)

Aboriginal - First Nations Environment Governance Poverty Race and ethnicity Transparency

DataLibre: Axed federal advisory web sites available on, but not Library and Archives Canada

The previous post got us thinking, why not look up the other federal advisory agencies and councils that were recently axed

First Nations Statistical Institute (FNSI)

National Council of Welfare (NCoW)

National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE)

National Council on Visible Minorities (NCVM)

Readers are encouraged to visit’s Wayback Machine and let us know what other interesting deleted or modified Government of Canada sites and pages they find.


All the referenced web sites were supposed to be archived at Library and Archives Canada. Of the four listed above, only NCVM and NRTEE are archived, the latter 6 years older than’s. Perhaps something to do with those cutbacks at Library and Archives, which just so happened to coincide with the elimination of the referenced advisory councils…

Before getting too excited, archived web sites have very limited functionality. Things like forms and search functions don’t work. So, for example, data searches won’t work.

Nevertheless,’s efforts are commendable. This site does not endorse nor have any affiliation with the agencies or firms mentioned on its pages. That said, readers who find’s pages useful may wish to consider contributing to the organisation’s efforts.

Readers may also wish to inquire of their federal MP re the missing and out-of-date Library and Archives Canada web archives.


The North Puddle. Estimated economic cost: $60Trillion. Irreversible damage to the environment: Priceless.