Polls are open in British Columbia immediately till eight p.m. PT as voters solid their ballots within the nation’s first municipal elections of the 12 months.

CBC Information can have full protection all through the day, together with native radio specials within the night, reside protection on Fb and in depth assets on our web site. 

That is the primary province-wide municipal vote since new marketing campaign finance guidelines that restrict company and union donations have been carried out final fall. 

It is also an election that can see huge change in some Metro Vancouver cities, the place greater than a dozen long-term mayors aren’t looking for re-election.

Change coming for Vancouver

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was one of many first to announce he would not be within the seat he has held for a decade.

Robertson says he has no regrets as he leaves behind a affluent metropolis with an in depth biking community. He additionally passes alongside a housing disaster, which impacts municipalities throughout the province, that has been an enormous concern within the election.  

Robertson’s municipal social gathering, Imaginative and prescient Vancouver, selected to not run a mayoral candidate after the one that they had chosen, Ian Campbell, stepped down 4 days earlier than nominations closed.

Not like most massive cities in Canada, Vancouver would not have a ward system. As an alternative, politicians type events that run candidates on council, the college board and park board. Montreal additionally has municipal political events.

From left to proper: Wai Younger, Shauna Sylvester, Kennedy Stewart, Ken Sim and Hector Bremner are among the mayoral candidates operating in Vancouver.

The vacuum left behind after Robertson’s determination to not run ushered in a flood of candidates aligned with 9 civic political events, a few of them splinter teams from extra established events, and a number of other candidates operating as independents. 

There are 158 candidates on town’s lengthy poll — 21 of them vying for high spot. 

Deal with crime, transit in Surrey

In Surrey, the area’s second most populated metropolis, Mayor Linda Hepner can also be stepping down.

Her social gathering, Surrey First, has been in energy for a decade with a stronghold that at the moment consists of all seats on council. 

There are eight folks operating to switch her. Tom Gill is operating as Surrey First’s mayoral candidate. Bruce Hayne was with the social gathering however has shaped his personal, Integrity Now.

And former mayor Doug McCallum has stepped again into the limelight 13 years after he was final in workplace. 

Candidates for mayor of Surrey are, from high left to backside proper: Pauline Greaves, John Wolanski, Rajesh Jayaprakash, Imtiaz Popat, Doug McCallum, Franç​ois Nantel, Bruce Hayne and Tom Gill. (Metropolis of Surrey)

A number of the predominant points in Surrey, one of many quickest rising cities within the province, embrace considerations about crime and whether or not town ought to type its personal police drive (it is at the moment serviced by the RCMP). 

Candidates and voters are additionally divided over a deliberate $ 1.65 billion mild rail transit system, with some eager to switch it with the sooner SkyTrain system already carried out in elements of Metro Vancouver.

Victoria and Vancouver Island

Within the provincial capital, it is shaping as much as be a three-way contest for the mayor’s chair between incumbent Lisa Helps and two challengers with out earlier electoral expertise: enterprise guide Stephen Hammond and political guide Mike Geoghegan.

In 2014, Helps unseated the final mayor, Dean Fortin, by solely 89 votes. 

Victoria has shed its sleepy popularity as house to “newlyweds and almost deads” and ushered in a extra city, trendy vibe.

However the rising recognition of town has seen skyrocketing rents, pushing housing and affordability to the highest of the agenda. How folks get round a busier metropolis can also be shaping as much as be a poll field concern.

Affordability is a serious concern throughout Vancouver Island, with tent cities popping up all through the area. 

Okanagan and the Southern Inside

The Okanagan is B.C. ‘s conventional and dependable conservative heartland.

It’s altering, nevertheless. This election, the municipal marketing campaign in Kelowna is a battle over town’s identification. And the 2 males main the race personify the chances.

Colin Basran’s tenure as mayor has been marked by development and improvement, however city issues like homelessness and crime have adopted that success.

Kelowna mayoral candidates, from left, Bobby Kennedy, Colin Basran, Bob Schewe and Tom Dyas debated management, inclusiveness and the problem of homelessness in an election discussion board hosted by CBC Kelowna and UBC Okanagan. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Enter Tom Dyas, promising a return to the Okanagan’s extra conservative roots — he is a no-nonsense, tax-cutting, small businessman paying homage to the valley’s Socred previous.

In the meantime in Penticton and Vernon, the rising homeless inhabitants and every metropolis’s response has dominated the dialogue.

In smaller communities, the place there are few condos and little international funding, the election has been fought on the standard questions of transparency, taxes and accountability.  

The purple ink on the federal authorities’s finances confirmed no indicators of fading because the annual monetary report card revealed a $ 19-billion deficit for the second straight fiscal yr.

Bills and debt funds have been all up final yr as general spending hit nearly $ 332.6 billion, leaving a deficit for 2017-18 barely smaller than what the Liberals predicted in February’s finances.

Revenues have been up too, together with $ 9.9 billion extra in private taxes from the earlier yr, in what officers described as a “new regular” as a result of full results of a brand new tax bracket for high-income earners.

The numbers within the authorities’s annual monetary report launched Friday — made public 5 weeks after the auditor common signed off on them — pushed the general nationwide debt to $ 671.Three billion.

Complicated issues was a change in the best way the federal government calculates its pension legal responsibility — a repair officers say has been on the high of the checklist for auditors for years.

The result’s revisions to 10 years’ price of finances numbers, which included turning the slim surplus the earlier Conservative authorities left with a lot fanfare in 2014-15 right into a small deficit. Conservative MP Dan Albas stated the accounting change would not disguise that the Liberals have blown previous their very own spending guarantees made to voters in 2015.

“Canadians, I believe, are going to be extra involved with the general course of presidency and never essentially with a few of these traces as to how issues get reported,” Albas stated.

“For me, the basics of this authorities are nonetheless very clear — that they make commitments after which they do the other, after which they proceed to interrupt these commitments.”

Debt to GDP ratio shrinks

Past 2017-18, Morneau’s February finances predicted an $ 18.1-billion shortfall for this fiscal yr — a quantity that is anticipated to steadily shrink to $ 12.Three billion in 2022-23, together with annual $ Three-billion cushions to offset dangers. Morneau is predicted to replace these numbers within the coming weeks when he releases his fall financial assertion.

Following the 2015 election, the Liberal authorities deserted marketing campaign pledges to run annual deficits of not more than $ 10 billion and to stability the books by 2019.

As a substitute, Morneau has targeted on lowering the online debt-to-GDP ratio — often known as the debt burden — annually.

After the pension-related revisions have been taken under consideration, the debt ratio edged right down to 31.Three per cent of GDP in 2017-18, from 32.zero per cent a yr earlier.

Officers say inside projections nonetheless present the measure on a downward observe, even when the numbers have shifted barely from February’s projections as a consequence of accounting strategies.

Debt and stability

“That is an accounting change. I do not suppose it modifications the narrative round the truth that the federal authorities has very stable fiscal balances,” stated Craig Alexander, chief economist at Deloitte Canada.

“The federal government of Canada is definitely in higher form than nearly all of its worldwide friends.”

The change might present a budgetary increase on paper in the long run — the results of anticipated rate of interest will increase that may on paper shrink the dimensions of the pension legal responsibility, stated Randall Bartlett, chief economist on the Institute for Fiscal Research and Democracy, headed by former parliamentary finances watchdog Kevin Web page.

Morneau has cited a weaker-than-expected financial system for the larger shortfalls in addition to a must make investments to elevate Canada’s long-term development.

However the financial system has delivered a robust efficiency for greater than a yr and the shortage of a street map to return to stability has drawn criticism, significantly from the Opposition Conservatives.

There are considerations the Liberals’ deficit-spending plan at a time of financial enlargement may lead far deeper down the deficit gap within the occasion of a recession.

Additionally Friday, the Liberals launched an in depth spending breakdown throughout all authorities businesses and departments, referred to as the general public accounts.

The doc famous potential dangers nonetheless going through the Canadian financial system — and authorities funds — together with potential slowdowns in international financial development, Canadians’ excessive family debt and “looming international commerce friction” as a result of insurance policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.

In line with a brand new Senate report, what Canada wants is for its wealthy folks to get richer.

After all that is not what it says in so many phrases, however in calling on the Canadian authorities to observe the U.S. in reducing company taxes, that’s successfully what it’s asking for.

Maybe it is merely a matter of dangerous timing, however the Senate banking committee report titled Canada: Nonetheless Open for Enterprise?, clearly within the works for some time, has hit the media simply as two severe flaws within the U.S. tax-cutting technique made headlines within the U.S.

Of the six suggestions listed within the report, 5 are arduous to argue with in precept.

Act instantly

Whether or not a three-year-long royal fee is the way in which to go about it, a examine of Canada’s taxation system, in search of efficiencies and analyzing its competitiveness, is an affordable a part of authorities housekeeping to maintain the nation’s income coverage present.

Reducing pink tape, serving to corporations develop and protect their mental property, encouraging commerce effectivity and increasing exports to the world’s fast-growing economies, together with China and India, appear to be concepts worthy of cross-party help.

However suggestion No. 2, the one which has attracted the headlines, might change into extra controversial.

It suggests “the federal authorities act instantly to implement measures that may encourage corporations to proceed to put money into Canada, reminiscent of lowering the company revenue tax charge and quickly permitting the complete and quick deduction of capital expenditures.”

At a question-and-answer session in Toronto yesterday, Finance Minister Invoice Morneau stated the federal government is already analyzing methods of utilizing tax reform to encourage Canadian companies to put money into Canada quite than chasing decrease taxes south of the border.

“What we’re making an attempt to attain is to make it possible for Canadian companies have the chance to put money into a manner that’s aggressive with their potential investments in the USA,” Morneau stated.

“Now we have to consider how we get there.”

The U.S. tax-cut benefit

As he considers his choices, Morneau should contemplate two latest developments which will color the benefits or disadvantages of following the tax-cutting methods of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Final week, George Athanassakos, a professor at Western College’s Ivey Enterprise Faculty, wrote a column that blamed excessive taxes, rules and pink tape — what he known as the “Trudeau Impact” — for Canada’s lagging inventory costs.

His timing was inopportune. The identical day his column got here out, the Dow Jones Industrial Common plunged 830 factors, a decline of greater than three per cent, and New York’s Nasdaq index was off 4 per cent.

A display above the ground of the New York Inventory Trade reveals the closing variety of the Dow Jones industrial Common final Wednesday. The Dow plunged greater than 800 factors, its worst drop in eight months, led by sharp declines in know-how shares. (Richard Drew/Related Press)

Clearly, the “Trudeau Impact” was heading south.

Lo and behold, Toronto’s inventory market index was down as effectively, however by so much much less. Widespread evaluation from the U.S. blamed the Dow and Nasdaq’s precipitous decline on their precipitous rise following the U.S. tax cuts. Corporations had been taking their tax positive factors and shopping for again their very own inventory, creating what might have been extreme exuberance and a brief spike in costs.

In what some described as a sugar excessive, the U.S. financial system and shares have been surging for the improper causes. Worry of a commerce struggle with China meant consumers have been stocking up on imports earlier than shedding entry. In the meantime the tax cuts, which profited shares and their shareholders once they have been launched, had completed a lot much less to stimulate productive funding and the extra lasting advantages that include it.

Scorching, however possibly too scorching

And there have been different penalties of utilizing stimulus to push an already robust financial system into overdrive.

Decrease taxes, when unemployment was already low and simply because the financial system was being juiced by low rates of interest and  authorities spending, meant Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell had little alternative however to start a sequence of rate of interest will increase to forestall inflation from getting out of hand. That, in flip, destabilized the bond market.

Critics argued the tax cuts have been little greater than a manner of transferring cash from authorities coffers to rich, stock-owning People. 

Au contraire, stated supporters, reducing taxes for the wealthy would find yourself producing extra income in the long term. 

However a second story this week shot holes in that argument. The U.S. deficit has soared underneath Trump, up 17 per cent to the very best stage since 2012, when the U.S. was nonetheless struggling the results of the Nice Recession.

Senate majority chief Mitch McConnell says a 17 per cent improve within the deficit underneath the Trump administration was not resulting from tax cuts, however as a result of social companies price an excessive amount of. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The best way out of that downside? In line with U.S. Senate majority chief Mitch McConnell, it is to cut spending on social packages that disproportionately profit the poor reminiscent of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Safety.

Many critics, together with our personal overseas affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland, have warned that world governments are being taken over by the wealthy and highly effective. And there may be loads of proof that making the wealthy richer and the poor poorer just isn’t within the long-term advantage of Canadians or Canadian enterprise.

Profitable companies want clients who’re wealthy sufficient to purchase their merchandise. Profitable companies want a extremely educated, wholesome inhabitants, the place everybody looks like a valued member of society, able to taking part in and serving to to create the subsequent stage of a dynamic financial system.

Whereas Morneau thinks about how one can maintain Canadian enterprise funding at house, he’ll little doubt be contemplating whether or not the U.S. recreation plan is finally the very best one. He might resolve extra average technique, one that does not make the wealthy richer and the poor poorer, will finally be higher for Canadian enterprise in the long run.

Observe Don on Twitter @don_pittis