July 30, 2009

We all knew this was coming...

July 20, 2009


I will always be a policy wonk at heart. There is an idea coming out of England known as "pay-as-you-save" where homeowners would pay off a retrofit loan with the money they save on energy due to the retrofitting.

Sounds easy doesnt it?

Here is how it works:

Joe buys a house. Joe finds out that by spending $5 000 retro-fitting his home, he can save 20$ a month. That is 240$ a year. Within 21 years, Joe would be saving money. However, Joe doesnt know if he will own his house in 21 years, so retrofitting the house just is not worth the risk. The "pay-as-you-save" loan takes the savings from retro-fitting the home and applies them to the loan. If Joe sells the house, he also sells the loan. After the loan is paid off, the house's value increases as it is energy efficient. If Joe has the need to move, he sells the loan with the house.

The British Plan requires banks to provide these loans. However, I personally don't see the issue with Environment Canada putting up the money. Let's face it, these are micro-loans. While the full costs for retro-fitting a home can be up to $20 000, some measures costs a little as a few hundred dollars. This is money that is directly injected into the economy that is 100% guaranteed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because less energy is spent. It may be the most direct way to turn money into reduced emissions while helping kickstart the green economy that Canada needs to be a part of.

The department needs to put up a website that is interactive. On that website, homeowners can find out what changes can be made and how much money these changes would save them. The homeowners can then make a decision as to what changes need to be made and how much these changes cost, depending on the region. Estimates are made and submitted for approval for a "pay-as-you-save" loan. Payment is determined by the amount of money that is expected to be saved on each energy bill.

Now to rebut a few arguments:

Anthony, this will require a huge bureaucracy to manage.

If consumers are choosing from government approved options, the loan approvals are pretty much automatic, provided a simple credit check is performed. The Canadian government has been managing loans for students and businesses for years. This is not a novel concept.

Anthony, what prevents people from taking the money and using it to buy a new car?

As the estimates themselves are approved by the department loan officer, the contractors can bill the government directly for the amount they estimated and are legally bound to do the work once they bill the government. This is also less headaches for the homeowners as well.

Anthony, what about people with new homes?

Getting this work done in new homes is far less expensive. However, I do not see how the extra cost cannot be used to apply for a pay-as-you-save loan to help alleviate some of the mortgage on the original cost of the home. Think of it as an incentive to get off to a good start.


I am open to other suggestions and questions. I am not proposing it to any particular party like some of my other blogging friends, like Scott who sent me the article over the weekend.

This is a good idea. It will help Canadians. It will help the economy. It will help combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Who knows? If this works, maybe pay-as-you-save loans can be applied to hybrid cars to bridge the extra cost, with savings at the pump applied for the first couple of years.

July 17, 2009

Eurotrip Cancelled

Sweden's Migration and Asylum and Policy Minister Tobias Billstroem was quoted as saying that Sweden, as Chair of the EU until December, would be ready to slap retaliatory VISA requirements on Canadian citizens.

While some Canadians are wondering if Jason Kenney needs to become Minister of Migration and Asylum and Policy, or just Minister of Asylum, he inadvertently revealed what the problem was.

"We need to streamline the system to provide faster protection for real victims of persecution, while showing bogus claimants to the door much more quickly. Until we're able to come up with reforms along those lines, unfortunately, the visa policy becomes our only recourse,"

What Kenney is basically saying is he doesn't have a plan. It just seems so much easier to begin a diplomatic war with a NAFTA partner and the European Union than to come up with a solution to prevent all this.

After Harper's week of missteps at the G8 in Italy and now Kenney starting a spat with Mexico and the EU, it makes you wonder where the hell Lawrence Cannon is, and how much longer he will have to put up with this comedy of errors.


July 8, 2009

Things not to do Before Visiting the Pope

Catholicism has (unfortunately) been a big part of my life growing up. When I was younger and had to attend the mandatory catechism classes, we were told just how important it was to be receiving the first communion.

One little girl asked what I thought was a brilliant question. She asked what to do if we weren’t hungry. The priest turned to her and said “If you throw away the body of Christ, you will burn in hell forever.” I know the wrath of refusing food because my nonna is just as unforgiving.

After reading this, I simply do not understand what the Prime Minister was thinking. Are the protocol people on vacation?

So a few days before setting off to Italy to meet with the G8 and then the Pope, the Canadian Prime Minister has managed to commit one of the biggest booboos possible.

For Harper’s sake I hope this isn’t true. Catholics take this kind of stuff very seriously. If he didn’t want to take it, he just had to stay in his seat when everybody else went up.

I would like to see how many Catholic priests will tell their parishioners to vote Conservative after this kind of flub. If Harper was embarrassed in front of the Pope for funding a pride parade in Toronto, he will really be squirming when he sits down with him next week.

Here’s a tip Steve for your upcoming visit, While in Italy, when someone gives you food, you eat it!

Update: It seems the Harper PR people are denying the story in the face of video evidence contradicting them. They recognize this as a big deal. Covering it up will probably only hurt them more.