Along with fellow NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche, my former Member of the Provincial Parliament Jessica Bell is proposing a Rent Stabilization Act, which would stop landlords from raising rents between tenants. It would also establish a rent registry with the Landlord and Tenant Board.

If passed, the law would help rationalize the incentives faced by landlords, who at present can accept the ~2% per year rent increases set by the province with existing tenants or who can try to get rid of their tenants to reset the rent at a much higher level. Making it more profitable to cycle through tenants than to retain them also contributes to landlords wanting informal tenants rather than tenants on a formal lease, since only the former have protection from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

With the present provincial legislature comprised of 70 Progressive Conservatives under Doug Ford, 40 NDP MPPs, plus seven Liberals and some minor parties there isn’t a realistic hope of the proposal becoming law.


Every community and all the infrastructure on Earth has been built with the expectation that past weather conditions will be broadly similar to future and present ones. Rapid climate change of the kind we are creating thus sets up a situation where what we have built in every place is less and less suited to the conditions that will exist there. In the most extreme cases, places where people have long inhabited will cease to be able to support a human population. An increased flow of individuals out of a territory as conditions worsen could give way to the need to relocate entire populations.

This is the starkest and most immediate concern for low-lying island states, such as the Marshall Islands:

The depressing long-term solution, as in Mr Tong’s last resort, may be to move. The Marshall Islands hopes to renegotiate its post-colonial ‘Compact of Free Association’ with America, which expires in 2023, to ensure a permanent right of residence in the United States for all Marshallese. Tuvalu has no such option. Maina Talia, a climate activist, thinks that the government should take Fiji up on its offer of a home where Tuvaluans could practise the same culture rather than ‘be dumped somewhere in Sydney.’

Vexingly, the same conservative political forces that champion fossil fuels and refuse to accept the dangerousness of climate change are perhaps most defined by a closed sense of nationalism and opposition to immigration. Among other motivations, they are going to need to learn that if you want the global human population to stay more or less where they are, you need to keep the climate within the bounds that have supported those societies.



Facing total obstruction from Republicans, Democrats themselves are notably divided on whether and how to act on climate change:

However, these measures will have to garner the vote of every Democrat in the Senate to pass, with Joe Manchin, a centrist from West Virginia, skeptical of the size and scope of the $3.5tn spending proposal. Manchin, a major recipient of donations from the coal industry, has said it “makes no sense” to pay utilities to phase in solar and wind power.

Manchin is reportedly set to block the clean electricity program, which forms the main muscle of the climate package. This could prove a hugely consequential blow to the effort to constrain dangerous global heating. “This is high on the list of most consequential actions ever taken by an individual senator,” tweeted the climate campaigner Bill McKibben. “You’ll be able to see the impact of this vain man in the geologic record.”

This internecine fight is just one manifestation of the persistent divide about how climate change might be tackled politically, with progressives taking it as a demonstration of how seeking the political middle ground is pointless and centrists drawing the opposite lesson that only climate policies with broad support will succeed.



Because of its restrained and historically accurate storytelling, Bridge of Spies is one of my favourite films.

Looking for something a bit meatier than podcasts to listen to on my exercise walks, I am trying out an Audible account with James Donovan’s Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel. It’s the perfect kind of book for someone overly preoccupied with an academic project, insofar as it is interesting and detailed enough to be mentally engaging as well as mercifully unrelated to any work I need to do.


There’s a cliché that you should never ask a PhD student about their dissertation in conversation and, based on my experiences since my project officially began in June 2018, there are several reasons why this is sound advice. In short, the PhD and dissertation process is frustrating to hear described and, when a student is asked to do so, the predictable responses from the person inquiring are a small-scale rebellion about why the more vexing parts of the process are the way they are, followed by frustration from the listener toward the student because they dislike how they didn’t get the uplifting story they wanted about a useful project soon to be completed. Saying that you’re just expressing sympathy and sincere support for the completion of the project doesn’t help, because it still carries the implication that somehow if a student just behaves in the right way their problems will disappear, making them in a roundabout way the student’s own fault for not being able to apply the wisdom of a quick amateur analysis.

People without recent personal experience in a PhD program have little experiential basis for understanding what’s involved, often manifested as a view that special accommodation should be made for you or that the system ought to be promptly changed because of your suffering. That misses the bureaucracy of higher education, as well as suffering as a background condition of most graduate work. The only way out is to suffer through, and adding the second-hand frustrations of observers to your mental landscape will just exacerbate your own feelings of frustration and powerlessness.

Best to talk about something else.


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These days many sources report that in-demand, rare, and marketable skills are the basis of personal financial security. Not great then that Canada’s former top bureaucrat recently remarked: “Anybody with a laptop and a Google account can be a policy analyst.”