Will Urban Policy Lead to Canada Being ‘Trump’d’? Brian Lee Crowley Weighs In

Recently NAIOP Vancouver was joined by special guest speaker Brian Lee Crowley, a serial think tank entrepreneur and national thought leader. A native of North Vancouver, Crowley is the founder of the only independent national think tank in Ottawa, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), which was recently ranked one of the top three new think tanks in the world. As an advisor to governments, industry and international organizations and a frequent commentator across all media, he shared how today’s real estate market and urban policies surrounding development are driving factors on how a leader like Trump could be in Canada’s future.

“Canadians despise America for their attitude of superiority, smugness, and condescension. As a famously polite nation, we think that we could never elect someone like President Trump into power. But are things that different here? Not really,” said Crowley to a crowd of NAIOP members on Thursday, February 23rd.

According to Crowley, zoning regulations directly affect affordability. And because the economic future of countries lies in cities, as that’s where the jobs and infrastructure reside, urban policies that block affordable housing supply means that blue collar workers can’t afford to move. In Canada, that’s Toronto and Vancouver.

“According to a Merrill Lynch Report, blue collars jobs are on the decline. Construction, manufacturing, and natural resources are all down. In fact, 30% of Canadian men over the age of 20 do not have jobs, and more than 40% of Canadians are afraid of losing their jobs to automation and technology. When workers are shut out of the labour force, they want a political leader that doesn’t dismiss their fears or tells them to get a university degree in order to get back in the job market.”

Despite that the US has an unemployment rate of less than 5%, the lowest it’s been in 30 years, Crowley shared show Trump’s supporters were mostly comprised of people who felt shut out of the labour market and discouraged due to the lack of opportunities. Nine out of ten states with the lowest labour participation rate (meaning they were looking for a job) voted for Trump. Thirty-two percent of men over the age of 20 were unemployed -- figures similar to Canada -- and despite that America has made more things than ever before, the products just don’t require low-skilled workers. Crowley referred to this as “product efficiency elimination”.

“We must have policies that remove barriers and create housing affordability. If we don’t, the public will buy in to a leader that shares Trump’s values. We need to restore the social and economical balance that we’ve lost.”

To learn more about Crowley’s thoughts on the future of Canada and how urban policies and real estate could dictate a new future, read the latest article in The Vancouver Sun by reporter Evan Duggan.

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