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Trudeau, Trump and Pena Nieto to sign new USMCA trade agreement in Argentina





Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will sign the new United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement on continental trade in Argentina Friday morning.

While Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will be present at the event, the three leaders themselves will sign the new trade deal.

Even after the deal is signed, it remains a long way from taking effect. The elected governments of all three nations still have to ratify the deal.

In Canada and Mexico, that process is expected to be pretty straightforward. In the U.S. — where the recent midterm elections delivered the House of Representatives to the Democrats — it could be more challenging.

“I think it’s fantastic news,” former Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics. “We need to have that level of leadership come together to sign to send a very strong signal that if this is the agreement we’ve come to, and this is the agreement our leaders support.”

“We don’t need any more uncertainty around the trade file in North America,” added Ambrose, who served on Trudeau’s NAFTA advisory panel. “Of course we’ll probably continue to see some of it around tariffs on steel and aluminum, but let’s hope that’s resolved soon.”

U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum will remain in place for the time being, Freeland’s office has confirmed.

Symbolism of the signing

Both the White House and the Mexican government said openly in the days before the signing ceremony that it would involve the leaders of the three countries.

Only Canada sounded a somewhat sour note, saying that there were still difficulties in the text and hinting that it was reluctant to have a celebratory signing. Canada’s preferred approach would probably have been a low-key signing where ministers, rather than heads of government, put their imprimatur on the accord with the minimum of public fuss.

But that ran up against the political needs of the leaders of the two other leaders.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump each have reasons for wanting to sign the USMCA in person. (Saul Loeb, File/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump sold the renegotiation of NAFTA to his base of supporters as a huge improvement over the previous deal. It’s only to be expected that he wants the photo to prove it, complete with the other two countries signing what he could present to his base as articles of capitulation.

But his Mexican counterpart, Pena Nieto, sold the deal to his people as a victory for Mexico, saving free trade from a U.S. president who wanted to kill it. Pena Nieto has reached the end of his six-year term and is set to be replaced by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), a politician who represents Mexico’s left and who has often questioned the value of NAFTA and of international trade generally.

It’s a safe bet that Pena Nieto wants his legacy to be that of a man who did what had to be done to save NAFTA, the bedrock of Mexico’s modern prosperity.

With the leaders of both of the other NAFTA partners determined to sign in person, it became very difficult for Trudeau to delegate to someone else.

Supporting dairy

In the run-up to this announcement, the NDP and two national dairy organizations have urged Trudeau not to sign the deal.

What worries the dairy sector is a USMCA annex on agricultural trade. The dairy organizations say it “fundamentally undermines Canadian sovereignty” by granting the Americans “oversight into the administration of our Canadian dairy system.”

In letters written to Trudeau Thursday, both the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Dairy Processors Association of Canada said they’d received assurances from negotiators that this text would not be part of the final deal.

Two national dairy organizations have urged Trudeau not to sign the deal, saying it grants the Americans ‘oversight into the administration of our Canadian dairy system.’ (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

But dairy industry stakeholders who spoke to CBC News said that, contrary to these assurances, they were told by government officials that this language has become part of the official agreement. The industry stakeholders told CBC News the measures compromise their sovereignty and threaten their ability to manage their business how they see fit.

CBC News has reached out to Global Affairs Canada for confirmation and has not received a reply.

As of Thursday evening, the Global Affairs website had not yet posted the text of the agreement and was still sending readers to the USTR, website where they could find the U.S. version of the agreement.

‘Crippling consequences’

The American dairy industry is aggressively in search of new markets for its milk, which it produces far in excess of its domestic demand. It’s also suffering losses due to retaliatory tariffs from other countries and markets it’s missing out on, thanks, in part, to Trump’s abandonment of other trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Having more information about what Canada is doing with its strict price and production controls, while simultaneously gaining access to a new share of Canada’s protected market, could be highly beneficial to the American industry at a time when it’s pressuring the Trump administration to compensate for those losses.

The USMCA also requires Canada to abandon a new pricing system for dairy ingredients that the industry believed was essential to its long-term viability.

Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the NDP’s House leader, demanded in the House of Commons today that the dairy oversight clause be removed before Canada signs the USMCA.

“This clause will have devastating and crippling consequences on our industry here in Canada,” she said.

“We made sure that the American attempts to destroy our supply management system did not succeed,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay replied. “We understand that they had some problems and we’re going to make sure that they’re fully and fairly supported.”

NDP trade critic Tracey Ramsey added that with U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs still in place, signing now would amount to “losing our best chance to eliminate them. The reasons for not signing this deal are stacking up.”


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Real Estate

Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation





If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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Real Estate

7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips





The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Real Estate

Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?





(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at

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