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Monthly Archives: November 2016

the original purpose of Social Media is not only  to communicate with other people…..
















the true purpose of Social Media



The commercial/political/marketing use of SM is a use co-opted by business, industry and government and any other entities which have a message which they want to communicate directly to the consumer – which is an ideal way to get through to any mass market.


However, that is not it’s original purpose.
















Mihir Sharma: Why Trump (and Trump voters) should actually love the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Mihir Sharma, Bloomberg View

November 22, 2016


Professional Engineers Ontario P.Eng.





The challenge in life is in


Moving from ‘ME’ to ‘WE’


The capacity to lead those for whom we are responsible is in very short supply …

in our personal, economic,

business  and Professional lives


that scarce human capacity

is the real source of

our personal, economic,

business,  Professional


National Economic growth


Our best investment in order to achieve growth is in the provision of first rate ‘lifetime’ educational resources for our children……..


it is a scarce cultural issue with highly successful  models available to be emulated


check out the basis for both Israel and China’s growth




Past is Prologue

























intelligence, the art, science, delivery and economic value of intelligence






What Dominic Barton thinks Canada should do
to boost the economy
















Chair of economic advisory council advocates free trade with China and more foreign investment


By Aaron Wherry, CBC News 

 Sep 07, 2016 7:31 PM ET


Dominic Barton, chair of an advisory committee to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, says Canada should pursue closer economic ties with China. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)


Aaron Wherry Parliament Hill Bureau

Aaron Wherry has covered Parliament Hill since 2007 and has written for Maclean’s, the National Post and the Globe and Mail


The chair of the expert panel that is to advise Justin Trudeau’s government on the development of a long-term economic strategy believes Canada should pursue free-trade agreements with Asia’s major economies, woo foreign capital and significantly upgrade national infrastructure as it attempts to boost the national economy and deal with serious long-term challenges.


“I think there’s quite a lot to do,” Dominic Barton, managing director of McKinsey, the powerful global consulting firm, told the CBC’s Rosemary Barton during an interview on Power & Politics on Wednesday.


Barton, a Canadian, is chair of the “advisory council on economic growth” that Finance Minister Bill Morneau appointed in March. The 14-member group is to guide a strategy that will be delivered by the end of the year.


The prime minister name-dropped Barton during a speech in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and Barton hosted a breakfast and dinner in the resort town that allowed international bankers, investors and executives to meet with Trudeau


Barton then met with the federal cabinet in Alberta in April.


Free trade with China?


Barton previously led McKinsey’s operations in Korea and Asia and said his “own personal view” is that it would be “very good” for Canada to enter into negotiations with China on a free-trade deal.


More generally, he said the goal must be establishing a long-term relationship with the global giant.


“Going in and out doesn’t really help there. We should be thinking about decades,” he said


Economic connection, in Barton’s thinking, would also better position Canada to influence Chinese governance and address concerns about human rights in the country.


“I think you can wag your finger at someone from the side, and if you’re not doing very much I don’t think you get listened to very well,” he said.


“I’m biased being a Canadian, but I do believe Canada can play a unique role in helping China as it evolves over time. But there has to be a basis for it.”


Deepening trade ties with China should include improving the infrastructure that can get Canadian goods and resources to the international market: pipelines, ports and railways


Building infrastructure and attracting capital


Barton has projected a national gap of $500 billion in infrastructure funding, and in Tuesday’s interview, he argued that governments can’t be expected to make up that shortfall. Instead, governments must partner with private capital


“There are $16 trillion in the global financial system that’s generated negative returns in bonds,” Barton said. “There’s a lot of private capital looking for the opportunity to invest in infrastructure, and they’re not expecting extraordinary returns. They’re expecting stable returns.”


That would include drawing foreign direct investment, an area in which Barton said Canada is “punching well below our weight.”


“Let’s get some of the private capital that’s in the Japanese banks that’s earning negative returns that wants to get a good return investing in projects in Canada. It could be in railcars, grain cars, where we have a shortage of them.


Foreign investment has emerged as a keen interest of the Trudeau government: in addition to his trips to venues such as Davos, the prime minister spoke to investors at a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July.

Speaking with the CBC, Barton suggested a goal of drawing global companies to base their North American operations in Canada.


“I think we should also be looking at having more headquarters based in Canada,” he said. “For example, Asian companies that are going to be into North America in a significant way. How can we have them hub themselves in Canada, as opposed to the U.S.?”


In addition to a China deal, Canada should pursue free trade deals with Japan and India, Barton said, and think about how to increase the international participation of small and medium enterprises. Canada, Barton said, has one of “the least globalized” groups of such businesses in the world.


Seeking to ‘jolt growth’


Barton figures prices for commodities such as oil will eventually increase, but on the horizon are two challenges: an aging population that could reduce productivity and technological automation that could affect as many as half of the jobs in Canada.


“So we’ve got to think about our training systems for labour markets,” Barton said, “and how we make sure Canadians keep up with all the technology changes and not only benefit, but thrive.”


All of which might amount to the makings of an economic blueprint for the government that Barton is advising.


“I think it’s essential that we do be deliberate and we try and jolt growth,” he said. “The good news is there’s lots

















 The word engineer (from the Latin ingeniator[3]) is derived from the Latin words ingeniare (“to contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”).[4][5]


Professional Engineer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia









Kitty Joyner, an American engineer in 1952



Occupation type Profession
Activity sectors Applied science
Competencies Mathematics and scientific knowledge, art and design, analytical and critical thinking, engineering ethics
Education required Engineering education
Related jobs Scientist, architect, project manager, inventor, astronaut

Engineers design materials, structures, and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost.[1][2]

The word engineer (from the Latin ingeniator[3]) is derived from the Latin words ingeniare (“to contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”).[4][5]

The foundation education of an engineer is typically a 4-year bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline plus 4–6 years peer reviewed professional practice.


The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and their subsequent applications to human needs and quality of life.[1]




In 1960, the Conference of Engineering Societies of Western Europe and the United States of America defined “professional engineer” as follows:[6]

A professional engineer is competent by virtue of his/her fundamental education and training to apply the scientific method and outlook to the analysis and solution of engineering problems.

 He/she is able to assume personal responsibility for the development and application of engineering science and knowledge, notably in research, design, construction, manufacturing, superintending, managing and in the education of the engineer.

His/her work is predominantly intellectual and varied and not of a routine mental or physical character.

It requires the exercise of original thought and judgement and the ability to supervise the technical and administrative work of others.

His/her education will have been such as to make him/her capable of closely and continuously following progress in his/her branch of engineering science by consulting newly published works on a worldwide basis, assimilating such information and applying it independently.


He/she is thus placed in a position to make contributions to the development of engineering science or its applications.


His/her education and training will have been such that he/she will have acquired a broad and general appreciation of the engineering sciences as well as thorough insight into the special features of his/her own branch. In due time he/she will be able to give authoritative technical advice and to assume responsibility for the direction of important tasks in his/her branch.


Roles and expertise




Engineers develop new technological solutions. During the engineering design process, the responsibilities of the engineer may include defining problems, conducting and narrowing research, analyzing criteria, finding and analyzing solutions, and making decisions. Much of an engineer’s time is spent on researching, locating, applying, and transferring information.[7] Indeed, research suggests engineers spend 56% of their time engaged in various information behaviours, including 14% actively searching for information.[8]


Engineers must weigh different design choices on their merits and choose the solution that best matches the requirements. Their crucial and unique task is to identify, understand, and interpret the constraints on a design in order to produce a successful result.




Engineers apply techniques of engineering analysis in testing, production, or maintenance. Analytical engineers may supervise production in factories and elsewhere, determine the causes of a process failure, and test output to maintain quality. They also estimate the time and cost required to complete projects. Supervisory engineers are responsible for major components or entire projects. Engineering analysis involves the application of scientific analytic principles and processes to reveal the properties and state of the system, device or mechanism under study. Engineering analysis proceeds by separating the engineering design into the mechanisms of operation or failure, analyzing or estimating each component of the operation or failure mechanism in isolation, and re-combining the components. They may analyze risk.[9][10][11][12]

Many engineers use computers to produce and analyze designs, to simulate and test how a machine, structure, or system operates, to generate specifications for parts, to monitor the quality of products, and to control the efficiency of processes.



Specialization and management


Most engineers specialize in one or more engineering disciplines.[1] Numerous specialties are recognized by professional societies, and each of the major branches of engineering has numerous subdivisions. Civil engineering, for example, includes structural and transportation engineering, and materials engineering includes ceramic, metallurgical, and polymer engineering. Engineers also may specialize in one industry, such as motor vehicles, or in one type of technology, such as turbines or semiconductor materials.[1]


Several recent studies have investigated how engineers spend their time; that is, the work tasks they perform and how their time is distributed among these. Research[8][13] suggests that there are several key themes present in engineers’ work: (1) technical work (i.e., the application of science to product development); (2) social work (i.e., interactive communication between people); (3) computer-based work; (4) information behaviours. Amongst other more detailed findings, a recent work sampling study[13] found that engineers spend 62.92% of their time engaged in technical work, 40.37% in social work, and 49.66% in computer-based work. Furthermore, there was considerable overlap between these different types of work, with engineers spending 24.96% of their time engaged in technical and social work, 37.97% in technical and non-social, 15.42% in non-technical and social, and 21.66% in non-technical and non-social.


Engineering is also an information intensive field, with research finding that engineers spend 55.8% of their time engaged in various different information behaviours, including 14.2% actively seeking information from other people (7.8%) and information repositories such as documents and databases (6.4%).[8]


The time engineers spend engaged in such activities is also reflected in the competencies required in engineering roles. In addition to engineers’ core technical competence, research has also demonstrated the critical nature of their personal attributes, project management skills, and cognitive abilities to success in the role.[14]


Types of engineers


There are many branches of engineering, each of which specializes in specific technologies and products. Typically engineers will have deep knowledge in one area and basic knowledge in related areas. For example, mechanical engineering curricula typically includes introductory courses in electrical engineering and software engineering


When developing a product, engineers typically work in interdisciplinary teams. For example, when building robots an engineering team will typically have at least three types of engineers. A mechanical engineer would design the body and actuators. An electrical engineer would design the power systems, sensors, and control circuitry. Finally, a software engineer would develop the software that makes the robot behave properly.

Branch Technologies Related Sciences Products
Architectural Engineering & Building engineering focuses on building and construction Architecture, architectural technology Buildings and bridges
Chemical Engineering Focuses on the manufacturing of chemicals and chemical production processes. Chemistry, Thermodynamics, Biology, Medicine Chemicals, Petroleum, Medicines, Raw Materials
Civil Engineering Focuses on the construction of large systems and structures. Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Soil Mechanics, Roads, Bridges, Dams, Buildings
Electrical Engineering Focuses on the design of electrical systems and circuitry. Electromagnetism, Logic Computers, Electronics
Industrial Engineering Focuses on the design, optimization, and operation of production, logistics, and service systems and processes. Operations Research, Engineering Statistics, Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes, Methods Engineering, Production Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Logistics Engineering, Ergonomics Quality Control Systems, Manufacturing Systems, Warehousing Systems, Supply Chains, Logistics Networks, Queueing Systems
Mechatronics Engineering Focuses on the technology and controlling all the industrial field Process Control, Automation Robotics, Controllers, CNC
Mechanical Engineering Focuses on the development and operation of Energy Systems, Transport Systems, Manufacturing Systems, Machines and Control Systems. Dynamics, Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Mechanics, Mechatronics, Manufacturing Engineering Cars, Airplanes, Machines, Power Generation, Spacecraft, Buildings, Consumer Goods, Manufacturing
Metallurgical Engineering/Materials Engineering Focuses on extraction of metals from its ores and development of new materials Material Science, Thermodynamics, Extraction of Metals, Physical Metallurgy, Mechanical Metallurgy, Nuclear Materials, Steel Technology Iron, Steel, Polymers, Ceramics, Metals
Computer Engineering Focuses on the design and development of Computer Hardware & Software Systems Computer Science, Mathematics, Electrical Engineering Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, Operating Systems, Embedded Systems
Software Engineering Focuses on the design & development of Software Systems Computer Science, Mathematics, Systems Engineering Apps, Websites, Operating Systems, Embedded Systems
Mathematical Engineering Focuses on the design & development of mathematical models Computer Science, Mathematics, Electrical Engineering,Statics Scientific Computing, Datamining, Control Theory, Optimization



Engineers have obligations to the public, their clients, employers, and the profession. Many engineering societies have established codes of practice and codes of ethics to guide members and inform the public at large. Each engineering discipline and professional society maintains a code of ethics, which the members pledge to uphold. Depending on their specializations, engineers may also be governed by specific statute, whistleblowing, product liability laws, and often the principles of business ethics.[15][16][17]


Some graduates of engineering programs in North America may be recognized by the Iron Ring or Engineer’s Ring, a ring made of iron or stainless steel that is worn on the little finger of the dominant hand. This tradition began in 1925 in Canada with The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, where the ring serves as a symbol and reminder of the engineer’s obligations to the engineering profession. In 1972, the practice was adopted by several colleges in the United States including members of the Order of the Engineer



Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering and applied accounting. A design course, often accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs. Often, general courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, also are required.


Accreditation is the process by which engineering programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. The Washington Accord serves as an international accreditation agreement for academic engineering degrees, recognizing the substantial equivalency in the standards set by many major national engineering bodies. In the United States, post-secondary degree programs in engineering are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.




In many countries, engineering tasks such as the design of bridges, electric power plants, industrial equipment, machine design and chemical plants, must be approved by a licensed professional engineer. Most commonly titled Professional Engineer is a license to practice and is indicated with the use of post-nominal letters; PE or P.Eng. These are common in North America, as is European Engineer (EUR ING) in Europe. The practice of engineering in the UK is not a regulated profession but the control of the titles of Chartered Engineer (CEng) and Incorporated Engineer (IEng) is regulated. These titles are protected by law and are subject to strict requirements defined by the Engineering Council UK. The title CEng is in use in much of the Commonwealth.


Many skilled / semi-skilled trades and engineering technicians in the UK call themselves engineers. A growing movement in the UK is to legally protect the title ‘Engineer’ so that only professional engineers can use it; a petition[18] was started to further this cause.


In the United States, licensure is generally attainable through combination of education, pre-examination (Fundamentals of Engineering exam), examination (Professional Engineering Exam),[19] and engineering experience (typically in the area of 5+ years). Each state tests and licenses Professional Engineers. Currently most states do not license by specific engineering discipline, but rather provide generalized licensure, and trust engineers to use professional judgement regarding their individual competencies; this is the favoured approach of the professional societies. Despite this, however, at least one of the examinations required by most states is actually focused on a particular discipline; candidates for licensure typically choose the category of examination which comes closest to their respective expertise.


In Canada, the profession in each province is governed by its own engineering association. For instance, in the Province of British Columbia an engineering graduate with four or more years of post graduate experience in an engineering-related field and passing exams in ethics and law will need to be registered by the Association for Professional Engineers and Geoscientists (APEGBC)[20] in order to become a Professional Engineer and be granted the professional designation of P.Eng allowing one to practice engineering.


In Continental Europe, Latin America, Turkey and elsewhere the title is limited by law to people with an engineering degree and the use of the title by others is illegal. In Italy, the title is limited to people who both hold an engineering degree and have passed a professional qualification examination (Esame di Stato). In Portugal, professional engineer titles and accredited engineering degrees are regulated and certified by the Ordem dos Engenheiros. In the Czech Republic, the title “engineer” (Ing.) is given to people with a (masters) degree in chemistry, technology or economics for historical and traditional reasons. In Greece, the academic title of “Diploma Engineer” is awarded after completion of the five-year engineering study course and the title of “Certified Engineer” is awarded after completion of the four-year course of engineering studies at a Technological Educational Institute (TEI).




Differences among countries]


The perception and definition of engineer varies across countries and continents. British school children in the 1950s were brought up with stirring tales of “the Victorian Engineers”, chief amongst whom were the Brunels, the Stephensons, Telford and their contemporaries. In the UK, “engineering” was more recently perceived as an industry sector consisting of employers and employees loosely termed “engineers” who included the semi-skilled trades. However, the 21st-century view, especially amongst the more educated members of society, is to reserve the term Engineer to describe a university-educated practitioner of ingenuity represented by the Chartered (or Incorporated) Engineer. However, a large proportion of the UK public still sees Engineers as semi skilled tradespeople with a high school education.


In the US and Canada, engineering is a regulated profession whose practice and practitioners are licensed and governed by law.


A 2002 study by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers revealed that engineers are the third most respected professionals behind doctors and pharmacists.[21]



In the Indian subcontinent, Russia, Middle East, Africa, and China, engineering is one of the most sought after undergraduate courses, inviting thousands of applicants to show their ability in highly competitive entrance examinations.


In Egypt, the educational system makes engineering the second-most-respected profession in the country (after medicine); engineering colleges at Egyptian universities require extremely high marks on the General Certificate of Secondary Education (Arabic: الثانوية العامة‎‎ al-Thānawiyyah al-`Āmmah)—on the order of 97 or 98%—and are thus considered (along with the colleges of medicine, natural science, and pharmacy) to be among the “pinnacle colleges” (كليات القمة kullīyāt al-qimmah).


In the Philippines and Filipino communities overseas, engineers who are either Filipino or not, especially those who also profess other jobs at the same time, are addressed and introduced as Engineer, rather than Sir/Madam in speech or Mr./Mrs./Ms. (G./Gng./Bb. in Filipino) before surnames. That word is used either in itself or before the given name or surname.


French “Ingénieur” title


It is sometimes told by urban legends that in France, the “Ingénieur” title refers only to membership of the French executive elite and has no relation to technological skills. This is false, engineer is the title of someone who succeeded in engineers schools. There are many different kind of engineer schools in France like in other countries. Some engineer schools are more famous than others. Examples of French famous engineer schools are Polytechnique, Supelec, Institut national des sciences appliquées, Institut Mines-Télécom, Ecole nationale supérieure d’arts et métiers, École Centrale Paris. Polytechnique and ENSAM have their roots in the French revolution and some of their alumni become famous either as scientists (Henri Poincaré), CEO of international companies (Bernard Arnault) or as politicians (Valéry Giscard d’Estaing).


Polytechnique is even different of other engineer schools as education lasts 6 years instead of 5, with the last year being of specialization in one specific technique. It is also a military school. Most schools of higher education that were created during the French revolution have a special status in French people mind. They helped to make the transition from a mostly agricultural country of late 18th century to the industrial state that France was in the 19th century. A great part of 19th century France’s richness was created by engineers coming from Polytechnique or Ecole des mines. This was also the case after the WWII, when France had to be rebuilt.


Before the “réforme René Haby” in the 70’s, it was very difficult to become a French engineer (hence the term “faire les Grandes Écoles” in language of older people), nowadays after the Haby reform and a string of further reforms Modernization plans of French universities it is much more common to access those schools and the French elite comes more from École nationale d’administration for managers or politicians and École normale supérieure for scientists. Engineers are less highlighted in current French economy as industry provides less than a quarter of the GDP.


Corporate culture




In companies and other organizations, there is sometimes a tendency to undervalue people with advanced technological and scientific skills compared to celebrities, fashion practitioners, entertainers and managers.



In his book The Mythical Man-Month,[22] Fred Brooks Jr says that managers think of senior people as “too valuable” for technical tasks, and that management jobs carry higher prestige.

He tells how some laboratories, such as Bell Labs, abolish all job titles to overcome this problem: a professional employee is a “member of the technical staff.”


IBM maintain a dual ladder of advancement; the corresponding managerial and engineering or scientific rungs are equivalent. Brooks recommends that structures need to be changed; the boss must give a great deal of attention to keeping his managers and his technical people as interchangeable as their talents




Marketing lessons from the U.S. election


By Susan Delacourt

Parliament Hill

Fri., Nov. 11, 2016


 Analysis of voters as consumers helps explain why U.S. electorate preferred the Trump brand.


  •  After all, as many other commentators have noticed, it was The Simpsons, not the pollsters, who foresaw the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency — nearly 20 years ago..In subsequent interviews, the Simpsons’ creators have insisted they weren’t trying to forecast the future. In fact, in the interests of comedy, they say they were trying to come up with the most ridiculous possible scenario. .Who’s laughing now? But Trump didn’t build his victory on the rules or conventions of political science — he broke more rules of political communication than he followed. By comparison, Hillary Clinton was the ultimate, play-by-the-rules candidate — to her peril, as it turned out. .Now, Clinton’s team wasn’t totally out of touch with this reality either — the Democratic machine was using a lot of the same people and tools as the old Barack Obama organization, and let’s not forget, it did manage to win the popular vote. .Back in July, for instance, New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg put forward an intriguing analysis of the two big-party conventions..Now, in retrospect, we may look at this distinction as one candidate sticking with old media and the other tacking to the prevailing media winds.  Yet it’s not particularly their choice of medium, but rather what they represented. TV is still influential, especially for mass marketing, but Twitter better captures the polarized, angry, fractured state of the U.S. electorate. What can we make of this? Perhaps that celebrity endorsements, like the newspaper ones, are far less influential in an age where celebrity/authority is conferred widely, whimsically and fleetingly. .Having written a book on how marketing made its way into Canadian politics, I went looking around this week for explanations on how that worked for Trump.  The best one I found came from the Harvard Business School and a post by John A. Quelch, organized into six lessons for marketers from the Trump victory. He sums them up as: give consumers a job; show the past as prologue; pursue forgotten consumers; sizzle beats steak; build enthusiasm and close the sale. .Americans have four years to see whether President Trump can master the art of the good as well as he’s mastered the art of the political deal. Given the whole improbable state of things in U.S. politics right now, it’s probably wise not to make any bets or predictions.  

  • The Simpsons, on the other hand, are a safer wager. The 27-year-old show was renewed for two more seasons last week, set to break a record as the longest-running TV series.


  • “Brand Trump is today’s bright new thing,” Quelch writes, with a warning: “But new is easy. Good is hard.”


  • As for the influence of marketing, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that many Americans, once again, voted as consumers this week, believing that someone from the corporate world was preferable to a candidate steeped in the political world.

  • .
  • The same differences can be found in the candidates’ use of celebrities. Clinton was pulling out all the big names — from Beyoncé and Jay Z to James Taylor, for massive concerts in the final week of the campaign. Trump had to make do with the likes of Ted Nugent and Scott Baio. 

  • “Clinton’s convention was made for TV; Trump’s was made for Twitter,” was the headline on the column, which suggested that this was an unexpected development, given Trump’s long experience with TV celebrity culture.


  • Both sides waged their campaigns with social media, slick advertising and celebrities, but the differences in the ways the Republicans and Democrats used these tools may tell us a lot about the more powerful forces in U.S. pop culture right now.


  • Like many other successful presidential candidates before him, Trump seems to have understood that American voters are  influenced more by marketing and entertainment than political theory.

  • As a political-science graduate, I of course regret that my own field of study is currently inadequate to the task of explaining how the United States ended up with a cartoon character in the White House.


  • Here’s Matt Groenig, quoted in an excellent U.K. Mirror article about this whole phenomenon: “Back in 2000 Trump was, of course, the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time and that’s still true. It’s beyond satire.” 


  • It was a 2000 episode called “Bart to the Future,” in which new U.S. president Lisa Simpson is trying to clean up the fiscal mess left by the outgoing administration. “As you know, we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump,” she tells aides assembled around her desk in the Oval Office.

  •  lg2

  • Political science may eventually find an explanation for what happened in the United States this week. But right now, pop culture is doing a much better job



A client’s residence can be a valuable

piece of the financial plan.

Susan Yellin explores how this works



The idea had been percolating for more

than 10 years. But once retired couple

Emma and Theo started spending

more time in Arizona every year, they

began to seriously question why they

were maintaining their 3,200-squarefoot

home just north of Toronto.


Their three children had grown up

and moved away, the mortgage was

paid off, major renovations had been

made, and they felt they were imposing

on relatives and neighbours to make

sure the grass was cut, the mail picked

up, and the pool maintained

when they weren’t there. Comfortable

for now in their fully equipped motorhome,

they made the decision to sell their house.

The sale of their home plus the balanced

portfolio in their retirement savings

will come in handy when they buy

a condo in Toronto in a year or two.


“We will definitely spend less on a

condo than we did on the house,”

says Emma. “The difference between

what we sold the house for and what

we expect to pay for a condo

will be invested and we can t

heoretically use the proceeds to

pay for the condo fees and property taxes.”


With no capital gains on a principal

residence, the couple realize they are

among the lucky few: Emma, a retired teacher,

has the safety of a generous defined

benefit pension plan,while Theo, a

consultant, has invested their savings wisely.

More importantly, say some financial

advisors, they used their home as only

part of their total retirement package

and were lucky enough to sell in a

hot market. When it comes to whether

Canadians should use their homes as a

source of retirement funds, the answer

usually is “maybe.” It all hinges on

where you live, your preferred lifestyle,

and your financial position.


Generally, the economy of a region

dictates the best time to buy and

sell a house. “There is no broad statement that

applies to everybody,” says Robert Hogue,

senior economist, economics research

with Royal Bank of Canada. “Is now a

time to buy? Is now a time to sell?

It really depends on everyone’s particular circumstances.”


The old real estate saw of “location,

location, location”still stands when

talking about housing prices in Canada.

Prime locations have seen a good

long-term trend of appreciation,

especially in thriving economic

regions of the country, says Hogue.

“This is a type of asset where demand relies

on the economic and demographic

landscape of the region.The economic

regions that do well also tend to

receive fairly robust demographic

fundamentals with growing populations.”

Canada runs the temperature gamut —

from hot to lukewarm to cold.


For many Canadians, relying on

their home as a source

of retirement funds can be a risky business.

It’s one thing to sell a home in a large urban

centre with a robust market if the homeowner

is looking to downsize, says

Lynne Triffon, R.F.P., CFP,

and vice-president of

T.E. Wealth in Vancouver,

where homes average around

$1 million.


Even then, Triffon says, clients need to

be realistic about their expectations.


Buying a new condo could mean

new furniture and or renovations,

while selling may be easier than

buying due to the multiple-offer phenomenon.



Despite that, Triffon often includes

downsizing in her retirement projections.

However, she does so with a conservative

twist on the assumptions, forecasting

increases in line with the cost of inflation

as well as lower-than-current market

values. “Ideally, this would only be

one piece of retirement income and

other investment assets and pensions

would provide for essential living

expenses, and the home equity as

a source for the more discretionary

expenditures, such as travel,” she says.


People also tend to underestimate

what it costs to provide for

a comfortable retirement. They

don’t think about the fact that with

increased life expectancy there

is generally a good chance those

retiring today will live into their

90s — or longer. “If we knew what

day you were going to die, financial

planning would be much easier,”

says Triffon. “Since we don’t

know, as people age they start to

worry about running out of money.”


Healthy and active retirees who

have just sold their homes for

$1 million or more may think

this sale will help them lead a

grand lifestyle, but tend to forget

about such issues as inflation and the

cost of travelling. Then there’s

the potential for requiring personal

aides or moving into a private

assisted living centre or nursing

home where costs currently

range from $4,000–$10,000

a month, she says.


On the other side of the country,

the housing market in the

Maritimes has been relatively

stable recently — it was at just under

$300,000 in July. It’s a key

reason why a number of people have

sold their homes in southwestern

Ontario and moved to the much

more reasonable prices of Eastern

Canada, says Paul Wilson, CFP,

and owner of Insurance

Retirement Investments in Halifax.


But it’s a different matter for

those who have been living in the

Maritimes all along. While

they can’t cash in on a big

housing windfall, Wilson sees

little problem with the idea

of using a collateral or reverse

mortgage, depending on the

client and the complexity of

the financial product.


“Whatever you do, give the

person the most flexibility

possible and keep it relatively

simple,” says Wilson.

“A complicated solution might

be better numbers-wise if you

let an accountant figure it out

… but the older you get the

simpler it should be


“Right now interest rates are

low, but I can honestly say I haven’t

met too many 84-year-olds who

are overly excited about complicated,

debt-ridden income streams.”



If the choice of homeowners is

to stay put, then options might

include a collateral mortgage

to let retirees pull out the tax-free

funds from their homes to use

for emergencies, or a reverse

mortgage to provide an income

stream, says Wilson. If they decide to

downsize, they can use the proceeds

to purchase a prescribed annuity

to fund new accommodations,

with the balance invested for




What exactly is recommended

depends on individual circumstances

and needs to be considered as

part of the overall financial

plan. And since there is often

little time for recovery, worst-case

scenarios need to be considered

and understood, he says.



Oddly enough, in oil-depressed

Calgary, where 100,000 people

are out of work, housing prices

have remained relatively stable at

about $470,000. Despite the oil

and gas doldrums, most Calgarians

are not thinking about downsizing

their homes to finance their

retirement. “Not at this point yet,”

says Kenneth Doll, CFP, CLU,

TEP, a professional wealth

strategist in Calgary.



“Generally I’m not in favour

of using your home to fund your

retirement. It can be risky and

should be used more as a supplement

or last resort to retirement

rather than as a foundation for your




Even with reverse mortgages,

says Doll, people may outlive the

value of their assets. It’s up

to him, he says, to help clients

save the money they need for

retirement so they don’t have

to rely on their home to fund

their retirement.



But many Canadian baby boomers

are deep in debt and may

be looking to their home

for a retirement windfall.

Downsizing can reduce debt and

supplement their retirement, he says.



Selling a home at retirement

can make sense if it’s planned

or if the person has outgrown

their house, agrees Jason Abbott,

president of Toronto-based Inc. “[But]

if the only reason to do it is

because you are speculating

in real estate values, then

I think that’s a mistake.”



Abbott gives the example of

empty nest clients who want

to sell their Toronto home and

move to northern Ontario. They

have more than $2 million in

home equity they want to remove

and put into their overall portfolio

that will generate their retirement

income. In this sense, like the

one with Emma and Theo, the s

cenario makes sense. “But if

someone is going to continue

to live in the house and start

tapping into equity, that’s the

situation whereyou start

getting into precarious positions,”

he explains. “In that case, all it

would take is a cash shortfall

or a market downturn and

the next thing you know,

the person is upside down

to the point where they’re

displaced from their home.

That’s the situation that you want to avoid.”


Abbott has found that most people are

saving what they can

and don’t have the benefit of a

multi-million-dollar home as part

of their retirement plan.  Nine

times out of 10 he doesn’t build

home equity into their financial plan.

Moving from a city to a rural area may

give people more bang

for their buck, but that can also mean

moving away from family and

friends, and a different quality of life.

“Those are trade-offs that you

are going to have to determine as well,”

says Christopher Dewdney,

CFP, CHS, CPCA, and principal at

Dewdney & Co. in Toronto. “But

strictly from a financial standpoint,

there is value in selling your

home. Take that additional equity

after you have purchased a smaller

home or a condo and use it to supplement

your retirement.”


Those with an emotional attachment

to their home may want

to look into a number of options,

including  the previously mentioned

reverse and collateral mortgages,

as well as home equity

lines of credit (HELOCs), he says.

Like others, Dewdney is careful

to point out that homeowners

understand the fine print of

the different products and how

they can affect their financial futures.


“If you have additional space in your

basement or elsewhere

in the house, you can still stay in your

home and rent,” he notes.

“That will bring in income and

supplement retirement … and

can provide some camaraderie with s

omeone your same age.”


SUSAN YELLIN is a freelance writer based in Toronto.




Financing strategies come with their

own pros and cons, says Andrea

Meynell, a mortgage broker with

Northwood Mortgage Ltd. in Toronto.


With a traditional mortgage, you

register how much you want to

borrow: say, $250,000. At the end of

the term you can move to a different

lender, although you may

need to pay some fees.


With a collateral charge, a mortgage

is registered for the amount you are

borrowing: $250,000. However, if your

property is worth, say, $500,000, the

company offering the collateral-charge

mortgage can register it for the amount

you borrow — or for up to 125 per cent

of the value of the property ($625,000).


The amount above the original loan of

$250,000 is available to you in the

future if you want to borrow more and

qualify for it, without having to break

the mortgage, pay fees and a lawyer.


Meynell notes, however, that if you

want to get a second mortgage you

can’t go to another lender because

the first company already has the

whole value of the property registered.


A reverse mortgage is a loan for

homeowners aged 55 and over, which

is secured by the equity of the home

and allows homeowners to get some

cash without having to sell their home,

says Meynell.


It’s tax-free and no payments are

made, but the interest accumulates

and the equity you have in the home

decreases over time. The loan is paid

back when the homeowner dies and

the estate sells the house — or surviving

children can pay off the debt

and keep the house.


Meynell says the loan is usually

50 to 55 per cent of the value of the

home and is subject to higher interest

rates than most other types of mortgages.


Living longer eats away at the

equity in the home, but ownership

remains with the borrower.


Home equity lines of credit

(HELOCs) are another flexible option

with the line of credit secured by the

property. Interest charges don’t start

until you actually start to use the

money, and it’s an open loan so you

can make minimum payments at

regular intervals or pay it off all at once.


Meynell doesn’t recommend

HELOCs to those who can’t manage

money, but does suggest it as an option

to those who want flexibility and access

to a buffer in case of emergencies.































Nov. 5, 2016



Conrad Black: What a spectacle this election has been

Conrad Black | November 4, 2016

Squalid, garish, heavy-laden with mud-slinging and mired in corruption though the U.S. election campaign is, almost unmitigated mockery of everything that the founding documents of the United States proclaimed as they artfully reinterpreted a rather grubby colonial tax squabble with Great Britain into the dawn of human liberty, though it also is, it has been engrossing. The campaign, entertaining, dramatic, and even worrisome, has had an almost hypnotic fascination. From the polemics of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, through the wrenching dramas of its national progress, especially the Civil War, the Wild West, the gangsters, the struggles of successive groups seeking equal rights, more assassinations of prominent figures than have afflicted any other major country, and a century dominating the film industry, and producing big musicals and giant sporting events, the United States has never lost the genius of the spectacle. This campaign has been one of its greatest feats of the genre.


It has been so tainted by profound skepticism about both major candidates from the start that it began as an orgy of bad taste and carpet-bombing smears and has accelerated toward an almost unheard of climax of threats and accusations. But, with a bit of context, what has happened is not so surprising. For its first 75 years, the United States was growing quickly but walking on eggshells as a “house divided” (Lincoln) between free and slave states. After the noble and terrible resolution of that problem, for 50 years mainly rather passive administrations let America be America. It tripled in population between the Civil War and First World War, and came to operate on a scale of economic activity and social fermentation that the world had never imagined to be possible.


After Theodore Roosevelt constructed the Panama Canal, built up the navy, mediated foreign quarrels and declared the U.S. to be a world power, and Woodrow Wilson provided the margin of victory in the First World War and briefly inspired the masses of the world with a vision of enduring peace, the country lapsed back into the absurd frivolity of the Roaring Twenties. There followed what Franklin D. Roosevelt called “nine mad years of mirage, followed by three long years of the breadlines.”


Prohibition, which delivered the alcoholic drinks industry to the underworld (as has more recently been done with the drugs industry), and isolation, the closing of European immigration (with tragic results in the following decades), and the equity bubble that produced the Crash, Great Depression and horrifying international political repercussions, brought in FDR. The ensuing 30 years were the golden age of American presidential government: FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy. Victory over the Depression, enabling British and Canadian continuation in the war against Hitler, victory in that war while retrieving France, Germany, Italy and Japan for the democratic West while the U.S.S.R. took more than 90 per cent of the casualties and physical devastation in subduing Nazi Germany, were followed by the institutions and policies that won the Cold War: NATO, the Marshall Plan, the strategy of containment, and the defence of West Berlin and South Korea.


The American story started to go horribly wrong with a mistaken strategy in Vietnam (failure to cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail, despite the advice of the country’s two victorious commanders, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur), and with the self-destructive Watergate debacle. This dreadful aberration revived the criminalization of policy differences 150 years after the disputes between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Richard Nixon, one of the country’s most successful and imaginative presidents, with his own inexplicable co-operation through bungled handling of the affair, was torn down and driven from office on absurd pretexts where there has yet to emerge any probative evidence that he did anything illegal. The Indian summer of presidential government came with Ronald Reagan, who had already run once for the Republican nomination before Watergate, and emerged as the new force in the country. He reformed the incentive economy and forced the last round of the arms race which induced the peaceful implosion of the Soviet Union. Just two centuries after the inauguration of George Washington, the United States was the only great power in the world, a rise of national strength, influence and prestige without the slightest precedent or parallel in the history of the world


When Reagan retired at 77, his dutiful vice-president, George H.W. Bush, was elected to succeed him, but mismanaged the Republican Party, allowing a dissident to splinter its vote and bring in the Clintons from the remote fastness of Arkansas. Because Bush was the only president since Theodore Roosevelt to have sons with a political aptitude and Clinton was the only president since Franklin Roosevelt to have a wife with political aptitudes, these two families have passed the greatest offices of the country around between themselves ever since, 32 straight years as president, vice-president or secretary of state. Barack Obama was interposed by the elders of the Democratic Party eight years ago, because they had the commendable instinct to break the colour barrier for the presidency when they had the candidate and the times to do it, and Hillary Clinton took the State Department as a temporary consolation.


With the end of the Cold War, and the absence of a great national mission, and government by a cartelized regency, not meritocratic dynasties like the Adams and Roosevelts, the United States has had the worst 20 years of presidential government in its history. The housing bubble and Great Recession, admission of 12 million unskilled illegal aliens, a decade of fruitless and costly Middle East wars elevating Iran, ultimately as a nuclear power, and producing a terrible humanitarian crisis, have been followed by a doubling of the national debt in the last seven years to produce one per cent annual economic growth while the work force has shrunk by 15 million people, and the Panglossian Obama foreign policy of telling America’s friends and enemies to change roles and places, guided by evaporating red lines, aborted military missions, and waffling on a scale that has made Uriah Heap seem Churchillian, and Vladimir Putin look like Peter the Great. (In the Valley of the Weak, etc.)


Thus comes, this Tuesday, eminent American poet Robert Frost’s choice of paths: continuity with Hillary Clinton, now the fusion candidate of the Clintons, Bushes and Obamas (the OBushtons), and Donald Trump, the only person in American history to have taken over an American political party without ever having held a public office or high military command. Horace Greeley in 1872, a newspaper publisher (“Go West young man, go West”), was nominated by dissident Republicans, then endorsed by Democrats to be the sacrificial offering to the former commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, seven years after he received Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, and Wendell Willkie won the Republican nomination on the fourth ballot in 1940 for the honour of being yet another trophy on the crowded shelf of FDR, the all-time heavyweight political champion of important democratic countries, as he took a third term. Greeley had been an acting congressman for three months but neither he nor Wilkie controlled the party that nominated them.


There is and has been, and can be, no serious argument to be made for re-electing the Democrats. The only Democratic campaign has been a Niagara Falls of smears of Trump, whose often asinine juvenility has turned half his campaign into an attack ad against himself. But Trump’s success, these last days, in pulling even with the Obushtons and forcing the revolt against the political cover-up of Hillary Clinton’s possible perjury to the FBI and seizing the momentum, has been a historic triumph. First he smashed the Republican elders — the pallid Bush-McCain-Romney chorus of quiescent mediocrity and the Cruz-crazies, who believe they hear God and want to hand the Pentagon to the National Rifle Association. He has now faced down and apologized for the awful Billy Bush tape and weathered the succession of New York Times’ spontaneous complainants alleging that Donald had touched them without permission decades ago. After prevailing in the second debate as his campaign disintegrated under the impact of the off-mic tape release, and then in the third debate, he has shown that qualities of strength lurk beneath the brass and garish veneer of his public personality.


The United States now has before it the enormity of the corruption and license and incompetence of its political class. Only insurmountable doubts about Trump can save the Obushton status quo; hence the extreme shabbiness of the campaign. The fecundity of the theatrical imagination of America was necessary to produce so unevenly talented a crusader, but he has stormed Babylon and its rulers are being weighed in the balance. As of now, it seems that, like Belshazzar, the entire political class, executive, legislative, judicial; the biased and mendacious Washington media, the lobbyists, the whole federal sleaze factory and the Clinton pay-to-play casino — all will be found wanting. They must go.


Thus, even through wildly improbable instruments of national destiny, do great peoples renovate their institutions. Win or lose, Trump has shaken the leadership of America by the eye teeth, as it wallows in its own venality, and the country, with reservations, will adapt to him FDR’s comment on his mentor and then his rival, Alfred E. Smith, and “love him for his enemies.”


National Post