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Category: Lifestyle Blogs
Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Vaping: Part 1

Vaping: A Harm Reduction Strategy Aimed at Heavy Tobacco Smokers

E-Cigarettes as a “Lesser of Two Evils”

Electronic cigarettes were first invented by Chinese pharmacist back in 2003, grief stricken by his father’s smoking-related death. He believed a better nicotine delivery system could be developed, one that would satisfy cravings without the indulgence being risky or potentially deadly. The inhalation of nicotine is made possible by the heating up a synthetic and non-toxic (equal parts propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin) nicotine-laced “juice” until it becomes vapor.

The debate surrounding the health benefits of vaporizing among researchers, health officials, politicians, and interested consumers, primarily centers around the use of this technology as a harm reduction strategy for heavy tobacco smokers. Vaporizers are being hailed as the first viable alternative to smoking cigarettes, one that provides all the sensations and satisfied cravings of a nicotine delivery system, without the deadly chemicals or tar.

It’s a “lesser of two evils” mindset. The inhalation of any substance, whether it organic or chemical-based, is undoubtedly bad for the human body, and is treated as a given medically. But is the inhalation of e-liquid safer than tobacco, both in the short and long term?

Research Exploring the Toxicity of E-Liquids

A 2012 research paper entitled Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapor from electronic cigarettes, conducted for the Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences in Buffalo, NY, attempted to shed light on the toxicity levels of vapor produced by 12 brands of e-liquid. The study concluded that the vapor produced by these liquids were not free of toxins, but significantly lower than what you would find in a traditional cigarette.

“We found that the e-cigarette vapors contained some toxic substances. The levels of the toxicants were 9–450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and were, in many cases, comparable with trace amounts found in the reference product . . . our findings are consistent with the idea that substituting tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes may substantially reduce exposure to selected tobacco-specific toxicants. E-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy among smokers unwilling to quit, warrants further study.”

Another study conducted in 2012 entitled Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on indoor air quality, researchers set out to compare the amount of toxic chemicals in the air after vaporizing both e-liquids and traditional cigarettes within the home. Not surprisingly, they found that e-cigarettes produce a far less conctrated amount of chemicals compared to cigarettes.

“For all by-products measured, electronic cigarettes produce very small exposures relative to tobacco cigarettes. The study indicates no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.”

Back to Basics: Marijuana Practices

Smoking medical marijuana in a joint has always been the most popular method for consuming the drug. Which is surprising, considering how bad joints really are for you. Combustion of cannabis (the burning of cannabis into ash, with smoke being the by-product) fills your lungs with toxic compounds and irritants. And very few people know that you actually get more tar from a joint than you would an equal-sized cigarette. Thankfully, we live in an era where several alternatives exist for delivering tetrahedroncannibol (THC) into your system that are much safer for the user, particularly for those who must consistently consume marijuana in order to benefit from its many healing and therapeutic properties. Here are three alternative methods for consuming medical marijuana that come with far fewer health risks.

  1. Vaporizers

In a vaporizer, marijuana is, for lack of a better word, cooked, at a temperature that allows for the creation of vapor, as opposed to burning marijuana, which produces smoke. Being able to control the temperature at which the plant is being heated can reduce smoke inhalation by as much as 95% according to some estimates. By reducing the smoke, you dramatically reduce the amount of carcinogens and tar that enter into your lungs and bloodstream. And without the burning of any plant material, you will also notice a lot less resin build-up on your teeth, while being to truly enjoy the unique flavor each particular strain of marijuana has to offer.

  1. Edibles

Making yummy snacks and pastries with marijuana as the key ingredient eliminates the need for having to inhale anything, for those with sensitive throats who aren’t fond of coughing or phlegm. The first step in baking Weed Brownies or any sort of edible, begins with the creation of cannabis infused butter or oil, which can be made from home or purchased at medical marijuana dispensaries. The conventional wisdom behind edibles is that the high associated with eating marijuana requires more time to take effect. Which makes sense when you consider that the THC in the food must go through the additional processes of digestion before entering your bloodstream. However, once the high does kick in, it’s believe far more potent than what you’d expect after smoking a joint.

  1. Tinctures & Tonics

A tincture is defined as any medicine that is made by mixing the active ingredient with alcohol. Marijuana tinctures are alcohol extractions of cannabis, containing all 80 of the essential cannabinoids found in the plant. It’s extremely cheap to make, and doesn’t give the user any of the psychoactive effects or high that would normally result from the consumption of marijuana using other methods. The user simply places a few drops under his or her tongue, and the THC gets quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Patients have found this to be an extremely effective method of pain relief, and has been known to effectively treat muscle spasm and epilepsy.

How Your Future Home Might Be Powered

The winter season was a relatively mild one this year, and I doubt many Torontonians were complaining about the near Spring-like weather we received for most of the month. Despite the unseasonably high temperatures, there’s a good chance your energy bills for the season were also unseasonably high. Was this the case in your home? If so, Toronto Hydro has a checklist you can read that might explain why your jaw nearly dropped to the floor when you opened last month’s bill.

If your winter bill seems higher than expected, consider the following:

  • How do you heat your home?
  • Electric heating can account for over 50% of a home’s power consumption during the winter.
  • Gas furnaces need electricity to run too. Due to the extreme cold, on average furnace fans will run 280 hours longer this winter than last winter (November to February) and will consume approximately an extra 130KWh of electricity (or around an additional $20 on your electricity bill)[1].
  • Is your equipment working properly? Inefficient furnaces and other appliances will consume much more power than newer, more efficient models.
  • Do you live in an older home? Is there proper insulation in the walls, basement and attic?
  • Did you use a significant amount of electricity during the on-peak price period?

Perhaps Toronto Hydro is asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “How do you heat your home?”, the question should be, “how are you powering your home?” The advent of cheap solar panel technology and improved battery storage systems have made it possible, for the first time in history, to create what are called “energy positive” homes – those that create more power than they use. Not only can you save money on your electricity bills by turning to green alternatives, but here’s the kicker. If your home or business can produce more power than it needs, it can actually turn a profit, since some local utility companies can buy the excess electricity from you and feed it into the grid for others to use.

The easiest way to outfit your home so that it can generate and store its own power, is to install solar panels that connect to a large battery. Thereby allowing you to save solar energy during the day that can be used after it gets dark outside. Solar panels will soon become a ubiquitous feature of most homes. Especially when you consider that, in Canada, you can go to Costco to purchase solar panels. For $899 you can purchase the Coleman 300 Watt Solar Panel Kit with Charge Controller and Inverter, which comes with three 100 Watt crystalline solar panels, a 30 amp digital charge controller, and a 300 Watt modified sine wave inverter with USB port. IKEA (http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/campaigns/solar-panels.html) also appears to be getting into the game, announcing that it will have a widely available solar panel offering by some point this year.

When it comes to battery technology for energy positive homes, right now, there’s no real competitor for the Tesla PowerWall. PowerWall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. Tesla claims that with the right number of solar panels, and the intelligence of the technology that runs the battery, it is entirely possible to go completely off the grid. The only downsides at the moment is that the PowerWall is not available in Canada at the moment, although the CBC reports that sales and distribution of the tech will arrive later this year. Also, the unit itself requires a trained and licensed technician to install, which means do-it-yourselfers are out of luck.

Toronto Real Estate Trends to Look Out For in 2016

A Record-Breaking 2015

2015 was a record breaking year for the Toronto real estate market. The city is growing in population, foreign investment is pouring in, and the demand for new homes has never been stronger, with the annual record for total home sales in the GTA being broken with over a month to go left in the year. The construction of new condos had no issue meeting the demand for such units in the city, but the same could not be said for other housing type categories and detached and semi-detached homes. The lack of supply and the staggering demand sent house prices soaring, with detached homes reaching an average selling price of $1M by the spring.

John Pasalis of Move Smartly provides a detailed overview of the Toronto real estate market in 2015, identifying four major areas: record sales, lack of supply, strong demand for condominiums, and mortgage rule changes. Here is a point form breakdown of the big highlights of 2015, as identified by Pasalis.

Record Sales
  • Home sales were up every month in 2015 when compared to 2014.
  • Annual sales up 9% in 2015 versus 2014.
  • The annual record for home sales was broken by November, with 96,901 homes sold in the GTA up to that point (beating the previous record of 95,223 homes sold, which was set back in 2007).
Lack of Supply
  • Certain key figures illustrate that the demand for new homes far outweighed the supply. The number of new listings (homes for sale) increased by 2.7% in 2015, while the number of sales was up by just over 9%.
  • This discrepancy is exactly what many analysts agree accounts for the increase in house prices seen last year. Prices for homes went up 10% when compared to 2014.
  • Every month in 2015 saw fewer houses available for sale when compared to 2013 and 2014.
Strong Demand for Condos
  • To understand just how strong the demand for condos was last year, supply and sales figures for condominiums needs to be compared to that of detached homes, arguably the most sought after house type by potential new homebuyers.
  • Sales of detached homes went up 8% in 2015 with practically no increase in the number of new listings. Condo sales went up by 13% in 2015, while new listings increased by 6% compared to a year prior.

“When we look at the absolute numbers both sales and new listings [for condos] were up by just over 2,600 units which means that all of the increase in supply was absorbed. More condos get listed for sale than actually sell which is why the percentage change for new listings is lower even though both saw a similar absolute increase.”

Mortgage Rule Changes
  • Late into 2015, the federal government changed the mortgage rules for insured mortgages by introducing a tiered down payment system, increasing the down payment requirement from 5% to 10% for any portion of a home’s price above $500K. A minimum 20% down payment is now required for homes priced over $1M (prior to this, buyers could buy a $1M+ home with just 5% down).
  • The effect these rule changes will have in the housing market in 2016 is still unknown.
What is Flibanserin, and Why are they Calling it the “Female Viagra?”

A key advisory committee voted 18-6 back in August to recommend that the American Food and Drug Administration approve Flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual drive of otherwise healthy women. The drug is being dubbed the “female Viagra,” and its become a hot topic online. The FDA officially approved the drug just weeks later, and will be sold under the brand name Addyi. Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement announcing the approval, “The FDA strives to protect and advance the health of women, and we are committed to supporting the development of safe and effective treatments for female sexual dysfunction.”

Although the FDA approved Viagra for men in 1998, and a host of products since then, this is the first time they’ve approved a drug specifically for women’s sexual function, something they previously described as an “unmet medical need.” Brigid Schulte of The Washington Post (republished in The National Post, the FDA already rejected the drug twice, stating that the potential side effects of fainting, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and low-blood pressure outweighed the drug’s benefits. Even the advisory committee described the drug as having only “moderate” or “marginal” benefit.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals, developers of the drug, took an opportunity at the initial committee meeting to present the results of a series of double-blind clinical trials. The results illustrated that the drug worked better than placebo to boost women’s sexual desire, increased the number of sexually satisfying events and lowered women’s distress at the loss of their libido. After 24 weeks, 46 to 60% of the women in the trials had benefited from the flibanserin treatment.

Flibanserin, first developed as an anti-depressant, works on neurotransmitters in the brain that affect a woman’s libido. Healthy women who possess significantly low sexual desire clinically suffer from a condition called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (thought to affect between 5.5 million and 8.6 million US women), which until now has been essentially untreatable medically. Several women provided emotional testimony at the committee meeting prior to the vote, describing the condition “as if a switch had gone off,” not understanding why they no longer want to have sex, and finding this particularly distressing.

According to Schulte, FDA officials are concerned about Flibanserin’s interaction with other drugs — particularly with hormonal birth control pills and alcohol — and the potential for Flibanserin to increase accidents, from car accidents to falls and other mishaps.

The BBC calls the treatment of low sexual desire in women “something of a holy grail for so-called Big Pharma.” Sprout, by gaining approval, succeeded where other major pharmaceutical giants have failed. Pfizer and Procter & Gamble have each attempted to develop products treating low sexual desire in women. And a rival, Palatin Technologies, is rumored to have an alternative treatment for HSDD that is in late-stage trials.

Despite the marginal benefit and host of side affects, the drug has many analysts predicting that Sprout is sitting on a potential goldmine, now that medical practitioners have a treatment available for something being more commonly diagnosed. The FDA’s approval of Addyi, however, does come with stringent safety measures, meaning that its usage is unlikely to be as widespread as with male Viagra.

Check out this CNN report on Viagra and the female alternatives that have been tested in the past 15 years:

Gadget Wish List for Christmas 2015

Just in time for the holidays, its our list of the top three gifts every tech geek will love this holiday season.

  1. Samsung Gear VR

The latest iteration of the Samsung Gear VR, which was released in late November, is considered by some including Geoffrey Fowler of The Wall Street Journal, to be a complete “no-brainer” as far as smartphone peripherals go, particularly if you own one of Samsung’s newest Galaxy models.

The gadget, a joint venture created by Samsung and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus, comes right out the box with hundreds of apps and VR experiences thanks to curation provided by the Oculus store, and will only set you back $100 USD. The latest Gear VR weighs 19% less than its predecessor (demo model) giving the 360-degree entertainment system a feeling that Fowler calls “accessible and slick, rather than awkward and sickening.”

The only major downside is that the Gear VR isn’t universally accessible to anyone with a smartphone, requiring one of this year’s compatible Samsung smartphones, like the Galaxy S6 or Note 5. The smartphone is required to stream content to the goggles, and only supports Samsung devices that meet certain hardware specifications.

Hopefully your one of the many people that jumped on this device the moment it was released. Because according to multiple sources including TechCrunch, the device sold out on both BestBuy and Amazon shortly after it was offered online.

  1. Sphero BB-8 Star Wars Droid

Disney’s always been one for excellent timing, monopolizing on both the release of their latest blockbuster film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as the fast approaching Christmas holiday, with the release of a Star Wars themed toy that is sure to find its way under many young (as well as old) boys and girls’ trees this holiday season. It’s called the Sphero BB-8 Droid and is the spiritual successor, so to speak, to R2-D2.

Created by the robot-toy startup Sphero, the droid is approximately the size of a baseball and is steerable via a smartphone app (available for Android and iOS), using gyroscopes and motors to propel itself forward, backward and side-to-side at up to 5 miles per hour. The head attaches to the body using magnets, allowing for the mechanism to keep the head upright, and should the piece come off due to intense usage, you can easily snap it back on. The app allows the player to drive the droid around like a remote controlled car, or activate preset routines. And can even be controlled using your voice and your phone’s microphone! It’s fun overload, for sure.

Check out the full review of the Sphero BB-8 Droid done by TechCrunch:

  1. The X PlusOne Drone by XCraft

Drones are all the rage now. Between personal drones being purchased to capture eagle-eye photos (essentially the new selfie stick), to the endless commercial applications being explored by major retailers including Amazon, it’s not impossible to imagine a future where you could look up in the sky and see dozens, if not hundreds of drones whizzing around. That being said, wouldn’t you want to be ahead of the game by owning the F16 of drones?

An independent company XCraft, who recently received seed funding from the popular show Shark Tank, with their signature product the X PlusOne. What sets this drone apart from the competition is the ability to achieve both hovering (as is the case with the vast majority of multiple rotor drones), as well as forward flight. The wing construction allows the drone to tilt forward, pointing the propellers in front, allowing the drone to achieve speeds in forward flight motion of up to 60 miles per hour. This thing is perfect for filming fast moving subjects. Plus the softare allows you to control both manually and with preset routines. And above all, you can customize your drone to your liking on the company’s website, right down to the specs and colors.

All the bells and whistles come at a price though, with base models starting around $1,800 USD. After checking out this flight demo XCraft posted on YouTube, you might just be convinced that it’s worth the cost.

Neural Networks Are All the Rage Now, But What Are They?

The latest technological buzz word that seems to be popping up in the news everywhere lately is the term “neural network.” If you come across a state-of-the-art app or piece of software that complete a task or solve a problem that you thought couldn’t otherwise be executed by a computer, then there’s a good chance that software is being powered by a neural network.

So what are Neural Networks anyway? Neural Networks are essentially a subfield of artificial intelligence, trying to replicate the human ability to think using layers upon layers of algorithms.

Machines are incredibly good at reproducing simulations of real world scenarios, however, it can be very difficult. Especially when one considers how messy the real world can be, not always following a logical structure or defined rules. The real world is, in a nutshell, unpredictable. So instead of writing software and programs that solve problems, programmers are now developing software that learns how to solve problems. Problems like this can eventually learn to adapt to different scenarios, and approach problem-solving from a perspective that humans might not even consider.

You can see examples of “software that learns” already in action in everyday devices; from phones that can translate voice commands, email spam filters, ATM machines that can recognize signatures, photo applications that automatically organize images into collections and galleries, facial recognition software, and many others.

Mike Butcher of TechCrunch, recently wrote an article about an update to easily the most popular keyboard app for both Android and iPhone users, SwiftKey. The new Alpha of the software claims to be supported by a neural network that can “think for itself” and anticipate what you will want to type next. SwiftKey has always been powered by a number of preset algorithms, what they call their “N-Grain” technology, which was already pretty good at accurately predicting your next word. Its major limitation however, was that it couldn’t understand the underlying meanings of words.

Jordan Novet of VentureBeat discusses how Google is experimenting with a neural network to help YouTube auto-select the best thumbnail image from your uploaded video. This is not anything new from Google, who has also been dealving into machine learning for both their translation software and their Photos app.

Scientists are still working on developing the best ways to teach computers how to learn and problem solve. The best solution we have at our disposal thus far are algorithms that mimic human thinking and rationality, which are known as Artificial Neural Networks. In short, Neural Networks consist of a combination of smaller mathematical algorithms that are directed to “speak” to each other in order to complete a task or solve a problem. The process that Neural Networks undergo to “train” itself to solve a problem is known as “deep learning,” because often, multiple algorithms (neurons) are needed to communicate with each other in a layered structure in order become effective. Tremendous strides have been taking to improve the learning speed of a computer, but there is still much progress needed before computers can match the learning speed of a human being.

The Unsold Condo Controversy in Toronto

Supply and Demand for Condos in Toronto

It’s been a wild, up and down year for condominium sales in the City of Toronto thus far this year. Real estate analysts for major newspapers and banks have commented on the wide spectrum of condo market conditions the city has seen just in the past ten months. Everything from tremendous over supply of condos, to red hot sales, and back again.

Jamie Sturgeon of Global News,  reported back in February about the glut of unsold condo units left available on the market. Quoting economist Sal Gautieri of BMO, over 10,000 condominiums were completed by builders in January, a record high for any month in Toronto, by a long shot.  Roughly eight times more than the average for the past decade. Gautieri accounted for this by arguing that a substantial number of construction delays that had accumulated in 2014 were finally being completed, completing the transaction for sales of homes that were issued in 2011, a record year for condo sales. The culmination of completed units earlier this year left 1,602 units on the market, the highest it’s been since 1994.

Things turned around in the summer, with some claiming that the best case scenario for the Toronto condo market had occurred. Susan Pigg of The Toronto Star, reported back on August 5th of this year that demand for condos had been strong throughout the summer, and that the overstock of unsold units had declined significantly across the GTA in the second quarter, according to developers and condo research firm Urbanation. The number of unsold units in the city dropped by 13% in the spring of 2015 versus a year prior/ Even with this decline, however, the total number of unsold units was still hovering around 17,700 by the end of June, according to the same Urbanation report.

Questionable Market Statistics?

Considering the massive fluctuation that took place this year, it’s not surprising that some analysts are skeptical of the statistics being published. According to Tamsin McMahon of The Globe and Mail, one such critic is Benjamin Tal of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). Tal insists that those commentators who see the number of unsold condos in the city as an accurate gauge of the overall health of the market, “are barking up the wrong tree.”

According to Mr. Tal’s estimates, there are 2,000 completed, but unsold condos in the Greater Toronto Area, half in the City of Toronto, well above the long-term average for the region. Some of these unsold units can be accounted for by the housing development boom of 2012, when over 50,000 housing starts were completed, 30,000 of which are condos. Many are the echoes of record levels of housing starts in 2012, when developers began construction on 50,000 homes, of which 30,000 were condos.

Why Statistics Might be Misleading

The big discrepancy that Tal reveals within the recent statistics is that a quarter of unsold condos in Toronto can be found in five buildings, out of 139 active development projects. Almost a third could be attributed to just four out of 77 construction firms.

The “ReSet” Program by Toronto Community Housing

Mayor John Tory recently made an appearance at the Firgrove Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood, along with several esteemed colleagues, like TCHC interim president Greg Spearn, Councillor Ana Bailao and Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. The group proudly announced the launch of a $66-million “ReSet” pilot project.

According to Erica Vella of Global News, the main philosophy behind the program is to deal with the massive backlog of capital repairs by bundling them altogether into one project.  The program encourages resident input in order to identify any form of deterioration and unsafe conditions. Tory mentioned that the project will all be handled under the umbrella of a single general contractor.

Here is a quick breakdown of the project:

  • 900 units to be repaired in three public housing neighbourhoods.
  • $27 million will be invested in Firgrove
  • $19 million at Lawrence Orton community housing
  • $20 million to Queensway Windermere.

“ReSet will enable us to address multiple building needs at once. This will lower the cost of making repairs and help us stretch our precious capital repair dollars,” Spearn said at the announcement.

Tory made several impactful statements:

“That is going to make a big difference in the lives of these people and the housing that we own and in which they live….Residents felt the old system – where there was one tenant rep and that person was expected to speak on behalf of every one – wasn’t working in terms of people feeling a part of a community where they had a voice.”

“We’re going in, engaging with communities, doing a thorough review of capital, linked to program and service and making sure that residents are informed from day one,” Penny said. “As we put together the detailed drawings and specs for these projects, we want residents at the table so that they understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing it.”

As Jennifer Pagliaro of The Toronto Star points out, the TCHC is typically accustomed to awarding individual contracts for each of the various types of repairs needed in any one building: windows, boilers, roofing, etc. This has the tendency to lead to uncoordination among  crews working independently, with little information provided to residents on what types of fixes will be completed, and when.

The first step in the ReSet program is to dispatch architectural and engineering teams to each building to inspect the buildings and consult with residents to get a clear picture of the repairs that will be needed — including better security measures such as lighting and retrofitting of common areas. From there, a single general contractor will be assigned to carry out “bundled projects,” using a public tender process. The single contractor will be responsible for co-ordinating construction among multiple trades. Doing it this way, Penny believes, will ultimately save a lot of time and money.

Does Publishing Real Estate Listings Online Create Competition?

The Dispute Behind Online MLS Listings

There was an interesting development this week in the growing dispute between the federal Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board (Canada’s largest real estate board) regarding the online publication of home sales information from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This particular development, which requires a bit of back story to truly understand, could have wide-reaching implications for Canada’s economy, particularly in areas “dominated by trade associations or market-dominating joint ventures that control competitively sensitive information,” as argued by John Rock, a lawyer working on behalf of the Competition Bureau.

To sum up the dispute, TREB wants to restrict real estate agents and brokers from publishing home sales data provided by MLS on their personal listing or brokerage websites. Tamsin McMahon of The Globe and Mail, has written extensively on the dispute, and provides an excellent synopsis of each party’s position. As stated by Donald Affleck, an attorney working behalf of TREB, one of the board’s primary directives is to protect the personal information of consumers, any sensitive data (such as historic home sales figures) that could violate an individual’s right to privacy as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The evidence makes it clear that the vast majority of home buyers and home sellers do not wish to have the sold prices of their homes available to anyone with access to the Internet.”

Restrictions Suggested by the Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau is demanding that TREB relinquish its MLS data to brokers who want to publish it on “virtual office websites.” Rock believes that the board’s restrictions make it more challenging for individuals to purchase a home on their own without the need for a real estate agent. The overall goal being, to keep the realtors, not the consumers, at the centre of the real estate transaction.

A Bold Gesture by TREB

The development that occurred this week had to do with an attempt made by TREB to remove Chief Justice Paul Crampton from the Competition Tribunal case over concerns of bias, stemming from evidence that TREB claims, proves the Crampton has long-standing ties with the real estate industry that go back over a decade. According to details provided by Tamsin McMahon in another article published in The Globe and Mail, William Sasso, another lawyer working on TREB’s behalf, said that he intended to bring a motion asking Justice Crampton to recuse himself, but argued instead that the real estate board needed more time to go through its records to build its case. Crampton allegedly gave advice to a brokerage that persuaded them to sue the Real Estate Board. Crampton himself determined that the board had not proven he could reasonably appear to be biased against TREB on the basis of “two to three brief telephone conversations” he had with the founder of Realtysellers, a now-defunct discount brokerage that sued TREB in 2002.

As it turns out, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is participating in the hearing, appears to be siding with TREB in the dispute, judging only by comments made by CREA lawyer Sandra Forbes. According to Forbes, there is “scant evidence” to suggest that offering real estate data online increases competition, and that websites like realtor.ca are still popular among consumers even without historical sales data.