Vancouver penthouses, ski chalets at Whistler, and holiday retreats in the Gulf Islands are among the thousands of properties identified in a dirty money probe that estimates more than $7 billion was laundered through the western Canadian province of British Columbia last year.
While a plethora of articles have appeared on the topic of money laundering, most extract or downplay the Asian element of the debacle. Okay, they don’t want to promote racism. Fair enough, however truth is truth, and therefore worthy of public knowledge.
As it happens, Cultural Action Party of Canada began as a watch-dog for the behaviour of the Chinese government in Canada. We have been at this for well over a decade. The piece missing from media coverage relates to previous provincial government of B.C., the Real Estate Board of B.C., and Chinese real estate companies in the province.
The former Liberal government of Christy Clark is perhaps the number one culprit. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Clark continuously encouraged investment from China into the local real estate market. The Real Estate Board of B.C. existed as an independent body in charge of ethical conduct among realtors and the companies they work for.
In other words, there was no independent body or organization to ensure ethical real estate practices were maintained. In colloquial terms, the situation was a three ring circus of corruption. Its essence was the Canada-China real estate dynamic. Homes marketed directly to China. Local buyers unable to bid. Local marketing in Chinese languages prevented locals from bidding on properties. B.C. real estate companies opening offices in Beijing to market directly to Chinese buyers. Ethnocentric real estate companies from Hong Kong filled their offices with fresh-off-the-boat agents unable to speak English.
All the while, the money laundering element raged out-of-control. Casinos were an obvious source of the action, yet Christy Clark, Teresa Wat and the rest did nothing to expose or prevent what was occurring. In fact, they encouraged the entire process.
Now, after the provincial Liberals have been replaced by John Horgan’s NDP, all the dirt is flying out. It not just real estate, but also gambling and luxury vehicles. All three are a passion of Vancouver’s wealthy Chinese communities. Experts now say our homes are 5%(low ball,– it always is) more expensive due to this unfortunate situation. In Vancouver’s tony UBC endowment lands, we find homes valued at $25 million dollars with 23 year old foreign students listed as title holder. It’s better for tax purposes, as their uber-rich overseas parents understand.
Conclusion? Once again, a Liberal government damage local residents while benefitting the non-Canadians. Christy Clark did it. So too former Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. Apart from some vague commentary, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t touch the issue.
The root of the entire real estate debacle is found in the Canada-China real estate connection. Turning a blind eye to the situation, both government and a real estate greed have negatively impacted lower and middle income Canadians. In post-modern Canada, it’s simply the Liberal way.
— B. SALZBERG