Douglas Todd: Aboriginals and whites leaving Metro Vancouver

Kind of interesting that some of the debate is now focussing on white enclaves as much as ethnic enclaves:

Aboriginals and whites are leaving Metro Vancouver for other regions of B.C., particularly to live in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, according to Statistics Canada.

A net total of 9,345 whites and 460 Indigenous people left Metro for other parts of the province in the one-year period ending July, 2016, according to newly released Statistics Canada data.

Two other demographic groups that are tending to say goodbye to Metro Vancouver are those who are born in Canada and those between ages 55 and 65.

It’s been more than two decades since Metro Vancouver has experienced so many residents depart for other regions of the province, according to data provided by Patrick Charbonneau, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada.

Out-migration trends similar to Metro Vancouver have also occurred in Toronto and Montreal. In all three cities, said Charbonneau, “there were more non-visible minorities (i.e. whites) leaving those regions for elsewhere in the province than the opposite.”

While Metro Vancouver is generally losing people to the rest of B.C., Statistics Canada reports that Victoria and Kelowna have become the only cities in Canada that are growing because of inter-provincial migration.

Meanwhile, people of colour (which StatsCan refer to as “visible minorities”), are generally not moving out of Metro Vancouver to other parts of the province. They are, however, arriving in the city in large numbers through immigration.

Several reasons are being offered for the exodus of whites, aboriginals and older people from Metro Vancouver. Some mayors say Metro Vancouver residents are seeking lower-cost housing outside the city. Others point to how retirement-age homeowners are cashing out on Metro Vancouver dwellings that have skyrocketed in price. And scholars point to demographic trends in which people of the same ethnicity often choose to live among each other.

“Across the Western world, white majorities, especially those with children, have a tendency to gravitate to neighbourhoods that are both relatively white and have limited ethnic change,” said Eric Kaufmann, a University of London, Birkbeck, professor, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver by parents of mixed ethnicity.

“This is true in the U.S., Canada and Britain. In diverse London, England, for instance, around 600,000 white Britons left the city in the 2000s, while 1.6 million non-white British arrived. Ethnic own-group attraction, rather than white flight or economic forces, best explains the pattern,” said Kaufmann, an often-cited specialist on global migration patterns.

Through extensive research, Kaufmann and his colleagues have found that diverse cities, like Metro Vancouver, “tend to lose white populations at a faster rate, while less diverse cities gain them, or lose whites at a slower rate.” His findings could explain one of the reasons Victoria and Kelowna, which have far less ethnic diversity than Metro Vancouver, are growing as a result of inter-provincial migration.

Figures from the 2016 Canadian census show that whites recently became a minority in the metropolises of Toronto and Metro Vancouver. The relatively small Aboriginal population of Metro Vancouver is also declining proportionally.

In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, the ethnic Chinese population has expanded in a few decades by more than 80,000, while the white population has declined by more than 30,000.

A Postmedia series showed that Metro Vancouver is developing distinct ethnic enclaves. Ethnic Chinese now predominate in large sections of Richmond and South Asians make up three-quarters of many neighbourhoods in north Surrey. Meanwhile, whites tend to make up large majorities in suburbs such as White Rock, North Vancouver and Langley.

Despite significant inter-provincial migration trends, immigration from outside the country is changing the ethnic face of Metro Vancouver and Canada’s largest cities the most quickly.

The cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are projected to have fewer people of European origin, according to StatsCan. More than 60 per cent of all immigrants to Canada have moved to these three major cities, and more than four of five of all recent immigrants come from Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.

Metro Vancouver took in 142,000 new immigrants between 2011 and 2016 — and about 85 per cent of those immigrants were people of colour. Many choose to live in ethnic enclaves.

Working with political scientist Gareth Harris, Kaufmann has tracked “white withdrawal” in Britain and Canada, monitoring how whites tend to “unconsciously” move out of neighbourhoods when a large influx of non-white immigrants moves in.

In their book, Changing Places: Mapping the White British Response to Ethnic Change, Kaufmann and Harris don’t use the American term, “white flight,” to describe this pattern because they don’t think it is normally fuelled by racism or xenophobia.

“White conservatives and liberals, racists and cosmopolitans, all move to relatively white areas at similar rates,” Kaufmann and Harris say in Changing Places, published by Demos, which describes itself as “Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank.”

Comparing Metro Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal, Statistics Canada data reveals that in the one-year period ending July, 2016, Greater Toronto, had a net loss of 22,555 whites to other areas of Ontario, which was more than it lost of people of colour (5,265).

Montreal had a net gain of people of colour from other areas of the province of Quebec, while experiencing a net loss of 7,075 whites.


Source: Aboriginals and whites leaving Metro Vancouver


Douglas Todd: Why Sikhs are so powerful in Canadian politics

Another interesting piece by Todd. Their political impact is greatly helped by their concentration in a number of ridings in the Lower Mainland and the 905. All parties tend to run Canadian Sikh candidates in these ridings:

The Sikh connection had been working well for Justin Trudeau, as it did for Jean Chretien. Punjabi Canadians, most of whom are Sikh, gave Trudeau a big leg up in nabbing the leadership of the federal Liberal party, which soon led him to the commanding heights of the prime minister’s office.

But Punjabi/Sikh support has come back to haunt Trudeau’s popularity. It ignited controversy in his January visit to India, where he appeared linked to backers tied to Sikh militants, some wanting to carve out a theocratic homeland in India called Khalistan.

How did it get to this? Why do Canadian Sikhs punch so much above their weight? How, to the envy of other minority groups, are they so adept at turning grassroots activism into serious political clout?

After all, the country only has 500,000 Sikhs, accounting for a little more than one per cent of all Canadians.

But more than 12 per cent of federal Liberal cabinet ministers are Sikhs, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. There are 14 Liberal Sikh MPs, says Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist Shinder Purewal. Liberals hold all nine federal ridings in which Punjabi Sikhs predominate, says Purewal, plus 11 more in which the South Asian population is significant.

Sikhs also profoundly shape the New Democratic Party. They played a huge role in the elevation of Jagmeet Singh to leadership of the federal NDP.

This is not to mention their over-sized clout in provincial politics in Ontario and also in B.C., where Sikhs were early supporters of former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh and recent Liberal premier Christy Clark. Purewal counts six current B.C. MLAs who are Sikh (five NDP and one Liberal).

Most of the time Sikhs’ impressive ability to shape Canadian politics stays below the public’s radar. But it came to an embarrassing head for Trudeau in India – in part because of the shady figure of Jaspal Atwal, a one-time Sikh terrorist convicted decades ago of shooting an Indian politician who was visiting Vancouver Island.

Neither Trudeau nor any Liberal can explain how Atwal was invited to high-level Trudeau functions in India. The Atwal affair, which sparked outraged headlines across India, has many people in India worried that Trudeau and other Liberal MPs are too closely tied to Sikh separatists, some of whom appear to glorify the man who masterminded the bombing of an Air India flight in 1985, which killed 329 innocents.

And such incendiary connections are not confined to Trudeau’s Liberals, since similar suspicions have been levelled at the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, whom India refuses to give a visa, in part because he has a history as a lawyer of defending militants fighting for a separate Sikh homeland and because he lobbied for a 1984 pogrom against Sikhs in India to be labelled a “genocide” by the government of Ontario.

Here’s a short primer on how Sikh politics often works in Canada.

The grassroots process typically begins with board elections at hundreds of Canadian gurdwaras; especially in Vancouver suburbs such as Surrey, in neighbourhoods of Calgary and in Toronto suburbs such as Mississauga and especially Brampton (where Singh is centred).

The competition to run a gurdwara, which acts like a community centre even for non-religious Punjabis, often pits so-called moderate Sikhs against fundamentalists, a minority of whom want to create a separate Sikh homeland. The faction that ends up controlling a gurdwara, Purewal says, “gains the upper hand.”

The 10 to 20 individuals (almost always men) who run the gurdwara not only gain access to pools of money (typically religious donations made in cash), Purewal says, they’re also able to influence a circle of 40 to 50 extended families. The group that operates a gurdwara, Purewal says, can effectively obtain funds and temple volunteers on behalf of their partisan favourite. They often man a table in the temple on behalf of their politician, “particularly on weekends when devotees come by the hundreds.”

Another little-understood factor that enhances the effectiveness of many Sikh leaders is their traditional caste, says Purewal. “The dominant caste among Punjabi Canadians is Jatt, which is a landowning warrior caste,” he says. The high status of a Jatt leader “makes it easier for certain politicians of Sikh faith to mobilize their relatives, extended families and friends.”

The NDP’s Singh, despite playing down his family’s upper-caste origins, has proved adept at gurdwara politics, particularly at winning the “backing of Sikh temples with (Khalistan) secessionist tendencies,” Purewal says. “As they say, ‘money is the mother’s milk of political campaigns,’ and temples have a lot of it, in cash.” Before winning the leadership of the NDP, Singh signed up an astonishing 10,000 party members in B.C. alone.

Barj Dhahan, a noted Punjabi philanthropist, also has first-hand experience of how temple politics works among Canadians Sikhs, since he competed in 2014 for the federal Liberal candidacy in the riding of Vancouver South.

“Punjabi Sikh voters are very much into their politics,” Dhahan confirms. At one level, Dhahan admires the grassroots activism. At another level he’s concerned many can be manipulated by it.

Sikh-Canadians’ political power is greatest at the local party level, Dhahan says — at determining who is nominated to represent ridings, and in gathering bulk members to vote for a candidate to become a provincial or national leader of a party.

Despite Dhahan’s high profile and good standing in the party, Dhahan says the federal Liberals in 2015 pressured him not to run for a seat in the riding of Vancouver South, which has a large Punjabi Canadian population. Instead, Dhahan said Liberal officials manoeuvred for the only declared candidate to be Sajjan, whom Trudeau appointed minister of defence.

Punjabi Canadians, Dhahan said, “mostly punch above their weight at nomination battles and for political party leadership. They can attract new members very effectively. This is where they put their energy. This is where they can do mass recruitments. And this is where they can deliver.”

Looking into the future of Sikh-Canadian politics, however, Dhahan suggested it is Sikhs above age 55 who are most “driven by personalities.” They’re the most inclined to vote for a political candidate based on little more than the recommendation of a strong Sikh leader, mostly because of family, ethnic, caste or religious loyalties.

The younger generation of Sikhs are more willing, Dhahan said, to quiz candidates on their actual principles. Like most Canadians, Dhahan says, younger Punjabi Sikhs “are more likely to ask, ‘What do you stand for?’ They’re less likely to join a political party because their father tells them to do so.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Why Sikhs are so powerful in Canadian politics

Douglas Todd: Immigrants’ children, Canadians of colour most educated

A further nuance to the data presented in the two studies mentioned can be seen in the above chart showing unemployment rates for 25-34 year olds for visible minority groups compared to non-visible minorities by level of education showing generally higher unemployment rates for college and university educated visible minorities (I don’t yet have the data table by generation).

The gender gap between non visible minority men and women with university education (12.8 percent for 25-34 year olds) is also characteristic, to varying levels, among visible minority groups:

….Contrary to widespread claims that white males are “privileged” in Canada, an earlier study by Picot and Feng Hou, of the University of Victoria, found that Canada’s 3.2 million women of colour are the most educated group in the country.

“The children of immigrants from many Asian countries, such as China and India, register remarkably high educational outcomes, with 50 of Chinese and 60 per cent of those from India holding university degrees,” Picot says.

When Jedwab zeroed in on the education levels of middle-aged adults in Metro Vancouver, he found 46 per cent of immigrant men and 48 per cent of immigrant women in the city had university degrees. That ratio was 41 per cent for Canadian-born females (between the ages of 35 and 44), and only 31 per cent for Canadian-born males.

As well as being accomplished at universities, a high portion of children of immigrants tend to find success once they venture out to work in Canada.

“On average, the children of immigrants are doing as well or better (as adults) in the labour market than the children of the Canadian-born,” said Picot. “Furthermore, because of their higher educational attainment, the children of immigrants are more likely to be in professional occupations and less likely to be in blue collar jobs than children with Canadian-born parents.”

The results do not offer good news for all immigrants and their children, though. The studies by Picot and Jedwab show that immigrants to Canada are tending to divide into two polarized groups: Some are unusually strong at the high end of the economic spectrum, others are over-represented at the low end.

Jedwab found immigrants and visible-minority Canadians are far more likely than the Canadian-born and whites to report low incomes. In Metro Vancouver, for instance, Jedwab found almost 15 per cent of immigrants had low incomes, compared to just 9.4 of non-immigrants. In addition, 24 per cent of Metro’s ethnic Chinese reported low incomes, compared to 10 per cent of non-visible minorities.

In an era where some North American academics, activists and media commentators are emphasizing “white male privilege,” the census data raises questions about the usefulness of such a broad concept. It highlights contradictions and disagreements over which groups are privileged and which are disadvantaged.

Jedwab, for instance, does not think much of the arguments of those who worry that males who are “non-visible-minority Canadians” (a Statistics Canada category that is largely made up of whites, but also includes aboriginals) are disadvantaged, or under performing. He says many are simply going into blue-collar work.

“In the case of the non-visible-minority male population,” Jedwab said, “there is a growing trend we see towards getting trade certificates, where there is a sense that job opportunities are better.”

Picot’s emphasis is on maintaining the success of immigrants’ children. “Taking steps to maintain the positive attitude of Canadians towards immigration can help, since a population backlash can negatively affect second generation outcomes,” he writes. “Canada is one of the few western where researchers, policy developers and the public are little concerned about immigrants ‘stealing the jobs of Canadians.’ This is a prominent issue in most western nations.”

While economists like Collier and educators such as Bennett also appreciate the many positive achievements of immigrants and people of colour, they don’t necessarily want Western societies to abandon the domestic-born population.

Bennett, a university instructor who maintains the website Educhatter, is concerned about the “lack of motivation” among average students of Canadian background, including whites and Aboriginals. His research has found many are languishing.

Collier says high-immigrant Western countries such as Britain, the U.S. and Canada have never figured out how to address the problems of the under-achieving domestically born. Such countries, he said, have developed either universal programs for everyone, or affirmative-action plans for immigrant, ethnic or other minority groups perceived as vulnerable.

No Western country, he suggests, has ever designed a way to respond to the more nebulous needs of those in the mainstream domestic population — whom many consider to be privileged, but who are under-achieving.

Is there any chance policy-makers in Canada will be the first to take up the challenge they offer?

via Douglas Todd: Immigrants’ children, Canadians of colour most educated | Vancouver Sun

The rise of Indigenous members of the Baha’i faith

Interesting (the 2011 NHS shows that over three-quarters of Indigenous peoples are Christian, with most of the balance responding “no religious affiliation” – Aboriginal spirituality being under five percent):

As Canadian members of the Baha’i faith continue to bask in the glow of the 200th anniversary of the birth of their Persian founder, Baha’u’llah, they take particular pride in the many Indigenous people among their faith, which emphasizes the divine origins of all religions.

To that end one of Canada’s most prominent Baha’i, Bob Watts, former chief of staff to the Assembly of First Nations, will be taking part in festivities and discussions on Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre in East Vancouver.

Hailing from the Mohawk and Ojibway Nations, and residing at Ontario’s Six Nations Reserve, Watts recently completed his duties with the AFN. Before that he was the interim executive director of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which makes recommendations regarding the Indian Residential School era and its legacy.

The invitational event with Watts in Vancouver will include remarks from Chief Robert Joseph, one of the most truly reconciling voices in Canada’s truth and reconciliation process, which sometimes descends into politics and division.

Baha’i followers emphasize the ethnic diversity of their membership. When Metro Vancouver’s Baha’is marked their founder’s birthday last October, there was significant participation by large numbers of Baha’i who are Indigenous. (See drumming photo above.)

via The rise of Indigenous members of the Baha’i faith | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Here’s how to end migration scams by the global rich in Canada

Todd continues his series of articles on immigration scams involving wealthy immigrants, including the issue of taxation, particularly those who ‘park’ their family in Canada while continuing to live and work in their country of origin.

I am currently analyzing citizenship take-up by immigration category and business immigrants (entrepreneurs, investors) have the largest gap between relatively low principal applicant naturalization (mainly men) and secondary applicants (their families):

Canada could crack down in many ways on the scams performed by “ghost immigrants” who avoid paying their share of Canadian taxes while driving up housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto.

Immigration and tax specialists are pressing Ottawa to adopt numerous proposals they believe would put an end to widespread illegitimate migration schemes, such as those employed by two rich families from China, whose tactics were exposed this month in B.C. Supreme Court.

The case of Fu versus Zhu revealed how the wealthy families, who had together bought three expensive homes on the west side of Vancouver, had been engaging in illicit plots involving Canadian real estate, tax avoidance and lying about their immigration status.

“The problem is that there is large-scale immigration of relatively wealthy people to Canada who are not contributing significantly, if at all, to the Canadian tax base,” said David Lesperance, a specialist in Canadian tax and immigration law.

“They have bid up the housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto. They are also receiving the benefits of Canadian permanent resident status, including excellent schooling, free medical care, security and (eventually, as citizens) an excellent visa-free passport.”

Noted Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland shares much of the unease of Lesperance – including frustration that Canadian authorities are not enforcing the country’s rules when would-be immigrants fail to declare their worldwide income, pretend to spend time in Canada and obscure the real owners of their properties.

The two specialists have appeared before politicians in Ottawa to offer their ideas on fighting such scams. They agree problems have been created by Canada welcoming so many investor families, in which the breadwinners often become “ghosts immigrants” with little connection to Canada other than engaging in property speculation.

A recent investigation by the South China Morning Post, for instance, found that more than 40 per cent of the breadwinners for recent millionaire migrant households in Canada appear to have left Canada, although some left family members behind. It’s a widespread phenomenon, said the newspaper, among rich Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese migrants.

Lesperance and Kurland maintain their proposals would be especially helpful in dealing with the increasing number of trans-national “astronaut” migrants who use Canadian real-estate primarily as a place to park their capital and sometimes their offspring.

The specialists would especially target the rapidly growing number of would-be Canadians who are renouncing their permanent resident status, which some are using as a way to avoid paying taxes in Canada while still visiting often on 10-year visas.

“Unfortunately, the perception of too many (wealthy) immigrants is that cheats are not sought after or detected” by Canadian tax or border officials, said Lesperance. To eliminate the problem of ‘ghost immigrants,’ the Canadian Revenue Agency must change this perception.”

Both experts emphasize how important it is for the CRA to do far more tax audits of investors, domestic and offshore, who buy up numerous properties. Authorities should particularly focus, they say, on the dubious techniques accountants have cooked up for avoiding paying taxes on their capital gains.

In the complex world of immigration law, perhaps the most radical idea for reform comes from Lesperance, who says it would reduce foreign speculation in Canadian real estate and curtail the tax evasion illustrated by clothing manufacturing mogul Quoqing Fu in the B.C. Supreme Court case.

The judge mocked Fu’s testimony after learning he had told the CRA his worldwide income, which is subject to taxes in Canada, was just $97.11.

Instead of authorities trying in vain to determine whether would-be immigrants are physically present in Canada, Lesperance recommends rating them mostly on whether they pay significant income taxes in Canada — regardless of which country in which they spend most of their time.

There is not much wrong with rich people travelling the world to work, invest and run businesses, argues Lesperance, who is based in Europe. Many would be satisfied, he says, to hold two passports while still paying their share of taxes on their global incomes to Canada, in return for “a stable and safe place for their global operations” and their children.

Canada is losing out on these entrepreneurial newcomers, he says, because its immigration policy focuses on migrants having a sustained “physical presence” in the country. The major resistance to this idea, Lesperance said, comes from those who believe newcomers “must rub elbows at Tim Horton’s to become Canadianized.”

The trouble with Canada’s current residency-based approach to immigration, said Lesperance, is that it often doesn’t work and “we get people like the Fu family abusing the tax system, but we scare away the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world.”

Even though Kurland strongly believes Canada needs to stop exploitation of the country by high-net-worth tax-avoiding newcomers who speculate in real estate, the Vancouver immigration lawyer continues to believe there is value in immigrants integrating into the country by “rubbing shoulders” with Canadians.

Kurland, author of the Lexbase newsletter, also worries that, unless wealthy would-be immigrants who are not often present in the country simply write Canada a big cheque in exchange for citizenship, too many would have their accountants find ways to hide their riches in a trust fund.

Alternatively, one of Kurland’s more innovative recommendations is for the federal government “to very visibly invite Chinese tax collectors to Vancouver,” a move which would dramatically remind cheaters to submit to the rigours of Canada’s tax and security treaties with China, which is launching its own crackdown.

Kurland also believes that, in this new era “in which global computer systems can carefully track individuals’ travel,” it is fast becoming easier and less costly for Canadian authorities to catch people who are not following the country’s immigration and tax rules.

Ultimately, however, like Lesperance, Kurland believes the following is the most important thing that will lead to a clampdown on migration scams in Canada involving false tax claims and real-estate speculation:

“It’s a pure question of political will.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Here’s how to end migration scams by the global rich in Canada

Douglas Todd: Explosive B.C. court case details seven migration scams

Another good article by Todd, covering the different scams uncovered by this case:

A shocking B.C. Supreme Court case that pitted two rich families from China against each other provides grim revelations about the kind of migration, tax, and real-estate scams regularly occurring in Metro Vancouver and beyond.

Immigration and tax lawyers are stunned that the Fu and Zhu families became embroiled in a lengthy civil suit over three multi-million dollar houses they purchased together in Vancouver, since their case provides evidence of their illicit schemes around real estate, tax avoidance and immigration.

“This case provides unusually candid insight into what those who would abuse our immigration and real-estate systems really think in their own words about their true motives for seeking access to Canada and our real estate,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Sam Hyman.

David Lesperance, a Toronto-based immigration and tax lawyer, said: “The fact that two different parties … would choose to fully expose their transgressions in a public forum shows either blinding ignorance, or complacency about the ramifications of that exposure, given the longtime lack of enforcement of immigration and tax laws in Canada.”

While both specialists believe the Fu versus Zhu case justifies investigation by the Canadian Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency and other enforcement bodies, they say the dispute between the families indirectly illustrates the range of common, mostly unpunished migration and real-estate scams occurring in Canada.

Here are seven migration-related subterfuges the case exposes:

1. Not declaring full worldwide income to Canadian tax officials

Judge Susan Griffin scoffed at one family’s breadwinner, Guoqing Fu, for declaring to the Canadian Revenue Agency he had a worldwide income of only $97.11.

“This was an incredible assertion, given the fact he owns one of the top 10 textile manufacturing and distribution companies” in China’s biggest production zone, said Griffin.

The immigration specialists say it’s commonplace for wealthy foreign real-estate investors to falsely claim to tax authorities they earn much less than they do. It’s typically done in an attempt, they say, to avoid income taxes in Canada, and to make one’s family eligible for welfare and other taxpayer-financed subsidies.

But the Fu family may have gone too far, says Lesperance. “I think that clearly an investigation by Canada Revenue Agency is in order. (Depending on the results) the CRA could definitely ask the Crown to proceed with a criminal tax evasion charge, which could result in a 200-per-cent-of-tax-evaded penalty, plus up to five years imprisonment.”

2. Pretending to spend time in Canada to meet residency requirements

Chunquin Zhou referred to one of her Vancouver luxury houses as “immigration jail,” a term often adopted by well-off would-be migrants.

She used the phrase in reference to what she considered the hardship inherent in Ottawa’s requirement that would-be immigrants physically spend two years out of five in Canada before obtaining citizenship.

The judge also found her son, Xiao Feng Fu, was “sophisticated in lying, including in scheming to deceive Canadians immigration authorities that he could maintain permanent residency status without spending the necessary days residing in Canada.”

The family members’ attempts to pretend they were living in Canada while spending time offshore echo a technique used in a widespread scam orchestrated up until 2015 by Richmond resident Xun Wang, who hauled in $10 million over eight years by producing altered Chinese passports and fraudulent identities for up to 1,200 clients.

3. Hiding real real-estate ownership

The Fu and Zhu families were well versed in how to avoid taxes on the sale of their houses by making false claims about the actual owners.

One common technique that wealthy foreign nationals use to avoid or evade paying capital gains tax in Canada is by putting dwellings in the names of children or spouses who appear to be permanent residents of Canada, and who appear, at least on paper, to occupy the houses.

4. Lack of regulation of real-estate agents

The son’s phoney claims about spending time in Canada were coordinated by the families’ realtor, identified only as “Mr. Gu.” The realtor assisted the son by helping provide false pay cheques, false employment records and false verbal claims about losing his permanent-resident card while in China.

“The new B.C. real estate regulator may want to invite Mr. Gu to a session over his behaviour,” said Hyman, referring to the way B.C.’s real-estate regulation was recently reformed following persistent complaints it was failing to discipline rogue realtors.

5. Illicitly laundering money out of China

The Fu versus Zhu case baldly highlights the two families’ efforts to break the laws of China, which is increasingly placing tighter restrictions on the amount of money it allows to leave the economic powerhouse.

The Fu family, to avoid detection, used their employees on 21 occasions to transfer lump sums just under China’s restriction against removing more than $50,000 US a year from the country.

The judge noted the parties acknowledged the steps were taken to evade China’s currency controls, as well as its restrictions on how many dwellings they could own.

The Fu and Zhu families’ efforts to illegally remove at least $1 million US from China corresponds to similar attempts made by Anita Wang and other families from China, who the B.C. Supreme Court found in early January illicitly laundered $750,000 to buy a property in Port Coquitlam.

6. Misusing provincial migration programs

The two families from China initially started their application process to move to and invest in Canada by going through the provincial nominee programs of Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, jurisdictions which lack the popularity of Metro Vancouver and Toronto for migrants.

Neither family showed any intention of settling in those provinces, since they immediately put all their efforts into investing in residential real estate on the west side of Vancouver.

7. Exploiting Canadian courts, with costly trials

Postmedia reporter Sam Cooper is among the journalists who are increasingly covering lengthy cases involving foreign nationals who use Canadian civil courts to solve their own trans-national legal wrangles.

But, as Hyman says, it costs Canadian taxpayers a great deal to provide the judges, buildings and legal staff to run the court system, even when the losing side sometimes has to contribute to opponents’ lawyers’ fees.

“The bitterest irony in all this is that those who would so brazenly thwart our laws with such perceived impunity, for personal gain, would turn to our taxpayer-funded legal system for recourse. Chutzpah doesn’t begin to describe the parties’ conduct,” said Hyman.

Despite the conclusion of the Fu versus Zhu civil case, Hyman noted the family members involved “appear to continue to have access to Canada.”

via Douglas Todd: Explosive B.C. court case details seven migration scams | Vancouver Sun

When ‘harmony’ is not good enough: James Hoggan

James Hoggan, author of I’m Right and You’re an Idiot, on the balance between confrontation and collaboration and the need for dialogue.

The challenge is how to have vigorous yet respectful conversations:

When I was chair of the David Suzuki Foundation I asked Canadian problem solving guru Adam Kahane to speak at our board retreat when it met at the Brew Creek Centre in Whistler.

I invited him because of his work as a facilitator in hot spots around the world.  Like many of the thought leaders I interviewed for my book, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot, Adam encouraged me to consider the role warlike rhetoric plays in creating gridlock and inaction on environmental problems such as climate change.

I found his methodology for dialogue, called transformative scenario planning, a hopeful alternative to the growing political polarization.

During his talk to our board, Adam got into a brief but heated disagreement with David Suzuki who argued that in some cases dialogue is a waste of time. David spoke about the CEO of a consortium of companies who wanted to discuss international criticism of the Alberta oil sands regarding its environmental performance.

David said he would be willing to engage with the CEO if he would first agree to certain basic principles: that we are all animals and that we need clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity. The CEO declined. Adam challenged Suzuki on this, saying that seeking such an agreement in advance was unreasonable and unproductive.

Adam recently told me this exchange had a big impact on him. “It shook me up a lot.” Initially, he couldn’t make this new idea fit into his frame of collaboration so it stayed with him “as an unresolved tension.” He didn’t dismiss the argument because he holds David in such high esteem.

And gradually this principle seemed more important and altered Adam’s thinking about how to approach advocacy, conflict and dialogue, and this exchange became an important section of his new book, Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust.

Adam writes: “I could now see that engaging and asserting were complementary rather than opposing ways to make progress on complex challenges, and that both were legitimate and necessary.”

If we suppress assertion and advocacy in an effort to engage with an opponent, “we will suffocate the social system we are working with,” and end up with feeble collaboration. He is now convinced that healthy collaboration needs to include “vigorous fighting.”

Rather than focusing on finding harmony when dealing with people who hold radically conflicting opinions, we can embrace both conflict and connection:

“If we stretch beyond our conventional, comfortable, habitual approach to collaboration we can be more successful more often, and don’t have to default to polarization, and worsen the situation.”

He recently told me it’s wrong to think we can only collaborate successfully by first forging harmonious teams that have reached agreement on where they’re going, how to get there, or who needs to do what.

Author Adam Kahane was shaken by a conversation with David Suzuki about activism.

This discussion got me thinking about how my own attitudes have evolved while searching for better ways to deal with antagonists of all kinds, including climate science deniers. Adam’s new book reinforces my experience that changing public opinion and public policy requires both advocacy and collaboration — although I’ve learned that both have their limits.

Advocates tend to overplay their hands and may unintentionally strengthen the resistance they work so hard to overcome. Collaboration on the other hand can create a false equivalence that undermines science when opposing viewpoints are both presented as legitimate, when clearly they are not.

A perfect example of this is the decades’ old debate between genuine climate scientists and climate change deniers working for industry-funded, right-wing think tanks. Any advocacy to counteract alarming environmental problems such as climate change, ocean acidification or species extinction is by its nature difficult and adversarial.

I told Adam it’s hard to collaborate with someone who says climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, because engaging in such a specious argument only drags the conversation down to a ludicrous level. I also said when it comes to climate change, dialogue often fails, but lessons from the civil rights movement give us hope. They tell us that people who meet with resistance can eventually see results if they keep demanding it and never give up.

On the other hand, our social capacity for pluralism will either empower or prevent us from emerging from the climate crisis. Being right on the science is not enough. That’s why this book is so important. We need to develop our ability to work with the enemy, or as Thich Nhat Hanh put it, “speak the truth but not to punish.”

via When ‘harmony’ is not good enough | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: The misused concept of racism, refined

Doug Todd’s summary of the debates between Cornel West, Ta-Nehisis Coates and John McWhorter.

His distinction between unconscious racism (or implicit bias) vs active discrimination is overstated, as implicit bias or discrimination is not as innocuous as he presents. Just as not every action or attitude cannot be attributed to implicit bias or discrimination, neither can every case of implicit bias being dismissed.

On the other hand, looking at the issues from a narrow, one community perspective, as Holly Anderson does with the word “clan” undermines the more serious issues related to implicit bias and discrimination (much as the removal of the word ‘chief’ in Toronto District School Board job titles):

Are we starting to refine our concept of racism, arguably the most explosive word in North America today?

Three powerful African-American public intellectuals are in a high-level debate over racism. All three agree racism can be a serious problem, especially in the U.S., where black-white tensions for some still run deep.

But the eloquent authors — Cornel West, Ta-Nehisi Coates and John McWhorter — have extraordinarily different perspectives on the extent of racism. Their debate, as well as discussion in Canada, may be requiring cultural warriors on all sides to become clearer about what they mean when they use, and in many cases misuse, the term racism.

In pluralistic Canada, the anti-racism movement is not quite as aggressive as in the U.S., especially in regards to blacks, who make up only two per cent of this country’s population. Still many Canadian activists and academics try to give it top prominence.

One reason it’s important for Canadians to be clear about the meaning of racism is that cities such as Vancouver and Toronto now have among the world’s highest proportions of foreign-born residents, with ethnically hyper-diverse populations.

Discussions of housing, welfare, jobs, renting, land claims and neighbourhood enclaves sometimes touch on race and nationality. And we have to talk about these issues without fear of being silenced by trumped-up claims of racism, which has occurred over the decades.

One revealing manifestation of Canada’s anti-racism movement emerged from Simon Fraser University in 2017. Philosophy prof. Holly Andersen launched a petition to have the Scottish-rooted word “Clan” removed from the names of the university’s sports team. She argued it is potentially offensive to blacks, since they might associate it with the Ku Klux Klan.

What can a debate among America’s leading black intellectuals tell us about the value of Andersen’s petition, and, most importantly, about how to engage thorny issues that often become muddled over misunderstandings of racism?

To answer we need to know why Harvard’s Cornel West, a veteran left-wing civil rights activist, so strongly disagree with Coates, who may be the most celebrated black writer in the U.S. today.

Coates, raised in a violence-filled neighbourhood of Baltimore, is the author of many books, including last year’s We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, which celebrates Barack Obama’s era in the White House and amounts to a concerted attack on “white supremacy.”

Coates believes racism is the U.S.’s worst catastrophe and pessimistically believes it will never change. “The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs, but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs,” Coates says.

Coates, in effect, encourages activists to dramatically broaden the definition of prejudice to include what some call unconscious racism. “Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others,” he says.

On Dec. 17, however, Cornel West pushed back in an opinion piece in The Guardian. It has led to a titanic dispute, an intense debate going back to disagreements between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

“Coates fetishizes white supremacy. He makes it almighty, magical and un-removable,” West says.

“Unfortunately, he hardly keeps track of our fight back, and never connects this ugly legacy to predatory capitalist practices, imperial policies (of war, occupation, detention, assassination) or the black elite’s refusal to confront poverty, patriarchy or transphobia.”

Coates’ “perception of white people is tribal and his conception of freedom is neo-liberal,” West said, defining “neo-liberal” as individualistic and embedded in Wall Street.

In response to the debate, Coates soon deleted his Twitter account, which had 1.25 million followers, saying, “I didn’t get in it for this.”

Which leads us to McWhorter, who writes about race and language as a professor at Columbia University and may be the most insightful of all three.

Antiracism “encourages an idea that racism in its various guises must be behind anything bad for black people,” says Columbia University Prof. John McWhorter.

“Coates is celebrated as the writer who most aptly expresses the scripture that America’s past was built on racism and that racism still permeates the national fabric,” says McWhorter.

While acknowledging racism against blacks is a grave issue, McWhorter worries Coates has become a high “priest” of what he calls the new “religion of Antiracism.” It’s not entirely bad that “Antiracism” has become a religion, says McWhorter. It’s been effective in reducing the prejudice of the 1960s, when some whites dismissed Martin Luther King as a “rabble-rouser.”

Yet in his essay, “Antiracism: Our Flawed New Religion,” McWhorter says the downside of Antiracism is that it has become an absolutistic orthodoxy that can’t be questioned, humiliates skeptics and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

“(Antiracism) encourages an idea that racism in its various guises must be behind anything bad for black people,” says McWhorter. “The fact is that Antiracism, as a religion, pollutes our race dialogue as much as any lack of understanding by white people of their Privilege.”

What does this grand debate in the U.S. have to do with the internationally publicized effort by SFU’s Andersen to ban the word “Clan” from sports teams?

For one, it suggests Anderson is bringing American vigilance about racism to Canada. She was raised in Montana and obtained her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, a city where one-quarter of the population is black.

Andersen’s petition was also included in Tristin Hopper’s widely read Dec. 28 piece in The National Post, “Here are all the innocuous things that suddenly became racist in 2017,”which explored the year’s more “overblown” accusations.

Philosophy professor Holly Anderson’s petition to remove the name “Clan” from SFU’s sports teams was rejected by nine out of 10 in an online poll.

Anderson did not return messages, so I didn’t get to ask her opinion of Canadian aboriginals referring to themselves as belonging to the Raven Clan, Wolf Clan, etc. And SFU media’s relation department would only say this week that her anti-Clan petition, which the public rejected in a poll, remains “under review.”

One thing we can learn from Andersen’s petition, though, is it gained attention in part because the professor, Coates and others are increasingly popularizing the concept of unconscious racism, which has little to do with the conventional definition of racism, which focuses on active discrimination based on a sense of superiority.

Even Mahzarin Banaji, the psychology professor who invented the term, cautions that “unconscious racism” should never have quasi-legal standing and has nothing to do with real discrimination. Still, the new concept, embraced by liberals, condemns all sorts of momentary feelings that were not considered racist in the past. The concept makes it appear the problem of racism has expanded, when it is more likely contracting in North America.

Overall, though, I think West might have one of the simplest arguments against exaggerating racism. West is of the “old left,” which emphasizes economics, whereas Coates is an icon of the “cultural left,” which stresses identity politics. West (and McWhorter) think racism is a big issue, but that it’s dangerous to make it the only one.

A raft of other harms needs to be confronted that are not defined by race. West’s essay starts by naming the scourge of corporate greed, government corruption and unnecessary violence. We could add unaffordable housing, unequal access to education, et cetera. The list goes on.

Source: Douglas Todd: The misused concept of racism, refined

Douglas Todd: How religion cuts into politics in B.C.

Tend to agree that more studies needed with respect to visible minorities and religion (some obvious links, Canadian Sikhs, evangelical or more fundamentalist Christians among Chinese Canadians), and the political impacts:

Did Christy Clark increase her popularity by 10 percentage points when she stopped attending Vancouver’s giant Pride parade?

That’s one of the more spicy possibilities raised in a new book that delves into how religion makes a big difference in politics in Canada, even in unusually secular B.C.

The authors of Religion and Canadian Party Politics, from UBC Press, devote a chapter to the ways conservative Christians have been a crucial factor in B.C.’s political dogfights, with a glance also at Sikh influences.

The University of Toronto’s David Rayside and Carleton’s Jerald Sabin and Paul Thomas explain how Clark, who had been happily attending Pride parades, abruptly stopped doing so in 2012.

With Clark painting herself as more socially conservative, her polling numbers went up and those of the then-robust B.C. Conservative party plummeted by 10 percentage points.

The ex-premier did more than snub Vancouver’s Pride parade to cement the “religious vote” in the pivotal 2013 B.C. election, however.

Clark’s advisers obtained an endorsement from Stockwell Day, a preacher and former Conservative cabinet minister. Clark also appeared on the evangelical TV show of David Mainse, host of 100 Huntley St. In addition, the book cites my report on her speech to the Christian organization, City in Focus, in which she said it’s “tragic” more people don’t worship God.

Perhaps most importantly, Clark aggressively propped up private religious schools, and not only because her son attended Vancouver’s St. George’s, an upper-class, nominally Anglican institution.

Religion and Canadian Party Politics cites how B.C.’s private schools, which are mostly conservative Christian, with some Sikh and Muslim, are growing to the point they now educate 13 per cent of all the province’s young students.

The tactics of Clark, an Anglican, were not only aimed at white Christians, but also B.C. Filipinos (95 per cent of whom are Christian), Koreans (64 per cent Christian) and ethnic Chinese (22 per cent Christian, 59 per cent not religious).

As for the B.C. NDP, Religion and Canadian Party Politics points to polls suggesting they appear to disproportionally rely on non-religious voters.

That is significant since the portion of British Columbians who are atheists, or unaffiliated, is arguably the highest of anywhere in North America, at 44 per cent.

It should be noted, though, that despite the tendency of B.C. Liberals to attract religious voters and the NDP to do the opposite, polls suggest all the province’s parties are capable at different times of drawing support from across the ethnic and faith spectrum.

It’s too bad, in an era when almost all politicians are going out of their way to court minority religious and ethnic groups, the book touches only briefly on Clark’s early success with Sikhs.

It quotes a source saying 30 per cent of the B.C. Liberal party’s membership was made up of Sikhs, even though they comprise just five per cent of the B.C. population. Metro Vancouver’s Sikhs number almost 200,000 and their large gurdwaras often host political gatherings.

Unfortunately, since Religion and Canadian Party Politics was published in 2017, it was not able to report on the way many Sikhs seemed to feel betrayed by Clark during this year’s B.C. election.

The NDP this May won all eight Metro Vancouver ridings with significant Sikh/South Asian populations.

An even more recent overlap of Sikhism and politics in B.C. occurred with the October election of Jagmeet Singh, an orthodox Sikh, as leader of the federal NDP. Singh won in part because he signed up 10,000 new members in B.C., many of them Sikhs.

It’s paradoxical that Singh is now leading a progressive, morally liberal party, even while he’s a baptized Sikh loyal to a faith devoted to conservative sexual ethics.

Even though Singh, 38, is unmarried, the Sikh religion emphasizes orthodox males are expected to be married, emphasizing they should not have sex until then.

Homosexuality is also not accepted in Sikh teaching, and abortion is seen as generally wrong.  Nevertheless, Singh appears to express the kind of tolerance promoted by Sikh teachings about not hating anyone based on their race or sexuality.

How do Canadian Muslims vote?

That question may not be quite as significant in Metro Vancouver, where the Muslim population is three per cent, as it is in places such as Montreal and Toronto, where Muslims make up eight per cent of the population.

Even though Religion and Canadian Party Politics doesn’t delve into it, polls suggest many Canadian Muslims support patriarchy, reject homosexuality and discourage mixed unions.

So it initially appears contradictory that 65 per cent of Canadian Muslims supported Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, (a Catholic) who frequently shows solidarity with feminists and LGBQT people.

The paradox is partly explained by Stephen Harper’s campaign, however. The federal Conservative party took a stand against the face-covering niqab worn by some Muslim women and, as Rayside said in an interview, showed “very one-sided support for Israel.”

Such is the complicated world of religion and politics in Canada.

While Religion and Canadian Party Politics is strong in critically assessing the influence of conservative white Christians on politics, sometimes by stealth, it’s not as useful on the impact of minority ethnic and religious groups.

Rayside acknowledged many scholars are reluctant to appear to criticize ethnic-based faiths.

But whites are now a minority in Metro Toronto and Vancouver. And about 17 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents, and 22 per cent of Torontonians, follow a non-Christian religion.

As scholar Reginald Bibby points out in his new book, Resilient Gods (UBC Press), in the decade leading up to 2011 more than 478,000 immigrants arrived who were Catholic (mostly Filipino and Chinese), 442,000 had no religion (mostly Chinese and Europeans), 388,000 were Muslims (mostly Iranians and Pakistanis), 154,000 were Hindus (from India) and 107,000 were Sikhs (India).

Scholars may have to overcome their cautiousness and more seriously study the impact of such fast-growing ethnic and religious groups.

It’s not just conservative Christians who have been quietly changing the face of Canadian partisan politics. So have Sikhs and Muslims: Many would expect they would be the hot new thing in political research.

via Douglas Todd: How religion cuts into politics in B.C. | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Who decides the land is ‘sacred’?

Todd on the Ktunaxa/Jumbo Glacier case:

Ktunaxa elder Chris Luke Sr. lives in B.C.’s Purcell Mountains, about 1,000 kilometres east of Vancouver. He doesn’t speak English and he knows how to keep his silence.

Still, Luke is a powerful man.

For eight years, the elder’s religious vision has seized the attention of Canada’s top courts, demanding the focus of hundreds of lawyers, judges, civil servants and politicians.

Their work became necessary because Luke said he had an epiphany in 2004 — which he did not reveal to his people until 2009 ­— that the grizzly bears that inhabit a large chunk of public land in the Purcells are sacred, divine protectors.

As a result, Luke’s small tribal group entered into years of hard political negotiations with the B.C. government, which turned into a precedent-setting court case against developers of a ski resort called Jumbo Glacier.

The case, which Luke and his people lost this month in the Supreme Court of Canada, not only raised profound questions about Canada’s commitment to protect religious freedom, it opened a bigger cans of worms. It highlighted philosophical, ethical, anthropological and religious issues.

Four of the broad questions from Luke’s case are: Who decides what is “sacred?” Are religious beliefs static? Is Indigenous spirituality monolithic? Do aboriginals consistently respect the land?

In the case, known as “Ktunaxa Nation versus British Columbia,” the elder was put forward as the sole source of religious truth.

“The record is clear that the Ktunaxa (believe) only certain members of the community, knowledge-keepers, possess information about spiritual values, and that only Mr. Luke could speak to these matters,” wrote the judges.

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed the Ktunaxa were “sincere” in following Luke’s vision of the “Grizzly Bear Spirit.” But the judges noted the Ktunaxa had believed for less than a decade that the grizzly territory they call Qat’muk was of utmost spiritual significance.

The judges concluded timing didn’t matter, though. “Whether this belief is ancient or recent plays no part in our analysis. The Charter protects all sincere religious beliefs and practices, old or new.”

In other words, Canadian courts are obliged to take seriously almost anybody who convinces their followers that land in B.C., or anywhere, is absolutely sacred.

Theoretically, Luke could have been a New Age guru from, say, Los Angeles, who persuaded a group to “sincerely” believe parts of Saskatchewan, or Mississauga, were untouchable. The potential is high for arbitrariness.

Even though the Ktunaxa lost their case, two of nine Supreme Court judges (and many aboriginals and their supporters) believe the majority made a mistake in one of the reasons they refused to stop the ski development for religious reasons.

In general, I tend not to champion giant ski resorts, nor shopping malls nor casinos, whether on public, private or Aboriginal land. Like many Canadians, I also strongly support reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous populations, along with the treaty process.

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed the Ktunaxa were ‘sincere’ in following their elder’s vision of the ‘Grizzly Bear Spirit.’ But the judges noted the Ktunaxa had believed for less than a decade that the grizzly territory in the Purcell Mountains was of utmost spiritual significance. Determining ‘sacredness’ is subjective, and the courts justifiably don’t want to take a stand on it.

But, with the Ktunaxa case, it’s hard not to think the majority of judges were more reality-based than the dissenters.

One of the flaws in the Ktunaxa lawyers’ arguments was in the definition of sacred. Who decides what is sacred? And what rights does that give those who claim it?

The court concluded understandings of “sacred” are subjective. In a pluralistic society, one person’s sacred is another person’s profane.

So, instead of legally protecting a physical place or object that some claim sacred, the only thing Canada’s courts rightly felt justified in guarding is religious expression (which includes giving Sikhs the right to carry kirpans, or ceremonial knives).

Beyond the legal angles, which are many, the Ktunaxa case also brings up many broad religious issues, including about whether faiths are static.

Though many think religions such as Christianity or Islam are set in stone when they’re founded, many other believe they change over time. The Ktunaxa case inadvertently confirmed how a group’s theology can dramatically evolve, since the court found no evidence they believed in the “Grizzly Bear Spirit” before contact with Europeans.

The case also touches on the question: Are Canadian Indigenous beliefs monolithic?

The two dissenting judges seemed to assume so, with Judge Michael Moldaver saying things such as, “There is an inextricable link between spirituality and land in Indigenous religious traditions.”

But no judge mentioned the wide religious diversity among Canada’s 1.7 million Indigenous people, including that two of three are Christian. That includes many Ktunaxa.

Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality, by Philip Jenkins, is one of many books describing how eclectic and syncretistic Indigenous spirituality has been, including in the way such things as smudging rituals have been loosely borrowed and adapted.

We cannot assume religious uniformity among Indigenous people or anyone else, even though the dissenting judge appeared to do so — somewhat naively, romantically.

Canadian scholar Rod Preece’s Animals and Nature has detailed hundreds of ways North American Indigenous people have through the centuries mistreated the land and animals.

That includes the way Prairie natives killed thousands of buffalo at a time, wasting their meat, sometimes just taking their tongues. It also entails recent events, such as the Inuit hunter on his snowmobile who chased 162 wolves to their deaths and B.C. aboriginals joining non-Aboriginals in overfishing.

North American aboriginals often ambivalent approach to nature also suggests itself when tribal groups erect unsightly billboards and casinos on what is supposedly “sacred” land, along with huge commercial developments, such as the new Tsawwassen mall.

Such troublesome realities, however, didn’t stop Judge Moldaver from playing the role of a religion expert when he insisted Aboriginals are unique in their firm belief physical things are sacred.

That’s unlike those who follow “Judeo-Christian faiths,” Moldaver claimed, “where the divine is considered to be supernatural.”

Thousands of religion scholars would disagree with the judge’s generalization. They might cite the Christian theology of “incarnation,” which teaches God is embedded in every natural thing, not to mention the commitment of Jews and Muslims to their holy lands.

Moldaver’s awkward attempts at theology serve as a reminder of why Canadian courts have decided never to rule on what is religiously “orthodox.”

To be fair, the dissenting judge was trying in his way to further the valuable process of reconciliation with Canada’s aboriginals.

But the majority of judges went ahead and actually did so: By clarifying that ostensibly political claims about who controls public land cannot be made on religious grounds.

via Douglas Todd: Who decides the land is ‘sacred’? | Vancouver Sun