Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy

While polling data is important, I find blind cv tests (Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name: Policy Options) and hate crime stats (StatsCan police reported as per the above charts) to be better indicators of racism and discrimination.

Under-estimating racism and discrimination is as much a risk as over-estimating:

It’s virtually impossible in a lifetime to avoid interaction with an extremist — including the activist that Hiebert says regularly shows up at Vancouver anti-racism events, where he eagerly hands out xenophobic leaflets.

When Hiebert conducted a survey years ago that tried to identify Canadians hostile to others, he found only two to three per cent fit the bill as out-and-out racists.

Even though the Vancity report tries to go further and advise British Columbians to “combat” their own “subconscious bias,” the credit union’s officials seem unaware the concept of “unconscious racism” has been criticized even by psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, who invented the term.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh is among those worried about the exaggeration of racism. Even though B.C. was home to some racism decades ago, Dosanjh said many now trot out the label to make themselves look good or to stifle debate.

Ethnic Chinese leaders in B.C., including Albert Lo, Justin Fung and Clarence Cheng, have also warned about the divisiveness of inaccurately claiming racism, particularly in a province struggling with unaffordable housing, foreign capital and unequal wealth.

Could the world really be so wrong about Canada and B. C.? A Gallup poll conducted in more than 50 countries discovered 84 per cent believe Canadians are “tolerant of others who are different,” the highest ranking of any country.

China, Russia and India were at the bottom of the list. Fewer than 34 per cent of global respondents rated residents of those major immigrant-source countries as tolerant.

Indeed, discrimination cuts unpredictably across cultures. A 2016 Angus Reid survey found recent immigrants to Canada were slightly less likely than native-born people to accept homosexuals, or approve of “marrying someone from a different cultural or religious background.”

So, are British Columbians accepting of diversity?

There is no simple answer. It appears the vast majority are highly respectful of difference, while a relative few are not.

Environics Institute pollster Keith Neuman answers the question about a region’s acceptance levels by quoting the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has become known for warning of the “danger of a single story.”

And it’s hard to think of a more treacherous single story about B.C. than the one alleging racism is alive and well.

Source: Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: How to ensure non-residents pay tax on Canadian real-estate profits

Hard to understand the blindness or unwillingness of the British Columbia Liberals on this issue. Too many donations from those who benefit from the this lack of regulation and appropriate policies?

It should be easy to ensure that offshore property speculators pay capital gains taxes on their Canadian sales, but the B.C. government has given no sign it’s prepared to make the fix.

Immigration lawyers and Opposition politicians are pressing the province to start an information-sharing system that would make it much harder for house sellers to evade capital gains taxes by claiming they are “residents of Canada for tax purposes,” when they are not. Some critics estimate the tax loss at hundreds of millions of dollars.

This tax avoidance was at the centre of a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling. Justice Kenneth Affleck ordered notary Tony Liu to pay $600,000 to a house purchaser he had represented.

That was to cover the capital gains tax the Canadian Revenue Agency demanded from the buyer, which should have been paid by the non-resident seller of a $5.6-million Vancouver mansion.

A property seller who does not pay income taxes here is required to pay a capital gains tax on 25 per cent of their profit on a house sale. Theoretically, the law is designed to advantage domestic buyers and sellers over speculators, particularly from offshore.

In practice, the capital gains rule is rarely enforced, in large part, lawyers say, because B.C. doesn’t collect or share up-to-date information on whether property sellers pay income taxes in Canada.

That task is inexplicably left to a real-estate industry “honour system”involving buyers, sellers and their agents, says Vancouver immigration lawyer Sam Hyman, who is among several experts offering a simple solution.

“How complicated is it to require a seller to produce proof they paid their income taxes as a Canadian tax resident?” asked Richard Kurland, a lawyer who produces the immigration newsletter Lexbase.

“This really spotlights B.C.’s unchanging position, which is that it refuses to include on government (property-transfer) forms the question: ‘Are you a tax resident of Canada?’” Kurland said.

“B.C. fails to create data that can be checked by Canada Revenue Agency, by not asking the right question. Instead, the B.C. government has begun asking, ‘What is your citizenship?’ But that’s irrelevant.”

In a city in which 45 per cent of the population is foreign-born, Kurland said, it would be straightforward for CRA to run a data match on people who claim they are tax residents of Canada to see if they are really paying income taxes.

“But if B.C. doesn’t go after the data, CRA can’t do its job.”

When B.C. Finance Ministry spokesman Jamie Edwardson was asked Friday if he thought there were problems associated with B.C. buyers being unable to prove sellers pay income taxes, he declined to answer and said the question should be directed to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Source: How to ensure non-residents pay tax on Canadian real-estate profits | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: The narrow view from the migration sector bubble

Todd on his experience at Metropolis (I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with him, as I always find his columns of interest).

His critique about the Metropolis bubble could of course be repeated with respect to most conferences. As could his critique of attendees being dependent of government cheques. Being dependent on private sector funding doesn’t make one more objective.

However, all that being said, it is a valid critique that Metropolis does not include a wide range of perspectives in both the plenaries and workshops, something that the conference organizers, as well as individuals like me who organize workshops, should keep in mind.

As well as the general point that one should be mindful of one’s bubble, and make efforts to get outside it, whether as Todd did by coming to Metropolis or ensuring that one’s media includes a range of perspectives (the main lesson that I learnt working under former Minister Jason Kenney as recounted in Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism):

I just spent a few days with Canadians who work with immigrants, refugees, international students and other migrants.

The almost 1,000 people at the 2017 Metropolis Conference in Montreal are on the front lines of an effort central to a country with arguably the world’s highest per capita in-migration.

Each year, Canada spends roughly $1.2 billion on the so-called “settlement sector.” Its mission is to assist more than 300,000 new immigrants and refugees a year while supporting 325,000 foreign students and more than 300,000 temporary foreign workers.

Migration is a mass phenomenon in Canada, unlike in most nations. Many settlement workers live in the cities that draw most migrants: Foreign-born people make up 23 per cent of Montreal’s population, 45 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s and half of Greater Toronto.

Workers in the settlement-sector form an influential Canadian subculture. One person at Metropolis affectionately referred to them as “activists with pensions.” Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen spoke twice and told them they greatly influence public policy.

I began wondering, however, how much these upstanding people represent the Canadian population. Do their values correspond at all to opinion poll results or with the issues Canadians follow through the media?

The vast majority at the taxpayer-funded Metropolis conferences live on government paycheques or grants. They are in the Immigration Department, the Heritage Department, public research universities and taxpayer-financed non-profit organizations.

Their theme is humanitarianism. Metropolis participants repeatedly said Canada should bring in more immigrants, refugees and foreign students, migrants are a “vulnerable population” and taxpayers should spend more on them.

Borrowing from Canadian scholars Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka, it’s fair to say almost all at the 19th national Metropolis event would be among the one-third of Canadians who unconditionally support multicultural, refugee and immigration policy. I did not hear disapproval.

They would definitely not be among the slightly smaller proportion of people that Banting and Kymlicka found at the opposite end; those opposed to Canadian-style immigration and multiculturalism.

It’s also not likely many attendees would be in the middle group of Canadians — the roughly 40 per cent (domestic and foreign-born) who generally support official multiculturalism, but with conditions.

Given what I witnessed, and the titles of hundreds of Metropolis presentations, critical discussion was muted. Orthodoxy seemed to reign.

It’s understandable. A lot of livelihoods, research grants and vested interests are at stake.

And, anyways, most attendees seemed keen on what they do. A few, indeed, seemed boastful.

There were basically only two things attendees would criticize.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told Metropolis delegates they greatly influence public policy. But to what extent do they reflect a cross-section of Canadians?

One was the alleged shortage of funding for settlement organizations, refugee agencies and foreign students. As a keynote speaker said, “We always have to do more.”

The second thing subject to criticism was the “media” and, by extension, Canadians themselves. Each was occasionally referred to as “tolerant” but more often chastised for being xenophobic.

Source: Douglas Todd: The narrow view from the migration sector bubble | Vancouver Sun

Growing number of migrants renouncing Canadian immigrant status | Vancouver Sun

Solid rationale for many of these permanent residents doing so, but does beg the broader question of how this benefits Canada, beyond more pressure on the housing market and increased school and university enrolment.

To give context, the total number of Permanent Residents for the period 2006-15 is:

  • India: 323,785
  • China: 290,933
  • South Korea: 53,785

Thousands of permanent residents are renouncing their opportunity to immigrate to Canada — for reasons ranging from a dislike of the cold to a desire to avoid Canadian taxes.

More than 21,000 people with permanent resident cards who had the opportunity to become Canadian citizens have turned their back on the quest in the past two years. The highest number of  “renunciations” are from citizens of China, India and South Korea.

People who renounce their permanent resident status no longer have to prove they’re spending significant time in Canada when they cross the borders or fly into an airport, say immigration lawyers in Vancouver.

Nor do Canadian immigration process dropouts have to give up the passport of their homelands, where many continue to work or run businesses. And they are not expected to declare their foreign assets to Canada Revenue Agency.

“Renunciations are growing in number and will likely remain high,” says an internal report from Canada’s immigration office in Shanghai, China, the largest source country for immigrants to B.C.

“Many people are renouncing five years after landing (in Canada), rather than renewing their permanent cards, as they are working in China and do not meet residency requirements,” says the internal report, published in the Vancouver newsletter Lexbase.

“Their children often remain in Canada to complete school and to begin their careers.”

According to three Vancouver immigration lawyers, many people who renounce their permanent resident cards continue to return to gateway cities such as Vancouver and Toronto to visit their families as temporary visitors, especially on the increasingly popular 10-year visas.

“They were getting picked off at Vancouver airport for failure to meet residency requirements. This way they can avoid that problem and still come here,” said B.C. immigration lawyer Sam Hyman, noting the strong majority of migrants to Metro Vancouver are from Asia.

People with permanent resident status in Canada are required to spend two years out of every five in the country.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Jeffrey Lowe said many people who renounce their permanent status are breadwinners who cannot meet Canada’s two-year-residency requirement because they hold down jobs elsewhere, typically earning more money in their homeland than they believe they could in Canada.

A large number of these are so-called astronaut parents, who work offshore while their spouses and school-attending children remain in Canada, usually in urban centres, and own residential property, say the immigration lawyers.
The rapid rise in renunciations began in 2015 after then-immigration minister Chris Alexander, of the Conservatives, changed the rules to make it easier to voluntarily withdraw from the immigration process.

In the two years up to September of 2016, Citizenship and Immigration Canada figures show there were 5,407 renunciations by citizens of China, 2,431 by citizens of India, 1,681 by South Koreans, 1,416 by Britons and 1,129 by Taiwanese.

“A lot of people with permanent resident status have wanted to get their family and wealth transferred into Canada,” said Hyman.

“Some have bought multiple properties. By renouncing their permanent resident status they can stay below the radar and avoid Canadian taxes,” he said.

“They can visit Canada whenever they want on a 10-year visa. Why would they want anything else?”

Another reason foreigners renounce the Canadian immigration process, according to Hyman, is so family breadwinners won’t have to give up their passport and citizenship privileges in economically vibrant homelands like China and South Korea.

China and India do not allow their citizens to hold two passports, and South Korea only in rare cases.

Lowe says he expects renunciations to jump even more since the federal government in November began requiring a new customs document for some travellers, called ETA, or electronic travel authorization.

Foreign nationals from certain countries can’t obtain an ETA if they are a permanent resident or if they are non-compliant with the terms of their residency card, Lowe said. As a result they’re not allowed to board a plane to come to Canada.

Given that problem, Lowe said many would-be immigrants choose to renounce their residency status and instead simply apply for temporary visas to Canada.

Richard Kurland, author of the Lexbase newsletter, said it’s become common for breadwinners to bring their entire family to B.C. as permanent residents and then to decide “either it’s too cold or there’s no way I’m going to file an income tax return and report my global interests and property and pay taxes in Canada on that. I’m returning to my country of origin.”

In many cases, Kurland said, just the spouse and children who physically stay in Canada for five years end up being the ones who become Canadian citizens.

Source: Growing number of migrants renouncing Canadian immigrant status | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Canada needs strong dose of ‘cultural curiosity | Vancouver Sun

Interesting conversation between Douglas Todd and Ara Norenzayan, a UBC social psychologist and the need to understand difference better rather than assuming no difference. Their discussion turns more challenging when it comes to considering what differences are acceptable and what is not:

We started our conversation with Norenzayan describing three of the benefits social psychologists and anthropologists have discovered about diversity.

“Diversity concentrates talent,” Norenzayan said. Cities, universities and businesses can advance when talented people gather together from diverse cultures.

In addition “diverse groups are more creative at problem solving,” Norenzayan said. Laboratory experiments show groups of varied people can imagine many novel uses for an object that a more homogeneous group sees in a limited way.

Thirdly, people in diverse contexts can learn the skill of interacting without polarizing. Norenzayan cited summer camps in which young Jews and Palestinians become friends, the prime route to cross-cultural understanding.

But there are potential downsides to diversity, which should not be denied.

The most obvious is that diversity can lead to self-segregation.

I have written about the startling degree to which ethnic Chinese, South Asians, Caucasians and others are forming ethnic enclaves in Metro Vancouver, a region that demographers call “hyper-diverse” since 45 per cent of the population is foreign born.

“People are less likely to get to know their neighbours if they live in diverse neighbourhoods. Contact diminishes,” Norenzayan said.

It’s happening at UBC, which is a predominantly ethnic Asian campus. “Asian students and non-Asian students self-segregate.”

Diversity “can unravel very fast”

….Canada is not on the verge of becoming like divided Lebanon. But that strife-torn country is a chilling example of how diversity can suddenly turn to polarization.

“People used to think of Lebanon as a model of a society that was very diverse,” Norenzayan said. Muslims, Christians, Lebanese, Palestinians and others tended to get along.

“But, in 1975, it unravelled very fast. So I don’t have any illusions.”

Although few can explain why Lebanon boiled over, Norenzayan said it “doesn’t take much to poison the well.” Certain events in Lebanon incited groups that once tolerated each other to turn to identity politics, inducing “a spiral of negativity” that continues to this day.

Even though most countries of the world don’t accept any immigrants, some that do, like the U.S., Britain, France and the Netherlands, have in recent years experienced a rapid rise of immigration-skeptical nativism.

Despite decades of official multiculturalism, Norenzayan worries many Canadians still think that being honest about cultural differences is the same as stereotyping. And the last thing any Canadian wants to be called is racist or xenophobic, however unfairly.

“The first thing to do is tell people difference is OK. It’s not prejudice to recognize people have different beliefs,” Norenzayan said.

Social psychologists, for instance, have found through experiments that most people in the West value independence, choice and self-realization.

But in Chinese and Korean cultures, research shows group cohesion and obedience are tied into morality.

“My Chinese students are extremely respectful of authority,” Norenzayan said. When he asks Chinese students to call him “Ara,” he says most “just can’t do it. They think it’s immoral. They believe deference to authority is a moral value.”

Another Asian value that Westerners don’t get, said Norenzayan, is purity.

While Hindu temple priests expect visitors to take their shoes off before entering as an act of purity, he said many Westerners think it’s just etiquette. But purity codes have powerful consequences throughout Asia.

“Cultural curiosity” recognizes differences

The more we explore diversity, the more we may find some cultural differences morally disturbing, depending on whether we’re liberal, conservative or in-between.

Even though we should avoid a rush to judgment, Norenzayan said a diverse society like Canada “has to make some choices” about how far to go in accepting some cultural differences.

I asked Norenzayan what he thought about Toronto Muslim Zunera Ishaq’s successful fight in 2015 to wear a face-covering niqab during her citizenship ceremony.

“I personally don’t agree with niqabs, but I don’t think there should be a law that bans them,” he said. “There are lot of things I don’t like that other people do. Where do you stop? If (polls show most of) the Canadian population doesn’t like something, do we ban it?”

When I responded that European courts appear to be making reasonable decisions to ban women wearing niqabs while working with young people in daycare centres or public schools, Norenzayan added he believed RCMP officers should likely not be permitted to wear niqabs.

He also felt strongly about polygamy. His former UBC colleague, Joe Heinrich, discovered that polygamist societies tend to be “more violent and more gender unequal.”

If Canada were to legalize polygamy, Norenzayan said, it would make the country “a magnet for polygamous immigrants,” which he thinks would be harmful.

Compared to many countries, Canadian multiculturalism is maintaining a certain calm. We’re often ranked as one of the world’s most “tolerant” nations.

“But we don’t really know why,” Norenzayan said. He emphasized we need to figure it out.

We speculated the country’s relative peace and good order could have something to do with our protected borders and general Canadian “civility,” which has long historical roots.

We also agreed Canadians’ overall acceptance of diversity flows from a highly selective migration policy. Most countries don’t allow any immigration, but those that do constantly adjust intake criteria, and levels, in search of the sweet spot that encourages integration.

Since Norenzayan has experienced how easily a hyper-diverse region can descend to tribalism, he feels more urgency than most about enhancing Canada’s relative harmony,

Instead of being “culture blind” and pretending no differences exist, Norenzayan says society needs to offer more Canadians a chance to experience positive contact across cultures.

I couldn’t agree more when he suggests the attitude necessary to make that happen is the genuine practise of cultural curiosity.

Source: Douglas Todd: Canada needs strong dose of ‘cultural curiosity | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: The hidden cost of foreign-student policy

Some valid points regarding the rise of international students and their impact although the healthcare costs are likely grossly inflated: using the provincial average is not appropriate for young age cohort that tend to have fewer healthcare needs.

And the concern about slipping standards is more anecdote based without hard data to back this up:

Although unheeded by politicians, Knight and Altbach say Western foreign-student programs have lost their humanitarian ideals, grown into a giant business and now largely draw second-tier students, many of whom struggle with new languages.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University political science professor Shinder Purewal and Patrick Feeney, a B.C.-based education professor now at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, add to such warnings about the hidden costs of Canada’s foreign student policy.

While both scholars support foreign student programs, they fear they’ve mushroomed out of control. Canadians, the scholars say, need to be aware of the disguised burden on taxpayers. Purewal and Feeney also say academic standards are declining in many classrooms.

Working independently, Purewal and Feeney reveal there have been significant repercussions as the ratio of foreign students at B.C.’s two leading universities, UBC and SFU, has grown to one in four, with by far the largest cohort from Mainland China.

Even though the portion of foreign students at suburban Vancouver’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University is one in eight (almost half the foreign students are South Asian), internal documents show that Kwantlen recently paid more than $300,000 to student-recruiting agents in India.

To further illustrate how massive the industry has become, Purewal said Metro Vancouver is home to more than 150 private colleges and universities that cater almost exclusively to foreign students. He calls them “drive-thru institutions, basically two-room colleges.”

What are the hidden financial costs of Canada’s foreign-student policies?

Purewal, who is also a registered immigration consultant, says Canadians are not aware that the more than 300,000 foreign students in the country at any one time receive provincial taxpayer-funded health care.

The foreign students — as well as their spouses and children — have their doctor and hospital visits paid for by Canadian taxpayers, even though they have not contributed to the universal health care program.

With B.C. home to 110,000 foreign students, and the average resident using up almost $6,000 a year in medical expenses, Purewal calculated “the cost could be up $635 million” to the province’s health care system, not including spouses and children (who are also allowed free public-school educations).

“While the post-secondary institutions earn more tuition money, the Canadian taxpayers foot the bill for their health costs,” said Purewal, who has served as a citizenship court judge, where he’s seen how Canadian policy also favours foreign students as future immigrants.

Many foreign students and especially their spouses also seize on the option to work while in Canada, often full-time, says Purewal, echoing a new trend discovered by Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.

In many cases, Purewal believes, Canadian bosses prefer to hire foreign students or their spouses. “You can exploit them to bone. They are not going to talk about labour standards. They can’t complain. Employers are happy with this system.”

What’s happening in higher education itself?

Purewal and Feeney are skeptical about the mantra from administrators and politicians that foreign students do not take the seats of domestic students.

The two academics maintain that, since government funding for higher education is declining, the money available to create seats for domestic students is also, in effect, declining. Domestic student enrolment in classrooms is capped.

Former UBC president Stephen Toope is among those who have said B.C. government funding for university students has been cut almost in half from its high in the 1970s, when it covered 70 per cent of per capita costs.

Purewal says the competition between domestic and foreign students becomes particularly keen in winning coveted spots in masters or PhD programs, which are small, with varied selection criteria.

Purewal also maintains universities are not asking most foreign students in Canada, who typically pay anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000 a year in fees, to pay their own way in full.

Their fees do not finance infrastructure, he said. If foreign students had to completely make up for the taxpayer money that has gone into constructing UBC, SFU or Kwantlen, Purewal estimated their fees would have to double or triple.

The quality of education is also declining in many university and college classrooms, says Feeney.

Source: Douglas Todd: The hidden cost of foreign-student policy | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Are schools pushing aboriginal, ‘Buddhist’ spirituality? | Vancouver Sun

Good analysis, commentary and recommendation, slightly different take to the  column posted earlier (Ashley Csanady: Indigenous prayers in the classroom and all-Muslim suburbs are equally dangerous attacks on our secular society).

That being said, I am a great fan of mindfulness, as have found that useful in both my professional life (being more aware of my internal biases) and during my cancer treatments:

The aboriginal blessings and mindfulness exercises, while fine in themselves, inject a confusing shot of religion into academia, given many scholars would revolt if a university event began with prayer rooted in Christianity, Judaism or Islam.

What’s a way forward?

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Mackenzie ruled in 1999 that public education should be “strictly secular,” which he interpreted to mean it should not show favoritism to one religion over another. Beyond that, he said, schools should be ”pluralist,” or ”inclusive in the widest sense.”

Canadian religion professor John Stackhouse believes the B.C. parents objecting to having aboriginal spirituality and mindfulness imposed on their children have a case — and that the public-school system has “crossed a line.”

Just as there is no place for the Christian practice of baptism in public schools, Stackhouse says there is no room for aboriginal smudging or Buddhist-based mindfulness. And rather than creating the awkwardness of students opting in or out, he believes educators should just not invite participation in such practices.

There is a third approach.

Like many, including myself and the B.C. Humanist Association, Stackhouse believes schools should teach far more world-religion courses, so students can learn, in age-appropriate ways, about a variety of spiritual observances and worldviews, from Catholicism to Confucianism.

That should also fit with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which recommended doing more to educate students about aboriginal traditions.

The actual practice of such rituals, however, is probably best reserved to individuals, families and spiritual communities.

Source: Douglas Todd: Are schools pushing aboriginal, ‘Buddhist’ spirituality? | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Canada’s public guardians have failed Vancouver [investor immigration and housing]

Good long read by Todd on some of the major policy and operational failures that have contributed to housing prices in Vancouver:

The main dereliction of duty by Immigration Canada has been its refusal, until it was too late, to properly assess the Business Immigrant Program (BIP).

Started in the mid-1980s, the BIP has arguably been the most crucial factor driving up Metro housing prices. UBC geographer David Ley estimates it has brought more than 400,000 well-off immigrants to Metro.

The first problem with the BIP, say Ley and others, is that it had extremely low standards.

It began by requiring an immigrant entrepreneur to invest only $150,000 in a business and hire one Canadian. The U.S., at the same time, was demanding business immigrants invest at least four times more money and hire at least 10 Americans.

One of the few high-level government officials to sound a warning about BIP applicants, whose first choice is to pour money into “safe” real estate, was David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China.

Asia-Pacific-trade boosters like Yuen Pau Woo, recently named a senator, have long said Canada should do everything it can to attract rich immigrants, calling them “the best and brightest.”

But Mulroney counters that liberally handing out passports “devalues the importance of Canadian citizenship.” And Justin Fung, with HALT (Housing Action for Local Taxpayers), concurs: “We’re practically giving away passports for free, and little benefit.”

In the meantime, Immigration Canada officials have not properly monitored the BIP. Their lax approach went on for decades as wealthy trans-nationals avoided being tested for compliance with even the BIP’s low standards.

A forensic auditor for the World Bank ended up called Canada’s BIP “a massive sham.”

The Conservatives finally killed it in 2014, which Fung called “years too late.”

Fung also worries a form of the BIP lives on in Quebec’s stand-alone immigrant-investor plan, which each year brings thousands more moneyed arrivals to Vancouver.

In addition, the federal Liberals are considering reviving a pilot program similar to the BIP.

Canada Revenue Agency

It gets worse.

While Canadian passports were being sold at bargain-basement prices, the Canada Revenue Agency has been ignoring another red flag — that many BIP newcomers and other owners of Metro mansions have been reporting strangely low incomes.

Even though the tax department had been warned, the politicians responsible did not want to face the reality that thousands of BIP investors and others were hiding most of their assets, which should have been taxed.

Officials have not wanted to admit to the widespread phenomenon of “astronaut” fathers who leave wives and student children in expensive homes in Metro to return to their homelands to do business — without declaring their offshore assets to Canadian tax officials.

An early attempt to bring in a national law requiring residents of Canada to disclose their foreign assets was opposed and not only by centre-right politicians, says Ley. B.C.’s centre-left NDP government of the 1990s also expressed concern such a law would be “culturally insensitive” and decrease B.C.’s attractiveness as a place for migrants to invest.

And even when a national foreign-assets disclosure tax law was finally brought into effect, it has often gone unenforced.

In the midst of Vancouver’s escalating housing crisis, in 2014, former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper chopped 262 experienced tax auditors.

One of the first people to publicly expose ongoing tax avoidance by the trans-national elite was former Richmond Mayor Greg Halsey-Brandt.

In 2015 Halsey-Brandt directed Postmedia to data showing residents of one of Richmond’s most expensive neighbourhoods, where most of the population is foreign-born, were reporting poverty-level incomes — and thus putting themselves in position to pay virtually no taxes.

Another revelation came in the fall of 2015 when statistician Jens von Bergmann and UBC geographer Dan Hiebert independently unveiled census statistics showing high portions of mansion owners in ritzy Vancouver neighbourhoods were declaring almost no income.

The figures from von Bergmann and Hiebert showed several neighbourhoods, in which houses were selling in the $5-million to $7-million range, that were generally populated by immigrants, particularly ethnic Chinese.

In 2016, South China Morning Post journalist Ian Young broke open the tax department’s failures. The Hong-Kong-based newspaper revealed Canada Revenue Agency officials had been aware for decades of such tax-avoidance schemes.

CRA officials had admitted, in internal documents, they were not willing to devote auditors to catching these “highly sophisticated” tax-avoiding schemes by Metro Vancouver mansion owners and others.

‘They were scared,” the source said, “of being labelled racist.’”

In addition, a common real-estate scam has gone largely undetected as a direct result of the failure of Canada’s tax and immigration departments to share their information.

Because of the absence of cooperation, many Metro house owners have been avoiding paying capital gains taxes. They have been falsely claiming they are residents of Canada for tax and immigration purposes when they are actually mostly living outside the country and not disclosing their foreign income.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Canada’s immigration and tax departments have not been the only ones turning a blind eye to such unfairness and cheating in Vancouver’s exploding housing market.

Source: Douglas Todd: Canada’s public guardians have failed Vancouver | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Joy Kogawa’s many shades of Japanese-Canadian shame

Interesting and disturbing:

Joy Kogawa has noticed reviewers of her new bookof memoirs have not touched arguably the most controversial section of her intimate exploration of betrayal and hope.

Reviewers have focused instead on the way the Vancouver-raised author of Obasan and The Rain Descends dealt with her Japanese-Canadian family being sent to an internment camp, the bombing of Nagasaki and how her father was a pedophile.

However, Kogawa, 81, has been publicly forthright for decades about those shame-filled realities.

The most cutting-edge section of her book, titled Gently to Nagasaki, digs into horrors most Canadians and ethnic Japanese want to deny — Japan’s war atrocities.

The peace activist’s memoirs describe her painful relatively recent discovery of the extent of the slaughters and mass rapes committed by the Imperial Japanese army.

It was while Japanese troops were killing millions of Asians and others that Canadian governments in 1942 sent many Japanese-Canadians, most of them from B.C., to internment camps.

Following her family’s ordeal in camps in the Kootenays and Alberta, Kogawa gained wide attention for helping lead the campaign that culminated in Ottawa’s 1988 apology and compensation to 20,000 Japanese-Canadians.

The many honours eventually bestowed upon Kogawa included the 2006 establishment of Vancouver’s Kogawa House, where the family had lived until 1942. It’s now a residence for writers.

But Kogawa has not allowed adoration to stop her pursuit of the authentic. Her mission seems to be to move beyond denial on all fronts: regarding internment camps, racism, global warming, her priest-father’s sexual crimes and her relatively recent discovery of Japanese war monstrosities.

“Love and truth are indivisible,” Kogawa says.

Her wise aphorism has had unpleasant consequences, though. Since most Canadians who don’t want to offend ignore Japan’s grisly war history, Kogawa acknowledged in an interview from her residence in Toronto that she’s had to “face the rage” of many.

“It’s cost me some really good friendships.”

Whether in Toronto, Vancouver or Japan, Kogawa said, many people, including ethnic Japanese, “just don’t believe” the atrocities occurred. They’d “rather die” than have the reality exposed.

“Or they feel I’m betraying them by talking about it. But it takes the truth to get to reconciliation.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Joy Kogawa’s many shades of Japanese-Canadian shame | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Canadians far from resolving not-so-minor niqab issue

More on the niqab in the aftermath of Douglas Todd’s interview with Zunera Ishaq, highlighting some of her apparent contradictions and inconsistencies.

One aspect missing from these discussions is a comparison with the traditionalists or the fundamentalists within other faiths, and how their values are or are not compatible with what we think are Canadian values:

SFU social policy specialist John Richards points out Ishaq’s hearing never got to the Charter of Rights arguments. It’s another indication the debate is not over.

The niqab raises the question Quebec’s noted Taylor-Bouchard commission attempted to answer on the limits of tolerance, which is: How far should Canadians go to “reasonably accommodate” certain cultural practices?

Appropriately, UBC political scientist emeritus Philip Resnick distinguishes Canada’s niqab debate from the August controversy over some French cities banning the full-body “burkini” from beaches.

“The burkini debate arose because emotions were very raw in the aftermath of the Muslim terrorist attack on Nice on Bastille Day. I think there is no more reason to deny women the right to wear a flowing garment when swimming than to deny them a bikini or string swimming suit.”

But Resnick urges Canadians to “avoid tut-tutting and moralizing” over Europeans’ generally more restrictive response to the niqab. “I wonder how quickly Canadian tolerance would be replaced by fear if we had to deal with an intransigent Islamist contingent in our midst?”

I originally intended to write just one column on the far-reaching niqab debate. But plans changed last week when Ishaq, after many earlier calls to her family’s Mississauga residence, picked up the phone and answered some fresh questions.

In addition to emphasizing her “choice” to cover her face, Ishaq said she believes in strict segregation of the sexes, opposes homosexuality and abortion, believes women are “unclean” during menstruation and is convinced Muslims must obey Islamic commands.

…Questions too ‘gentle’

Richards, who travels frequently to South Asia for research, appreciated my exploration into Ishaq’s paradoxical worldview, but also suggested I’d been “gentle.”

I could have asked Ishaq about “apostasy,” which refers to the rejection of a religion, said Richards.

A Pew Research poll found 75 per cent of Pakistanis believe a person should be executed for apostasy.

Many people in Pakistan, the fifth largest source of immigrants to Canada, also believe women must wear niqabs. And hundreds of Pakistani women are killed each year in “honour killings.”

Given the global geo-political issues, I could also have been more curious when Ishaq (who is now on a family trip in Pakistan) said “no comment” in regards to Saudi Arabia’s pressure on women to wear full-length burkas and niqabs.

Even though Ishaq says she is devoted to the supreme value of “choice,” it was unusual that she passed up the chance to criticize an Islamic government that removes women’s choice and requires them to dress a certain way.

Ishaq is affiliated with several politicized Muslim organizations, including the Hanafi school of thought, which believes apostasy is a sin punishable by death, according to the Federal Court and Richards.

Canadian Muslim writer Tarek Fetah has also shown Ishaq has connections with Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which are part of the ultraconservative Salafist movement.

Given Ishaq’s apparent contradictions, Toronto blogger Eiynah says “framing the niqab as some sort of feminist tool of bodily autonomy is the most ludicrous, topsy-turvy thing I’d ever heard of.”

Similarly, Resnick, who specializes in anglophone and francophone cultures, finds it “extraordinary” that many secular left-wing people defend the niqab.

“Ultimately, the issue goes back to the one the Bouchard-Taylor commission in Quebec sought to tackle — what constitutes reasonable accommodation?” Resnick says.

“The niqab offends Canadian sensibilities in a way that the head scarf does not. It reminds us there are countries where women cannot show their faces in public. It represents the most backward-looking and repressive feature of Salafist ideology.

“At the minimum I would agree with those who would bar the wearing of a niqab at any citizenship ceremony. Nor would I see it as acceptable garb for anyone working in the public sector and therefore having to serve a much more diverse Canadian public.”

Like Swedes, political scientists say, Canadians tend to believe in their exceptionalism.

“Many Canadians, in their refusal to take tougher positions on accommodation and integration of immigrants, like to think of themselves as exceptionally virtuous, unlike the wicked Americans or Europeans. But are we?” asks Resnick.

“Quebecois are franker in this regard than English Canadians, in regards to both language and the niqab, since their sense of cultural identity is more clearly on the line than our own.

“But I wonder how well Canadian smugness would survive a serious challenge to our core values, of the type that radical Islamism represents in Europe.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Canadians far from resolving not-so-minor niqab issue | Vancouver Sun