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Jul
8
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Housing Crisis in Vancouver – Solutions and barriers

Clubs, Politics, Vancouver
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By

Dr. Hamdy El-Rayes, MBA, Ph.D.,

Author of The New Era: Returning the U.S. to Democracy & Prosperity

The City of Vancouver is going through one of the most critical times in its history but our politicians are unaware to the danger of maintaining the status quo. It could create economic and social problems leading to racial conflicts between the visible Chinese immigrants and the rest of the population. You can feel the resentment of Vancouverites when you talk to them privately about these issues.

What started this problem is the pace of flow of wealthy Chinese “immigrants” and investors into Vancouver at a rate beyond the capacity of the city to digest. Vancouverites were overwhelmed with the rapid change in Vancouver landscape, the number of visible Chinese taking over their neighborhood, the escalation of real estate prices to unprecedented rate reaching 30% in 2015 alone. While Chinese investors/immigrants are speculating on housing properties like a penny stock and keeping them vacant, working people are unable to have a home. The situation has deteriorated where young workers who have lost the hope of owning a home in the Vancouver area are now being priced out of the city’s rental market. Property owners are forcing them to bid among each other to pay the highest rent possible. Other property owners use loopholes in the current regulations, such as reno-viction to get rid of old tenants and replace them with new tenants for the sake of huge rent hikes.

To make the situation even worse, the City Council allows Airbnb to take some of the rental property out of the long-term rental market that amounts to more than 6400 units in 2015. Now with the rental vacancy rate reaching less than 0.6%, working Vancouverites cannot find an affordable, decent rental place to live in and would have to commute for hours to get to work. This laisse faire policy would drive businesses out of Vancouver and turn Vancouver from a vibrant city into a ghost city used by Chinese money launderers to park their money and take advantage of our generous public services. However, politicians at all levels would maintain the status quo until the tsunami of economic troubles and racial conflicts hit Vancouver.

Politicians looking after their own self-interest to keep the status quo have exacerbated housing crisis in Vancouver. It benefits the political parties as they get more election funding donations (legal bribe) from developers and wealthy Chinese, the government collects more taxes from real estate sale activities. In the short term, it looks good to them, but when the share of real estate in BC reaches 80% of GDP, it is a sign of great danger because this bonanza cannot last forever. The bigger the bubble gets, the worse the economic consequences when the bubble bursts. In addition, nobody is willing to address the elephant in the room—the risk of racial conflict is looming and has to be curtailed by not allowing more Chinese wealthy investors until the current housing crisis is resolved. When Vancouverites lose their dream of home ownership because of the open door of immigration for wealthy Chinese, the consequences would be dire. However, politicians are not visionaries. They do not act until the problem becomes too difficult to resolve. They do not realize that the danger of alienating the millenniums in our own country is a dangerous precedent.

The wealthy Chinese investors/immigrants have no interest in enriching the Canadian economy. The majority of them are interested in getting FREE education for their children, FREE health care for their aging parents, social services for their families, and at the end, be rewarded with the Canadian passport for future material gains. They enjoy the services the governments offer, but do not intend to pay their fair share of taxes because most of their wealth is away from the reach of the Canadian Revenue Agency. Although Canadian residents and citizens are supposed to report their global income, wealthy Chinese immigrants do not report it on their income tax, knowing that our government would not hold them accountable. Because of reporting low income on their tax return, they can take advantage of all the services we offer to low-income families and seniors. This means that their children and their parents who live here get all these benefits which they are not entitled to because they are supposed to be wealthy. Their elderly burden our medical services and their children use our educational services free and working Canadians have to pay the bills. And after three years, they are rewarded with Canadian citizenship. It is interesting to hear them calling the mandatory residency years in Canada as jail time, but it is worth it because the Canadian passport enables them to purchase properties and do business freely in Hong Kong.

In the USA, you have to present your tax returns with your application for citizenship. Canada does not require that. So wealthy Chinese immigrants do not have to show they paid their fair share of taxes to deserve the privilege of having Canadian citizenship. They may report income less the cost of utilities for their mansion, but the CRA never questions that. If CRA audits those wealthy Chinese immigrants, it will find that the majority of them evade paying taxes. If we request those wealthy Chinese immigrants to report their global income during their mandatory stay in Canada to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, they will leave Canada like mice deserting a sinking ship. They would not bother to buy real estate here in Canada and would take they laundered money elsewhere. This would be very good for our economy because this kind of unscrupulous people are not good to have as Canadian citizens. I remember a wealthy Chinese immigrant managed to run a fraudulent operation to deceive Immigration Canada, made $10 m in 5 years, but during that time, he was collecting welfare. He got a sentence of few years in jail. The judge described him as a thief who robbed the bank and took the donation box (welfare money) on his way out. Canada can do without this kind of people. Canada is better off without those “wealthy Chinese” because they harm the reputation of hard working Chinese-Canadians who contribute to our economy and help build a future for their families and their country. Unfortunately, they could be painted with the same brush as happened in several incidents in Vancouver.

As we have seen in the past few years, many of those wealthy Chinese investors/immigrants are just money launderers. They managed to defraud the government of China of billions of dollars or made their money from unscrupulous businesses, smuggled it from China, and put it in a safe country, while depriving hard-working Canadians from a decent place to live in. for this reason, many of them are speculating on the limited inventory of real estate in Vancouver. They turned Vancouver into a stock exchange for real estate speculation and we will end with a burst bubble like any hyped penny stock. Unfortunately, our politicians do not see it this way because it helps them achieve their own short-term objectives.

Politicians benefited from the of real estate bonanza in the form of election campaign funding donations from the developers and wealthy Chinese immigrants. Consequently, they do not want to rock the boat and stop the speculation party. By the time it is over, they will be out of office and somebody else will have to carry on with the losses we endure.

In the last decade, the real estate industry has donated about $12 m to the Liberal Party of BC. In 2014, Bob Rennie invited 50 developers to a luncheon to raise funds for the Vision Party led by Gregor Robertson. The luncheon cost each guest $25,000 (about $1.25 was raised). In the long-term, Canadians will pay for our politicians lack of action to protect us from this catastrophe.

While the Liberal government of Christy Clark is stalling, the NDP is suggesting a 2% tax on the properties bought by foreign investors or wealthy Chinese immigrants who do not pay income taxes in BC. This proposal would not stop wealthy Chinese immigrants/investors from speculating on real estate in BC for two reasons. They want to park their money here in BC at any cost and the loss of 2% in taxes would have no impact on their capital gains. On average, excluding the past 10 years, real estate in Vancouver appreciated by 12% per year. If you cut their capital gain by 2%, they will make 10% of capital gain per year. Would this deter a Chinese investor or wealthy immigrant? Of course not. It is still a good deal considering he could get less than 2% a year on his money in a saving account.

Canadian governments at all levels have to collaborate on solving this problem to help the country avoid economic and social problems, and racial potential racial conflict that could last for many decades to com. The sooner they do, the less the impact the bubble would have on our economy.

  1. Immigration Canada & Quebec Ministry of Immigration

Immigration Canada should end the generous 10-year visa, which allows wealthy Chinese to live in Canada nine month each year. This visa does not serve our economy or Vancouverites because it exacerbates the housing problem in Vancouver. In addition, those wealthy Chinese are inclined to enjoy living here without paying their fair share of taxes.

Quebec should end the wealthy immigration program, which was terminated in the rest of Canada a couple of years ago. Wealthy Chinese immigrants continue to use it as a backdoor to move to Vancouver.

The government of Quebec continued with the business-visa program, which nets for the Quebec government about $50,000 per immigrant family, but the program fails to bring new immigrants to Quebec and the cost to BC and to Canada is too high because those immigrants are not interested in contributing to our economy.

Citizenship application – Wealthy Chinese immigrants should present their tax return on their global income during the mandatory three years residency in Canada as part of their application for citizenship and continue to pay their share of taxes after obtaining their citizenship.

  1. Support of parents and children of wealthy Chinese immigrants – Wealthy Chinese immigrants should be required to support their parents permanently and not to compete with Canadian senior citizens for benefits offered by the government such as low-income housing, transit passes, and other senior benefits. The wealthy immigrants were expected to support their parents and their children—not to depend on government handouts. But when they land in Canada, they cheat the system and take advantage of it.
  2. Ban foreign nationals from buying real estate in residential areas due to shortage of land and housing properties in the lower mainland. This will enable working Vancouverites to find a place to live in Vancouver. Many countries like Switzerland and China have a similar law.
  3. Wealthy immigrants have to pay taxes on their global income before they are allowed to buy real estate in Canada.
  4. Control of rent for new tenants – Currently, after a tenant vacate a rental property, the property owner is free to raise rent as much as he wants. In a city where the vacancy rate is less than 0.6%, the government must has control over the rent for the new tenant not to exceed 5% over the rent paid by the previous tenants. This law will deter property owners from using devious means to get rid of the older tenants.
  5. This law would achieve two goals: cool down the skyrocketing rise in the price of rental properties and maintain rents affordability for working people
  6. A corporation should not own housing properties unless the owners reveal their name. In this way, we will avoid having foreigners buying residential properties by hiding behind a corporate name.
  7. The Corporate Registry of BC should provide name of owners of corporations, which own real estate properties in BC. Under the current law, the Registry would reveal the name of directors, but not the name of owners. It lacks transparency and allows foreign nationals to hide behind a corporate name registered in BC.
  8. The City of Vancouver should ban Airbnb and other bed and breakfast providers in the Lower Mainland to force property owners rent their property to long-term tenants. This will increase the available rental properties by five times to 3%.
  9. If a property owner decides to demolish a low-rise to build a high-rise, old tenants should be entitled to have a rental unit with the same size at the same rate they used to pay in the old building.
Mar
29
webmaster

TERRORISM: Could We Stop it?

Clubs, Politics, Vancouver
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There is an easy way to end terrorism at huge benefits for our country. We do not have to spend billions of dollars, or waste lives of our soldiers, our innocent country men and women, or those in the Muslim world.

Let us start with the definition of Terrorism. It is defined as the use of violence or threat of violence for a political, religious, or ideological change.

Since 9/11, we watched on TV thousands of hours from “terrorism experts” on how much terrorists hate us and their intention to kills us at home and abroad. The current Republican Presidential candidate, Ted Cruz says that Muslims are ideologically committed to murder or violently kill all of us.

The alleged terror experts discuss in details their speculations on what terrorists intend to do to us next, how we should increase our security at home and abroad, and turn our country into a police state, what we should do to the Islamic world from invading and carpet-bombing their countries, to nuking them. Nevertheless, missing from the discussion is the basic question as to why Muslim extremists attack us. As usual, the media, politicians, and so-called “terrorism experts” remain as evasive and clueless as ever because such a discussion would lead to ending terrorism for good. However, the answers as to the terrorists’ motives are not hard to find.

We have heard them from leaders of “terrorist groups” and read them on the internet, but the media and career politicians are unwilling to share it with the public and discuss how to solve the problem. Indeed, propagation of fear and the sporadic terrorist attacks are important for the war merchants and their political agents in the government and the media to justify our perpetual wars with Muslims and Islam. Terrorists’ activities help those politicians raise election campaign funds from the global war merchants (referred to in the U.S. as the Military Industrial complex) and ideologues who have interest in subjugating the Muslim countries. Consequently, politicians ignore addressing the basic question as to why Muslim extremists attack us because solving this problem would make it difficult for the politicians to raise election campaign funds and have a strong hold on our population. Also, we have a new breed of media terrorism experts, who make a living by coming regularly on TV and radio to scare us about our bleak future if we do not accept taking away our freedoms and continue our wars against the Muslim world.

Evangelical Christians now believe that it is an existential war for us because those Muslims will invade us, impose their religion on us and the Sharia law will become the law of the land. Brainwashing the public by this propaganda enables our governments to justify the perpetual wars that have not stopped against Muslims and Islam in the past century and continues in the 21st century. Despite the collapse of the economy in the West, our political leaders would not stop from supporting the interests the war merchants. Today the US owes close to 20 trillion dollars but continues to spend on its military more than the rest of the world does.

If you look deeper in the history of the terrorist groups such as Alqaeda and the Islamic State, you will find that the West created them, then we launch wars to destroy them and in the process destroy the Muslim countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya and turn them into failed states.

To justify their wars in the 21st century, we heard Farid Zakareya of CNN and President Bush saying, Muslims hate us because of our freedom. We heard radical evangelicals say that they want to kill us or convert us to Islam. All are lies designed to scare us enough to support aggression and killing or maiming innocent Muslims in unnecessary wars.

You would not hear on mainstream media that we have been in war against the Arab countries since World War I. As a result:

  • We destroyed Palestine in 1948 and created the first refugees crisis in the Arab world to accommodate European Jews who wanted to create a country for themselves by displacing the indigenous population of Palestine. Since then, Palestinians who still live in Palestine are ruled by the most oppressive military regime in the world.
  • We supported ruthless dictators to serve interests of war merchants in the Arab world and deprived the Arabs of freedom and liberty.
  • We created Alqaeda (by the CIA) and claimed that the billions of dollars spent on the intelligence could not uncover the 9/11 attack before it happened. Then there’s Osama bin Laden, who told us the main reason for the 9/11 attacks was the deployment of U.S. forces in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which he called “the greatest of “aggressions incurred by the Muslims since the death of the prophet.”
  • We destroyed Afghanistan, now it is a failed state.
  • According to the United Nations, economic sanctions against Iraq caused the loss of lives of 500,000 children. Then, after 9/11, the Bush administration lied to the American people and claimed that Iraq had biological weapons that will destroy us at home. He invaded Iraq, killed and maimed a million innocent Iraqis, created the largest migration of professionals from Iraq, and broke up Iraq in various factions. Now, it is a failed state.
  • One of the consequences of the invasion of Iraq was the creation of ISIS, which was a reflection of the despair of the Iraqis who felt victimized by the U.S. invasion and the government it appointed following the invasion.
  • We destroyed Libya and watched it fall apart in the hands of various competing terrorist groups. Now it is a failed state.
  • We supported the dictatorship in Egypt, impoverished its people and we are on the way of depriving them of the Nile River, which the lives of Egyptians depended on for thousands of years.
  • We destroyed Syria and created the second refugee crisis in the Arab world and the biggest since World War II.

In the past, we never felt the reaction of Muslims when the West committed terrorist activities against their countries. Now, the world is so connected that what happens in one part of the world echoes, in real time, around the globe.

In the past five years, Syria has been in war against terrorist groups supported by the West and their ideologues. President Assad of Syria referred to our double standards, he says, when Syria is attacked by terrorist groups, they are called democracy and freedom fighters, but when they attack us [in the West], they are called terrorists.

Imagine:

  • What would happen if we stop labeling Muslims who fight for their freedom as terrorists and stop calling our military personnel who invade Islamic countries as heroes?
  • What would happen if our politicians stop taking handouts from war merchants and ideologues that drive us into wars with the Muslim world, and plant fear and hatred in our hearts?
  • What would happen if we stop depriving the Palestinians of their human right to live with dignity in their homeland, side by side with the Jews?
  • What would happen if we stop supporting dictators to rule the Muslim world and stop invading their countries to kill and maim their children, depriving them of a peaceful life?
  • What would happen if we make our countries more inclusive, embrace the Muslims among us and acknowledge that they are victimized whenever a terrorist attack occurs?
  • What would happen if we spend just a tenth of what we spend on the military on helping the Islamic countries to recover and grow their economies?

Wouldn’t this put an end to terrorism?

The dream of those radical Muslims is for us to leave them alone in their Islamic countries and end our aggressions against their people.

  • Stop imposing our will on their people.
  • Stop invading their countries and killing their loved ones,
  • Stop conspiring against them on behalf of the war merchants and ideologues who steal their lands and resources, and
  • Stop dehumanizing their people.

The benefits for us at home and abroad are limitless: No billions of dollars to be spent on the military, no concerns about our security. Our government would not have an excuse to take away our freedoms and liberties.

  • Financially, we will save billions of dollars spent on wars and security at home and abroad.
  • We will be able to direct more funds to build affordable housing, build our economy, improve our schools and healthcare services, and shelter our homeless.
  • We will have politicians who work for us not for ideologues who serve the interests of foreign countries and want us to go to war to achieve their objectives.
  • We will live in peace in our country and spread peace around the world.
  • We will spare our country becoming a police state.

Moreover, we will be able to give the Muslims of the world the gift of living freely after five centuries of oppression.

Sep
7
webmaster

Harper’s Discrimination Against Syrian Muslim Refugees

Clubs, Politics, Vancouver
0

In their article titled, “Forget labels when we witness such dire human need,” Amira Elhawaby and Bernie Farber write, “The Canadian government has explicitly stated its intent to grant refuge to religious minorities fleeing Syria, contrary to international norms that assess refugees primarily on the basis of need.”
This policy was adopted after Jason Kenny misinformed his conservative base about the Syrian refugees. In an email dated, January 21, 2015, Kenny writes,
“Dear friend, The Liberal and NDP parties, together with special interest groups, are outrageously attacking our government for focusing our refugee protection efforts on persecuted religious minorities.”
“I have been to refugee camps in Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon. The scale of the humanitarian disaster there is heart-breaking. However, Canada obviously cannot solve this humanitarian crisis by resettling hundreds of thousands of refugees to our country. We can only help a relatively small number in this way. I believe it makes sense to focus these efforts on those who are particularly vulnerable, which includes the persecuted minority communities like Syrian and Iraqi Christians who have been bombed out of their homes by jihadi terrorists, and who often face further danger in refugee camps.”
Indeed, this is an untruthful statement to justify discrimination against Muslim Syrian refugees in need of our help. Choosing refugees not based on their needs but their religion is a violation of the spirit of the Canadian law and the essence of our values. Eventually, Harper has been discriminating against not only Muslim refugees, but also Muslims’ immigration.
History shows that in Syria, Muslims have been more vulnerable to prosecution than minorities by the Assad regime and now by ISIS. This is shown by the number of Syrian refugees that amounts to more than 7.6 million internally displaced and 6 million registered refugees, 90% of them are Muslims. Among those refugees, more than 2 million are children. Most of them may not survive the war, and are in dire need for our help. Alan Kurdi and his brother, who were not lucky enough to survive the war, are an illustration of how this war does not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Under Assad’s rule, persecuted religious groups in Syria are not Christians and other minorities, but Sunni Muslims whom Assad’s minority religious group (Alawis) discriminated against and prosecuted. His family has a history of aggression against this sect. In August 1980, his father, Hafez Al-Assad, destroyed Aleppo, killed more than 5,000 Sunni Muslims, and arrested more than 10,000.
After 9/11 attack, Bashar al-Assad was used to torture Sunni Muslims sent to him by the CIA under U.S. the Rendition Program. One of the well-known victims was Maher Arar who was illegally arrested by the FBI based on a tip from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and was flown to Syria where he was detained and tortured for a year. He was later cleared of any links to terrorism and the government of Canada settled out of court with his. He received C$10.5 million and Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to him for the government’s role in his terrible ordeal.
Harper’s decision to discriminate against Muslim refugees is racist, merciless, and hateful. It is divisive to discriminate against Muslims while we have more than one million Muslim Canadians, a high proportion of them are highly educated and occupy leading positions in businesses, governments, universities, and other institutions.
Mr. Harper’s bigotry reminds me of discrimination against Jews who sought refuge in Canada in 1939. Canada refused to take them in and the ship sailed back to Europe, where 254 would later die in concentration camps. A racist government against Canadian Muslims is not in the best interest of Canada.

UNICEF Canada, Syria: the most dangerous place to be a child. You can help

Sep
3
webmaster

Canada – A Destination for Chinese Fugitives

Clubs, Politics, Vancouver
0

In the past two decades, Canada has become a haven for foreign white-collar criminals and International gangsters. Their numbers increased significantly due to the misguided immigration policy, which allowed wealthy foreigners to immigrate to Canada—no question asked about the source of their wealth in their homeland. The Harper government brought us 24 of these wealthy Chinese fugitives who are wanted on a variety of charges.  This policy attracted  fugitive billionaires who are trying to escape punishment in their own country. In Canada, the major source of these fugitives is China for two reasons:

  1. They are able to stay away from the long arm of the law in china since Canada does not have an extradition treaty with Beijing due to concerns about human rights abuses and excessive punishment in China
  2. They can continue their devious business activities and tax evasion, knowing that they can get away with crimes in Canada, and would get a slap on the wrest if caught.

Currently, they became a source of anxiety as they buy everything they can get their hands on in Vancouver and Toronto driving local young families out of the real estate market.

The flood of those corrupted Chinese into Canada started in the early nineties with the Chinese International gangsters moving their headquarters to Vancouver, and in the past decade, more of them immigrated here under the Harper’s failed immigration policy–giving away  “wealthy immigrants visas” to those who are interested without asking about the sources of their wealth. Those new immigrants and their families are a burden on our strained health care and education systems because they evade paying taxes, but take full advantages of our badly needed services. Research shows that in five years, a refugee who comes to Canada penniless would be paying more taxes than those billionaires. It is shameful that this subject has not been raised during the current elections because it is ruining the quality of lives for hardworking Canadians who cannot afford living in Vancouver or Toronto because of these crooks, bidding the prices of real estate up to unaffordable levels. If these people want to become Canadians, they should be forced to pay taxes as every Canadian does.

Currently, China launched Operation Sky Net, a massive crackdown on listed 100 financial fugitives who have fled China since the 1990s, reported in the New York Times.

If you are interested in more details, here are some references.

Teenage daughter of Vancouver developer pumps $1 million US into Titanic salvage venture

China launches “Sky Net” campaign to capture fugitive officials

China’s financial fugitives accused of laundering funds into U.S. and Canada

Canada not targeting offshore tax cheats, analysis shows

Canada to seize assets and extradite fugitives: Envoy

Charged With Graft in China, Some Fugitives Are Finding Luxury in U.S.

China’s financial fugitives accused of laundering funds into U.S. and Canada

Chinese high-rank gangster gunned down in front of his mansion in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy.

Alleged cyberspy faces extradition to United States