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Old 02-20-2014, 08:35 AM   #1
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Pete McMartin: Racism and resentment surround nixed investor-class immigrant program

Pete McMartin: Racism and resentment surround nixed investor-class immigrant program

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Pete McMartin: Racism and resentment surround nixed investor-class immigrant program
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
By Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun columnist



Ottawa’s immigrant investor program has been slammed by the likes of former immigration minister Jason Kenney.
Photographed by:
Sean Kilpatrick, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Was driving down Oak Street Tuesday night. Going to dinner downtown. My wife warns me, watch out for car ahead of us, it’s drifting into our lane. The car, creeping down Oak, has an “N” in back window. A new driver. The car is a Bentley Continental, list price well over $200,000. The driver is young Asian guy.

Let me be honest, since we are often not honest when it comes to owning up to these sentiments.

If I attempted to beguile you into believing that I, at that point, did not feel the pang of resentment toward the driver simply for what I imagined he represented and not for his driving skill, I would be lying.

It was all there for me to loathe and envy — the spoiled one per center, the rise of Asia, the jarring display of wealth out of all proportion to its surroundings, the sense that Canada was being played by opportunistic immigrants.

For all I know, the guy could have been a sixth-generation Canadian whose forebears had worked a claim in the Barkerville gold fields.

But experience dictated, and my own prejudices led me to believe, that he wasn’t. The sight of young Asian immigrant kids in luxury sports cars is so common it has entered the urban folklore of Metro Vancouver.

And that was only one personal vignette that, rightly or wrongly, plays itself out thousands of times a day in Metro Vancouver. They all give rise to the same resentment. That resentment can be about cars, or real estate, or schooling, or even about the sense that a luxury store was targeting only wealthy immigrants.

And when the federal government killed the investor-class immigrant program last week, it played on that resentment, too, maintaining in its news release announcing the program’s closure that a millionaire investor immigrant could pay less in tax than an immigrant who works as a live-in caregiver. It was put in terms — stereotypical terms — to give the impression that some kind of injustice was being committed. Sly, scofflaw millionaire! Poor, upright caregiver!

But the millionaire was only playing by the rules. It was the feds’ lax regulatory structure that messed things up.

The program deserved to be scrapped, no question. There was a poor return on investment, and a huge discounting of the buy-in when compared to the programs of other nations. We woefully undersold ourselves.

But money wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was the damage it has done to the social fabric.

When the feds decided to import a wealthy class rather than create one, it made two mistakes that did more to divide Metro Vancouver along financial and racial lines than any other phenomenon:

One, the government never thought out the rationale behind the investor program or its social consequences. Was it real desire that brought that class of immigrants here, or convenience? Did they bring just their money with them, or their hearts, too?

The suspicion, in the end, was, neither.

Two, since the overwhelming majority of that class of immigrants have been Asian, and the overwhelming majority of those Asians have been Hong Kong or mainland Chinese, the investor program succeeded in conflating flaunted wealth, which always causes envy, with race, which brings its own set of problems.

So while the overall numbers and economic effect of the investor-class immigrants may be small — and I’ve never bought into the argument that they alone have driven the rise in real estate prices — their visibility has had a much greater effect on racial stereotyping and the city’s sense of fracturing social cohesion. That is, it isn’t just the immigrant communities that have been self-ghettoizing.

It also brought into question the purpose of immigration. Should its purpose be altruistic or strictly economic?

Says Tsur Somerville, professor with the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business: “I find it a mind-boggling program. I know it’s a U.S. thing with the give-me-your-huddled-masses-yearning-to-be-free ethic ... but somehow the overwhelmingly wealthy don’t fit into that category for me.”

And more pragmatically, Somerville felt the investor program lacked a clear economic rationale.

“If you’re going to bring in investors, make them be investors in areas that your domestic economy is not providing.”

(The U.S. EB-5 investor-class program, for example, is designed mainly for job creation, especially in low-employment areas.)

“And if you’re bringing in investors, it’s because you believe your capital markets aren’t working well ... or there’s a capital shortage in Canada, so you bring in people who have capital. You’d be doing something like that, but that’s not what we’re doing.”

What we were doing with the investor-class program, the feds have admitted, was wrong, but not for the reasons the feds gave.

It was wrong because we failed to make the distinction between being an “investor” in Canada and being “invested” in Canada, and we’re all poorer for it.

pmcmartin@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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Old 02-20-2014, 11:49 AM   #2
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"When the feds decided to import a wealthy class rather than create one, it made two mistakes that did more to divide Metro Vancouver along financial and racial lines than any other phenomenon".

Wow. I couldn't agree more with this entire article
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Old 02-20-2014, 12:26 PM   #3
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That line was what stood out to me as well. A very well written and unfortunately honest article, which stuns me that it was from the vancouver sun.
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seems like you got a dick up your ass well..get that checked
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Old 02-20-2014, 01:04 PM   #4
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author lost credibility opening with that anecdote
i agree with what he says but the entire article just comes off as bitter, cynical and judgemental
we can just take the responses from that HK thread and it'll be applicable here.
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Old 02-20-2014, 01:10 PM   #5
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Agreed, not racist but true, move on young son
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:04 AM   #6
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author lost credibility opening with that anecdote
i agree with what he says but the entire article just comes off as bitter, cynical and judgemental
we can just take the responses from that HK thread and it'll be applicable here.
Nah it was a good article speaking truth.

But you are entitled to your wrong opinion.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:17 AM   #7
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Someone must have made fun of his watch
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:24 AM   #8
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chinese ppl are up in arms about the nixing of the investor immigration program all i'm hearing about from family/friends in hk/china and in the states is regarding this program

it's not like it was a program solely for chinese ppl and its not like it was a targeted cut where only chinese applicants are blocked from the program, it's cut for every investor

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Old 02-21-2014, 05:17 AM   #9
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Hate to say it but it seems like it's always white Canadians bitching about rich immigrants. Instead of bitching maybe you should WORK harder, innovate, do something to up your game to make more money instead of hating on others and bitching about how home prices are been driven up by rich immigrants and how life is so bad in this city.

And if you want world class status than you need to pay the price. You can't be a world class city and expect to live in homes which cost $500,000. It's a simple formula, world class city = more people from around the world want to live and invest there. And need I remind these idiots who hate on Asians that it was Asian money from HK that flooded in after Expo 86 that made Vancouver what it is today.
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:31 AM   #10
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Instead of bitching maybe you should WORK harder
Ignorant as FUCK.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:53 AM   #11
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There is 3 ways to get rich in the modern world. Work hard as fuck, have a brilliant idea and get lucky, or be born into a wealthy family. The 3rd one is by far the most plausible, and working hard is distantly at the back.
Also, if thats what you got from this article, you only picked up about 5% of its message.
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:10 AM   #12
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Hate to say it but it seems like it's always white Canadians bitching about rich immigrants. Instead of bitching maybe you should WORK harder, innovate, do something to up your game to make more money instead of hating on others and bitching about how home prices are been driven up by rich immigrants and how life is so bad in this city.

And if you want world class status than you need to pay the price. You can't be a world class city and expect to live in homes which cost $500,000. It's a simple formula, world class city = more people from around the world want to live and invest there. And need I remind these idiots who hate on Asians that it was Asian money from HK that flooded in after Expo 86 that made Vancouver what it is today.
nope, i'm white, make a LOT of money (thanks to years of hard work both at work and through obtaining multiple designations), have significant assets (i'd say top 1% of my age group not powered by mum and dad, that is) - i don't like the imported rich kids, why? because they have little respect, don't add much value, and have taken over portions of the city with no desire to integrate.

my response was to leave, make even more money and further my career, won't come back to Vancouver for a long time

i will agree, though, LOTS of people are lazy all across the world, it most definitely is not a white person thing, in vancouver or world wide, it's a lazy people thing.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:45 AM   #13
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The car, creeping down Oak, has an “N” in back window. A new driver. The car is a Bentley Continental, list price well over $200,000. The driver is young Asian guy.

It was all there for me to loathe and envy — the spoiled one per center, the rise of Asia, the jarring display of wealth out of all proportion to its surroundings, the sense that Canada was being played by opportunistic immigrants.

My own prejudices led me to believe, that he wasn’t. The sight of young Asian immigrant kids in luxury sports cars is so common it has entered the urban folklore of Metro Vancouver.

And that was only one personal vignette that, rightly or wrongly, plays itself out thousands of times a day in Metro Vancouver. They all give rise to the same resentment. That resentment can be about cars, or real estate, or schooling, or even about the sense that a luxury store was targeting only wealthy immigrants.

since the overwhelming majority of that class of immigrants have been Asian, and the overwhelming majority of those Asians have been Hong Kong or mainland Chinese, the investor program succeeded in conflating flaunted wealth, which always causes envy, with race, which brings its own set of problems.

their visibility has had a much greater effect on racial stereotyping and the city’s sense of fracturing social cohesion. That is, it isn’t just the immigrant communities that have been self-ghettoizing.
Read these lines again and you can interpret them as "I'm butthurt, no but I'm butthurt. Did I mention I was butthurt?"

Unless the author got outbid for his high end car or property...the envy and resentment seems unwarranted. Schools don't give up local seats for international students...to even compete the foreign students would have to pass a language test first. Luxury stores are businesses, can you blame them for finding employees that can speak languages to cater the clientele demographics? Immigrants driving nice cars will not mess up your quality of life....stop losing sleep over it.

I admit I grew up with a negative perception of rich Mainland Chinese, but the past few years when I interact with more and more of them, many are just as humble and down to earth as other groups.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:53 AM   #14
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Actually most of the time it is not about paying the price but willing to take the risk and move beyond hoping for a steady job and have all things handed to you as if the world is obligated to follow your tune.

Innovation that you suggested involves risk of failure. I worked in tech industry and then hedge funds, you see these things day in and day out.. successful people get funded, defunded, then brush themselves off and try again... those usually get rich, usually get it right after the 4 or 5th time (of course those tough time magically disappears). Granted, I am in Vancouver because of the cheap real estate (a few decades back, nice weather and health care! I admit Vancouver sucks when it comes to investment climate, for that you just have to go to the Bay Area or Boston.

I admit I am older than most on this forum, it amazes me how risk adverse this forum's members are when it comes to not just careers/jobs/investments but life. You can see it in all the advice requested threads. Can I get into this or that school? How much can I earn with this program etc etc. or I want this expensive car but I don't want a one off lemon. Research is one thing, but not taking a risk hurts you on the long run. BTW when I say risk it is not speeding etc, but strategic risk. The school thing really irks me, can't get into UBC? try school out east, they are so much easier to get into and they will likely give you a scholarship for your troubles.

Like it or not the people who ended up that huge amount of money legally or illegally especially from the perspective of the implicit target of the article "ie rich folks from China" is they gambled and won. (Now how many people lost and paid with a lead at the back of the neck, courtesy of the gov firing squad is another story).

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And if you want world class status than you need to pay the price. You can't be a world class city and expect to live in homes which cost $500,000. It's a simple formula, world class city = more people from around the world want to live and invest there. And need I remind these idiots who hate on Asians that it was Asian money from HK that flooded in after Expo 86 that made Vancouver what it is today.

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Old 02-21-2014, 12:51 PM   #15
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Money talks and the reason why locals are upset is that they lost their feeling of superiority over immigrants.
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:53 PM   #16
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Money talks and the reason why locals are upset is that they lost their feeling of superiority over immigrants.
Yea dat it
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:54 AM   #17
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Money talks and the reason why locals are upset is that they lost their feeling of superiority over immigrants.
Strong username to post content ratio.
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Old 02-22-2014, 11:48 AM   #18
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It keeps Vancouver interesting. I like seeing hypercars with N signs.
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Old 02-22-2014, 02:46 PM   #19
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It keeps Vancouver interesting. I like seeing hypercars with N signs.
me too. the N's are equivalent to this
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Old 02-22-2014, 03:29 PM   #20
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