Burnaby Metrotown is hidden by cloud in this photo,
but those of us who love it, know exactly where it is.
In 1885 the Chinese Immigration Act imposed a $50 Head Tax on each Chinese entering Canada. It was a daunting amount of money, but the Chinese kept coming. The Act was amended again and again, raising the tax. But the Chinese kept coming. In 1904 the Head Tax was raised to $500 - the price of a modest home in B.C., but the Chinese keep coming. Finally the Canadian government passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, which got rid of the Head Tax but also neatly excluded most Chinese from entering the Dominion.
There was already a large Chinese population in Vancouver and they could not legally be driven out. Their rights however, were limited. They could not vote and in order to protect the enclaves of White privilege, many property owners registered provisos on their real estate holdings, such as "This property may not be transferred to a Chinese." Most such racist insertions have been quietly expunged from the legal record, but when I was selling homes in the 1990s I encountered two surviving examples on properties listed in Dunbar.
Today the sprawling city is abuzz with an entirely different real estate "problem". Daily it is alleged that wealthy Chinese immigrants from "Mainland China" are the principle cause of escalating real estate prices. The ankle-biters have been demanding that governments (plural) intervene, using all the heavy-handed measures available to the state, and crush this wave of "unfair" competition for choice properties. Worse, the Federal Liberals, the Provincial Liberals, and the Vancouver (whatever the hell they are) have fallen into lock-step on the fabricated issue, convinced there are votes in squeezing more juice out of wealthy Chinese immigrants. Vancouver's pale mayor will take the lead by imposing a municipal Head Tax on the hated owners of condos who choose to turn the heat down low, and live somewhere else than Gold Mountain for most of the calendar year. It's truly amazing what prissy Canadians find to bitch about these days.
Some recent headlines:
Canada Revenue Agency launches Vancouver housing probe (Globe and Mail) July 14
Leak reveals secret tax crackdown on foreign-money real estate deals in Vancouver (South China Morning Post, July 14
Both articles referenced a "Confidential" briefing package that a CRA whistleblower distributed widely to the news media, and which is dated June 2, 2016. The 34 page document is in the form of Power Point screenshots and it was produced by someone working inside the the secretive Pacific Region headquarters of Canada Revue Agency. The leaker is not at all opposed to government agents spying on Chinese immigrant families. On the contrary, he or she is incensed by what they term "a lack of enforcement". The goal was to embarrass the employer, the Canada Revenue Agency. Several newspapers published pages, but I decided to download the entire document from the cloud, and read it. To save you the trouble, I am sharing the most interesting pages here:
There are no government employee names or contact information provided, but the leaker told a Hong Kong based newspaper, the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, that the briefing package was distributed by Mal Gill, who is identified as the Canada Revenue Agency "Pacific Region Business Intelligence Director. I guess that makes Gill our "Tax Spy - Chief".The paper contacted the Spy Chief, but he blandly referred them to a CRA Communications Director.
The next page, "SCREENING TOOLS", is especially interesting. It lists some of the B.C. Government , Canadian Government and Municipal Government (so far just Vancouver) databases the Tax Spies are already consulting. They also troll social networks on the Internet, searching for private postings that might incriminate an immigrant who has outbid White Canadians for property in British Columbia, and who can be punished with additional taxation and fines.
Domestic spying is a routine in Orwellian Ca-na-da. (We are the only country that operates mechanized mail-opening plants for Christ sake! ) I am really hoping that the Chinese government has told the Canadian tax-snoops to take a hike. Too many countries betray their own people for slight political rewards Canada offers them. Taiwan for example, signed a Tax Treaty with Canada several years ago, and regularly provides packets of highly confidential information to Ottawa. And for what? Political recognition as an independent nation? Hell no! Just for the mere privilege of operating visa-issuing offices in our country. Suckers!
And a few pages of CRA - Pacific Region (RESULTS) for the last Fiscal Year.
In a concluding page, "GOING FORWARD" we learn of plans to promote awareness of CRA efforts to crack down on cheats and non-compliers, including emphasis on a snitch line and a webpage to keep media abreast of topical stories that might enhance the image of the agency.
I suspect that the CRA is indeed embarrassed by this leak, but not because it is more evidence of domestic spying in Canada, but because they have no successes to brag about. It is a secret internal document ALL of the graphics, page after page of them, are clippings from the local newspapers. Reading it, I was reminded of an experience I had many years ago in Ottawa. I had a business appointment with the Military Attache of the Republic of Mexico, and arrived a few minutes early. His desk was covered with the days newspapers, and he was busy clipping stories and filing by subject. This CRA briefing, "REAL ESTATE WEBINAR - PACIFIC REGION" might have been prepared by a similar functionary for all it is worth.