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Monthly Archives: July 2021

Why I’m Not Celebrating Canada Day – Part III

Part III: Canadian Real Estate and a complete lack of transparency

Fact: non-resident citizens of Canada pay a 35% down payment on a house in Canada. That puts my family in the same category as non-citizen money launderers who are buying up properties in Canada without ever having to step foot inside the country. So for the government’s sake, two Canadian citizens and their kid with intent to use their property as a home base to one day live there full-time are treated the same on paper as international gangsters who park their money in Canadian real estate. That means that legitimate citizens have to work harder and save longer to have property, whereas international money just swoops in and grabs it or builds it in such abundance that it keeps driving up prices across the country, thus consistently keeping that carrot dangling further and further way for people who are not international criminals.

You’re probably thinking “wait a second, there is a lot to unpack there. You can’t possibly just imply Canada’s entire economy is afloat on international criminal money.” But I can, and I did. Because it is*.

Supply and demand, right? People working in the real estate industry or adjacent to it have been defending soaring costs for years. Maybe because it results in increasingly higher commissions for them, because they think everyone in the world wants to live in Vancouver or Toronto. Not to be confused with investing in. It might also have something to do with these real estate talking heads hiding their hands under the table as they deal.

It was easy to justify the numbers in the years leading up to the great grinding halt of Covid-19. Immigration was the first reason; supply simply couldn’t keep up with the demand that immigrants were putting on the system. Oh, those immigrants! Takin’ all of our properties. Yet during Covid-19, immigration took a nose-dive and still, somehow, the prices of real estate kept shooting up. Oh, it was all that demand to get out of the city for more space since people were working at home. That’s right, people leaving the city were causing condo prices in the city to continue climbing. Perfectly logical. There are a list of asinine explanations as to why real estate kept climbing, but let’s get to the meat: property flipping, real estate agents flipping pre-constructions, and money laundering. On the honest, side, it was Canadians trying to take advantage of low interest rates in a market that would otherwise exclude them. Hard to blame them for just wanting a place to live. This is a system which has greatly benefited those working within the real estate industry (look at the links, the braggarts are shameless!), but has completely screwed over regular families. Canada’s real estate industry has completely priced them out in the interest of the commodification of places we need to live. That’s how bad the corporatocracy has gotten.

Endless articles are being written about it, and many families are now overextending themselves in debt just for a shot at having a home. To quote Bill Pullman from David Lynch’s Lost Highway“that’s fuckin’ crazy, man.”

So while real estate will continue in on some completely non-predictable direction, eventually Canadians will be tapped-out but at least the empty houses and condos around them will mean lower population density, right? Great! Maybe our next single-source economy can be built on debt collection. Oh wait, we’re already headed in that direction.

And so we come back to exploitation. From Canada’s Indigenous people to living within a corporatocracy to families who just want to buy a home, Canada has a long history of exploiting the people who actually live there. The question is, do I want to return there and sign up for that, or do I want to look around the world and buy somewhere else? Maybe somewhere where the food tastes real and isn’t modified to just look good on the supermarket shelf, and I don’t have to pay a premium on everything just for the privilege of amassing debt.

My family currently lives debt-free, so let me think about how badly I want to change that.

Happy Canada Day!

*Try to read Sam Cooper’s Willful Blindness and try to hold any sense of pride in what Canada is doing. It’s absolutely disgusting. And enraging.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in Oh Canada

 

Why I’m Not Celebrating Canada Day – Part II

Part II: Canada the Corporatocracy

Now there is a new Canada. I like to call it Corporate-Canada. It is a Canada run by governments (and be clear – I favour no party here) who consistently sell its people and its resources out for short-term political life and to empower the corporations that really run things. In shortly, Canada is a Corporatocracy. Canadians have been seeing it for years. Just mention overcharging (funny how telecom company’s oopsies in incorrect billing never, ever favours the customer,) or the telecommunications market’s chokehold and collusion on internet prices and you’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how every day Canadians are being treated every day. Internet prices in Canada are among the highest of anywhere in the world, because they “need to pay for the infrastructure”. They’ve been working on that infrastructure for decades now. A look at stocks and CEO salaries tell a different story.

Canada has a history of putting all of its eggs into one basket. For years it was the energy sector, more specifically, oil and gas. Years back, Prime Minister Stephen Harper doubled down on that industry (as that is where his father worked) while doing nothing to diversify Canada’s interests at a time when it was clear those interests needed to be diversified. The industry has received decades worth of subsides and amazing profits. Profits that were once so great that Alberta Premier Ralph Klein sent out “prosperity bonus” cheques to every Albertan to celebrate their wealth. There was no investing that money in the future because the corporations banked on the fact that they would always be treated like Canada’s darlings. Now they sound like a bunch of babies kicking and screaming because the world is changing. Because it HAS to change. Currently, Canada is cooking and burning.

Or how about the banking industry? Ask Canadians about banking fees. Every quarter it seems that Canadian banks keep making record profits, and it’s not surprising with the amount of nickel-and-diming loonying-and-twonying (toonying?) that is so frequently done for transactions. And good luck doing anything about it. For years Canadian banking practices have abused Canadians, and just wait until those pandemic-era interest rates start to rise… but hey. It makes a healthy economy, doesn’t it? In the short term.

Speaking of putting one’s eggs all in one basket – real estate. Canada has become a world leader in expensive real estate. It makes the economy look strong in short-term election cycles. Full disclosure here: my wife and I have been living abroad for a decade now, because the employment options for teachers were far better overseas. We have been saving to repatriate to Canada for some time, and have a reasonable amount of money to buy a house in a rural area. But Canada’s real estate market has become horrifically unreasonable in the past decade. Let’s find out why.

Next – Part III: Canadian Real Estate and a complete lack of transparency

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in Oh Canada

 

Why I’m Not Celebrating Canada Day – Part I

Part I: Not Celebrating Colonialism

First, the obvious reason. Currently in Canada, the graves of over a thousand children have so far been recovered and the number is likely to continue growing. When settlers came to Canada, they inconveniently discovered that their new land was already inhabited by a wealth of people and cultures. That was an inconvenient fact, so they started to wipe them off the map. My home province of Newfoundland Labrador has the distinction of having completely wiped out its Indigenous people, the Beothuk. (Though lately evidence has arisen that there may be some descendants.)

In other provinces, stretching through Saskatchewan to British Columbia, new government systems forced Indigenous children from their parents and put them into schools largely run by the Catholic church. In those schools their hair was cut, their language was beaten out of them, their culture removed at all costs, and they were made to assimilate to the colonising culture. Further to that, they were sexually, physically and emotionally abused for a hundred years, poisoning their lives and the lives of their descendants. As we know, many were murdered.

In my time growing up in Canada, I have repeatedly heard settlers blaming Aboriginal people for their own problems with alcoholism, drug abuse, crime, and overwhelming despair. I often heard things like “we have given them so much money,” without any sense of irony how “money” was a system that was also imposed upon them. They are still being blamed for not assimilating to a culture that has completely taken over their home and native land. Can you imagine if someone removed your children from you, forced them to abandon their own identities, murdered and abused those around you, and STILL won’t apologise for what they did for fear of lawsuits? If you can’t, it’s because it didn’t happen to you. Modern Indigenous people are still dealing with a theft of cultural identity and over a hundred years of abuse that is still ongoing. Some continue to struggle to find their place in our modern settler’s world, and suffer generational trauma that all success in Canada has been built upon. So if you’re pointing a finger at Indigenous people who are still suffering, you are pointing that finger in the wrong direction.

My evaluation here is superficial and doesn’t even begin to capture the individualized experiences of every Indigenous family’s trauma. I am not an Aboriginal person and my observances come only from listening to them, studying their history in university, and working within their communities in a limited capacity. So I do not speak for them, but if you are willing to listen, they are speaking for themselves. Accusing them of being freeloaders is really a sad and ironic projection of settling culture mindset.

Next – Part II: Canada the Corporatocracy

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in Oh Canada