Unrelenting negative media coverage of foreign real estate buyers in British Columbia and government action against them has ripped a thin veil of tolerance from Vancouver society.
A Kerrisdale real estate agent, born in Vancouver, whose parents have been city residents for decades, has endured foul language and insults this year as she simply tries to do her job.
“I have had people come right up into my face and ask 'are you licensed?' and 'who are you really working for?' she said. “It is frightening and it is has only been happening recently.”
She, of course, is of Chinese heritage.
In an email to Western Investor, and not anonymous, a reader stated, “We do not want foreigner Chinese in B.C. period. You cannot trust these people [they] are g.d. crooks and communists.”
On city buses and on the street, in cocktail chatter, we are now hearing similar comments, as casual as they are caustic, as if a group of people who helped build this city and who make up about a third of Vancouver’s population, are now a threat to it.
The irony is thick.
Chinese were working in B.C. in 1770. A century later, after helping to build our national railway, Chinese labourers were persecuted because they threatened white employment. The Canadian government began charging a head tax to keep them out of B.C. Now, some rail against the Chinese because they are so successful.
Since August, the B.C. government has been charging a regressive - and potentially illegal - tax on their home purchases to keep them out of Metro Vancouver.
And what are the offences the Chinese are being blamed for?
Bringing in billions of dollars to the Canadian economy, starting businesses, buying nice houses, sending their children to the best schools and creating more millionaires in Vancouver than any Canadian city has ever seen.
Chinese-Canadians have left giant footprints in the foundations of Vancouver. The University of British Columbia’s Chan Centre, the Fei & Milton Wong Foundation, the architecture of James K.M Cheng and Bing Thom, David Lam Park, named after the former British Columbia Lt. Governor, and if truth be told, the entire development of False Creek are among the aspiring landmarks.
Today, that vision would be twisted by some into a place of narrow minds, stunted opportunities and a cowering fear of outsiders.
Something wicked has indeed taken root in Vancouver and we – all of us immigrants from somewhere worse – have a duty to expose and stamp it out.