Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Speculation, of course, but my guess:

A business college at the University of Illinois has taken out an insurance policy against the potential catastrophic loss of revenue from high-fee-paying students from China.

Educators and social-media commentators are expressing fears the river of money flowing from Chinese students into Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia will dry up because of a brewing trade war and the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The government of China has said it has more than 600,000 students studying abroad, the vast majority of them in English-language countries. Highly desired Canada has more than 186,000 of them, according to China’s Toronto consulate (the federal government’s figure is slightly lower). That means China’s young people make up roughly one in three of all 500,000 international students in Canada.

Despite China’s ambassador to Canada last week hammering English-speaking countries as “arrogant” and rife with “white supremacy” for their defence of Meng’s arrest, there is no sign that China’s leaders are ready to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who reacted to Canada’s human rights comments last year by calling back most of the Saudi students in Canada.

“I don’t think the Chinese will be as petulant as the Saudis were, or as unsophisticated, although they may make more subtle changes over time,” Andrew Griffith, a migration researcher and former senior director in Canada’s Immigration Department, said.

Canada could even attract more Chinese students in the future in part because the number entering the U.S. appears to be flattening out, possibly because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about China and immigrants. That’s why Illinois business college dean Jeffrey Brown, realizing his school had become highly dependent on Chinese students’ money, took out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.

Canada hosts eight times more Chinese students per capita than the U.S., suggesting this country’s educational institutions are more dependent on, if not addicted to, their fees than U.S. colleges. Some higher-education researchers are calling the phenomenon “academic capitalism.”

It’s the expanding trend in English-language countries to make up for steadily eroding taxpayer funding of schools, colleges and universities by capitalizing on the full fees paid by students from mostly well-off families from around the world, with China providing by far the biggest group.

Some Canadian educators, and researchers like Mengwei Su and Laura Harrison of Ohio University, say the intense concentration of Chinese students in Western schools brings with it drawbacks, however, mainly for the students themselves.

Even though Western universities welcome Chinese students as “a particularly lucrative market,” Su and Harrison found many of the young Chinese struggle with English and integrating into Western culture — partly because they are ending up in classrooms and living situations dominated by other students from China.

“Seventy per cent of the students in my class are from China,” one Chinese student told the Ohio researchers, describing the sense of social segregation. “The class is not much different from that in our country,” said another Chinese pupil. One young woman from China opted to study in the Netherlands rather than North America, saying, “I want to avoid too many Chinese students.”

Against a backdrop in which the taxpayer-funded proportion of the operating budgets of B.C.’s public universities has drastically declined in recent decades, more than half the foreign undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University, more than 2,700, now come from China.

The University of B.C. has 5,000 students from China, almost one third of its international student population. Scores of public high schools, colleges and two-room private language institutes also take in hefty fees from the roughly 50,000 Chinese students in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

The dark blue at the top of this chart indicates more than half the undergraduate international students at Simon Fraser University since 2011 have come from China. (Source: SFU)

The federal Liberal government is busily wooing more Chinese students, however. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is following the enthusiastic lead of former minister John McCallum and saying “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Hussen maintains international students in Canada, whose numbers have been recently jumping by roughly one quarter annually, funnel $11.6 billion a year into Canada’s economy, adding they also enhance “cultural exchange.” To make it easier for more Chinese students to jet across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, the Liberal government recently opened seven new visa centres in China. Hussen acknowledged such students can contribute to the housing and rental squeeze in cities such as Toronto and Metro Vancouver, particularly since many offshore parents buy Canadian homes for their offspring.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Western “higher education institutions are slowly evolving into a corporate-like enterprise that pursues monetary gains, at times eclipsing their educational mission,” write Su and Harrison, of Ohio University, echoing growing sentiment among scholars of higher education.

The Ohio researchers found a key financial problem is that some overseas recruiting “agents” are exploiting international students, with more than half the Chinese students they surveyed hiring these advisers to navigate their complicated route to the West.

The trouble with agents dominating the field of global education, according to Su and Harrison, is many are providing misinformation to students, steering them to inappropriate schools and not warning them about how difficult it will likely be to learn workable English. Many students get stuck in never-ending English-remediation classes.

To root out abuse and increase overseas families’ trust in such agents, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Ireland have developed a code to regulate them, say Thompson Rivers University researchers Victoria Handford and Halying Li.

But Canada has not signed on to the protocol, which is designed to ensure the agents behave more ethically.

Meanwhile, Canada’s recruiting continues apace.

Source: Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Douglas Todd: How Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants differ

I am a great fan of Dan Hiebert’s work and Todd’s article only whets my appetite to check out the interactive website:

Chinese and Filipino immigrants come to Canada with equally solid levels of education — but beyond that they’re remarkably different.

A revealing new “super-diversity” website created by a University of B.C. geographer, Daniel Hiebert, shows nine of 10 recent Chinese immigrants arrive in Metro Vancouver with enough money to immediately buy homes. But only half hold down jobs during their first five years in Canada, while four of 10 report they’re surviving on low incomes.

In sharp contrast, as Hiebert points out while showing his data-rich charts and maps on his interactive website, nine of 10 Filipino immigrants have jobs within five years of arriving in Metro Vancouver. Less than 10 per cent of Filipinos say they are on low incomes, and just four in 10 own their homes.

This is just a sample of the almost endless array of demographic insights about Canadian immigration, refugees, ethnicity, economic class and religion that can be readily discovered on the website, www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de.

With a team of international scholars, Hiebert has been designing the site to help Canadian policy-makers, academics, journalists and the public “get a factual sense of how the world is changing. So that they can make their own interpretations.”

The website’s graphics quickly reveal nuggets about “super-diversity” in Canada, including that Metro Vancouver Muslims come from an astonishing 117 different ethnic backgrounds, and that initially disadvantaged refugees eventually do well in terms of education, income and housing after about two decades in Canada.

The super-diversity website democratizes immense pools of data from 1980 on, which have long been difficult or impossible for most Canadians to tap. The site provides the basis for an informed Canadian debate on immigration, which has so far been held back by exaggerated claims by both skeptics and advocates.

The website, created in collaboration with German and other scholars (thus the country code “.de” in the domain name), includes interactive maps that break Metro Vancouver down into 3,400 small chunks. Viewers can analyze each for such things as ethnicity, income, mobility, language and education levels.

This snapshot of a chart created by Prof. Daniel Hiebert shows the economic and housing outcomes of recent adult immigrants, those who arrived in Metro Vancouver between 2011 and 2016. It shows an amazing 90 per cent of new ethnic Chinese immigrants bring enough wealth to quickly buy a home in Metro Vancouver, in contrast to patterns in Sydney and Auckland. (Source: http://www.superdiv.mmg.mpg.de)

Since Hiebert’s Canadian research for the first time correlates 2016 census information with “landing data” provided by the federal immigration department, he was able to discover that immigrants in general, but ethnic Chinese in particular, move unusually quickly into Metro Vancouver’s housing market.

“The Chinese story is one of a great transfer of wealth” into Canada from offshore, he said. “Home ownership rates reflect that wealth transfer.”

The interactive online charts show the overall rate of home ownership by ethnicity — with nine in 10 ethnic Chinese owning their homes in Metro Vancouver, compared to eight in 10 South Asians, seven in 10 Caucasians and Koreans, six in 10 Filipinos and just four in 10 blacks, Arabs and Latin Americans.

The maps and charts created by Hiebert, Steven Vertovec, Alan Gamlen and Paul Spoonley also show the most “mobile” regions of Metro,the neighbourhoods in which people are more likely to move frequently. They tend to be in the north end of the City of Vancouver (from Kitsilano to Strathcona), New Westminster, parts of North Vancouver and around the City of Langley.

Hiebert’s maps also reveal which neighbourhoods come with the widest range of incomes, which he considers healthy. “You get more vibrancy in neighbourhoods in which you get to know people from other income levels. Gated communities are the worst. Nobody understands each other’s lives.”

While the west side of Vancouver tends to have a high ethnic mix, it has low diversity of incomes. In contrast, residents of the east side of Vancouver and south Burnaby have a range of incomes. “There’s a kind of upstairs-downstairs phenomenon” in the latter neighbourhoods, Hiebert said, with reasonably well-off homeowners serving as landlords to renters in basement suites.

Even though the amount of data on display in the “super-diversity” website is immense, Hiebert’s task in the next couple of months is to add more user-friendly statistics — this time on the often-ignored number of temporary residents and international students in Canada.

Their numbers have doubled in a decade to almost one million, with almost 200,000 in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver. Hiebert, who is often asked to advise politicians and civil servants, acknowledged policy-makers rarely take into account this significant cohort of newcomers, who some say add to the intense pressure on the city’s rental market and transit system.

One of the aims of the super-diversity website is to compare migration issues in Canada with those in Australia and New Zealand. They are three of the five English-language countries (the others are Britain and the U.S.), that Hiebert says are magnets for “millions of millions of people around the world who want to learn English.”

Asked to compare migration to Sydney and Auckland with that to Metro Vancouver, Hiebert said each has large populations of Chinese immigrants.  But Metro Vancouver receives the most educated ethnic Chinese, he said, and far more who are ready to buy homes.

While the rate of home ownership among recent Chinese immigrants to Metro Vancouver is about 90 per cent, the rate is only about 50 per cent in Sydney and just 20 per cent in Auckland.

Source: Douglas Todd: How Chinese, Filipino and other immigrants differ

Douglas Todd: B.C. coroner fails to release suicide data for international students

Surprising that they are not releasing the data. In my experience, British Columbia is better than most in responding to ATIP requests:

International students in Canada and around the world are not only under pressure to achieve high grades. Many are increasingly expected to become permanent residents in their chosen country so they can eventually sponsor their parents and siblings as immigrants.

Given the intense expectations placed on many young students navigating existence in a foreign country, reports of suicide among them are rising in Canada, the U.S., Australia and Britain, their most sought-after destinations.

The China Daily newspaper recently ran a story headlined, ”Suicide stalking too many Chinese studying overseas,” which detailed a spate of suicides among the 330,000 Chinese students studying and working in the U.S.

The large newspaper, which many see as a guide to China’s government policy, urged public officials to find out why. Is it because of “fear of failing and disappointing their parents” or “the loneliness that comes with having to struggle on their own?”

After the suicide last year of Linhai Yu, a young Chinese foreign student in Richmond, China’s consul general for Vancouver also expressed worry about suicide among the 53,000 Chinese students in Metro Vancouver. “Incident rates among the group,” Xuan Zheng said, “have been quite high.”

The grim stories of foreign-student depression and suicide are pouring in from across Canada and the world. This fall, friends of an Indian student in Ontario blamed his self-inflicted death on Canada’s immigration department not granting him a work visa to stay longer. Similar stories from around the world show foreign students at higher risk of mental-health stress.

Given that B.C. has the most foreign students per capita in Canada — being home to more than 130,000 of the Canadian total of 500,000 — my senior editor suggested contacting the B.C. Coroners Service to put some numbers on how many international students have taken their lives.

We thought the information wouldn’t be difficult to determine, since the Coroners Service says it is a “fact-finding” agency responsible for investigating all “unnatural” and “sudden” deaths and making recommendations to “prevent death in similar circumstances.”

My first contact with the Service was in May. In the ensuing seven months, despite numerous communications, the service has failed to provide any information at all about suicide rates among international students. It has, however, offered a steady string of delays and excuses, mixed with large doses of obfuscation.

The B.C. Coroners Service either has no idea how many international students in B.C. have been committing suicide. Or it worries that being frank about it would be insensitive; politically, socially, educationally or psychologically. Perhaps its leadership team, with Lisa LaPointe as long-time chief, just doesn’t think the public has a right to know. We’re just guessing.

Meanwhile, a dire mental-health phenomenon continues to expand along with the unprecedented rise of international students, which politicians and educational administrators welcome for the billions of dollars they pour into local economies and educators’ salaries.

The suicide rate among all students in higher education has long been grave. A British report found university students were killing themselves at the rate of one every four days, the large majority being male.

But emotional stress is even more extreme on students coming in from other countries, according to Australian researchers, who are ahead of professionals in Canada in tracking the emotional difficulties they face with isolation, housing, language, education and immigration status.

Even though Australian coroners, consulates and universities were found to be suppressing details about overseas students’ deaths, the country’s federal government admitted earlier that 51 foreign students had died in one 12-month period. But it took outside investigators to point out that suicide was a key cause of the deaths.

One study in the Australian Journal of Psychology found that Chinese international students experienced significantly higher levels of stress than their Australian counterparts. Education Minister Simon Birmingham this year responded to pleas to better support international students by promising to release more detailed comparative data on their mental health.

Australian sociologist Helen Forbes-Mewett discovered some parents send their mentally unwell children overseas in the hope the health system in their host country is superior to that at home. But extra pressures and traditional cultural stigmas about mental illness, said the Monash University professor, typically compound foreign students’ vulnerability.

Forbes-Mewett says it is impossible to lay blame for foreign students’ mental health or elevated risk of suicide on any one agency. As she suggests, it’s “everyone’s problem.” But at the least more B.C. officials could follow the lead of Australia and release relevant data on suicide rates.

Otherwise the public is kept in the dark, and the private anguish of many overwhelmed international students will silently persist.

Source: Douglas Todd: B.C. coroner fails to release suicide data for international students

Douglas Todd: Wooing the ultrarich with ‘Golden Passports’ and flattery

Good column on citizenship-by-investment schemes:

I regret to inform readers that few of you are likely to receive an alluring invitation to buy a “Golden Passport.” That is because you are not a “High-Net-Worth-Individual,” also known as an “HNWI.”

Chances are you are just not moneyed enough to be targeted by the glossy magazines, online ads and emails designed to entice a certain class of people to join the elite club of “global talent” eager to purchase their way into a new “opportunity oases,” or, as some of us still like to call them, nations.

No, since you are not worth many millions, if not billions, of dollars, you are not the market for the jargon, euphemisms and flattery that would otherwise urge you to advance the interests of yourself and family by becoming an international “investment expatriate” or “investor immigrant,” while being lauded as “the best and brightest.”

Instead, this exclusive circle of passport and visa purchasers is for the super-rich, especially those who don’t trust their own governments, who seek the “competitive advantage” of multiple passports, who are keen on avoiding taxes and who are looking for a haven for their families. Stable, clean welcoming Canada, and Metro Vancouver, are among the most sought-after destinations of this jet-setting club.

Alas, watchdog agencies are beginning to warn that some of these trans-national migrants also want to hide their ill-gotten gains. They are collecting second, third and more passports, or at least permanent resident cards, from multiple nations as they strive for an immigration status that can provide the real-world equivalent of what the game of Monopoly calls a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

The number of investor migrants is expanding rapidly. Economist magazine says “thousands of passports are bought and sold every year, almost always by the wealthy. The number of commercially acquired residence permits runs into the hundreds of thousands.” It’s an industry that the public widely suspects of diminishing the rights and privileges of citizenship.

There is also gnawing worry the governments busy selling passports and visas — typically in exchange for an “investment” in government bonds, businesses or real estate in the value of anywhere from $200,000 to $2.5 million — are playing into the hands of international crooks, terrorists, money launderers and oligarchs.

The European Union has gained nearly 100,000 rich new residents and 6,000 new citizens in the last decade through poorly managed, semi-secret passport-sale schemes, says Transparency International and Global Witness. The watchdog organizations have concerns about Spain and Britain, but they’re especially alarmed by the European Union’s smallest countries, Cyprus and Malta — because anyone who buys a passport from one of these yacht-filled nations gains access to all 26 countries of the EU.

Canada designed one of the first investor-immigrant schemes in the late 1980s, which soon became known for luring hundreds of thousands of affluent Hong Kong residents to the country. And, along with the United States, Canada remains among the most popular destinations for ultrarich trans-nationals hunting for extra visas and passports.

Thousands of lawyers and immigration specialists now strive to ingratiate themselves with these upper-crust clients. The most influential firm promoting the value of trans-nationalism is Henley and Partners, founded by Swiss lawyer Christian Kalin, which has offices in 20 nations and claims to have created “the concept of residence and citizenship planning.”

Kalin is editor in chief of The Global Residence and Citizenship Review, a glossy magazine that sings the praises of the “aspiring migrants” who take advantage of extra passports and the mobility they provide. One glowing ad in his magazine pumps the value of paying to “secure your family’s future with European citizenship.” It features a posh father knotting the private-school-like tie of his son. Arguably the world’s second biggest firm centred on securing a safe haven for investor migrants is Arton Capital, which has its headquarters in Canada.

Vancouver-based Johann van Rooyen, who runs the Citizenship by Investment Research Consultancy, says the global rich are buying “powerful passports” because they want to have the potential to escape political problems, preserve their wealth, reduce their taxes and travel more freely to more countries.

“While political instability and violence forces most investor-class emigrants to physically move to their host countries, for many others a second passport is seen as an insurance policy against future risks. They prefer to stay in their home countries, but like to have an alternative in case things go wrong,” says van Rooyen, citing how high-net-worth migrants are worried about rising political danger, crime, pollution and authoritarianism in places such as the Middle East, Russia, China and South Africa.

“Many Hong Kong residents who left before the China takeover in 1997 returned within a few years, after they obtained a second passport (mainly from Canada),” says van Rooyen, explaining how a lot of migrants don’t actually move to the country they bought their way into. “And thousands of Lebanese Canadians returned to Lebanon after obtaining Canadian citizenship.” More than 250,000 people now living in Hong Kong, and at least 50,000 in Lebanon, have a Canadian-passport lifeline.

The federal Conservatives finally stopped Canada’s immigrant-investor program in 2014, after determining most of the affluent who took advantage of it didn’t intend to live in Canada and those who did paid few taxes while receiving free health care and subsidized higher education.

But Quebec’s buy-a-passport scheme continues to this day.

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program — which attracts nine out of 10 of its millionaire applicants from Asia — does not actually lure many foreign rich to the French-speaking province. Instead, the vast majority of the roughly 5,000 migrants a year who exploit Quebec’s plan move to Metro Vancouver and Toronto, where their foreign-sourced dollars pump up the cities’ already high-priced real estate.

Radio Canada journalists this fall reported that fraud, forgery and money laundering are rife in the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program. And this appears to be the norm with many Golden passport schemes. More media outlets are beginning to detail the corruption in such programs, which often make it possible for high-net-worth individuals to evade taxes and in many cases the law-enforcement officials trying to track dirty fortunes.

Trans-national scoundrels, for instance, can dodge tax reporting rules in their home country by taking citizenship or residency in a second country and opening a bank account in a third, claiming tax residency in the second. The list of scams goes on. One Chinese investor caught up in a rare crackdown on immigration fraud in Vancouver was found with seven different passports.

The passport-for-sale industry needs to be more diligent in corralling abuse and pitfalls, say watchdogs. And so do receiving and sending countries. The Economist recently speculated about a possibly bad fate, for instance, befalling some of the tens of thousands of newly wealthy Chinese nationals, who have become the world’s leaders at snapping up Golden passports and visas

“Only about half the countries in the world allow their citizens to hold dual nationality. China is not one; and it has strict exchange-control rules,” warns the Economist. “It seems unlikely that all Chinese investment migrants have alerted the authorities to their plans, or gained permission to take their money out.”

Many politicians in the West have gone wild for passport-buying schemes, most of which are new. But law enforcement officials, the public and even the investor immigrants themselves are only learning now about the real price that may have to be paid for such dubious schemes.

Source: Douglas Todd: Wooing the ultrarich with ‘Golden Passports’ and flattery

Douglas Todd: How radical environmentalists view immigration

Interesting debate. There is also another school that warns that environmental pressures such as climate change will increase substantially migrant flows:

One of the first signs that North American environmentalists were uneasy about high immigration rates came from one of its best-known eco-warriors, David Suzuki.

The Vancouver-based founder of the influential Suzuki Foundation was quoted in a French magazine in 2013  saying Canada’s immigration policy was disgusting because “we plunder southern countries by depriving them of future leaders, and we want to increase our population to support economic growth. … It’s crazy!”

Like some European environmentalists, Suzuki maintained “Canada is full” because most population growth occurs in congested cities. While praising Canadian multiculturalism and supporting welcoming more refugees, Suzuki’s main arguments zeroed in on how Canada is contributing to the brain drain from developing countries and that population growth is an environmentally destructive way to prop up Western economies.

The public reaction in Canada to Suzuki’s reflections was vociferous, focussing on shaming him. The Conservative government and corporate leaders seized on the remarks  to try to humiliate the troublesome environmentalist. Then-immigration minister Jason Kenney was among those labelling him “xenophobic” and worse.

Suzuki was upbraided again after he spoke off the cuff to a Vancouver Sun reporter, saying North American “politicians make the quick assumption they have to keep the economy growing by keeping the population growing.” Suzuki called it disgraceful that Canada was “selectively going after very highly trained people from Pakistan, India and South Africa, like doctors. Now why would one of the richest countries be ripping off the developing world for the people they desperately need?”

Since 2013, as far as I am aware, Suzuki has given up trying to raise the ethical issues inherent in immigration. He didn’t return my calls for an interview and, when he gave a speech on multiculturalism and migration at the Chan Centre in 2014, he pulled his punches, pleasing the crowd with his customary denunciation of economic globalization.

Another noted Canadian environmentalist, however, is picking up where Suzuki left off. John Erik Meyer has been filling in the details of a conservationists’ view of how high immigration rates complicate the fight against population growth, climate change, resource depletion, over-consumption and what it takes to truly assist people in developing countries.

Meyer’s extensive analysis was this year published in The Humanist Perspective. It’s a noted Canadian publication devoted to atheism, “rationalism,” “the cultivation of ethical and creative living” and to fostering “well-reasoned discussions of important human issues.”

As with Suzuki’s critique of Canada’s immigration policy, Meyer’s green reasoning is sure to offend many. But some of his radical analysis of class and power may appeal to those open to unconventional, big-concept responses to looming environmental disaster.

In the month in which the UN’s climate-change panel warned humanity has only 12 years to cut the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty, Meyer said in an interview he believes his perspective could soon gain more momentum. At the least his eight-page essay offers a provocative thought-experiment, which there is no good reason to ban from the marketplace of ideas.

Throughout history, desperate people have often emigrated for a better life, Meyer argues — just as Europeans fled to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries when their continent was rife with war, persecution, inequality and poverty. Their arrival in North America, however, crushed Indigenous cultures.

Europeans stopped coming en masse to Canada and the U.S. after their home countries became stable.

The lesson Meyer draws is that the most responsible thing for the West is to improve the lot of people in struggling countries instead of offering a lifeline to the relative few who win the immigration lottery.

“Although migration does indeed represent salvation for many migrants, it exacerbates existing problems in the receiving nations and, on a planetary basis, is the literal equivalent of throwing gasoline on the fire of environmental decline,” says Meyer, president of Canadians for a Sustainable Society.

One of Meyer’s central warnings is that when people move from developed countries to high-consumption ones, they create a larger ecological footprint.  A typical immigrant to Canada, he says, ends up emitting 4.2 times the carbon emissions that they did in their country of origin.

Even though migration is now occurring on an “unprecedented scale,” Meyer also says the mass movement of people will make no dent on the disastrous population explosions occurring in Africa and the Middle East.

Meyer cites a long list of problems that high migration also causes Western host nations (most Eastern countries generally don’t accept immigrants). They include greater energy use, increased pollution, suppression of wages, urban congestion, higher social-service costs and elevated housing prices.

Meyer wryly observes much of the support for Canadian immigration, which is triple that of the U.S. on a per capita basis, comes from those who directly or indirectly gain from it. The boosters, he says, invariably stake out “the moral high ground” by claiming immigration lifts up the disadvantaged.

Meyer argues there are more effective ways to help people in struggling countries.

“In terms of genuinely saving the world, Canada’s rate of foreign aid to GDP is about one-fifth that of Sweden. It’s actually dropped by four per cent under the Liberal government. Why this very weak performance, despite the rhetoric? The most powerful interests in Canada do not profit from foreign aid. They profit from growth in the domestic commercial economy and asset inflation.”

The main policy goals of advanced countries, he says, should be to help poorer countries reduce population growth and, generally, to eliminate the problems that cause people to want to migrate. “In order to save themselves from the chaos of growing and endless migration, developed countries are going to have to make it their business to establish better living conditions and sustainability in the poorest areas of the world.”

As if these arguments weren’t irritating enough, Meyer knows many in the West will not like to hear another environmental message about the need for self-restraint. “It is necessary to address the root causes of migration by drastically reducing consumption levels in more developed countries via very strong conservation measures,” he says. “This can well be seen as painful and extremely politically difficult, but the alternatives are vastly more destructive.”

Source: Douglas Todd: How radical environmentalists view immigration

Douglas Todd: Will the new leader of Quebec kill its immigrant-investor program?

Good sharp and pointed commentary:

The new premier of Quebec has promised to reduce immigration to his province by 20 per cent, require newcomers to learn French in three years and restrict some public servants from wearing religious symbols.

Premier-designate Francois Legault won a majority on Oct. 1 in large part because he professed to be committed to better “integrating” newcomers into the francophone province. But so far Legault has not hinted at ending Quebec’s divisive immigrant-investor program, one of the world’s biggest wealth migration schemes.

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program — which attracts nine out of 10 of its millionaire applicants from Asia, mostly China — does the opposite of integrating immigrants into a distinct culture. Only one in 10 of the well-to-do migrants who take advantage of Quebec’s investor program choose to live in that province.

Most of the roughly 5,000 migrants a year who exploit Quebec’s buy-a-passport program immediately move to Metro Vancouver and Toronto, where their foreign-sourced dollars pump up the cities’ already high-priced real estate. The decades-old Quebec Immigrant Investor Program is a cynical scheme that doesn’t do what it claims.

And it’s made possible because Quebec is the only Canadian province allowed to set its own immigration policies. (The country’s other premiers in 2016 asked Ottawa for the right to also establish their own immigration rules, but so far their plea has gone nowhere. That could be unfortunate.)

Everyone who signs up for Quebec’s investor program has to hand over an $800,000 interest-free, five-year loan to the government and sign a document citing their firm intention to make their home in Quebec. But only 10 per cent of the 58,000 people who used the program, and remain in Canada, live in the province.

Half of Quebec’s investor immigrants who remain in Canada (many just return to their homeland, with their second passport safely in hand) have set up in the Vancouver region, with most of the rest in Greater Toronto.

Despite Quebec politicians’ oft-professed dedication to Quebec culture, they have for decades shown no signs of caring about the millionaire migrants’ lack of loyalty. The bizarre unintended consequence is that, since Canada’s charter gives everyone mobility rights, the Quebec program has become a key contributor to the unaffordability that is devastating so many residents of Metro Vancouver and Toronto.

One of the many perplexing things about the program is that Quebec’s media, which is normally ruthless at exposing political deception, has almost entirely ignored the province’s farcical investor program since it was instituted in 1986.

Many countries have brought in similar investor schemes, but immigration lawyers say Quebec’s program remains the world’s easiest and most generous, since it asks so little of investors and they get a tremendous amount in return. As a popular website founded by immigration lawyer Colin Singer says: “Successful candidates get permanent residency, which offers access to Canada’s social support network and the right to live anywhere in the country.”

Will Quebec’s new premier, Francois Legault, cancel his province’s immigrant-investor program? He wants immigrants to better integrate. But only 10 per cent of the 58,000 investors who used the program and still remain in Canada actually reside in La Belle Province. Half end up in Metro Vancouver.

Why has the program not been cut? Why is it not on the agenda of the new Coalition Avenir Quebec government or even of most of the French and English-language media, where Quebec news this month has been dominated by Legault’s more symbolic intention to stop allowing judges, police officers, teachers and other key public servants to wear religious symbols?

Part of the explanation for the near-complete silence must be that the program serves the self-interest of Quebec’s business sector. The immigration website of Singer, a longtime booster of investor programs, boasts that the program has made it possible for Investment Quebec, a provincial government corporation, to provide $714 million to 4,737 businesses in Quebec from 2001-2016.

In other words, Quebec’s businesses get the migrants’ cash, but the province doesn’t get the immigrants. Nor does Quebec bear the cost of providing their families with education or other social programs. Is that what Quebeckers want? And is that acceptable to Legault, who came into power on his promise to help immigrants better integrate into the province of which he is so proud?

It gets worse. In a rare exception by Quebec’s media, Radio Canada journalists last month teamed up with the South China Morning Post’s Vancouver-based Ian Young and reported that fraud, forgery, money laundering and corruption is rife in the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program. Their investigative piece revealed that the trans-national subterfuge often begins with shady immigration lawyers in Hong Kong who mostly serve clients from China.

The influential Economist magazine last month published an extensive feature exploring the widespread corruption inherent in many immigrant investor programs, which often make it possible for so-called high-net-worth individuals to evade taxes and in many cases the law-enforcement officials trying to track dirty fortunes.

It’s hard to know what Legault and his party will do. As the co-founder of Air Transat and a gung-ho entrepreneur, he may hold his nose and convince himself that offshore millionaires’ handouts to Quebec businesses are needed to boost the economy. Or he could live up to his commitment to integration. On the surface, he seems a man of integrity, comfortable with adopting pragmatic policies from both the right and left. So British Columbians could end up pleasantly surprised.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented for Quebec’s premier to kill the province’s investor scheme, since they’re under attack around the globe. After all, the federal Conservatives cancelled Canada’s program in 2014, noting few investors paid significant income taxes in Canada and most didn’t want to permanently settle in the country anyways. Most rich investors are seeking a Canadian passport as an insurance policy in case things go sideways in their country of origin.

Deciding the future of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program will be a profound test of Legault’s character. Will he hypocritically take millionaire migrants’ money and let them run to English-speaking regions of the country? Or will he stand up for his vision and the dignity of his beloved province?

Source: Douglas Todd: Will the new leader of Quebec kill its immigrant-investor program?

Douglas Todd: British Columbians’ houses are not really their ‘castles’

Immigration-related excerpt of interest. And a new term for me, “satellite families:”

….However, if Kesselman was in power, he would consider a change to the NDP’s proposed speculation tax, which in part targets “satellite families” that own vacant dwellings in B.C.

Satellite families are those that typically maintain student children or spouses in B.C., but in which the breadwinners make most or all of their income outside the country, which means the family usually pays little or no Canadian income tax (which is designed to support the common good).

While understanding the B.C. government’s rationale for targeting satellite families, since some “own high-valued homes in B.C. while declaring little income for tax purposes,” Kesselman recognizes the surcharge will also affect some B.C. second-dwelling owners who have long paid taxes in the province.

“My first change would be to allow B.C. residents a credit of actual income taxes paid in B.C. against the speculation tax, rather than the $2,000 per year credit. And I might extend this option to taxes paid by other Canadians not resident in B.C.,” Kesselman said.

In the same vein, the public policy specialist finds the NDP’s surtax on homes valued over $3 million to be an “imperfect but justifiable measure, given the obstacles to implementing a better approach.”

Even though he believes it may be fairer to impose some kind of capital gains tax on profits made on B.C. homes, Kesselman admitted it would be a “political non-starter.” The surtax on expensive homes is “somewhat arbitrary,” he said, because it hits the homeowners regardless of their level of capital gain, how long they’ve owned the property, their current cash flow and their mortgage debt.

But at least the expensive-house surcharge captures often large and otherwise tax-free profits, Kesselman said, in effect supporting Arthur Pigou and the ethical notion that housing, indeed, needs to be treated as a public good.

“The surtax should also encourage some larger properties to be re-developed into denser housing, which is needed to address affordability,” Kesselman added, strengthening the case for Pigou’s principle. “An additional benefit of the surtax is to discourage foreign buyers from using high-valued B.C. homes as speculative piggybanks, in some instances using illicit funds.”

Source: Douglas Todd: British Columbians’ houses are not really their ‘castles’

Douglas Todd: Refugees earn more than most Canadians after 25 years

Good solid analysis by IRCC and confirms what I am seeing in some of the data that I am looking at:

Refugees who arrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s are now earning more than the average Canadian.

An internal immigration department document shows that, after 25 years in the country, a typical refugee is earning as much or more than the Canadian norm, which is about $45,000 a year.

The document quotes a senior department official who says the long-term study of refugees’ wages suggests the recent wave of 50,000 refugees from Syria could several decades from now do as well as earlier refugees in regards to earnings.

“In a nutshell this is the trajectory we would expect (all things being equal) from government-assisted refugees and privately-sponsored refugees,” senior immigration department official Umit Kiziltan writes in a memo obtained under an access to information request.

The immigration and tax department data, which tracks refugees’ earnings from 1981 to 2014, shows that average government-assisted refugees earned less than $20,000 a year in their first decade in the country, when many families rely on provincial welfare and other government benefits to get by.

However, after 25 to 30 years in Canada, the average refugee is earning roughly $50,000 a year, about $5,000 more than the average Canadian. The study also shows the earnings gap between government-assisted refugees, who initially do worse than privately-sponsored refugees, basically disappears over the long run.

The largest groups of refugees to Canada in the 1980s and early 1990s came from Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. In that era the total number of refugees arriving ranged from 15,000 to 40,000 annually. In recent years Canada has accepted more than 50,000 refugees from war-torn Syria alone.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who obtained the internal government documents, said they contain reliable information that strongly indicate most refugees, no matter where they come from, develop usable skills and do well in the labour market over their careers.

However, even though the senior immigration department’s memo welcomed the news that refugees who arrived several decades ago perform well, Kiziltan cautioned that it’s hard to forecast how more recent refugees will do, given the “cyclical nature of the economy overall and especially (the) human capital of the Syrian cohorts.”

The report, in addition, also does not compare the earnings of refugees who have been in Canada for several decades (which means many would be in their 50s and at the peak of their careers) with the earnings of other Canadians of the same age cohort.

The data on refugees’ slow road to labour-market success in Canada comes on the heels of 2018 controversies over thousands of asylum seekers illegally crossing the Canadian border, a Syrian refugee being charged with the murder of Burnaby teenager Marrisa Shenand a Postmedia story revealing the federal Liberal government has not produced any report in two years on whether recent Syrian refugees are learning English or French, working, receiving social assistance or going to school.

This is not the first federal government indication, however, that many refugees eventually earn solid incomes. In 2014 then-federal Conservative immigration department minister Jason Kenney cancelled the contentious immigrant-investor program while revealing that refugees were actually paying more in Canadian income taxes than wealthy newcomers who had in effect bought their Canadian passports.

Asked about the contrast between taxes paid in Canada by refugees and rich immigrants, Kurland said it’s “a complicated comparison.” The breadwinner of an immigrant-investor family, Kurland explained, “usually returns home to support the family’s millionaire lifestyle in Canada” and therefore, unlike a refugee who stays in Canada, doesn’t pay significant income taxes in this country.

Previous studies have consistently shown that, while adult refugees often struggle in the short to medium term, many of their children quickly perform well in their new land, in large part because they gain extra social support, a taxpayer-funded education in English or French and the time to develop skills.

This recent internal study of refugee earnings, however, is among the first to emphasize that, over many decades, most of the refugees who had direct experience of war, persecution and trauma in their homeland are capable of attaining financial success in the country that welcomed them.

Source: Douglas Todd: Refugees earn more than most Canadians after 25 years

Douglas Todd: Would Saudi Arabia’s jailed blogger be accused of ‘Islamophobia’ in Canada?

Less contradictory than the article argues. Virtually all of the recommendations that came out of the committee examining M-103 applied to all forms of racism and discrimination (dissenting Conservative recommendations focused more on definitional questions of Islamophobia).

The additional funding for the multiculturalism program was general in application save for programming directed against racism and discrimination encountered by Black Canadians).

Just as one can criticize the policies and practices of the Israeli government without being antisemitic, one can criticize the policies and practices of the Saudi government without being anti-Muslim. In the case of the former, the IHRA definition of antisemitism provides some (imperfect) guidance that could form the basis of discussion for a comparable approach to criticizing the policies of Muslim countries, beyond basic human rights.

So while some Muslims may argue that any criticism of Saudi Arabia is anti-Muslim or Islamophobic, some Jews also argue that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. It depends on the nature and form of the criticism:

Would jailed Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi end up being accused of Islamophobia if he were released from his Riyadh prison cell and allowed to come to Canada?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is taking contradictory symbolic stands.

In August, it provoked a diplomatic dispute with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by tweeting support for Badawi, who was arrested in 2012 and flogged for criticizing the country’s hardline religious leadership. Canada has even offered citizenship to the free-speech advocate, his wife, Ensaf Haidar, and their children.

But how does that jibe with the federal Liberals also pushing through Motion 103, which urges all-out war against “Islamophobia?” The Liberal politicians behind M-103 refused to respond to requests to define Islamophobia. And their deceptive gamesmanship would end up jeopardizing Badawi’s right to free expression if he were to ever to come to Canada.

Among other things Badawi has equated a host of Saudi Arabian Muslims with terrorists, which many Canadians think is an offensive and Islamophobic accusation to make.

Can Trudeau’s government have it both ways? How can it champion Badawi’s right to freely criticize Saudi Arabia’s form of Islam at the same time that Liberal MPs make a virtue of condemning anyone who disparages Islam, including the deadly rules in many theocratic Muslim countries, which legislate that people should have their heads cut off for leaving the 1.5-billion-member faith?

Ali Rizvi, Canadian-based author of The Atheist Muslim, was one of the first to point out the lack of logic from Canada’s liberal-minded politicians, which include NDP and Green MPs. “People like my good friend Raif Badawi is in jail and he has been flogged 50 times simply for blogging,” Rizvi, who has lived in Saudi Arabia, told CBC’s The Tapestry.

“It’s interesting to me that if he finally made it to Canada and joined his wife and kids here, a lot of his ideas would be considered ‘Islamophobic’ by Liberals over here because of the criticisms he makes.”

An Angus Reid poll suggests many Canadians agree with Rizvi that the Liberal government has muddied the waters of free speech when it comes to criticizing religions and religious people, something which has been going full bore in the West since the Christian Reformation 500 years ago.

Half of Canadians said it’s not necessary for federal politicians to formally condemn “Islamophobia.” And 55 per cent say the problem of anti-Muslim sentiments in this country has been overblown by politicians and the media. Presumably most Canadians feel the country’s existing anti-hate speech laws already cover extreme hostile attacks on ethnic or religious groups.

The federal Liberals have managed through all this to get themselves into a pickle over free speech.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s August tweet calling for the release of Badawi and his sister led to Saudi Arabia retaliating. It cancelled trade deals with Canada and cut short the educations of nearly 15,000 Saudi students in Canada, even while confusion reigns about the fate of the more than 1,000 Saudi physicians in training in the country.

The trans-national furore is taking place as Badawi’s circumstances grow more dire. Even though an initial charge of apostasy, which is punished by death, was withdrawn, his health deteriorates in his small, stinking, shared cell. He has four years left in his sentence, which was to include 1,000 public lashes with a whip (he’s had 50 so far). He’s not alone in his degradation. In other Muslim-majority countries, online critics of the religion have been hacked to death, including a Bangledesh blogger who was also a friend of the Canadian author of The Atheist Muslim.

What has Badawi actually said to suffer such egregious punishment?

He has censured Muslims’ for their intolerance and argued against unequal religious attitudes towards women. He has promoted “live and let-live” secularism to replace Islamic theocracy and attacked Muslim schools that he says are filled with terrorists. And he has criticized Muslims in Arabic countries for failing to follow the lead of Europe, which has a separation of religion and state.

“States which are built on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear,” he writes in 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think (published by Vancouver’s Greystone Books).

“We should not hide the fact that Muslims in Saudi Arabia not only disrespect the beliefs of others, but (they) charge them with infidelity, to the extent that they consider anyone who is not Muslim an infidel,” he has said.

Badawi was outraged when Muslims in New York City called for a mosque to be built near the site of the destroyed World Trade Center, where 3,000 people were murdered in the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaida terrorists, whom Badawi directly linked to Saudi Arabia.

“What increases my pain is this (Islamist) chauvinist arrogance, which claims that innocent blood, shed by barbarian, brutal minds under the slogan ‘Allahu Akbar,’ means nothing compared to the act of building an Islamic mosque whose mission will be to … spawn new terrorists.”

Badawi’s costly bid for freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia, for the right to openly denounce Islamic practices, puts him in a similar boat as the staff at France’s satiric Charlie Hebdo magazine, the Danish newspaper editors who published cartoons of Mohammed, and British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, whom have all suffered for finding fault with Islam.

In 1000 Lashes, Badawi defiantly chooses to follow the dictum of the late French existentialist Albert Camus, who said, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Badawi’s courageous existence is a clear revolt against Saudi Arabia’s bullying Islamic authorities. It should also cause some censorial Canadians to squirm.

Source: Douglas Todd: Would Saudi Arabia’s jailed blogger be accused of ‘Islamophobia’ in Canada?

Douglas Todd: Popular Canadian student visas leading to exploitation

More from Douglas Todd on Indian student visa holders:

Senior Indian politicians are warning tens of thousands of young Punjabis about the dangers of trying to take advantage of student visas to try to become Canadian citizens.

Indian nationals — some of whom are using student visas primarily to work rather than study in Canada — are being exploited in both countries for their money and cheap labour, say South Asian media outlets and officials in both India and Canada.

The Punjab’s education minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, says he recently travelled to Canada and “saw the plight of students there,” with many working 16 hours a day to make ends meet and attending fly-by-night colleges with just five students enrolled.

Channi, who is concerned about a growing brain drain of young Punjabis to Canada, told the Indian media he is cautioning students against “falling into the emigration trap.” He is one of many officials raising alarms about fraudulent immigration agents who are financially bleeding low-income families in India with false promises their offspring will easily obtain immigrant status in Canada.

Many Indo-Canadians in Metro Vancouver and Toronto are in an uproar over the surge in students from India, with their presence feeding community tensions, allegations of financial exploitation by colleges and universities, employer abuse and fears some young newcomers are “buying jobs” in Canada while working for less than minimum wage, undercutting local South Asians.

The number of Indian students in Canada, mostly from the Punjab, has increased about five-fold in the past few years, since the federal government began to favour international students as future permanent residents.

Canada has 130,000 students from India now, compared to 20,000 in Britain, 70,000 in Australia and 186,000 in the U.S., which has almost 10 times Canada’s population.

“Most international students, especially from China and India, see being an international student as an opportunity to migrate to Canada for greener pastures, to pave way for their families to eventually join them,” says Barj Dhahan, a major B.C. employer and philanthropist.

“They end up paying large sums of money to ‘immigration consultants’ … to help them obtain admissions to Canadian institutions and get visas to Canada. Many of these students are enrolled in short-term degree programs” And, he said, many end up working more than the 20 hours a week are allowed under student study permits.”

Dhahan, owner of the Sandhurst Group of companies that specializes in B.C. restaurants, gas stations and commercial real estate, said some of the 500,000 international students in Canada “work illegally under the table to make ends meet, and are usually paid in cash.” In the process, he said, many are exploited by dubious employers and so-called consultants.

The Tribune is one of several Indian media outlets reporting that young Punjabis and their often-rural families are being gouged by educational institutions, landlords and employers in Canada, as well as by so-called “immigration consultants” in India.

The Punjab newspaper says it typically costs Indian students more than $15,000 Cdn for their first year in Canada, but that consultants don’t tell families that educational fees and housing costs will mushroom to $100,000 to $150,000 for a multi-year program. Last month, Indian headlines trumpeted a police raid on the office of a prominent Punjab immigration consultancy headed by Vinay Hari, who had sponsored large ads celebrating the visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Immigration lawyers in Metro Vancouver, such as George Lee and Richard Kurland, say international students from India and China, the two biggest source countries for Canada, are among those who end up trying to extend their chances of gaining immigrant status in Canada by “buying jobs,” some of which don’t exist.

Burnaby immigration lawyer George Lee says some international students from India and China are among those who try to extend their chances of gaining immigrant status in Canada by “buying jobs.”

Shinder Purewal, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University political scientist and a former citizenship court judge, said “Immigration is the main motive of most international students coming to Canada,” particularly those who sign up with low-tier public and private educational institutions with little intention of obtaining a serious diploma and a much stronger inclination to find work.

One of the most lucrative money-making schemes for fraudulent immigration agents in India and Canada, Purewal said, is arranging often-fake Canadian labour-market impact assessments for international students who seek a long-term work permit to cement their chance of being approved for permanent resident status, the precursor to becoming a Canadian citizen.

Some Indo-Canadian business owners, Purewal said, collude with the agents to charge Indian students $20,000 to $50,000 for a false labour-market assessment, which claims a foreign national is needed for a job because Canadians cannot be found.

Although newcomers on student visas are limited to working 20 hours a week, Purewal said most end up “working more than full time to cover costs, simply because Canadian employers don’t even pay them minimum wage. The system allows ‘immigration consultants’ and businesses to cheat, commit fraud and brutally exploit young people.”

Vancouver immigration lawyer Sam Hyman says there is a “rampant” underground economy devoted to creating false labour-market assessments for international students in Canada, regardless of their nationality. If the students who buy such fraudulent job offers are caught, Hyman warned, “they are likely to bear the enforcement consequences — including deportation — more readily than the fraudsters who victimize them and reap the profits of such illegal activity.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Popular Canadian student visas leading to exploitation