BC Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby announce government action against money laundering [CBC News photo]
Releasing a government report that states that over CAD $7.4 Billion in money laundering is expected to have taken place in BC last year, the Attorney General and the Finance Minster made news yesterday with their revelation of illegal monetary practices going unchecked in the province. Yet, they failed to announce a solution to runaway housing prices in British Columbia. With two-thirds or $5 Billion of the illicit cash changing hands in real estate, the report estimates the illegal transactions drove BC housing prices up 5% province wide.
VANCOUVER REAL ESTATE MAKRET OUT OF CONTROL
It was clarified after the news conference that, in specific sectors of the market, the impact on property prices is expected to be much higher. Furthermore, the government report described how there is not enough data being collected to accurately assess—or properly regulate—the real estate market.
Other options used to pump ‘dirty money’ into the local economy included buying super cars (Lamborghini, Lykan and Ferrari), grand pianos and showing up at casinos carrying bags full of $20-dollar bills.
Yet, in a press conference called to address a 30-points program to end the Housing Crisis in British Columbia, the Attorney General and Minister of Finance for the province, made a left turn and took aim at money laundering instead.
The Vancouver Housing Crisis
Lost in all the James Bond flash-and-dash is the real cost to the Canadian economy and burdens imposed on individual Canadian households. While our elected leaders have been asleep at the switch, dreaming of their cushy pensions and collecting on their handsome salaries, the cost of housing in Vancouver has increased to 12-times over average household incomes. Similar increases have been recorded in Vancouver regional district, the Victoria regional district, and province wide. Vancouver and Toronto are disproportionately represented in national comparisons of runaway land values with Montreal showing signs of joining in the fray.
In January, Vancouver was reported as the second most expensive real estate market in the world. When the whole skytrain-and-towers fiasco began here in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, back in the days of Expo ’86, house prices in Vancouver were at par with average household incomes.
That is where they must return. It is the responsibility of our elected officials to make it happen. We elect our governments to manage our affairs, not profit from them.
Real Estate is a global commodity like any other. It is high time Canadian governments acted in concert to protect Canadians from global forces by regulating the industry to curb abuses seen accumulating over the past 33 years.
THE WHACK-A-MOLE ARCADE GAME
BC Government Report Just-in-Time for the Federal Election
The BC government’s report could not come at a more timely moment. The practice of international money laundering that moves from one jurisdiction to another to avoid regulation and prosecution has been likened to the arcade game ‘Whack-A-Mole.’
Joint government action across all levels of Canadian governance is required in order to avoid the very thing that challenges the players in the arcade game. When the mallet strikes a gofer in one hole, another gofer pops up in another hole elsewhere on the table. Putting the breaks on illegal money activity in BC alone won’t work. Actions by individual jurisdictions will simply drive the illegal activity somewhere else. And vice versa.
In fact, the report lists BC in fourth place—behind Alberta, the Prairies and Ontario—among the places where the most amount of money-laundering is taking place in Canada.
Thus, the problem of runaway housing inflation—including money laundering—is a Federal issue requiring concerted action among all levels of government. With a federal election taking place later this year, the Housing Crisis in the Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver metropolitan areas is poised to move front and centre in the political debate.
Focusing on money laundering is necessary, but not good enough. Today, Canadians in British Columbia—and other parts of the nation—cannot afford to own a house!
The Canadian Dream is being decimated by foreign interests sending a clear message…
It is high time all levels of government acted in concert to protect land values for all Canadians.