The Racist Card & Efforts to Silence the Conversation

My story in this week’s Globe and Mail was on Andy Yan’s startling new data that 66 per cent of all detached house sales west of Alma over a six month period were purchases by Mainland Chinese buyers. Yan obtained land titles from NDP MLA David Eby, who had them pulled at the legislative library. The librarian did the work off the side of her desk, and it took her about a week. If the average Joe had attempted to do the same, it would have cost around $15 a title. MLAs have free access to such data, so Eby made use of the service.
He then turned the titles over to Yan, who analyzed them for around three months and released a study. Yan had promised me exciting new data for several months, so I know how hard he’d worked on this. Finally last week, Yan contacted me, someone at the Vancouver Sun, the Province, Reuters and Bloomberg and handed over the report. Our stories ran on Monday and basically blew up the internet, as well as TV and radio, with the findings. Since it’s impossible to know a buyer’s immigration status, he used peer-reviewed methodology that screened buyers according to non-Anglicized Chinese names. If he’d included Anglicized names such as his own, the number of buyers would have gone up to 73 per cent. But he stuck with non-Anglicized names since those people were more likely to be recent immigrants. It’s an imprecise methodology, but it’s still pretty useful considering the high number — two-thirds of all sales.
What was particularly aggravating, however, is the effort to shut down his hard work with the old and increasingly tiring accusation of racism. CBC’s the National did a particularly disappointing job of journalism by creating a story of alleged racism when they interviewed Mayor Gregor Robertson saying the name methodology was racist, and developer consultant Bob Ransford saying the same.
This is pretty rich considering that Mr. Yan is a third generation Canadian whose family knows a thing or two about actual racism. Instead of questioning Mr. Yan’s academic research, perhaps we should take a look at the people who are hauling out the racist card every time we get closer to data that shines a light on the major inflow of foreign money into the city. Who are they? Do they have an interest in silencing the conversation? How do they get paid? These are just some of the questions that need to be asked.
Mayor Gregor Robertson had asked for data on foreign ownership. Andy Yan delivered, and then got the racist card thrown in his face. That hardly seems fair, or useful. Is the city saying that it only wants data on foreign ownership that doesn’t involve people from another country?
Because this is making about as much sense as that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *