Things that make you go… “Hmmm”, #Vanre edition
The never ending and growing debate on what to do with the real estate market and housing affordability in Vancouver and beyond, takes another turn today. After doing nothing for over a year, Premier Clark recently did somewhat of a turn around and is recalling the legislature to allow Vancouver to tax absentee owners.
But many have questioned why Clark has been so hesitant to institute a luxury tax or any other move to deal with foreign ownership or foreign money in the market.
Which is what makes this story from the Vancouver Sun all that more interesting:
“A B.C.-based company says it has brought $2 billion to Canada under the Quebec government’s cash-for-visa program, a scheme that some say is a factor in Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.
Vancouver-based RCI Capital Group, which helps resource companies develop strategies and raise money in Asia, has a Montreal-based subsidiary that has been active for years in the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.
The Quebec program has become increasingly controversial in Metro Vancouver as critics point to it as one of the drivers of sky-high housing prices, since the vast majority of successful Quebec applicants immediately establish themselves in Toronto and Vancouver.
RCI’s Montreal subsidiary is Renaissance Capital, one of the companies recognized by the Quebec government as an “intermediary” for rich foreigners who want to use the Quebec investor program to become a permanent resident of Canada.“We can take care of all the details to maximize the chances of success of your immigration process,” the company website advises potential clients, who must prove a net worth of $1.6 million and be willing to invest $800,000 of their wealth in government five-year bonds.
The applicants get the $800,000 back after five years, but forgo the interest, pay various fees and pay the commissions to companies like Renaissance.
Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland estimates the total cost to get a permanent resident status through the Quebec program is around $125,000, though others say the costs are higher.
RCI is headed by John Park, an entrepreneur who likes to recruit former politicians to help him pitch business deals in Asia.
Ex-Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day is RCI’s lead director, while prominent B.C. Tory John Reynolds was for years involved with the company after he retired from politics.
Day, who retired from politics before the 2011 election, delivered speeches and gave media interviews during the 2013 election to help the B.C. Liberals. Since then he’s remained chummy with Premier Christy Clark and the Liberals. He contributed $11,850 since late 2014, mostly through the law firm McMillan LLP, where he is a senior strategic adviser. Clark tweeted a photo of her and Day together at a Kelowna event earlier this month.
Park has also had links to the premier, briefly hiring her to head an RCI subsidiary in 2007 when she was out of politics, though the premier said she never did anything for the company and wasn’t paid.
Park worked hard to build contacts with the former Conservative government as a founding member of the Canada Korea Foundation, which was launched in Vancouver in 20111 at an event where then prime minister Stephen Harper was guest speaker. The foundation promoted bilateral trade ties but was also used as a vehicle to garner Tory support in Canada’s South Korean community, according to evidence at a 2014 B.C. Supreme Court trial relating to a dispute among the Foundation’s founding members, including Park.
Twice, in 2012 and 2013, Park was part of business delegations with the premier on Asia trade missions….”
Hmmm …that’s right, Premier Clark did deny everything, back in 2014:
“I never did any work for them, never went to any meetings, never got paid,” Clark said on Thursday after the story was published.
“It was a company that never got off the ground and my understanding is that they had wound it up in 2007.”
Well… can we explain this then?
No… no dealings. No meetings.” Company never got off the ground”. ( some great history with the original story from the 2014 National Post story, here: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/christy-clark-once-served-as-chairwoman-of-b-c-company-that-she-has-promoted-since-becoming-premier
All of which really makes Stockwell Days recent tweets decrying government intervention in real estate market, all that more interesting….doesn’t it?
Yes, things that make you go Hmmmm, no? Someone has a vested interest here.
Check back a bit later and I’ll have something else for you to read over Saturday coffee.
** Second post up on #Vanre, here: https://lailayuile.com/2016/07/16/affordability-crisis-what-affordability-crisis-or-why-the-bc-government-stood-by-while-rome-burned/