Since then, the plan has morphed to exclude some areas and not others. Whistler and Squamish, places where many Vancouverites have bought vacation properties and where prices are stratospheric, are not included (property bought there was apparently not “speculation”) but regions and cities where many non-BC residents have “speculated” on property are to be taxed.
My son insists these new taxes are not connected to the pipeline issue since the empty home problem in BC has existed for a long time. He may be right, but my suspicion is that the tax grab will be kept for those areas where the “non-BC resident” population – particularly Albertans – is high as a blow-back for the now-abandoned embargo of BC wines. BC of course has never allowed the sale of Alberta wines, spirits or beer without big extra tariffs.
What does the word “speculator” mean economically? Well, it’s what everyone does in the investing world – only fools keep their money in a bank account – but “speculator” does have unpleasant connotations of underhand skullduggery in retirement planning or buying vacation properties. No doubt this is unintentional.
We chatted in the White Sails Brewery Pub on Nanaimo’s Comox Street. “Why do you have a problem with the expansion of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline?” I asked a young woman, a BC government bureaucrat living in Victoria. “Because it only benefits Alberta, not us, and we’re the ones who clean up the mess when there’s a spill … and it’s causing climate change,” she said.
“But royalties benefit the whole of Canada,” I said. “Well-paying jobs for working folk in Canada are in large part dependent on natural resources. The chances of an oil spill are small, and these days the response to a spill is well organized. Canada’s contribution to CO2 emissions is tiny compared to other countries.”
But Ronald Reagan once commented: “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
I unwisely continued, this time to her boyfriend: “Many of your so-called activists are paid from foreign money. The Canadian economy is dependent on exporting its natural resources. I doubt that Russia, China, Venezuela, Nigeria or the USA give a shit about climate change despite what they say. We’re a tiny player in the climate game, and your Green Party is demanding an outsized price from our country which no other oil producers pay.”
I detected a flicker of doubt in my young friend’s face so I pressed on uneasily:
“We were in Hong Kong in February. Between the airport and Kowloon on the airport express train, we saw scores of oil tankers docked in a multitude of bays, cranes loading and unloading – I gave up counting after 70 tankers. Travelling on the Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo ferry, I counted six tankers off the Port of Vancouver.”
“If there’s got to be a pipeline, we think it should go east. Why aren’t you fighting for that?” he said.
He had a point, but that proposal has not gone through the insane Parkinsonian Maze of Delay set up by the federal government with their Bill C-69, creating the boondoggle “Impact Assessment Agency of Canada” which demands reporting of up- and down-stream carbon emissions, health effects, and effects on Indigenous communities for any new pipelines. Manufacturing industries like Bombardier using oil energy will not have to do this. Imported oil does not have to do this. In other words, until there is a change in government thinking in this country and a resolve to take difficult decisions in the national interest, there will be no pipelines built (or any other national endeavor except perhaps pot consumption) and Canadian GDP growth will shrink this year and next.