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Douglas Todd: Ten most popular articles of 2021

Astronomical housing prices, the crisis of the middle class, right-to-roam campaigns, foreign ownership and COVID-vaccination chaos for travelling Canadians were among the topics covered in Douglas Todd’s top-10 articles of 2021

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Housing was the big issue for readers in 2021. It’s not surprising, given that prices have soared 34 per cent in Canada since Covid-19 hit. That’s mainly due to Ottawa’s monetary stimulus and low interest rates, which have been like crack cocaine to the real-estate market.

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The pandemic exacerbated already-astronomical prices, which had been influenced by foreign capital, including ‘students’ buying mansions as proxies for rich owners – the subject of my most-read column of the last year.

Readers were keen to hear about foreign investment in property in Canada, whether from the U.S. or elsewhere. But some other top-10 articles explored the crisis of the Canadian middle class, right-to-roam campaigns, China and COVID-vaccination chaos for Canadians who dared leave the country.

1. Vancouver still suffering from ‘students’ buying mansions

‘The most important thing to understand about foreign capital is it never goes back. It just sloshes around’ in Canadian real estate.

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2. Vancouver luxury realtor Layla Yang’s provocative world

High-flying businesswoman says five clients, fearing a ban on foreign buyers, have asked her to list their homes

3. U.S. billionaire wins battle to keep anglers off his giant B.C. ranch

Stan Kroenke wins battle to stop anglers from accessing lakes on his ranch, even though the lakes are owned by the public.

B.C. Appeal Court issued a setback for anglers like Rick McGowan, who helped launch the case against billionaire Stan Kroenke’s Douglas Ranch, which is larger than Metro Vancouver. [PNG Merlin Archive]
B.C. Appeal Court issued a setback for anglers like Rick McGowan, who helped launch the case against billionaire Stan Kroenke’s Douglas Ranch, which is larger than Metro Vancouver. [PNG Merlin Archive] Photo by Douglas Todd /PNG

4. Bank of mom and dad returning us to 19th-century inheritance culture

The large-scale transfer of inter-generational wealth is a sign this country is reverting to the harsh class system that once dominated Britain, France and Russia

5. China drops hammer on Hong Kong residents holding Canadian passports

The leaders of Hong Kong are pressuring roughly 350,000 residents who hold Canadian and Chinese passports to make an ultimate decision about their citizenship

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6. Global wealth skewing the look and feel of Vancouver, Toronto

A surprising new book illustrates the distortions that occur when a city’s housing becomes a prime destination for the global rich

7. Canada has abandoned middle class, says B.C.’s former top civil servant

Just-retired Don Wright has seized on his new-found freedom to produce a powerful work that aims to unlock stagnating wages, by adjusting immigration and boosting productivity

Don Wright’s essay, published online with Public Policy Forum, maintains that, despite repeated promises, most politicians have abandoned the broad middle-classes by allowing real wages to stagnate.
Don Wright’s essay, published online with Public Policy Forum, maintains that, despite repeated promises, most politicians have abandoned the broad middle-classes by allowing real wages to stagnate. Photo by jentakespictures /iStock/Getty Images

8. Ottawa creates COVID vaccination chaos for travelling Canadians

This is more than just another tale of airport hassle. It has serious implications for the country, as many urge the federal government to simplify its travel rules

9. Sky-high housing prices causing psychological harm

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Anxiety is common among those squeezed out of the housing market. So is anger. And, for many, a feeling of inadequacy.

10. Pressure builds to complete Fraser River Trail through Vancouver’s private Marine Drive Golf Club

While other clubs have cooperated, the private Marine Drive Golf Club has for decades refused to budge on calls to remove its barricade on 700 metres of the Fraser River Trail.

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Well, that’s the top 10. But I can’t resist adding a few more popular pieces from 2021, on some different subjects.

They would include:

Sam Cooper’s book on corruption in Canada tops best-seller list

Investigative journalist has written a disturbing exposé of the “mind-blowing” connections among organized crime, the Chinese Communist Party, real estate, offshore billionaires and Canadian politicians.

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Unceded: Why we acknowledge, or don’t, that B.C. First Nations never signed away land

Indigenous people are among those split on the value and meaning of territorial acknowledgments.

(Of about a dozen pieces I wrote in 2021 on First Nations issues, this was my most ‘popular.’)

“I’ve yet to meet anyone who (makes land acknowledgments) talk about anything meaningful or practical, something which addresses the social issues that we face today,” says Ellis Ross, former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation. He is the MLA for Skeena.
“I’ve yet to meet anyone who (makes land acknowledgments) talk about anything meaningful or practical, something which addresses the social issues that we face today,” says Ellis Ross, former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation. He is the MLA for Skeena. Photo by Peter Versteege

Generous Canada now No. 1 for foreign students

Some higher-education specialists are skeptical about Ottawa’s increasingly eye-catching efforts to lure international students.

People are moving from other provinces to B.C., but avoiding Metro

“We have had lots of people from Alberta and the East cashing out and moving to Nanaimo,” says Mayor Len Krog. Meanwhile, Metro Vancouver is much less of a draw to other residents of Canada.

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