Tories look to borrow a page from Australian playbook

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As voters get ready to head to the polls on Monday, investors are still being wooed by the incumbent Conservatives who are promising to consider a ban on foreign investors who to buy existing residential housing in tight markets such as Toronto and Vancouver, an idea they’ve borrowed from their counterparts down under.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper floated the idea in his party’s full election platform, which was just released, that a re-elected Conservative government would consider an Australian-style solution to the issue.

“Given the importance of home ownership, our government wants to make sure it remains a dream within reach for the average Canadian family,” read the platform.

“Some reports have suggested that speculative foreign non-resident buyers are a significant factor in driving homes out of the price range of average families, especially in Vancouver and Toronto. If speculators are driving up the cost of housing to unaffordable levels, that’s something the government can and should address.

“Other countries, like Australia, have put in place regulations that limit the ability of foreign buyers to purchase existing houses for investment purposes.”

The Australian policy is supposed to prevent wealthy foreign buyers from driving the price of average homes beyond the reach of Australian families, while at the same time growing the country’s housing stock.

But not everyone agrees this policy works, pointing out that Sydney’s housing market is equally unaffordable as Vancouver’s.

“We’re not intending to zero in a punitive way on people who come here to invest,” B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong told The Vancouver Sun. “Our general approach in building the economy has been that foreign investment is good for B.C.”
  • Husband of an immigrant on 2015-10-15 4:37:05 PM

    It's more of the same "blame the foreigners" tripe from the two-faces Conservatives. They're happy to sell off our oil rights and the Canadian Wheat Board to their foreign friends at steep discount to from the market value, but then they blame foreigners for somehow "ruining" our housing market, when these foreigners actually have to pay fair market value. Come again?!

    Actually, no, don't come again. Just leave.

  • Ron on 2015-10-15 5:17:19 PM

    Stephen don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. Go & get behind that fire wall. Good Riddance to Bad Medicine. As the sign says in Bruce County. Dump Harper before he Dumps Canada.

  • Debbie on 2015-10-15 6:56:52 PM

    China has strict regulations on what you can buy over there as a foreigner, and in India, you can't own property unless you are of that nationality. At most both these countries have strictest regulations on foreign ownership. Yet we allow them to come over here and purchase 2 or 3 houses and never even live in them. I don't see this as makes sense. Why is everything now a days about race? This is Canada, at least let Canadians have a chance....that's all the Conservatives are saying.

  • Wolfgang on 2015-10-16 10:40:42 AM

    Ron and Husband, enought of the tired hate.

  • GW on 2015-10-16 11:20:49 AM

    Influenced by the same hysterical xenophobia, Ontario led North America by enacting the Ontario Land Speculation Tax Act in 1974 to "curb" foreign real estate purchases and to capture "unearned" capital gains. The procedural messes it created and the subsequent bust in real estate prices ended in its withdrawal a few years later. But this time evidently it will be different.

  • GW on 2015-10-16 1:59:20 PM

    What's old is new again!

    And nothing moreso than the ever popular mixture of xenophobia and anti-capitalism encapsulated in legislation limiting land sales to foreigners.

    Ontario led North America with its introduction of the Ontario Land Speculation Tax Act in 1974, which limited foreign land purchases through confiscatory taxation on gains. The administrative mess it created coupled with the abrupt decrease in prices coming as usual after any boom led to the act's demise a couple of years later.

    Here we go again!

  • lou on 2015-10-18 4:20:53 PM

    Just rhetoric....once elected PC's would l leave it alone.

  • Derek on 2015-10-21 11:15:06 AM

    I was in China when they brought in the restrictions re :Foreign investment as it was screwing up the market . So why can"t we see the reasoning ? Our greed gets in the way , we are so individualistic that all we think about is our personnel need to "cash in " let them come as long as I get mine its okay attitude. This is where government needs to step in, But it seems CMHC doesn't know any thing about the market , How much do they pay those emploees at CMHC . i should apply for a job there, as it will probably get bigger(number of employees) now that the Liberals are in .

  • Ron on 2015-10-21 12:11:04 PM

    Wolfgang, it's not hate it's the mirrored reflection of how he treated Canadians.

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 2015-10-21 12:36:28 PM

    I think that it is important to understand why investing in property is done by foreigners. It's about much more than just accumulating wealth.

    Very often there are strict regulations in place as to how much money can be taken out, specifically in terms of hard currency. Most countries put a cap of around $100,000 per year. Some are more strict.

    Those caps typically do not apply to investment, for instance in a business or property. Because of the laws the government has the legal ability to seize the assets of the individual, easy to do with real property - difficult with cash.

    Some of the investment is as much about building a base in Canada (or other countries) as a way of securing a future in a more desirable political landscape.

    Then again, there are those that are doing it for other reasons.

    I only suggest that we not throw the baby out with the bath water and that we take time to truly understand a scenario for all sides before rushing to conclusions.

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