(Through this article, we give you the Canadian socio-economic context and the recent phenomenon of villainizing Indians. We are largely back-tracking over the period of the last three years by critically examining Indo-Canadians with reference to the pandemic, real estate, immigration and jobs in Canada. We then go on to speculate on some of why Trudeau could be supporting Nijjar in this context).
Of late, one hears the news brimming with who did what to whom with reference to India and Canada. And with a new discovery unfurling everyday, one never knows what’s next. One thing is clear however. Given that no substantial proof has yet been found to substantiate Justin Trudeau’s claims against India, we can deduct this as a diversion tactic for gaining votes or public sympathy for the time to come.
For instance, if the Canadian prime minister is so about individual rights, why is he not taking a stand for the deaths of people like Balochi rights activist Karima Baloch who also died on Canadian soil and has yet to have justice served though it was very clear she was being given death threats before she died? And what about land defenders who protest about the catastrophic environmental effects that Trudeau’s gas and pipeline instilling proposals will cause? How come they so often go ignored by Canadian media or are villainized?
Add to that cauldron is the villainizing of Indians in Canada once again much like what happened during the pandemic. While certainly Canada was on a witch hunt on anyone who may have traveled or led a particular lifestyle then, Indians definitely were on a great receiving end during that period.
And this is not just to square the blame on the Liberals. This was something we saw across the board. For example, we had a PC leader and mayor in Brampton named Patrick Brown who was basically attacking Indians for spreading the virus or for traveling to India when the pandemic hit a great high in 2021 and the vaccines weren’t out. The unfortunate problem for why our Indians never reacted as they really should have with this person was partly because he sugar-coded himself in the guise of political correctness. One example of this was that he said how the virus tends to spread more through those who live in multi-generational families who then go out in society and spread the virus in public places when they go off to work.
In plain English, he was attacking those living in joint families where you have grandparents, parents and kids and perhaps uncles and aunts living together. The idea was that people had nowhere to isolate once they came down with covid so they passed it onto others who may have interacted with a larger group of other people. Now this could be seen as not just attacking Indians but other ethnic groups too (which is also unacceptable). But given his different comments during that time period including attacking those who went off to India to help critical family members and were then either stranded or facing prohibitive situations, one can deduct he was targeting Indians by far. Brown was blaming people for going to India as though they were tanning in Florida.
On the Liberal end, we later had one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers Anita Anand team up on zoom with the Indian community with different Indo-Canadian doctors for ways to reach the Indian community to take the covid vaccine. They were also hoping to do more research on Indians to know the effects of covid on Indian people. While the idea on how to reach the community more was a good one, they went about it the wrong way. This too fell in line with the Liberal agenda for blaming Indians. This time it was for not taking the vaccine.
In this case too, it was a somewhat faulty attack and they weren’t listening to the general members of the community. The zoom panel was restricted to typing and people didn’t have the option of asking live and the presenters had the option to not answer. And of course, Minister Anand dodged questions about Liberals attacking once again. And sadly, she had a team of Indian doctors who followed suit. They went on to come up with their own theories about why they thought Indians weren’t taking the vaccine in their highly disconnected manner without seeking input from those who were actually involved in the community or were there online.
For the one or two doctors who were actually involved in outreach in their panel, they were not given much of a chance to speak and were probably taken to be sound bytes. This then led some of us to look into the reasons why some people were not taking the vaccine when it was available. Some of this included people not having a way to get to where the vaccination drives were going on or not being able to go during the limited time windows the vaccination drives were going on in. Or they had language issues.
Some of these people were working odd 12-hour factory or health care shifts or were working at 2-3 gig jobs to support themselves. So isn’t this blaming of individuals even in this instance a great shame? For a country that prided themselves on the remote culture of working from home, who do they believe was the invisible worker that made all this social distancing possible?
While certainly, many born Canadian citizens would be doing this too, there is a deeper dynamic at play here. An oft under-reported phenomenon in the Canadian media is that of the immigrant whose skills are rarely recognized because their credentials from their home country are not which therein pushes them onto the margins to take on such types of employment as is being pointed out here.
Or maybe now because of the monthly suicides of the international students that are taking place in just the GTA alone, they too are making the headlines though for the wrong reasons. You see, the international students pay 3 times the fees of a Canadian student. And that’s not including living expenses. So to compensate, many of these students take on gig jobs. And their struggle doesn’t end there. It continues on as they then struggle to get permanent residence through a work permit.
The current situation in Canada is such that there are some people who are getting their master’s in engineering and then working at a fast food outlet for three years so that they can hope to get a permanent residence in Canada. So they either take on work for which they are greatly over-qualified and that barely pays the bills because the return is so poor or they work under questionable conditions.
Sustainable employment in Canada had been difficult for years but it got much worse after the pandemic. And with a lot of restrictions being placed on work and businesses and personal liberties during the pandemic, it got a lot worse. And the cost of real estate with the lowering of interest rates and a remote working culture have set off a housing catastrophe that has still not come under control.
The Canadian public is beaming mad. They are angry for not being able to get jobs with incomes commensurate to the cost of living. They are angry for being knocked out of being able to run home-grown businesses while big businesses are galloping to the bank. They are angry for always being disentitled because politicians keep coming up with a way to keep them so. If one day, we are told we don’t have enough education, the next day we are told we have too much of it. Or we didn’t get enough hours of employment to qualify for a certain educational scheme or job creation program. Or we have too much of a work gap so we may need to retrain in our profession all together.
Add to this political quagmire, the Liberals under Trudeau decided to put the fire out by boosting immigration or the numbers of temporary workers or international students in hundreds of thousands per year in the last number of years. In fact, it is believed that over 1 million people have been added to the Canadian population within one year though debates exist about some double counting.
In terms of why the government took such a step, it is argued that they are accounting for a lower birth rate and labor shortages in the time to come as more Canadians retire or age. Rich immigrants are also seen as a source for boosting Canada’s real estate. The cost of housing is not commensurate with the earnings of an average Canadian in the big cities so immigrants become an ideal consumer base for this.
As for the international students, they are seen as pumping billions into the economy as well because they pay three times the fees of a Canadian student. And they eventually go on to get immigration and many of these people come from well off families which just wait for their kids to get settled and then throw in the money on the real estate from behind.
Indians are a big part of these groups of people who have migrated either in the capacity of a permanent resident, international student or a work permit holder. So we are not seen as villains when it comes to pumping money in the economy but we obviously are in other circumstances.
Needless to say, overall, Indians have long been seen as scapegoats in the line of the blaming tradition in recent years of Canadian politics. So don’t think of this latest instance as being anything new. At the end of it all, it is precisely about those who pump money into the economy or the politicians’ pockets. And this instance for why Hardeep Singh Nijjar is being supported politically is likely no different. You see, he was likely pumping money into the economy too though not in the way that you or I would think. It’s not just about someone supporting a politician for votes because they believe in the idea of a separate homeland for Sikhs or because they felt wronged or attacked when being innocent.
This third area is a little-known source for which Canada’s politicians have been getting blamed for years for turning a blind eye on. You see there are different ethnic groups who have gang violence going on and are involved in dubious activities like drugs or trafficking. One of the ways they legitimize their money is through real estate. In this case, they can pay for the cost of a house entirely through cash and then resell it to get legitimate money. This then sets off a potential series of highly expensive real estate purchases. So what this then does is set off a series of highly expensive purchases by those who can afford them.
To be clearer, it’s possible that maybe it’s a very small percentage of people making purchases from dubious sources but if even one person like that goes on to buy a number of houses using this money, they can certainly contribute to price rises in real estate because then the majority of legitimate buyers may think well geesh, if Joe next door commands this price, why don’t I? And then before you know it, a whole city of people comes up with expensive housing that many can’t afford.
While earlier, there may have been a limit to what local legitimate Canadians could have done based on their earnings, the sky isn’t the limit now with such an influx of immigrants with a lot of money. Or you have an alternate scenario where perhaps a handful of wealthy Canadians owned the majority of housing or real estate rentals. At this moment in time, we have a little bit of all of these things.
What then results is Canada sitting on top of a ponzi scheme. People keep buying and selling real estate in the hope that they will make money from a higher price value in the future. And nothing extra is going on in the economy on an every-day level because Canada has not invested its money for circulation widely. One of the reasons for this is that individuals and small businesses have not been invested in even on a micro level. Big businesses and corporations have been invested in. Automation has replaced people to a good degree. When rich immigrants are called into the country, the government anticipates they will buy expensive real estate rather than tying them with job creation or investing in stocks or bonds.
There is not a well-diversified source of income that the Canadian government draws money from. There is also a great culture of cutbacks or making many paid professions redundant. Or you find ways to screw people out of their rights by not giving them enough hours for full-time work. (That by the way is partly what even started the pandemic from spreading in Canada because many long-term care homes were not employing people on a proper full-time basis so that the companies wouldn’t have to pay the workers benefits. This then meant that many of these workers were going from place to place part-time to support themselves and these workers were then getting exposed to the virus and then going into other long-term care facilities. I.e. they could not be in one bubble to take care of elderly people because they were compensated so poorly).
Additionally, everything has largely been outsourced to everywhere else which explains why an industrialized country like Canada also couldn’t provide us with a vaccine on time or with medical related devices when they were most critically needed during the pandemic period.
The saddest part of all this fall out is that the Liberals still haven’t learned their lesson and continue to disempower people in the worst way possible. According to a study by Jim Stanford for the Centre for Future Work, 15 super-profitable industries fuel Canada’s current inflation. Combined profits in these 15 sectors grew by 89% as per Statistics Canada while profits in the other 37 sectors fell over the same period. ( https://centreforfuturework.ca/2022/12/02/fifteen-super-profitable-industries-are-driving-canadian-inflation/ )
Aggregate business profits have surged to their highest GDP ever. Profits grew 3 times faster than wages since 2019. Some of the products which are shown to take the lead in inflation are gasoline, groceries, mortgage rates, home energy products and building materials post the pandemic. What this implies in a roundabout way is that the price of these items grew by 3 times within 3 years while people were maintaining the same earning.
We also have a housing crisis in Canada because for the last 30 years because different political leaders from either the Liberals or the PCs cut back on national public housing. The National Public Housing program was created post-World War 2 when veterans were short on housing. It was a universal program much like healthcare or pension funds. As per the article by street nurse and filmmaker Cathy Crowe, we are short on 600000 houses because of cutbacks to federal housing programs since 1993 where people were supposed to be building public housing at a rate of 20000 housing units per year. (https://rabble.ca/columnists/dear-justin-trudeau-housing-is-absolutely-your-responsibility/ )
Fueling this issue further is the ping pong playing of the federal government with the provincial or municipal bodies as per Crowe. Trudeau believes housing is not primarily a national responsibility. Yet Bank of Canada interest rates, mortgage and insurance funds, mortgage and lending rules and economic policies are all determined at the national level. It therefore shouldn’t be treated any differently from healthcare or pension funds. By this one means you can come up with a national plan but you leave it on provinces and municipalities for how these are logistically administered. But that isn’t so.
There is also a great lack of political will for rectifying this issue of housing because the money is there. It’s just that subsidies are being given in places like the electric vehicle battery plant which is for $13 billion or to aerial tankers for $3.6 billion.
So now we have a situation where we have a limited amount of housing relative to a huge boom in demand to the sudden adding of a humongous population across the country. And we particularly feel these pressures in bigger places notably near Toronto or Vancouver because this is also where the majority of jobs are.
Within the 2-hour parameter of Toronto, even the smallest towns that no one thought about are going for a premium if you want to even share as 5 people for a space which is not so big. The demand is so great even for buying houses at whatever the cost in the most remote of places because of the prospect of income from renting. This then has led to what some have called renovictions. This means that people are asked to leave or thrown out so that they can renovate and then rent out to higher paying renters.
So in some cases, we then see that people may have less to choose from not necessarily because there is just a housing shortage but also because there is less affordability. On the daily living front, we see people paying a premium for groceries. The cost of groceries more than doubled within two years because big grocery store chains have made excessive profits for which they have been questioned on in parliament because you are getting in the way of people fulfilling their necessities. Earlier it was being cited that this was due to supply chain disruptions but they later continued on this trend even after these were resolved after the pandemic.
In the face of people losing jobs or not being gainfully employed then, the struggle to survive has become harder. Even the cost of transportation has become prohibitive for many because the demand for cars is so great relative to the supply and the increase in cost of gas is also so high that it reflects in public transit costs or rideshares.
Though a popular argument going around is that Trudeau is appealing for votes by his Khalistan supporting constituency, that alone may not be the only reason for him to be taking such a stand. Those who are seen as pumping money into the economy are the ones likely to be heard. Even if the means were not legitimate. And that is simply because the Canadian economy is in deep trouble because currently inflation is high and unemployment is also on the rise.
Real estate has been too heavily commodified in the financial market. The Canadian government has made the mistake of not circulating money more widely in the economy except in the wrong way which is what we have to thank for the likes of these different dubious characters we come across in this international story. Hard working people don’t cut it except to work for menial amounts of money for some big company or a big box store. Hard-working independent people are not welcome which is also part of why the Great Resignation never took the effect it should have taken in Canada.
(The Great Resignation refers to the phenomenon of many who were quitting en masse post the pandemic because they didn’t agree with conventional workplace demands and they wanted to be part of something new and more fulfilling). While we had people innovating on their own ventures creatively by making and selling cotton candies or cookies from their home as examples, many people faced trouble doing this because of the ridiculous sudden rise in the cost of living.
The Great Resignation therefore got replaced with renovictions because no thanks to government schemes, people had nowhere left to live or were paying ridiculous sums of money to live in small squandering spaces. And their landlords were evicting them in the name of renovations and the laws to counter them were not as effective.
And the process of vetting people in parliament has obviously not been strong as we saw with the recent Nazi supporter’s awarding or the terrorist Jaspal Atwal who traveled with Trudeau’s team to India in 2018 for an official visit. So the backing of people like Nijjar comes as no surprise. Such kinds of characters may be accommodated partly because of deeper connections with the economy.
One of the hints we pick up on from an economic point of view from Nijjar is that of being a plumber. A lot of transactions related to the construction, repairs or renovation industries are based on huge chunks of cash. Beyond the already known unethical links, we don’t know how far this “plumber’s” links extend in other areas.
So even if the initial money procured was not through ethical means, people like this are seen as imputing major amounts of cash into the economy or contributing to the GDP because of how the money has now been transformed into industries like this. And these, in some people’s minds, are seen as paying for social programs in Canada all the while ignoring major tax evasions by rich Canadian individuals or corporations. Unfortunately, the latter often put politicians into power in return for favors like this.
So while someone’s political view can certainly contribute to their actions, one of the sad realities of Canada’s economy is the contribution of the underground. Industries like housing and its related counterparts have become too big a financial commodity rather than a necessity. So it’s very possible that some of this supporting of Nijjar is happening because there is a fear of a juggernaut waiting to fall. And it’s not the unsafe nature of Canadian streets like the media would have you believe. Because they are mostly fine even if parliament appears to have a lot of strife. People are peacefully walking and carrying about their everyday duties. The juggernaut is real estate.
Some Sources: https://centreforfuturework.ca/2022/12/02/fifteen-super-profitable-industries-are-driving-canadian-inflation/