Two urgent events to oppose and unpack foreign investment narratives as diversions from movements for housing justice.
On Sunday February 18th, a new coalition called the Affordability Action Hub is calling a rally for Canadian state control against “foreign” investment, which they are branding as an “affordable housing” protest. The February 18th rally sponsors include three single-issue organizations that promote the Canadian nationalist myth that “foreign” investment is the cause of the housing crisis: Housing Action for Local Taxpayers (HALT), Richmond’s Changing Neighborhoods, and Vancouver is Falling. Over the last two years the NDP, led by David Eby, now Attorney General, has championed the foreign investment myth, and the idea that “foreigners” are causing an inflated housing market in the Lower Mainland has become widely accepted and boosted in the media. The Affordability Action Hub and its sponsors rearticulate Eby’s stance at a supposedly “grassroots” level, conflating their disappointed home ownership ambitions with the broader and more critical housing justice movement.
Alliance Against Displacement (AAD) is organizing two events to draw a line around housing justice and anti-displacement movements, to shut out and shut down settler nationalism and market solutions to the housing crisis: a counter protest on Sunday February 18th and a public panel against the foreign investment myth on Wednesday March 7th.
HOME OWNERSHIP IS NOT HOUSING JUSTICE & SETTLER NATIONALISM WILL NOT END INDIGENOUS HOMELESSNESS
Counter protest against the local landlord rally for “affordable housing action”
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 18 / 2PM / JACK POOLE PLAZA
(1085 Canada Place, Vancouver – across the street from the “affordability action” rally)
On Sunday February 18th, AAD is calling for a counter protest against the “Rally for Housing Affordability.” This rally against barriers to individual homeownership is co-opting the slogans, images, and histories of anti-displacement and housing justice movements, conflating home ownership with the struggles of working class tenants and displaced low-income and homeless people who suffer the most severe effects of the housing crisis. We will rally to declare that the “foreign investment” problem and its solutions are not part of our movement. We are calling for housing justice and anti-displacement organizers and communities in struggle against homelessness and evictions to join us and demonstrate against Canadian nationalism and its foundations in colonial dispossession and capitalist private property.
The national housing crisis is a consequence of the Canadian government’s commitment to landlords, investors, and big businesses that “grow the economy” (as both the NDP and the BC Liberals pledge to do at any cost). Economic growth for the rich means dispossession of land for Indigenous peoples, as well asand higher rents, lower wages, and less secure jobs and housing for working class people. Our movement is not about assuaging the disappointed expectations of aspiring homeowners; it is about reparation and redistribution. We fight today to end evictions, to fill houses without people with people without houses, and for the mass, tax-based redistribution of wealth through non-market housing to replace private landlords. These are community solutions to community problems. And they are connected to our broader fights for decolonization, the abolition of private property, and the end of global capitalism.
Bring signs and banners to make a clear statement defending our movements against appropriation and confusion, against anti-Chinese racism and Sinophobia, against private property ownership, against homelessness, against evictions and gentrification, and for tenant-run social and non-market housing at welfare shelter rates.
This counter protest will not directly confront or engage the Affordability Action Hub; it is being planned as a non-violent counter protest.
ALL INVESTMENT IS GLOBAL: A PANEL ON THE FOREIGN INVESTMENT MYTH & SETTLER NATIONALISM
WEDNESDAY MARCH 7, 2018 / 6:30 PM / BURNABY NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSE
(4460 Beresford Street, 3rd floor – across from the Metrotown Skytrain Station)
Proponents of the foreign investment myth point to the obvious problem of capitalist globalization, and particularly the network of investment and trade on the Pacific Rim that has become a defining characteristic of our age. They ask, how can a humble prospective homeowner compete with big investors in China? Their logic carries the power of common sense. Markets are, after all, dominated by a few massive conglomerates that have transnational boards and investors. Wealth is concentrated more intensely in fewer hands today than it has been at any time in history. But anti-foreign investment theory carries an air of conspiracy. More problematic than the debates about what exact percentage of real estate purchases are “foreign” is that the very idea of “foreign” investment is difficult to clearly define in a world (and city) where trade operates through networked cities and between transnational corporations rather than nation states. From the standpoint of Canada, a G7 country, “foreign investment” is less an economic problem than a cultural anxiety, a point of Canadian nationalist identity, and fodder for a populist government.
In November 2016 Alliance Against Displacement and the Chinatown Action Group co-organized a panel called “Anti-Imperialist Perspectives on the Foreign Investment Myth.” The March 7th panel will pick up where the first one left off. Since 2016, the fringe idea of foreign investment as the root cause of the housing crisis has moved into the mainstream, not only in cultural discourse but also in government policies that use private property to solveas the sole solution to the problems of private property. Speakers will discuss the foreign investment myth as a Canadian nationalist and settler nativist response to the rise of China as a competitor against US-Canadian-European power globally. We will continue to develop a vision for a housing and anti-displacement justice movement that opposes private property ownership and Canadian nationalism.