British Columbia has no limits on political donations, leading critics to say the provincial government has become a lucrative business dominated by special interests. As the premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark is on the public payroll, pulling down a salary of 195,000 Canadian dollars in taxpayer money. But if that were not enough, she also gets an annual stipend of up to 50,000 Canadian dollars — nearly $40,000 — from her party, financed by political contributions. Personal enrichment from the handouts of wealthy donors, some of whom have paid tens of thousands of dollars to meet with her at private party fund-raisers? No conflict of interest here, according to a pair of rulings last year by the province’s conflict-of-interest commissioner — whose son works for Ms. Clark.
How many shell companies exist in Canada? How many legal trusts? Who are the beneficial owners protected by such unnecessary veils of secrecy? No one knows because in most cases there is no legal requirement to disclose actual ownership even to regulators. In fact, more information is required to get a library card than to set up a company in most jurisdictions in Canada. What we do know is that Canada ranks near the bottom among our OECD partners in terms of corporate disclosure requirements to fight money laundering and tax evasion. A recent report from Transparency International detailed the dismal situation and why our country has become a haven for dubious offshore property speculation.
Wall Street is currently basking in a vigorous “Trump rally,” with the Dow rising more than 1000 points since the election. The rally is driven by analysts who are salivating over the future prospect of sweeping deregulation of many markets. But there is also chorus of concern from dozens of financial experts, that the global financial markets are “whistling in the graveyard,” acting in a classicly irrational manner. Experts cite a host of issues both financial and geopolitical, among them Trump’s intention to exit TPP, NAFTA, and the COP21 Climate Agreement. Combined with rising geopolitical tensions with China, North Korea, and Iran, a perfect storm of global uncertainty and instability is forming.
Reading this article today, I am dumbfounded that Anbang managed to get this far in the purchase of B.C. commercial real-estate without red flags going up. This mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. A months-long investigation by the New York Times revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Anbang has all the earmarks of Chinese money laundering, corruption at the highest levels, and mysterious shell companies. It is a cautionary tale for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign real-estate buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.
Since I joined the high-tech industry years ago, Silicon Valley has had a fundamental need for highly educated engineers and scientists that could not be filled by American graduates. This reality has been bemoaned by Congressional politicians for decades now, who have essentially done nothing to increase the emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) for resident Americans, and who instead chose to provide the H1-B Visa enabling Silicon Valley high-tech companies to employ immigrants to fill these crucial positions, and has enabled the high-tech industry to thrive. The election of Donald Trump has changed all that. His platform is almost completely devoid of any acknowledgment of the crucial importance of high-tech innovation to U.S. productivity and economic growth, the need for H1-B immigrants and the parallel need for greater investment in STEM education.
The agency warning about a strong risk of Canadian housing market problems on the horizon has been expected. “CMHC has recently observed spillover effects from Vancouver and Toronto into nearby markets,” said CMHC chief executive officer Evan Siddall said in an opinion column in The Globe and Mail. These nearby housing market effects have radiated from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley and particularly the Okanagan. The effect of Vancouver sellers purchasing properties in desirable areas beyond Vancouver proper, and Asian buyers purchasing properties in the Okanagan have been noted, following the same pattern as in Vancouver.
Accelerate Okanagan should be commended for publishing a document, the stated goal of which is to “assist in attracting new talent, companies, and potential investors to the Okanagan, as well to inform policy makers and the media.” Such reports are commonly used to promote a community or region’s economy. However, as with the earlier 2015 report, there are persistent issues, particularly with the industry definition and methodology of the study. The result is questionable data and numbers that simply do not pass a basic “sniff test.” Accepting the results of this study as published may only serve to mislead community leaders on planning, and mislead prospective entrepreneurs considering relocating here.
Yes, LinkedIn and Human Resources screening technology are suppressing hiring. The fact is, the task of submitting a resume’ that will make it past the filtering technology used by almost all recruiters these days, requires cunning and a shrewd understanding of how to manipulate these screening apps, something akin to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, HR SEO techniques requires a knowledge of the app itself, which is a closely guarded secret. WRT to LinkedIn, I have growing concerns that LinkedIn no longer meets the “WIIFM” test, or “what’s in it for me?” LinkedIn seems to have aligned its business and destiny more with the needs of the recruiting industry than with my own needs, while still trying to sell me on the benefits of paid “Premium Membership.” Increasingly blog discussions on the value of LinkedIn to business users are concluding that it’s value has diminished sharply. Perhaps the recruiting industry represents a bigger potential revenue stream and LinkedIn does not wish to reveal that to its individual users. Then there is the matter of the LinkedIn merger with Microsoft, which has left many observers underwhelmed, despite pronouncements of the exceptional strategic value to both companies.
In the last three days, both The Globe & Mail and CBC News have published disturbing stories about the scale of the Chinese infiltration of the Vancouver housing market that go well beyond anything understood or encompassed by BC government or federal government action on the problem. The CBC reported that at least $13.5 Million in cash has been confiscated from Chinese recently entering Canada at Vancouver International Airport. The following story, reblogged from The Globe & Mail, tells a tale of fraud, manipulation, and tax evasion on a massive scale. It also tells an embarrassing tale of gross incompetence by Canadian authorities. All of this is consistent with other investigative journalists reports from the United States on other similar fraudulent Chinese real-estate activities. Some of these reports go back years. The original Mossack Fonseca “Panama Papers” revelations that indicated that many of the Chinese elite with family links to Li Xinping, and The People’s Liberation Army had Mossack Fonseca accounts should have been a red flag for Canada, but was not. We are living in an entirely new global economy manipulated by dark forces. What will we do now that Vancouver has been ruined for decades to come?
In 1981, Richard Feynman, probably the most famous physicist of his time asked the question: “Can we simulate physics on a computer?” At the time the answer was “theoretically yes,” but practically not at that time. Today, we may be on the verge of answering “yes” in practice to Feynman’s original question. Quantum computers operate in such a strange way and are so radically different from today’s computers that it requires some understanding of quantum mechanics and bizarre properties like “quantum entanglement.” Quantum computers are in a realm orders of magnitude beyond today’s supercomputers and their application in specific computational problems like cryptography, Big Data analysis, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and sub-atomic physics will change our World. Canadian quantum computing company, D-Wave Systems has been at the center of Google’s efforts to pioneer this technology.