Police: Couple charged with grand theft left name, number in victim’s guestbook

Authorities say a man and woman left the woman’s name and telephone number in the guestbook of a South Florida art gallery before stealing about $6,000 USD worth of jewelry.

Palm Beach police say 24-year-old Megan Ohara and 19-year-old David Ziskoski took a bracelet and a ring Sunday from the Attila JK exhibition at the ICFA Gallery that belonged to the artist. They were spotted a short time later at a nearby grocery, and police reported finding the jewelry in the woman’s purse.

ChangSha Night Net

Officers found multiple fake email addresses, including “[email protected]长沙桑拿” and at least one obscene drawing in the gallery’s guestbook. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that two of the fake emails included the name “Meg” and one included Ohara’s phone number.

WATCH: Dumb criminal checks Facebook at home he’s robbing and forgets to log off

The newspaper reported that Ohara and Ziskoski admitted to the theft and guestbook entries.

According to the arrest report, Ohara said, “If I knew they cost that much, I wouldn’t have taken it.”

Ohara and Ziskoski were arrested and charged with grand theft of under $10,000. Jail records didn’t list attorneys.

Facebook profiles appearing to belong to Ohara and Ziskoski show that both attended university in New York City. Ziskoski’s page says he is currently living in Philadelphia and working at GE.

Global News spoke to Ildiko Varga, owner of the ICFA Gallery. She said she wasn’t present at the time of the incident and declined to answer any further questions. Calls to Attila JK and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office were not returned.

– with files from the Associated Press


Find a pipeline near you: CEPA launches new interactive pipelines map

CALGARY – The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) has launched a new website that allows Canadians to locate and learn about nearby pipelines.

Using the About Pipelines Map, which operates through Google Maps, users can enter their address, postal code, city or province to find the exact location of pipelines in their area.

The map lets users see information like the age of the pipeline, which company it’s operated by, who regulates it and what product it transports.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Oil and gas industry struggles to balance costs and environmental pressures

  • Alberta Premier Notley creates advisory panel to improve, diversify economy

  • Alberta climate panel receives hundreds of submissions after asking for public input

“We recognized the need to develop a user friendly tool that people can use to see exactly where transmission pipeline infrastructure is located,” said CEPA President and CEO Brenda Kenny in a news release. “It’s a great resource for people to get better informed about this critical infrastructure that impacts all of our lives.”

The About Pipelines Map does not include other types of pipelines, such as gathering, feeder and distribution lines.

CEPA operates about 117,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada and 14,000 kilometres in the United States.

According to CEPA, their members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.

Man robs credit union in Gronlid, Sask.

Police are looking for the man who allegedly robbed a credit union in a small Saskatchewan community. The robbery happened Tuesday afternoon in Gronlid.

Mounties say a man entered the financial institution around 3:15 p.m. CT and demanded money from the bank employee. He they took off in a small to mid-size black four-door sedan with an undisclosed amount of cash.

He is six-foot three, around 160 pounds with a slim build and fair skinned. He was dressed in black and made attempts to cover his face with his clothing.

READ MORE: Prince Albert police seek armed robbery suspect

Police say no one was injured.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Melfort RCMP at 306-752-6420 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Crossbow seized, man arrested by Saskatoon police

  • String of charges laid after exhausting pursuit in Saskatchewan

  • Shots fired at Sask. Mounties during assault investigation


Historic 10 First Nations candidates elected as MPs in 2015 federal election

The federal election Monday was historic for Canada’s First Nations, which saw 10 indigenous candidates elected to the House of Commons and saw higher voter turnout in largely aboriginal ridings.

Some of the notable wins included Liberal candidates Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who beat out long-time NDP MP Pat Martin inner-city riding of Winnipeg Centre, and Jody Wilson-Raybould, a regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who took the riding of Vancouver-Granville.

WATCH: First Nations leaders react to new Liberal government

ChangSha Night Net

Shane Gottfriedson, the regional chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations, said the new Liberal government is a “breath of fresh air.”

“When you look at the last ten years our programs and services have been cut and slashed,” Gottfriedson told Global News Tuesday. “The Liberals bring a new breath of fresh air to looking at reconciliation and a new relationship with First Nations from coast-to-coast-to-coast. What an exciting time for Canada and for First Nations leadership across the country.”

“Over the last ten years we have been faced with a very non-committed government to address a number of social determinants of our First Nations.”

READ MORE: Here’s what Trudeau’s promised and what he’ll face as prime minister

Chiefs in the tidings of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, in Manitoba’s north, said turnout was up by more than 11,000 voters — an increase of 20 per cent from 2011. On the Manitoba-Ontario boundary turnout was up in 40 First Nations within the riding of Kenora, according to Chief Erwin Redsky of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

Grand Chief Derek Nepinak with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs called it “a great day.”

“I feel a lot of relief from the years of very purposeful oppression that was brought forward from the previous government,” Nepinak said.

“Mr. Harper, when he was prime minister, awoke a sleeping giant in our people. That giant is awake and the new Liberal majority government is going to have to deal with a giant in the indigenous people of these lands.”

READ MORE: Selecting cabinet one of first orders of business for Trudeau

Several high-profile Conservatives were ousted in the election; including former ministers Joe Oliver, Chris Alexander, Leona Aglukkaq, Julian Fantino and Aboriginal Affairs Ministers Bernard Valcourt who lost his New Brunswick seat to Liberal candidate René Arseneault.

In the 42nd general election there were a record number of indigenous candidates on the ballot. Here is a look at the 10 who were elected and will represent constituents from British Columbia, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador:


Vance Badawey – Niagara Centre, Ont.Yvonne Jones – LabradorMichael McLeod – Northwest TerritoriesRobert-Falcon Ouellette – Winnipeg Centre, Man.Don Rusnak – Thunder Bay-Rainy River, Ont.Jody Wilson-Raybould – Vancouver Granville, B.C.Dan Vandal – Saint Boniface-Saint Vital, Man.Hunter Tootoo – Nunavut


Georgina Jolibois – Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, Sask.Romeo Saganash – Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik–Eeyou, Que.

Working with the Liberals

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau, who led the Liberals to a majority Monday night, has pledged a “nation-to-nation” relationship with the country’s First Nations communities.

Among one of the most pressing issues cited by the Assembly of First Nations is an inquiry into the more than 1,200 missing and murdered aboriginal women. Trudeau has also promised $515 million a year to funding for First Nations education, rising to a total of $2.6 billion and another $500 million over three years for education infrastructure.

*With a file from the Canadian Press

Scientists hopeful about Liberal ‘unmuzzling,’ but warn could take time

The Conservative government, much criticized for its “muzzling” of federal scientists are out of power much to the approval of some scientists.

READ MORE: Liberal MPs hold press conference on muzzling of scientists

ChangSha Night Net


  • Breaking the silence: Government scientist speaks about culture of fear

    Ottawa muzzling federal scientists, panel tells global research community

  • Liberal MPs hold press conference on muzzling of scientists

“I heard from a number of [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] colleagues, and they commented that there was dancing in the streets and lighting candles,” said former DFO scientist Steve Campana. “I celebrated with them by proxy.”

Campana spoke to Global News from his new home in Iceland where he’s been teaching for several months. For Campana, it was the very muzzling that drove him to leave his position as a shark researcher for the Canadian Shark Research Lab. For years, he did public outreach, interviews, spreading news about advances in understanding sharks. But when the Conservative government came in his interviews went down by 90 per cent with no reason given. He said he followed proper procedures, filling out the necessary paperwork. It made no difference. Close to retirement, he decided to find work elsewhere.

WATCH: Former DFO scientist, Steve Campana, explains why researchers feel the government is ‘muzzling’ them

“I personally feel that communicating science to the public is an important job,” he said. But being unable to do that was frustrating.

It seems that he wasn’t alone. In November 2014, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), a union representing federal scientists, vociferously launched a campaign against the Harper government’s efforts to control the information disseminated to the public.

A survey the union conducted revealed that 90 per cent of federal scientists felt they weren’t allowed to speak freely to the media. PIPSC declared that they would be more politically active ahead of the election. And they followed through: In May protests were held across the country calling for more freedom of speech for scientists.

Now, with the Liberals —; who have vowed to take the muzzles off scientists —; in power, there is hope.

“It’s not going to immediately free up constraints of talking to the public,” said Ken Denham, a professor at the University of Victoria who was a former scientist with the DFO.

“I think things will change, but it won’t be overnight.”

Denham’s experience was similar to stories from federal scientists: not free to openly communicate with media, even restrictions on accessing other scientific data over the Internet.

For Campana, he was even reprimanded for attending a shark conference in South Africa on his own dime and time. The reason? Because other delegates would know he worked for the DFO.

The path ahead

Both scientists believe that the move forward will be a gradual one.

“I believe there is going to be lingering fear and paranoia by federal scientists until they’ve given a clear directive about what they can do,” said Campana. “They’re going to need some very clear assurances.”

Denham worries that the culture of fear will continue to exist at the managerial level within departments. For years there has been the concern that a minister would look unintelligent, uniformed or simply just plain bad. Management was there to protect ministers’ images under the shadow of Harper. It will take a long time, he thinks, to lose that fear.

WATCH: Union wants assurances government scientists won’t face interference

Campana agreed.

“I think it’s going to be a big hurdle to get over. That culture of fear is there within management,” he said.

“People are afraid. It’s like being repeatedly burned, and you’re afraid.”

Neither scientist believes that federal scientists should be given free reign.

Denham turns to the U.S. for an example of how the federal government could move forward.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has an administrative order called Scientific Integrity. In section 4, it specifically addresses scientists’ communication of scientific ideas. Specifically, it refers to “transparency, traceability, and integrity,” even going so far as to say that government scientists are free to express their own opinions on government policies, so long as it’s made clear that they are their own.

But the unmuzzling of scientists is just one of the pressing issues in the scientific sector. According to PIPSC, under Harper’s government, $2.6 billion and more than 5,000 jobs were targeted to be cut between 2013 and 2016 in the science sector.

Trying to increase funding will be another hurdle.

“Unmuzzling scientists can be done with a stroke of a pen, but releasing funding, well that’s money,” Campana said.

Though the move to more openly communicative federal departments will undoubtedly take time, at least it’s a move in the right direction.

“I’m really hoping things will open up,” said Denham. We’ve got all these intellectual people in a lab with a door that’s semi-locked.”

Follow @NebulousNikki


Netanyahu slammed for suggesting Palestinian leader inspired Holocaust

JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked an uproar in Israel on Wednesday for suggesting that a World War II-era Palestinian leader persuaded the Nazis to adopt their Final Solution to exterminate 6 million Jews.

ChangSha Night Net

Holocaust experts and survivors slammed Netanyahu’s comments as historically inaccurate and serving the interests of Holocaust deniers by lessening the responsibility of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Critics also said the statement amounts to incitement against modern-day Palestinians in the midst of a wave of violent unrest and high tensions.

Speaking to a group of Jewish leaders Tuesday, Netanyahu tried to use a historical anecdote to illustrate his claim that Palestinian incitement surrounding Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site goes back decades. He has repeatedly claimed that a wave of Palestinian attacks in recent weeks is the result of decades of hatred, and not connected to Israel’s 48-year occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians, as the Palestinians have claimed.

READ MORE: UN chief urges calm during Jerusalem visit as Palestinian attacks continue

Netanyahu said the World War II-era grand mufti of Jerusalem, Nazi sympathizer Haj Amin al-Husseini, also instigated Palestinian attacks on Jews over lies that they planned to destroy the Temple Mount, known to Muslims at the Noble Sanctuary.

Netanyahu said al-Husseini played a “central role in fomenting the final solution” by trying to convince Hitler to destroy the Jews during a November 1941 meeting in Berlin.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu told the group. “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.”‘

Details of the meeting between al-Husseini and Hitler are sketchy. The Nazis released a grainy propaganda video showing the mufti making a Nazi salute before a warm handshake. The official record from the meeting says Hitler pledged “the annihilation of Jewry living in Arab space.”

READ MORE: Fatal beating of Eritrean migrant prompts soul-searching in Israel

While the Nazis’ official endorsement of the Final Solution came months after the meeting, historians note that the Nazis’ mass killing of Jews was already well underway.

Several concentration camps were up and running, and Hitler had previously repeatedly declared his lethal intentions for the Jews. If anything, they said it was the Nazis who were trying to use al-Husseini for their own propaganda interests and that Hitler didn’t need any outside inspiration. When Hitler did consider deporting Jews, it was in the context of sending them to countries like Ukraine and Lithuania where they would face persecution or death.

Moshe Zimmermann, a prominent Holocaust and anti-Semitism researcher at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said Netanyahu made a “far-reaching argument” that didn’t hold up.

“Any attempt to deflect the burden from Hitler to others is a form of Holocaust denial,” he told The Associated Press. “It cheapens the Holocaust.”

Al-Husseini was an enthusiastic Nazi supporter who helped recruit Bosnian Muslims to their side and whose anti-Semitism was well documented. But Zimmermann called him a “lightweight” who was pleading with Hitler for assistance in getting rid of the British Mandate and the Jewish immigrants coming to the Holy Land. He said there was no evidence al-Husseini had any real influence on Hitler. Records show that at the meeting, Hitler turned down a request to form a formal treaty.

Dina Porat, the chief historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, said that al-Husseini’s goal was to have Hitler include the Jews of Palestine in his extermination plans.

“Still, this does not mean that he was the one who gave Hitler the idea to get rid of the Jews,” she said. “He didn’t need the mufti in order to have the idea.”

Netanyahu has long been criticized for invoking the Holocaust when talking about current affairs, alluding to it especially when discussing Iran and its nuclear program. The son of a historian, Netanyahu also has a record of slipping up when citing historical facts.

The prime minister’s comments came at a particularly sensitive time, as he was making his way to Berlin Wednesday for meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Netanyahu tried to calm the uproar and clarify himself prior to his departure.

“I had no intention of absolving Hitler of his diabolical responsibility for exterminating European Jews … at the same time, it is absurd to ignore the role the mufti played,” he said, adding that it was tied directly to Palestinian sentiments today.

“The father of the Palestinian nation then, without a state and without what is called ‘occupation,’ without the territories and settlements, was involved then in serial incitement to destroy the Jews,” he said. “Unfortunately, Haj Amin al-Husseini is still an admired figure in Palestinian society.”

Asked by reporters, Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert wouldn’t address Netanyahu’s statements directly.

“We are aware that this crime against humanity was Germany’s very own responsibility,” he said. “It must never be forgotten, and I see no reason for us to change our picture of history in any way.”

Netanyahu is also set to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin in new efforts to bring an end to a monthlong wave of attacks that have raised fears that the region is on the cusp of a new round of bloodshed.

Netanyahu has repeatedly accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting the violence, while Palestinians say years of Israeli occupation are at the root of the unrest.

In Israel, many quickly accused Netanyahu of going overboard.

READ MORE: Netanyahu accuses Arabs of incitement in waves of stabbings

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called it a “dangerous historical distortion” that plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers.

“It downplays the Holocaust, Nazism and the role of Adolf Hitler in the great tragedy of our people,” he said.

Colette Avital, who heads the umbrella organization of Holocaust survivors, said survivors were baffled and Zehava Galon, head of the dovish Meretz party, noted that her ancestors were killed months before Hitler and the mufti even met.

“To what depths will this man stoop?” Galon said. “He who can’t act to change the future, all he has left is to rewrite the past.”

Even Netanyahu’s loyal defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, distanced himself from the comments, saying that “history is actually very, very clear.”

“Hitler initiated it, Haj Amin al-Husseini joined him and unfortunately the jihadist movements promote anti-Semitism to this day, including incitement in the Palestinian Authority that is based on the legacy of the Nazis,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

Palestinian officials accused Netanyahu of distorting history.

“It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbour so much so that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history,” said senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.

He sidestepped the Palestinian role in World War II, claiming that “Palestinian efforts against the Nazi regime are a deep-rooted part of our history.”

At a meeting with the visiting U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Netanyahu of trying to rewrite history. “Now he says Hitler is not responsible,” he said.

In a Ph.D dissertation, Abbas questioned the extent of the Holocaust, drawing accusations that he was a Holocaust denier. He has since distanced himself from the claims, calling the Holocaust a “despicable crime.”


‘Great Scott!’: Doc Brown has message for fans on ‘Back to the Future’ Day

The future is now.

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 is being marked as Back to the Future Day, the precise date Marty McFly, played by Canadian actor Michael J. Fox, and Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, arrived in the future.

To celebrate the occasion, and to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the famed trilogy, Doc Brown had a special message to fans.

“Great Scott! If my calculations are correct, it is now precisely Oct. 21, 2015,” Lloyd said while sitting in a DeLorean. “The future has finally arrived. Yes, it is different than we all thought. But don’t worry, it just means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has.”

“Your future is whatever you make of it. So make it a good one,” Lloyd said.

ChangSha Night Net

WATCH ABOVE: A special message from Doc Brown.

READ MORE: Did 2015 turn out the way Marty McFly saw it?

Fox is also celebrating arriving in the future, but in a different way.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation teamed up with the White House to promote research and treatment for brain diseases, including Parkinson’s. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the early ‘90s, and didn’t speak publicly about his diagnoses until 1998.

In a statement from the White House, Fox challenged fans to “imagine the world you want to live in 30 years from now.”

“When Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled 30 years into the future, we could only imagine the innovations we take for granted today —; new ideas and technologies that have completely changed the way we live, learn, and work,” the actor said in the statement. “Back then, if you’d have told me that I’d go from talking on a cell phone to talking cell biology, I would never have believed you.”

READ MORE: 5 fun facts about ‘Back to the Future’ 30 years later

“Doctors and researchers around the world are developing new tools to improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases, to tailor treatments —; for all illnesses —; through precision medicine, and to make life better for millions of people. This truly is the stuff of the future.” Fox said.

Back to the Future filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’ trilogy has left a lasting impression on pop culture in the 30 years since the original film debuted, spawning a theme park attraction, video game and animated series.

Many fans and several brands turned to social media to celebrate #BackToTheFuture.

Here’s a look:

Even police departments got in on it.


NDP hammers Sask. government over emergency room wait times

REGINA – The Saskatchewan Opposition says long wait times in the province’s emergency rooms are prompting a lot of people to leave without being treated. The NDP’s Cam Broten said in the legislature Tuesday that last year, 18,000 people registered with a triage nurse at hospitals in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford, then left without seeing a doctor.

He said in Prince Albert, 15 per cent of patients that required urgent care and 10 per cent of people needing emergency care left before being seen.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Saskatoon family raises questions over surgery wait time

  • Saskatchewan NDP: hospital overcrowding a problem

  • Saskatoon Health Region shutting down ‘inappropriate spaces’

Premier Brad Wall responded that wait times are consistent in Saskatoon and Regina, but he won’t be satisfied until the wait times are reduced to zero.

Wall said his government has increased funding to reduce that number and has laid out a foundation to determine what needs to be done.

He also asked the NDP what their plan is for dealing with emergency wait times, with a provincial election looming early next year.

READ MORE: Sask. gov’t scrapping plan to eliminate ER waits by 2017

Meanwhile, the Opposition pointed out some alarming statistics in Saskatchewan’s north when it comes to suicide rates. Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger said suicide rates in one northern Saskatchewan health region are 3.5 times higher than the national average.

Belanger said the number of youth hospitalized for suicide attempts in the northern part of the province is 300 per cent higher than the rest of the province and in the far north, the number climbs to 625 per cent.

He said there needs to be more accessible mental health and addictions services, and better opportunities for housing, education and employment.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said they are working on spreading services and protocols up north and in other areas of the hospital, including emergency services and long-term care.

He said the issue doesn’t just relate to health, but also includes education, social services, various agencies, and the community to find solutions.


What’s fuelling Canada’s economic recovery? Even more debt

The country’s central bank remains worried about rising debt levels among Canadian consumers – a trend that’s developing into a major vulnerability to the economy as households borrow more and more money without the wage gains to back it up.

Much of that debt is being funnelled into the housing market, which has experienced runaway price growth in some regions in recent years, notably Vancouver and Toronto.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Economy’s bounce back from recession bigger than expected

  • Don’t blame debt binge on low rates, Canada —; blame ‘bad choices’

That’s led the Bank of Canada to reiterate on Wednesday its concern that chances of a nasty correction are rising.

“Vulnerabilities in the household sector are continuing to edge higher,” the bank said in a new report on the economy. Historically low mortgage rates are contributing to “strong growth in mortgage credit, especially in British Columbia and Ontario.”

MORE: Burbs around Vancouver, Toronto no bargain, either

“Although the most likely scenario is one in which these imbalances unwind gradually as the economy improves, a disorderly unwinding, such as one that might be triggered by further weakness in the resource sector or a rapid rise in global interest rates, could have sizable negative effects.”

Good news, bad news

The good news: the country has largely rebounded from a mild recession brought about by lower oil prices earlier this year, according to the bank, and the job market is proving surprisingly resilient, experts say.

The less-than-good news: consumer borrowing is fuelling the rebound (which has been “supported by the stimulative effects” of the Bank of Canada’s two rate cuts this year, in January and July), the bank said.

“Household spending continues to underpin economic activity,” the bank noted.

Low rates aren’t just encouraging home buyers – they’re encouraging car buyers, furniture buyers, and others as debt in all forms grows. The bank’s report said increased borrowing continues to easily outpace gains in take-home pay. That means Canadian households are digging themselves deeper and deeper into debt.

MORE: Debt hits fresh all-time high among Canadian households

Click here to view data »

Why rates are low

As part of its mandate to keep the financial system and economy stable, the Bank of Canada sets its key, overnight lending rate it provides private lenders such as big banks, who in turn use the key rate to determine the interest rates they charge customers.

The central bank has dropped rates to record low levels in recent years to help the economy recover from the Great Recession —; and most recently to boost growth amid the the oil crash. But in so doing, it has fuelled bulging debt levels among consumers.

By the bank’s own estimate as many as 1.5 million households have taken on risky levels of debt.

Click here to view data »


The bank expects incomes to catch up as the economy begins to improve next year and interest rates “normalize,” or head back up to levels associated with a Canadian economy operating closer to full capacity (see chart above, before 2009).

“Looking ahead, the housing market and household indebtedness are expected to stabilize over the projection period as the economy gains strength and household borrowing rates begin to normalize.”

Still, the country’s central bank remains cognizant that growth is coming at the expense of higher household debt levels – and that’s creating something of a ticking time bomb, which economy watchers aren’t sure can be easily diffused.

“Persistent strength in household spending would provide a near-term boost to economic activity, but it would also further exacerbate existing imbalances in the household sector, increasing the likelihood and potential severity of a correction later on,” the bank said.


Report recommends Canada revive wealthy immigrant program linked to soaring home prices

For 18 years, the federal government invited rich people from around the world to buy a life in Canada.

The Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) sought people with net worth of at least $1.6 million to make an $800,000 loan to the Canadian government that would be returned to them after five years, interest-free. In exchange, they were given permanent residency.

ChangSha Night Net

The feds shut the program down in 2014, saying it provided “limited economic benefit to Canada;” it attracted investors who paid “less in taxes than other economic immigrants,” and media reports have linked such programs to skyrocketing home prices.

Three years later, the Conference Board of Canada has issued a report calling on the feds to bring it back — but to make sure it’s “done right.”

READ MORE: Strong words from premier on abolishing immigrant investor program

Kareem El-Assal, a senior research associate in immigration with the Conference Board, wrote the report recommending the federal government establish a new IIP.

El-Assal admitted that programs like the IIP “haven’t done very well.” But the report flowed out of a summit that imagined how the IIP could be improved.

And though the report recommended the re-launch of such a program, he said the Conference Board is “not taking the position that Canada needs to have [a new IIP].”

“We were just performing an intellectual exercise,” he said.

Potential benefits

The report cited three potential benefits of any future IIP: it could allow provinces to accrue interest on investors’ loans; it could bring money for economic development; it could boost consumption.

The report didn’t show full confidence in any of these benefits, however.

While interest rates are set to go up soon, a 2015 analysis suggested provinces and territories still making money from IIP funds had made around $39,600 per investor.

That’s not a lot of cash when you consider settlement costs for investors and their households, David Ley, an expert in millionaire migration and a UBC professor, told Global News.

“They will be making use of educational services, health services etc.”

The report also argued that a new IIP could create thousands of full-time equivalent jobs.

It cited analysis by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) showing that investor funds helped create 10,781 FTE positions from 2007 to 2011.

But IRCC couldn’t determine whether these jobs would have been created without an investor program — suggesting this particular benefit is “positive, though not as large” as it could be.

READ MORE: B.C. city now ranks among world’s top 2 luxury home markets, and it’s not Vancouver

Investor families could also potentially boost consumption, the report said; they spend about $750,000 per household on investments, goods, services and real estate, according to one estimate.

But that estimate could be overstated; it wasn’t derived from a representative sample of immigrant investors.

Real estate prices

Programs like IIP have been “significantly implicated” in skyrocketing home prices in various cities — especially Vancouver, Ley noted.

He has estimated that, from the late 80s to the late 90s, business immigrants brought anywhere from $35 to $40 billion for their use in Canada.

“If only a small fraction of that, if only 10 per cent, and in fact it was much more than that they would dedicate went to housing, you’ve got an impact of $3 to $4 billion that is hitting the Vancouver market,” Ley said.

“That’s a big impact.”

WATCH BELOW: Quebec’s Immigrant Investor Program criticized for housing prices

Media reports have blamed the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), which is still running, for funnelling foreign money into Vancouver’s housing market via a “back door.”

Quebec’s program works very much like the IIP did, offering permanent residency for an $800,000 loan to people with net worth of at least $1.6 million. Investors only have to “intend” to settle in Quebec; they’re not required to stay there.

And many don’t, reports show. At least 89 per cent of successful applicants to the QIIP settle in other cities, “mainly Vancouver,” according to Ian Young at the South China Morning Post.

Sunset colours reflect off the glass of Vancouver’s crowded downtown skyline.


The Conference Board report cited research showing immigrant investors contributed to a three-per-cent increase in prices in Vancouver — a “small” one, according to co-author and SFU Prof. Andrey Pavlov.

The research looked at how home values were affected by the 2012 suspension of the federal IIP program, but not its shutdown in 2014.

Pavlov said it focused on the suspension because “asset prices, including real estate prices, respond to news, not to actual changes in policies that have already been announced and are anticipated.”

READ MORE: B.C. foreign buyers tax really did yank down Vancouver home prices: BMO

Ley, however, called the analysis “rubbish,” saying it wasn’t based in on-the-ground research.

“My information comes from speaking to many realtors, many business immigrants, knowing how much money they’re bringing to the country,” he said.

‘Millionaire Migrants’

In 2010, Ley published a book titled Millionaire Migrants; it found that the IIP wasn’t significantly growing their wealth in Canada.

It described 24 exploratory interviews that Ley conducted in 1997, with wealthy migrant families that had come to Canada through business immigration programs like the IIP.

Interviewees came from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and they largely lived in some of Vancouver’s most affluent areas, such as Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale and Arbutus/Mackenzie Heights.

An overhead shot of Vancouver’s affluent west side, where a number of immigrant investors have settled.

Flickr/Herb Neufeld/Attribution 2.0 Generic licence

“Only three had made a successful economic transition to life in Vancouver,” he wrote.

Some had started businesses and failed; others didn’t bother trying, having been turned off by high taxes, tough regulations and meagre returns.

Ley went on to interview 250 business immigrant families in total, and “nothing we were to hear in much wider subsequent research challenged the results of this exploratory survey,” he wrote.

Less tax than refugees

If immigrant investors have played a role in rising home prices, they’ve also done it while paying little income tax, Ley’s research shows.

In his book, he cited tax return data for 1997 that showed investor and self-employed immigrants made average total income of $13,531.

For all immigrants and refugees, it was $18,621 — “leaving business immigrants far below the average performance.”

Data from 2013 told a similar story: in that year, “business class” or “investor immigrants” who had been in Canada for two decades reported the smallest employment incomes of any immigrant category.

This is likely because business immigrants haven’t been declaring their global income, Ley said.

READ MORE: Toronto-area home sales drop in May after province introduces foreign buyers’ tax

El-Assal said Ley has “valid points.”

Speaking to Global News, he reiterated that the top benefits of a new IIP would be consumption and the loan to the government.

But it’s unlikely to convince Ley, who feels he has seen enough to form an opinion on the program.

“I’ve already written a book, and I just don’t see any way forward with this proposal at all in terms of the historic record,” he said.

“It’s a closed book as far as I’m concerned.”

©2017Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.