Announcing our 2022 immigration conference! Plus: will banning foreign buyers fix Canada’s housing problem?

A newsletter from a fellow Canadian organization in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements
In This Issue:
Program News & Events
  • Announcing our 2022 conference: “Implementing Migration Policy: Excavating the Administrative and Bureaucratic Processes Behind Migrant Admissions and Deportation”
  • 2022 Thomas G. Barnes Lecture: “‘Practically American’: What a Canadian Schoolteacher’s Fight Against California’s Anti-Alien Laws Reveals About the Boundaries of American Identity”
In the News
  • Canada announces two-year ban on foreign homebuyers
Other Announcements
  • Applications open for General Idea Fellowship at the National Gallery of Canada
External Events
  • Canadian film at the San Francisco Indie Fest Green Film Festival
  • Permanent Revolution: A reading and conversation with Gail Scott
2022 Conference: Implementing Migration Policy: Excavating the Administrative and Bureaucratic Processes Behind Migrant Admissions and Deportation
May 2-3 | 1:00-5:00 pm PT | IGS Library, Moses Hall | Learn more and RSVP here
Canadian Studies is pleased to officially announce the dates for our 2022 conference, our first since the start of the Pandemic. Hosted on the afternoons of May 2-3, 2022, this conference will bring together acclaimed senior and emerging scholars to evaluate different immigration policies in a global context.
The question of how to effectively manage international migration is one of the most difficult tasks facing governments in today’s globalized world. While much attention is paid to the ways politicians and activist groups influence immigration policy, commentators have often ignored the importance of administrative actors, such as bureaucrats, tasked with implementing these decisions. Often hidden from public view, these individuals operate behind the scenes to transform formal policy into on-the-ground practices which impact migrant populations in a variety of ways.
This conference will discuss how bureaucratic agencies and civil society organizations influence immigration policy and resettlement in developed countries in North America, Europe, and East Asia. Comparisons will be drawn between countries with relatively liberal immigration policies, such as Canada, with those that maintain more restrictive regimes. The conference will be organized into the following sessions:
May 2:
May 3:
A public reception will also be held on the evening of May 2. To view the full list of speakers and RSVP, please visit our conference page.
“Practically American”: What a Canadian Schoolteacher’s Fight Against California’s Anti-Alien Laws Reveals About the Boundaries of American Identity
Thursday, April 28 | 12:30 pm PT | 223 Moses | RSVP here
Former Hildebrand Fellow Brendan Shanahan explores the case of Katharine Short, a Canadian immigrant to California who challenged early 20th-century anti-immigrant laws. In 1915, Short found her job as a California schoolteacher at risk when the state began enforcing a law barring non-citizens from public employment. She responded with a vigorous legal, public relations, political, and diplomatic campaign to save her job and those of other non-citizen schoolteachers in the state. Shanahan will discuss what the case shows about the disparate impact of the state’s anti-alien hiring laws, comparing the experiences of favorably portrayed immigrants (like white, middle-class Canadians) vs. less favored non-citizens (such as Mexican blue-collar laborers).
Brendan Shanahan is a socio-legal historian focusing on (North) American immigration and citizenship policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He earned his Ph.D. and M.A. from UC Berkeley, received a Hildebrand Fellowship for work in Canadian Studies, and won the 2019 Outstanding Dissertation Award of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. He is currently a postdoctoral associate at the MacMillan Center and visiting lecturer in the Yale Department of History.
Canada Announces Two-Year Ban on Foreign Homebuyers
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a long-expected two-year ban on the purchase of Canadian real estate by foreign citizens. The new ban comes as Canada faces an overheating real estate market, and is part of a raft of policies unveiled by the government to improve affordability, including major financial commitments for new affordable housing construction.
The rising costs of housing have become a major concern for many Canadians over the last few years, as well as a major political liability. In the last election, Trudeau’s Liberal Party promised strong action to curb prices as Canada faced a 20% increase in housing prices. Provincial governments, including Ontario and British Columbia, have also implemented their own taxes on foreign homebuyers in the face of public pressure. Ontario’s foreign speculation tax was recently expanded outside Toronto to cover the entire province, and increased to 20%.
The effects of the housing crises have been especially acute effects on young, first-time homebuyers. Recent research from Statistics Canada shows that 62% of Canadians 18-34 are waiting for prices to drop before purchasing. Many rely on relatives to help cover down payments; some young Canadians are even turning to unorthodox strategies like co-ownership to afford property in urban markets.
However, experts are skeptical that Trudeau’s foreign purchaser ban will have a significant impact on housing prices. Some argue foreign speculators are a scapegoat for a larger problem. While data show that investors made nearly 20% of home purchases in Canada in mid-2021, foreign buyers represented a small portion of that number, mostly concentrated in high-end real estate in urban cores. The remainder was purchased by Canadian individuals and corporations. Hildebrand Fellow Molly Harris is currently researching this dynamic, and the role of private equity firms and investment trusts in commodifying the housing market in Vancouver.
There are also concerns about the legal and ethical aspects of the ban. Some legal analysts question whether targeting buyers on the basis of their national origin violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; likewise, some American politicians assert the move would violate the recently-signed USMCA trade agreement. And some worry the taxes could affect Canadian foreign residents. This summer, Hildebrand Fellow Taesoo Song will be in Toronto studying the effects of Ontario’s speculation tax on low-income immigrant households.
Economists suggest that targeting speculation more broadly, as well as following through on promises to construct more housing, are more effective strategies to increase availability. Rising interest rates stemming from attempts to control inflation are also likely to bring down home prices, although without increasing affordability as mortgages become more expensive. But given the outsized impact of the housing sector on the Canadian economy, the government will be cautious about doing anything that could radically lower prices at the risk of causing a recession.
Image: House for sale in Burnaby, BC. Philippe Giabbanelli, Wikimedia Commons.
Applications Open for General Idea Fellowship at the National Gallery of Canada
Deadline: Friday, April 15
The National Gallery of Canada invites applications for its General Idea Fellowship, which encourages and supports advanced research in contemporary art. Research will relate to any aspect of contemporary art, and emphasize the use and investigation of the collections of the National Gallery of Canada.
The fellowship is open to art historians, curators, critics, conservators, graduate students and independent and other professionals working in the visual arts or in museology and related disciplines, and is open to international applicants. Each award is limited to a maximum of $15,000. The term of each award is one calendar year beginning May 30, 2022. Please visit the National Gallery’s site above for full terms and application details.
San Francisco Indie Fest Green Film Festival
Friday, April 15 | 6:45 pm | San Francisco | Buy tickets here
This film festival will screen Forest for the Trees, the first feature film by award-winning Canadian war photographer Rita Leistner. Leistner goes back to her roots as a tree planter in the wilderness of British Columbia, offering an inside take on the grueling, sometimes fun and always life-changing experience of restoring Canada’s forests. The rugged BC landscape comes to life magically in Leistner’s photography, while the quirky characters and nuggets of wisdom shared around the campfire tell a sincere story of community.
Permanent Revolution: A Reading and Conversation with Gail Scott
Thursday, April 21 | 4:00 pm | 4229 Dwinelle Hall
The Montreal writer Gail Scott writes in the interstices of anglophone and francophone traditions, of the novel and theory, of prose and poetry. Scott’s audacious books refuse to divorce aesthetics from politics, and they demonstrate the inseparability of the erotic and the theoretical. Her innovative sentences dramatize the fractured relationship to language of minority subjects (including women, lesbians, and Indigenous people) and the sutured subjectivity that results.
In the 1970s and 80s, living in a French-speaking metropolis gave Scott a kind of privileged access to “French theory,” reading Barthes, Cixous or Derrida in the original. It also was during this period that she participated in Quebec’s feminist and formalist écriture au féminin moment alongside the poet Nicole Brossard. Her continental consciousness later led to her involvement with San Francisco’s New Narrative group in the 1990s and New York’s conceptual poetry scene in the past two decades.
Scott reflects on this trajectory in her essay collection, Permanent Revolution (Book*hug, 2021): “an evolutionary snapshot of [her] ongoing prose experiment that hinges the matter of writing to ongoing social upheaval.” She will read from her new book and then be joined by Canadian Studies faculty affiliate William Burton to discuss the politics and/of form, lesbian sexuality, colonisation, and more.
Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

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