Canada’s slow-growing COVID divisions; How speculation taxes affect immigrants

A newsletter from one of our fellow Canadian organizations in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements

In This Issue:

Upcoming Events

  • “COVID-19 and Delayed Political Polarization in Canada”

Program News

  • Hildebrand Fellow Taesoo Song investigates effects of Ontario’s housing speculation tax

Research Opportunities

  • Hildebrand Fellowship applications open!

External Events

  • “Home Away From Home: Reflections on the Canadian Expat Experience”


COVID-19 and Delayed Political Polarization in Canada

Wednesday, Nov. 30 | 12:30 pm PT | 223 Moses | RSVP here

The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with large degrees of deep partisan polarization. In the US case, partisanship rapidly became associated with differences in the willingness to practice social distancing, to wear a mask, and eventually to get vaccinated. It was also associated with different risk perceptions about COVID and different relationships between COVID concern and evaluation of incumbents. The Canadian case is different. Partisan differences in evaluations of COVID and behavioural responses to it were small through the first year of the pandemic, but then began to widen. Drawing on more than 100,000 survey interviews with Canadians, we explore why political polarization over COVID was delayed.

Peter Loewen is the director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He is also the director of the Policy, Elections & Representation Lab (PEARL), associate director of the Schwartz Reisman Institute, a Senior Fellow at Massey College, and a fellow with the Public Policy Forum. He received his B.A. from Mount Allison University and his Ph.D. from l’Université de Montréal. Professor Loewen’s work has been published in numerous journals, and he is a regular contributor to the media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star and National Post.

If you require an accommodation to fully participate in this event, please let us know with as much advance notice as possible.


Hildebrand Fellow Taesoo Song Investigates Effects of Ontario’s Housing Speculation Tax

By Taesoo Song

Taesoo Song is a Ph.D. candidate in the City & Regional Planning Program at UC Berkeley. He holds a B.A. in economics and an M.S. in urban planning and engineering from Yonsei University in Seoul. His research specializes in housing policy, gentrification and neighborhood changes, urban economic development, and migration. He received a Hildebrand Graduate Research Fellowship in Summer 2022 to study the effectiveness – and effects – of Ontario’s tax on foreign speculators on the region housing market.

In July 2022, I had the opportunity to conduct a scoping study in Toronto with the generous support of the Canadian Studies Program. I originally aimed to study the impacts of the Ontario Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST) on the distribution of immigrants and inequality when I first arrived in Toronto. During my stay, however, I realized that the NRST could be reflecting an underlying tension in Ontario and Canada concerning immigrants, foreign capital, housing markets, and integration.

The Hildebrand Fellowship supported my flight, accommodations, and living expenses, as well as compensation for interviewees. My field research mainly involved networking with other housing and immigration researchers, conducting interviews with local real estate agents, and identifying and observing quantitative data. In Toronto, I was able to attend seminars and events on the local housing market and urban development, most of which were hosted by the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. I also networked with other scholars working on my research topic, including those at the University of Toronto, York University, and the Canadian Housing Mortgage Corporation (CMHC). These scholars provided me with valuable resources and insight into Canada’s history of immigration and housing policy, which allowed me to refine and expand my original questions and identify different types of quantitative data for housing research.

I also conducted four semi-structured interviews with real estate agents who mostly work with immigrants. I learned that these agents did not find believe that the NRST was effective at reducing housing costs. However, despite being immigrants themselves, they still supported it due to the belief that “Canadian land and housing belong to Canadians”. Nevertheless, the interviewees were unable to clearly distinguish between immigrants and speculative foreigners. Moreover, they could not articulate to what extent foreign speculation affected the local housing market. This (un)perceived tension between foreign speculative investment, housing unaffordability, and immigration is where I hope to build on my dissertation.

Lastly, I was able to explore different parts of Toronto and North York, observing the

spatial distribution of different types of housing (single-family housing, condominiums, row houses, etc.), construction activities, and immigrant neighborhoods. I also gained a better understanding of the Greater Toronto Area’s transit networks, employment centers, and the development trajectories of different neighborhoods and how they are related with each other.

Based on my preliminary research activities, I hope to eventually write a dissertation on the foreign homebuyer taxes in British Columbia and Ontario, where I plan to investigate (1) the relationship between immigration and neighborhood change; (2) the political and economic motivations behind the taxes in the two provinces and their effects on the discourses concerning immigrants; and (3) the effectiveness of the taxes in curbing housing costs and the mechanisms through which they do so.


Now Accepting Applications for Hildebrand Graduate Research Fellowships!

Spring research deadline: December 9, 2022

The Canadian Studies Program is currently accepting applications for the Edward E. Hildebrand Graduate Research Fellowship for Spring and Summer 2023. The application is open to UC Berkeley graduate students in any discipline whose work focuses primarily or comparatively on Canada. This fellowship is meant to cover direct research costs, with a typical award maximum of $5,000.

The application deadline for Spring 2023 research is Friday, December 9; applications for Summer 2023 should be submitted by March 10.

Please visit our website for more information and full eligibility criteria, and help us share this information with your friends, students, and networks!


Home Away From Home: Reflections on the Canadian Expat Experience

Thursday, November 17 | 4:00 pm PT | Online | RSVP

Western Washington University will host our board chair, David Stewart, for a conversation on his new memoir, True North, Down South: Tales of a Professional Canadian in America. Using a Canadian émigré lens, the essay collection entertains and educates readers about immigrant and national identity, cultural misunderstandings, and belonging in the modern world.

David Stewart is a Bay Area-based consultant, helping Canadian tech clusters connect into the local ecosystem. He is a former “chairmoose” of the Digital Moose Lounge, an association of Canadians in Silicon Valley, and the advisory board chair of Canadian Studies at UC Berkeley. His essays have received awards in San Francisco’s Soul-Making Keats literary competition and have appeared in Potato Soup Journal, Bewildering Stories, and The Quiet Reader.

This event will be available via Zoom: to RSVP, click here. The talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Canadian-American Studies, the Institute for Global Engagement, and the Ray Wolpow Institute in partnership with the WWU Alumni Association.

Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Facebook  Twitter
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley213 Moses Hall #2308Berkeley, CA 94720

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.