The most talked about story in Vancouver over the weekend was a CBC News report about the B.C. premier taking a pair of real-estate companies with her to Asia.
“B.C. real estate companies join Christy Clark on trade mission to Asia,” the May 28 headline reads.
What a scandal.
So-called foreign buyers snatching up multi-million-dollar homes are public enemy number one here in B.C. Hard-working Vancouver locals have been totally priced out of the town they grew up in. And here is the premier herself taking real-estate companies on a government jet so that they can give foreigners the scoop on Vancouver property sales.
The article had just under 4,000 shares at the time of writing and nearly 500 angry comments posted below it. The majority of those comments that I skimmed through berated the premier for putting millionaires in Asia ahead of her own constituents.
Except Clark has done nothing of the sort. Reading past the headline that’s been shared so many times reveals a very different story.
First of all, Clark’s trade mission to Asia—which includes 64 companies and is her seventh since taking office—doesn’t even stop in China, the country that some studies have identified as the source of foreigner buyers purchasing Vancouver homes.
Second, the two real estate companies in question have said they are not selling residential properties on the trip. They are not selling Vancouver homes to anybody in Asia.
Nu Stream Realty told CBC News it purchased a ticket on Clark’s plane to promote commercial properties.
And Sutton West Coast Realty, in a twist of irony, has said it is on the trip to help Canadian citizens purchase properties in the Philippines.
So yes, Sutton is facilitating sales to foreign buyers, except those foreign buyers are Canadians.
The CBC News story includes most of those details in its article, though not until paragraphs eight and nine, halfway down the page. Then it largely frames the story as newsworthy as a matter of “bad optics”.
Vancouver-based journalists I chatted with over the weekend questioned whether the article would have been written at all had the trade mission travelled to Europe.