In wake of Attorney General David Eby's apology over study, he praises Andy Yan in email to Douglas Todd

This came nearly a month after the NDP politician told a provincial public inquiry that he regretted participating in a 2015 research project with Yan

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      According to Attorney General David Eby, Vancouver housing researcher Andy Yan "is one of the best for fearlessness and curiosity".

      Eby made the positive comment about Yan in an email to the Vancouver Sun's Douglas Todd.

      This came nearly a month after the attorney general told a provincial public inquiry that he had apologized for participating in a 2015 housing study with Yan, now the director of SFU's City Program.

      That Eby-Yan study tracked 172 housing purchases on Vancouver's West Side by people with non-Anglicized Chinese names.

      On April 26, B.C. Civil Liberties Association staff lawyer Jessica Magonet asked Eby at the provincial money-laundering inquiry if "making such broad statements about Chinese investment may help perpetuate a harmful narrative that conflates Chinese money with dirty money in British Columbia".

      "I have apologized for my participation in the study for exactly that reason," Eby said.

      The attorney general told the provincial money-laundering inquiry that his apology had already appeared in a previous article.

      The Straight has been unable to find it on the Internet. So on May 1, the Ministry of Attorney General was asked for a copy of this article.

      To date, the ministry has not provided it. 

      Eby-Yan study upset some, thrilled others

      Some of Asian ancestry have criticized the highlighting of non-Anglicized Chinese names in the Eby-Yan study.

      They include data analyst Jennifer Bradshaw, environmentalist How-Sen, antiracist campaigner Victor Wong, and journalist Ng Weng Hoong, as well as former Vancouver mayors Sam Sullivan and Gregor Robertson.

      "Andy Yan and @Dave_Eby, researchers are absolutely required to think through the ethics and racial stereotyping conclusions from their research," Bradshaw tweeted in a thread following publication of Todd's article. "This is especially important in City Planning, with its historically central role in racial segregation."

      Todd, on the other hand, cited retired UBC ethics professor Michael McDonald's comment from 2016 that there was nothing racist in the study because "name analysis is common in public health, political science and Asian-American studies". Yan's research has also been lauded by many journalists.

      The Eby-Yan study determined that nearly two-thirds of the houses in the relatively small sample size were bought by people with non-Anglicized names.

      The federal government–owned Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, on the other hand, reported that just 2.6 percent of condo purchases in the Vancouver metropolitan area were made by nonresident owners in 2016. That fell to 1.3 percent in 2019 and 1.1 percent in 2020.

      Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently released this table showing relatively low nonresident condo purchases in major Canadian metropolitan areas.

      Eby-Yan study upsets some, thrills others 

      In his recent email to the Vancouver Sun columnist, Eby emphasized that his job as a "community representative" differed from Yan's job as a researcher.

      “I apologized in 2016 because, in endorsing and supporting this academic study as a politician, I could have done a better job in anticipating and mitigating the risk the study would be used politically to scapegoat British Columbians of Chinese descent,” Eby told Todd in the email.

      Eby's recent decision to praise Yan came after he started getting vilified over social media for his comment about the 2015 study at the inquiry.

      As the minister responsible for housing, Eby has also come under criticism for agreeing to be interviewed by real-estate marketer Bob Rennie at an upcoming Urban Development Institute event.

      The tweets below by former ProVancouver council candidate Rohana Rezel offer an example of this. 

      For his part, Yan quoted writer Maya Angelou in his response to Todd's article.

      That drew a withering response from Bradshaw.

      She demanded over Twitter that Yan "not appropriate the words of Black women leaders".

      She also called on Eby to stop excusing research that "can light a racist blaze and burn marginalized people".

      "As much as I was happy that the NDP ousted the BCLiberals, frankly, I still feel sick to my stomach about the tactics used and the lack of policy progress since," Bradshaw declared.