Conflicts of Interest – BC MLAs Heavily Invested In RE Making Laws About RE


Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James say the government is still working out the details of a new speculation tax on B.C. properties.

It’s a discussion their colleagues in the legislature will be keenly interested in, as many of them own two or more homes in the province.

Horgan said the government has delivered on its promise to put in place a speculation tax. But the announcement has sparked concern from owners of vacation homes who fear a hefty tax bill.

“We haven’t laid out the details,” Horgan said. “Now we’re making sure the minister of finance, with the assistance of British Columbians, will be able to fine tune that so we realize the objectives of the tax and also go forward in a way that makes sense to people.”

The February budget included a speculation tax that will be effective for the 2018 tax year. The government said the tax would initially apply in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the Capital and Nanaimo Regional Districts, and the municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna.

The tax was to target properties owned by people who don’t pay income tax in the province. It will be $5 per $1,000 of assessed value this year and in 2019 will rise to $20 per $1,000 assessed value.

That means that someone with a $1-million property covered by the tax would be looking at a $5,000 tax bill for 2018 and $20,000 in 2019.

“This tax will target foreign and domestic speculators who own residential property in B.C., but don’t pay taxes here, including those who leave their units sitting vacant,” materials released with the budget said.

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The tax is a bold measure, [Carole James] said. “We want to get speculation out of the market. We know it’s a problem in our housing market. We know we have to address it. We know British Columbians expect us to address it. It was ignored by the previous government. We’re acting on it.”

That action could affect dozens of the province’s 87 MLAs and their families based on their public financial disclosure statements. The statements also give a window into how complicated many people’s real estate dealings are.

Horgan, for example, has a one-third interest in an investment property in Victoria. As long as it’s rented for the long-term he’ll be exempt from the speculation tax, but not if it’s sitting empty.

James owns not just the home she lives in, but she is also the joint owner with a family member of a second home in Victoria. Presumably that home is her relative’s principal residence, which would make it exempt.

But what about out-of-town MLAs who use the allowances — from $12,000 to $19,000 a year — provided for housing in the capital to help buy second homes? On the NDP side they include Bruce Ralston, Selina Robinson, Ravi Kahlon and Rachna Singh.

Shane Simpson and Scott Fraser each disclose owning a half share in a Victoria home and principal residences elsewhere. Fraser also owns an investment property in Parksville. Leonard Krog has an investment property in Victoria and a recreational property at Black Creek.

Claire Trevena owns a second home in Victoria and an investment property on Quadra Island. Spencer Chandra Herbert owns a second home in Victoria, but also has an investment property in Vancouver and a 50-per-cent interest in a recreational property in West Vancouver.

Michelle Mungall owns a second home in Victoria, two investment properties in Nelson and a third in Castlegar. All three investment properties are outside the regions where the new tax is to apply.

David Eby, by the way, owns a home in Victoria, but not in Vancouver where the constituency he represents is.

On the Liberal side, MLAs owning a second home in Victoria include Marvin Hunt, John Yap, Mike Bernier, Ralph Sultan and Jordan Sturdy.

“There’s no consideration around ‘special’ for one group or another,” James said when asked how the new tax may affect MLAs with second homes in Victoria. “We’re going to look at all of the questions and issues that have come forward and we’re going to make the decisions and bring the implementation forward.”

Among the Greens, Andrew Weaver owns a recreational property in Parksville and two investment properties in Victoria. Sonia Furstenau’s spouse has an investment property in Victoria.

Several MLAs also have recreational properties. Cabinet minister Judy Darcy has a recreational property on Mayne Island, which is included in the areas where the tax will apply. NDP MLA Janet Routledge owns a recreational property on Mayne Island and a timeshare in Whistler.

Peter Milobar shares with family members a cabin on Shuswap Lake. Greg Kyllo and spouse have a 50-per-cent interest in a recreational property at Silver Star in Vernon.

Others hold investment properties that are likely rented out. Bob D’Eith’s spouse has an investment property in Langley. Raj Chouhan’s spouse has a one-third interest in a Burnaby property. Teresa Wat owns an investment condo in Vancouver. Norm Letnick’s spouse has an investment property in Kelowna. Mike de Jong has an ownership interest in half a dozen investment properties in Abbotsford.

And then there are the oddities, situations where it’s unclear what would count as a principal residence and what wouldn’t. Michael Lee lists ownership as a trustee for a family member on a house in Vancouver (other than his residence), as does his spouse. His spouse also has a one-seventeenth interest in agricultural property in Langley.

Anne Kang and her spouse each own residential properties in Burnaby. Katrina Chen co-owns a residence in Vancouver with family and has a second home in Burnaby with her spouse. Ian Paton owns a home in Delta while his spouse owns one in Abbotsford.

George Heyman has a house in Vancouver, but with his spouse has a second house in Vancouver and a recreational property at an unspecified location in B.C.

Other properties are unlikely to be affected. Katrine Conroy has grazing land in the Kootenays, for example. John Rustad owns a wood lot license and four other pieces of rural property.

Several MLAs have interests in properties that are clearly out of reach of the tax. Doug Clovechok has an investment property in Calgary. Tracy Redies owns investment properties in Saskatoon and Virginia. Rick Glumac’s spouse has an investment property in Denver. Mike Farnworth has an investment property in the United Kingdom. Jagrup Brar has interests in properties in Alberta and India and Harry Bains has land in India.

– from ‘Many MLAs Have Personal Interest in Speculation Tax Hit’, Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee, 12 Mar 2018

File Under Tags: ‘Tolerant Vancouver Renter’ and ‘YouGottaBeKiddinMe’

“I’m an international student. When I moved here I asked for advice about the best place for me to live. I needed something close to my lab at VGH and also near to UBC, and Kitsilano sounded great. I was told to search on Craigslist, even though I’d heard it could be a bit sketchy. I thought, ‘How bad could it be’?

“The first apartments I viewed didn’t work out. They were closets downtown, or rooms separated in half by curtains. Then I found this house that seemed almost too good to be true. It was a great location, and the ad said that there were a few international people staying there. I never had a chance to Skype with the landlady, but we talked over Facebook Messenger. She seemed nice, and said that I’d have to pay a deposit right then. I did.

“When I got there, I found that there were more than 10 people living in the house. It was the smallest place on the street, and it didn’t look like it could hold so many tenants, but somehow it did. I think there was supposed to be five bedrooms, but the landlady had made plywood or fake walls, and then pushed a lot of people in a big basement. During one month I was there, we had 14 people staying. It was cramped, but I’d paid my deposit so I thought I’d stick it out.

“The first few weeks were okay. Everyone there was really nice. No one locked the doors, and people didn’t steal from each other. It was quite hippie, but nice. The landlady wasn’t around a lot, and that was cool. But then it started getting weird.

“She started moving more and more of her stuff into the house, even though she didn’t live there. She kept taking things from us. At one point, we had a washing machine and a dryer, and then all of a sudden it vanished. We got a new one that we paid for, but she told us we couldn’t have it because the neighbours were complaining. I have a suspicion she took it and sold it.

“She kept pushing more and more people into the house until it didn’t feel safe. Out of nowhere, six new international people would suddenly show up. Some would just stay in a van on the front yard, and she would charge $500 a week just for the sake of having them somewhere. Every now and again, a random person would wander in, and when we asked them who they were, they said they were there to view a room. The landlady wouldn’t say they were coming round, and after we tried to call her, she’d tell us to show them the house even though we didn’t know which room they were meant to be seeing.

“What pushed me over my limit was when she started doing odd renovations and spray painting everything. I’d go down and look at the basement, and the whole place would suddenly be bright pink, and the door would be sprayed gold. Then half the bathroom would be silver. It was just so strange.

“I found out she wasn’t technically the landlord, but was acting as a property manager. The weird thing was that I paid rent to her 16-year-old son. He would meet me on a street with two big dogs, and I would give him an envelope of money. She didn’t want to have any electronic transfers or any documentation of the rent. I don’t think she wanted the money to be able to be traced. We didn’t know who owned the place, but it looked like she handed over the rent to a guy who would randomly pull up in a van about once a month.

“I was there for five months. I definitely stayed too long, but it was tough because everything else I saw wasn’t even a room—it was a wardrobe with a curtain—or it would be really far away from my work. It was hard to find something.

“I was glad when I finally left. I haven’t been by the house since, but it’s tempting to walk past and see if it’s still standing.”

– whole story from Renters of Vancouver: “I paid rent to her 16-year-old son”, Kate Wilson, Georgia Straight, 10 Mar 2018

Vancouver “an international housing-affordability basket case” with “RE bubble risk the worst in the world” – Maclean’s

“It was such a lovely picture that the City of Vancouver managed to paint of itself over the 10 years that Gregor “Happy Planet” Robertson was mayor that it’s no wonder so many people believed it. A thriving and happily multicultural Pacific metropolis of bike lanes and balmy weather. Diversity and eco-density and backyard chickens, high-tech startups, and the ski slopes on the mountains just across Burrard Inlet.

Now, with Robertson on his way out, and his Vision Vancouver party a ruined brand, whoever comes out on top in the October civic elections will be left to deal with what’s become of the place. Vancouver is now a kind of free trade zone for gangland money launderers, absentee offshore real-estate speculators, Chinese princelings on the lam and globe-trotting tax frauds. Metro Vancouver is an international housing-affordability basket case and the epicentre of Canada’s fentanyl overdose crisis. Over the past decade, homelessness has doubled, at least 4,000 people are sleeping rough in the streets, and there are now 70 homeless camps across the region. …

For now, the job of sorting everything out has fallen mostly to David Eby, B.C.’s 41-year-old Justice Minister and Attorney-General. Two months ago, in a speech at a conference co-hosted by Transparency International Canada and the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform, Eby described Vancouver and British Columbia in the most accurately unflattering terms.

“We knew there was something strange going on, but, my God, we had no idea it was this big,” Eby said. British Columbia had become reduced to “a jurisdiction where the rules do not apply to white collar crime, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, where even if the rules do apply, enforcement is absent.”

Over the past 10 years, the B.C. Securities Commission had collected less than two per cent of more than a half a billion dollars in fines levied against a rogue’s gallery of fraudsters, swindlers and ripoff artists. Among the beneficiaries of the previous Liberal government’s opaque “Advantage B.C.” head-office tax shelter scheme: PacNet, a collection agency the U.S. Treasury Department had listed as a transnational criminal organization with a sordid track record in money laundering and mail fraud, and China Poly Group, a shady Chinese state-owned enterprise with a payroll of 76,000, intimate ties to the People’s Liberation Army, and a portfolio that ranges from real estate development to arms and explosives and art exhibits. Advantage B.C. is now shuttered.

Among the sleazier aspects of the Liberal legacy was a peculiar toleration for dirty money being laundering through B.C.’s licensed casinos. Provincial officials were aware of the nastiness as far back as 2009. In January of that year, the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET) conducted a threat assessment focusing on organized crime in licensed casinos and asked the Crown-owned B.C. Lottery Corporation for expanded powers to tackle the problem. Six months later, the IIGET unit was disbanded because of “funding pressure.”

Last September, Eby appointed former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German, an authority on money laundering, to come up with a series of recommendations on how to cut the flood of dirty money into B.C.’s casinos, Metro Vancouver’s overheated real estate market and “other areas of B.C.’s economy.” German’s report is due next month.

In the meantime, Eby has instituted a simple rule change aimed at preventing drug money from being loaned out by underground “banks” to visiting high-stakes gamblers. The change was recommended to the Liberal government in 2016 in a report by MNP LLP, a national accounting, tax and consulting firm. The Liberal government kept the report secret. Among its findings: over the course of a single month—July 2015—Richmond’s River Rock Casino accepted $13.5 million in $20 bills from mostly “high roller Asian VIP clients,” in transactions that sometimes exceeded $500,000.

The MNP LLP rule change that the Liberals ignored, but which Eby has put in place: You will no longer be able to drive your Lamborghini from your $10 million Point Grey mansion across the Oak Street Bridge to Richmond, stroll into the government-licensed River RockCasino and buy your chips with a half a million dollars in $20 bills stuffed into a duffel bag, then cash out on the same day.

It’s a start.

Last month, Vancouver showed up as the third most unaffordable city on Demographia’s list of 92 cities around the world, behind Hong Kong and Sydney. When it comes to cities undergoing a deterioration in housing affordability, Vancouver ends up the worst. Demographia classifies a property market with median home prices five times the median income to be “severely unaffordable.” In little more than 10 years, Vancouver’s housing affordability predicament worsened from a home price multiple of 5.3 to 12.6 by last year.

Andy Yan, an urban analyst with Simon Fraser University’s city program, has been tracking the deterioration in Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability for several years. In 2014, 28 per cent of detached homes in Metro Vancouver were valued in excess of $1 million. In 2016, the percentage had jumped to 43 per cent. As of July 1 last year, 73 per cent of detached houses in Metro Vancouver were assessed at $1 million or more. The 15-per-cent foreign-buyers’ tax imposed by the B.C. government in 2016 as a sop to public outrage caused only a slight pause. Within weeks, the upward climb in house prices resumed.

Back in 2011, when the average price of a Vancouver home was roughly 11 times the average household income, Mark Carney, who was the Governor of the Bank of Canada at the time, warned in a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade that Vancouver real estate was taking on characteristics of financial asset markets that become trapped in “the classic market emotions of greed and fear—greed among speculators and investors—and fear among households that getting a foot on the property ladder is a now-or-never proposition.”

The greed and the fear took hold, compounded by a real estate spending spree of billions of dollars’ worth of capital spirited out of China by a variety of illegal, semi-legal and circuitous routes around Beijing’s currency controls.

The disastrous federal immigrant investor program contributed to this state of affairs by effectively selling Canadian citizenship to millionaire investors, mostly from China. The federal program was shuttered after assessments determined that the millionaires were contributing less to the federal treasury in tax returns than refugees. But the Quebec immigrant investor program continues in the form of a type of racket. Quebec skims an $800,000 interest-free loan from the investors as soon as they arrive. Most of them never settle in Quebec. Roughly half of the Quebec immigrant investors (28,000) have moved to Metro Vancouver, another 22,000 established residence in Ontario and elsewhere. Only 6,000 have stayed in Quebec.

A South China Morning Post analysis last December concluded that only about half of the primary breadwinners of immigrant-investor households remain in Canada after they settle their spouses and children here.

Meanwhile, detached houses and condominiums in Vancouver have become assets in a shadowlands protected by Canada’s lax money control policies. The British-registered charity Tax Justice Network, in its most recent Financial Secrecy Index, pegs Canada’s financial system as even less transparent than the setup in Russia or China.

Something is clearly rotten in Metro Vancouver’s property market. Household incomes reported to the Canada Revenue Agency in Metro Vancouver’s swankiest neighbourhoods are equivalent to incomes reported in the deeply impoverished Downtown Eastside. The disconnect between declared income and apparent housing wealth persists across Metro Vancouver “until you get out to the distant suburbs,” Eby says.

Two years ago, when the average detached home price within Vancouver city limits had soared to $1.4 million, the South China Morning Post crunched some numbers tallied up by the mathematician Jens von Bergmann at the Vancouver data firm MountainMath Software. What the data showed was that one in 10 Vancouver households were reporting a household income that was less than the amount required just for property taxes, mortgage payments, utilities and so on. That’s 24,960 households claiming to earn less in a year than they were spending on accommodation.

Another confounding figure: an almost equal number of homes within Vancouver city limits were empty last year. City of Vancouver staff identified 25,497 homes either vacant or occupied temporarily or by foreign residents. Of those, 21,820 homes were empty, year round. Mayor Robertson’s remedy was to apply an empty homes’ tax of one per cent of the home’s value. The program cost $4.7 million to set up and an additional $1.5 million in annual operating expenses.

It’s gotten so that it is practically impossible to determine how much of Metro Vancouver’s real estate is owned by Canadians, or even by local residents. A recent Transparency International study found that because of the presence of shell companies, numbered companies, trusts and proxy owners (students, spouses) listed as title holders, it is impossible to know who, exactly, owns about half of Vancouver’s pricier homes.

Last month, Statistics Canada released data showing that roughly five per cent of residential properties in Metro Vancouver appear to be directly foreign owned, but that figure may reflect only “the tip of the iceberg,” according to Haig McCarrell, director of StatsCan’s Canadian Housing Statistics Program. SFU’s Andy Yan crunched StatsCan’s numbers to discover that one in five of Metro Vancouver condos valued at $1.5 million or more (a typical three-bedroom condo lists at about $1.62 million) are foreign owned.

Among the items Vancouver housing activists want to see at the top of David Eby’s to-do list is the closing of the “bare trust loophole,” a tax dodge that Ontario outlawed in the 1980s. The loophole obscures the actual owners of a property and facilitates the evasion of various federal and provincial taxes.

On Feb. 20, B.C.’s New Democrats will unveil their first provincial budget in 17 years. The Union of B.C. Municipalities has put forward 32 proposals to address homelessness and clear up the housing horror show—mainly steep speculation taxes and investments in rental housing (Metro Vancouver’s rental vacancy rate currently stands at one per cent). There’s high hopes for the new $15.9-billion federal “co-investment fund” that Ottawa announced last year. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver wants B.C. to take a page from New Zealand’s playbook and ban foreign ownership of real estate outright.

Whatever B.C.’s new government does, deflating Metro Vancouver’s obscenely bloated real estate bubble should be expected to provoke stiff, big-money resistance. Vancouver’s real estate “bubble risk” is the worst in the world, according to the Global Real Estate Bubble Index compiled by the Swiss bank UBS. But at some point, Metro Vancouver’s property bubble is just going to have to burst.

And when that happens, there will be hell to pay.”

– from ‘The battle to clean up B.C.’, Terry Glavin, Maclean’s, 7 Feb 2018 [hat-tip El Ninja]

In our years of Vancouver RE Bubble-watching, we can’t recall a more adamant mainstream article… With this degree of shrill realization reaching voices like Maclean’s, the end has to be in sight. – vreaa

Vancouver Economy Over-Dependent On Debt Spending


When a mortgage is issued, money is injected into the economy from… nowhere.
Most people don’t realize this. Most think that mortgages come from money that originated in the real economy that is actually deposited in the bank, but that is most definitely not where mortgages come from. This ignorance is very widespread… poll intelligent people you know… you will find that most do not understand that commercial banks have the power to create new money. (A recent survey of UK Members of Parliament showed that the majority of them (85% !!) did not understand the source of mortgages… stunning information).

If somebody borrows $2 Million from a Canadian bank to buy a $4 Million Vancouver home, that $2 Million is created from nowhere. Nobody earned that money; the economy gets an artificial boost unrelated to any actual economic productivity within our society.

Vancouver has seemed to do well economically over the last 15+ years, largely because of the issuance of new debt. Vancouver has ‘imported’ money… from foreign sources, yes, but also from fresh air (and the latter source is greater and more important).

RE and closely related economic activity makes up 25% of BC’s GDP (2016). Construction is by far the largest new job generator in BC. Our economy has become highly dependent on an ever expanding RE sector (and ever increasing prices).

There were $38.4 Billion mortgage loan approvals in BC in 2010 on new and existing residential properties. (At 4.7 Million population this is $8,170 per capita per annum). We’d imagine more recent figures are considerably higher.*
BC has a GDP of $250 Billion (2015), so GDP per capita is $53,250.
Some of the newly issued mortgage debt must lead to the retiring of some old mortgage debt (when a sale completes) but we do not have figures regarding net new mortgage debt, which would be interesting (any readers have that?). That figure would represent the actual amount of newly created money released into the society from mortgages.*
When one considers that the ‘new money’, now in the hands of the seller, can then be used to be invested back into local RE (and leveraged again with more mortgage debt), one starts seeing how the RE ponzi can expand so malignantly.

Furthermore, if even a fraction of the new money is spent in other areas of the local economy, this makes our economy even more dependent on RE debt issuance. Add to this the ‘wealth effect’ of RE owners saving less and spending more because they believe their home is worth more and more, and one sees how dependence on RE price-expansion can spread deeply and broadly into an economy.

We don’t see any evidence that any real economic engines supporting Vancouver RE prices have fundamentally changed. There has not been growth in non-RE local economic activity anywhere near commensurate with the increases in RE prices. All evidence is that RE prices are still in a speculative bubble, fueled by debt.

This last year has seen a stalling in detached home prices and a 25% blow-off in attached prices.
If prices blink and lenders pull in their horns (with or without rising interest rates), the superficially virtuous cycle of a speculative debt-fueled bubble will implode, prices will plummet, mortgage debt will remain, and the cycle will become very vicious.

With Vancouver’s economy so overdependent on RE, we expect the inevitable reconciliation to lead to a deep local recession and many consequent adverse stresses on our society. Let’s hope we can weather the storm.

– vreaa

*PS: we’d welcome any updated figures from readers, especially info re net new money from mortgages.
Chart above from Ben Rabidoux.

hat-tip to El Ninja for links to these images:

Vancouver City Councillors Wake Up To ‘Fierce Speculative Demand’ – “There is significant evidence speculative investment has the biggest impact on housing costs in the city.”

“Speculative investment, the purchase of property based on anticipated price growth, has the biggest impact on housing costs in the city, according to Dan Garrison, a senior planner for the City of Vancouver. Some councillors feel this problem isn’t adequately addressed in the Housing Vancouver Strategy.

“There is significant evidence of speculative investment in our housing market that is driving housing costs,” Garrison said.
Gil Kelley, general manager, planning, urban design and sustainability for the City of Vancouver, said a lot of it has to do with excessive amounts of local and global capital from small and large investors looking to shelter their money and grow their equity.
“Vancouver is a very attractive city [as] a safe harbour for both B.C. residents and foreign investors,” Kelley said. “That coupled with low interest rates make for a pretty fierce speculative demand.”

– excerpt from ‘Vancouver to curb “fierce” demand by local and foreign housing speculators’, Thinkpol, 29 Nov 2017

Amen.
As we’ve been saying for… oooh… the last decade.
Solution to Vancouver Housing Conundrum:
Price crash to the point that all speculative interest is flushed out;
property prices then return to actual utility values as determined by actual ready money in our economy.
Problem solved.
– vreaa

The Dance Around Foreign Ownership of Vancouver RE

“..the City of Vancouver wants to collaborate with the provincial and federal governments to explore the viability of “restricting property ownership by non-permanent residents.”

That line appears in Vancouver’s 10-year housing strategy released Thursday, a comprehensive plan seeking to address all elements of the city’s housing crisis.

Upon learning the city’s new housing strategy proposes looking at restricting foreign ownership, Andy Yan told Postmedia: “It’s interesting … It’s the admission that you have a problem. As with many things in life, that’s the first step.”

“This does mark a bit of a sea change,” said Yan, now the director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program. “From the accusations that observers and critics are racists, to the realization that Vancouver does indeed sit in this global marketplace for residential real estate, through which local incomes can’t compete.”

The idea to investigate foreign ownership restrictions is one of a number of “tax and financial regulations to limit the commodification of housing and land for speculative investment” proposed in the city’s report, along with ideas like introducing a speculation and flipping tax, reforming federal and provincial tax regulations and seeking to “close loopholes.”

These proposals are designated as “high” priority in the city report, to be addressed in the first year of the 10-year plan.

Dan Garrison, Vancouver’s assistant director of housing policy, said Friday: “Our thinking on that has evolved in the last number of years … Whether it’s foreign ownership or investment from other sources, certainly that piece around investment driving housing costs is something that’s really ramped up in the public mind in the last couple of years.”

The city report raises the idea of investigating the examples of Australia and New Zealand, two countries where foreign ownership has been a red-button issue, that have both taken steps to limit foreign ownership.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James is “reviewing the tax system and evaluating existing and proposed housing tax measures,” including the role of speculation in B.C.’s housing market, as part of the planning for the 2018 budget, James said Friday in an emailed statement.

“However,” James said, “a ban on foreign ownership of homes is not being considered as part of Budget 2018 planning. British Columbians are proud to welcome thousands of newcomers each year who help strengthen our province.”

– excerpt from ‘Sea change’: Vancouver considers ‘restricting property ownership by non-permanent residents’, Dan Fumano, Vancouver Sun 25 Nov 2017

Information From Outside The Vancouver RE Bubble – U.S. Senator Lives In (don’t laugh) $500K Home


The story ‘Rand Paul is tackled from behind and ATTACKED by his Democrat-voting doctor neighbor while mowing the lawn at his home in exclusive Kentucky gated community’ [Daily Mail, 4 Nov 2017] is weird from a number of perspectives, but, viewing it from the epicentre of the Vancouver RE cult, one truly bizarre piece of info leaped out at us… Rand Paul is a US senator, and his “exclusive Kentucky gated community home” (photo above) “is worth around $500,000”. Surely this cannot be correct! Somebody must have dropped a zero. Embarrassing.