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Letters: Eby-Yan study was racist

A Richmond News reader takes issue with the 2015 Eby-Yan study
David Eby
Attorney General David Eby.

Dear Editor,

Re: “How is David Eby a racist, Ms. Wat?” Letters, June 17.

I refer to Carlos Yee’s letter taking issue with Richmond MLA Teresa Wat’s alleged description of Attorney General and Housing Minister David Eby as “racist.” It would be helpful for your readers if you can provide the link to Ms. Wat’s alleged comment.

Mr. Yee’s main point of contention is the 2015 study that Mr. Eby played a key role in co-producing with SFU urban planner Andy Yan.

It is important to know the background of the Eby-Yan study as it remains influential in the B.C. housing discourse to this day.

Mr. Eby pre-selected data with his tiny sampling of 172 homes sold in an expensive Vancouver neighbourhood over a six-month period. 

In 2015, Metro Vancouver recorded over 42,000 home sales. That sample of 172 homes represents around 0.4 per cent of the total sold in the region in 2015. Ethnic Chinese people formed about a fifth of MetroVancouver’s then 2.5 million people. Mr. Eby narrowed his data selection to a wealthy neighbourhood known for its popularity with Chinese people, many of them without Anglicized names.

Given this highly skewed data set, you don’t need an urban planning or housing expert to “discover” that 66 per cent of those buyers were ethnic Chinese, and that they had “non-Anglicized” names.

This “study” should have been put into the trash bin from the start. It is an example of the abuse of statistics to sell a pre-determined conclusion. Sadly, in this case, it was used to fan populism to impact public policy. The sampling methods are so bad and amateurish that it is astounding someone of Mr. Yan’s expertise would have agreed to consider it worthy of serious consideration and publication.

But in the angry mood of 2015, that “study” boosted the public profiles of both Mr. Eby and Mr. Yan. The mainstream media not only failed to do its job to scrutinize it, reporters promoted it as “evidence” that ethnic Chinese, especially new immigrants from China and foreign money from China, were buying up the scarce local housing supply. The housing crisis blamed on Chinese immigrants and money was set alight.

The Eby-Yan study of 2015 is racist. 

From conception to its continuing influence on blaming foreign capital for Metro Vancouver’s housing problems, the Eby-Yan study has been key to Chinese-scapegoating for a monumental failure of policy making on a major public interest issue.

Some Canadians have shown themselves just as pre-disposed to Trumpian tendencies for bad information when it feeds their prejudices.

Shamefully, the defence of that study continues among influential people to this day. Mr. Eby himself has apologized for his role in stoking anti-Chinese sentiments as a result of the study. The rest should follow his example.

Ng Weng Hoong