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B.C. condo language dispute sparks human rights complaint (merged with

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I'm very familiar with living in a multicultural environment.

This is not that. I think this owner most certainly has a beef. Is his sin not realizing he's living in a largely Chinese part of Canada and not accepting that it means he'll be pushed out?


Why on earth would you suggest 90% Chinese live in Richmond and why wouldn't Tim correct you, considering he lives there? Edited by Michael Hardner
fix quote

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Naw. This is an Asian thing. Enough bigotry to go around here. No need for Muslims.

Well it's probably also a case of people simply getting their noses out of joint when personalities clash at meetings. If the inability to find a way back towards a happier point when reason might have a better chance of prevailing someone has to step in and figure it out for them. I would suspect a lot of directors and owners and such can't wait until someone does.

Real trouble however would only accrue when unaffected outsiders feel some need to seize the heat of an issue's moment and conflate it with whatever issue is up their butt and really blow things out of proportion. I think they refer to that as hog-calling politics.

Edited by eyeball

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Chinese are a 90%+ majority in many neighborhoods of Vancouver and its suburbs, especially Richmond. This is inevitable given the immigration rates that Canada accepts. People will speak the language they are comfortable with... you can't really blame this strata council for doing that.

First-generation of anything can be difficult, however, second-generation Chinese are just as Canadian as anyone else. In fact, I find they adopt Canadian values better than a lot of other cultures. Compare second-generation to Hispanics, Italians and middle-easterners, they lose their sense of heritage a lot more, or it seems to me anyway.

I doubt this would be an issue if the council was second-generation Chinese.

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Why on earth would you suggest 90% Chinese live in Richmond and why wouldn't Tim correct you, considering he lives there?

True, that's a huge stretch even though it might feel like it sometimes.

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First-generation of anything can be difficult, however, second-generation Chinese are just as Canadian as anyone else. In fact, I find they adopt Canadian values better than a lot of other cultures.

My son in-law and his brother's gave their kids names that are filled with L's and R's. It's pletty funny risenting to the other glandparents.

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http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/richmond-condo-human-rights-language-strata-mandarin-english-chinese-1.3378013

Of course I reject Andreas Kargut and Harry Grey's arguments.

First, Harry Grey's appeal to Chinese not belonging to Canada's official languages applies only to Government administration and public education and not to the private sector.

Secondly, official bilingualism itself is a relic of the residential school era based on what the B&B Commission termed 'the two founding races' apart from 'the other ethnic groups' to the explicit exclusion of 'the Indians and the Eskimos' in its Book I, General Introduction, Paragraph 21.

Thirdly, his argument that Richmond isn't Beijing or Taiwan doesn't hold water as an argument for providing English translation when we consider that Richmond isn't England either.

The logic of Andreas Kargut's argument that Chinese-only meetings exclude him can just as easily be summed up as "A meeting held in language X excludes those who do not know language X."

That being said, I could agree with a law requiring a strata property to hold meetings in the language of its contracts unless the contracts specify otherwise.

I'm assuming these gentlemen had signed their contracts in English with their contracts never defining the strata property's language policy, and so the meetings that are not held in English should include English interpretation.

If the strata property council intended for the meetings to be held monolingually in Chinese, it should have provided Chinese contracts only or at least specify the property's language policy in the contract.

This has nothing to do with official bilingualism, Beijing, or Taiwan though, and everything to do with the contract.

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We're exploring the policy of establishing a boarding house in a few years with marketing targeting Chinese who want to send their children to university in Canada.

I can guarantee that the contract will spell out the house's linguistic policy clearly, unambiguously, and in detail.

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I thought in Canada the idea of multiculturalism was that we were supposed to be inclusive and respect the different cultures and languages. Seems these Mandarin speaking individuals are not being very inclusive with their meetings. That's not the Canadian way. I guess it's only white English speaking Canadians that are supposed to be inclusive. Many on this board have given examples of the problems with multiculturalism and have predicted this exact scenario.

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If the strata property council intended for the meetings to be held monolingually in Chinese, it should have provided Chinese contracts only or at least specify the property's language policy in the contract.

1) They had been living there for years and the meetings were in English. The change was recent after one Mandarin speaker convinced a bunch of owners who could not be bothered with council business to provide proxy votes which allowed one person to eject all non-Mandarin speakers from the council. The remedy that the guy is seeking from the HRC is a new vote for council where only those owners willing to show up to meetings will be allowed to vote.

2) The Strata Act exists to ensure all property owners get fair representation. Majority rule is not absolute. This imposes an obligation to ensure interested owners can understand the proceedings. This means adequate translation services must be provided no matter what language is used. It also could be interpreted to imply that in situations like this where there are completely different sub-groups among owners that each sub-group is entitled representation on the council if they want it. This would mean they can't eject non-Mandarin speakers on the basis of a majority vote.

3) All legal contracts in BC must be translated to English because that is what the court uses to enforce contracts (i.e. a judge will make a ruling based on the English version - not the original if the original is in a language other than English). Therefore all minutes of meetings must be reported in English. It does not really make sense to take minutes in a language other than English and translate them because the legally relevant version will be the English version.

Edited by TimG

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What is the problem have both English and Chinese? The federal law is French and English official language, do the Chinese know the law?

To answer the first question, they probably wanted to save money on interpretatiin and so settled on the majority language.

To answer the second question, according to the article, it would appear that they do know the law. The problem here seems to be a lack of clear laws on the matter. That's why I'd proposed a new law requiring businesses to provide service in the language of the contract that was signed unless the contract itself explicitly states otherwise.

I'd then proposed that we might even want the law to require that all such businesses clearly inscribe their spoken and written linguistic policies into all of their new contracts so as to avoid any ambiguity in the future.

Again, the problem here does not seem to be that the company is violating the law, but rather that a law is lacking where a law should be.

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A white guy making a complaint to the HRC. This is going to throw the commission into a quagmire. How can they get out of this. lol

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A white guy making a complaint to the HRC. This is going to throw the commission into a quagmire. How can they get out of this. lol

Simple. If monolingual English meetings ate allowed, then so are monolingual Chinese meetings. That's the human right to non-distinction.

In conclusion, there won't be much the HRC could do. I don't even know if the HRC's mandate allows it to make legislative recommendations to the Government to fix the problem. If so, it could do that, otherwise its hands will be tied.

I don't think this will stop at the HRC though. I'm sure once the HRC dismisses the case due to a lack of legislative tools at its disposal, the next step will be for the public to call on the Government to legislate a solution. To my mind at least, the solution I'd proposed above would be among the most just.

And if indeed BC law requires for there to be an English version of a contract, then unless the contract specifies the company's linguistic policy, the company should be required to provide service in English. Since I imagine the contracts with the plaintiffs were in English or at least included an English version, and presumably did not specify any linguistic policy, then yes, perhaps it's time to adopt a law requiring companies to provide service in the languages of a contract where no linguistic policy is specified in the contract.

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Simple. If monolingual English meetings ate allowed, then so are monolingual Chinese meetings. That's the human right to non-distinction.

Except this country has only two official languages and Mandarin isn't one of them. This should be interesting.

Edited by Wilber

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everything to do with the contract.

What contract are you talking about? The service contracts the condo board has with their management company? Contracts with service providers?

Or are you talking about the 'contract' that is the bylaws of the condo corproation, the paper that defines the powers of the boards and responsibilities/rights of owners? Because that 'contract' is incumbent on everybody, and is part and parcel of the title to each unit. As an owner, you accept it as law until under the terms of the contract. That document is also registered in Land Titles by and for the condo corporation, and I very much doubt that Land Titles accepts documents that are not in English.

So what 'contract' are you talking about?

Edited by overthere

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Except this country has only two official languages and Mandarin isn't one of them. This should be interesting.

Though it will likely consider other factors and recognize that its decision could set a precedent.

For example, let's suppose the corporation intended for English as its written language and ASL as its spoken wit no services provided in othe language to proot efficiency. Going by official status in the Constitution, the Deaf would then have no rights. Besides, the Charter deals only with the languages of Government and of education, and not of the private sector, and rightfully so.

To go by the official languages of the Constitution could also violate Treaty rights should a condo corporation decide to work in the local indigenous language, again monolingually to save money.

For these and other reasons, I can't imagine the HRC giving much weight to the Constitutional status of a language when deciding g on a provate-sector dispute.

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What contract are you talking about? The service contracts the condo board has with their management company? Contracts with service providers?

Or are you talking about the 'contract' that is the bylaws of the condo corproation, the paper that defines the powers of the boards and responsibilities/rights of owners? Because that 'contract' is incumbent on everybody, and is part and parcel of the title to each unit. As an owner, you accept it as law until under the terms of the contract. That document is also registered in Land Titles by and for the condo corporation, and I very much doubt that Land Titles accepts documents that are not in English.

So what 'contract' are you talking about?

I was talking about any document the owners themselves signed to agree to. Should the bylaws have been incident in these, explicitly or impicitly, then it would include the bylaws too. In such a case, if the bylaws are printed in English and it is reasonable for the home buyer to conclude by this that unless a linguistic policy is explicitly stated in the bylaws, meetings will provide English interpretation if necessary, then such interpretation ought to be provided.

It should be the corporation's responsibility to avoid such confusion. If the bylaws are understood to be part of the contract the buyer is signing on to, the bylaws are printed in English, and the corporation has no intention of providing service in English, then the onus should have been on the corporation to specify explicitly in the contract or bylaws what the linguistic policy is so as to avoid misunderstanding. Not having done so while knowing full well that English bylaws could lead to the assumption English services will be provided effectively puts a moral obligation on the corporation to provide service in,English.

As for a legal ibligation, unfortunately it appears that that might not be the case, in which case provincial laws will need to be updated to address this problem.

If bylaws are printed in English and the corporation does not intend to provide service in English, then that should be explicitly specified in the contract or the bylaws to avoid any confusion.

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Since, Mandarin isn't an official language I agree with Tim that translation services should be provided at the meetings. However, if meetings were conducted in either English or French, I don't think translation services would be necessary to meet the language needs of all members.

Last I checked, French is not an official language of the BC governmemt, and rightfully so.

Only Federal is bilingual in BC.

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I think it's time to wake up to reality though. Lately, most of my spoken interactions among friends have been in Mandarin, my English, French, and Esperanto being limited to the written form except on occasion at the shop or restaurant where I'll use either French or English.

In any environment, official monolingual ism is ideal, and so I agree with the condo corporation in principle. I've sat through bilingual meetings multiple times and they aren't fun.

That said, I disagree with the corporation's method in this case and so it should include English in this case given the circumstances.

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In any environment, official monolingual ism is ideal, and so I agree with the condo corporation in principle. I've sat through bilingual meetings multiple times and they aren't fun.

A Strata Corp is not a really a 'private business' because it exists to look after the interests of many different owners which do not always have the same interests. All members of the council have a fiduciary duty to ALL owners and cannot discriminate against some based on arbitrary criteria like language. This implies an obligation to provide adequate translation services when requested.

http://cooperator.com/article/is-your-board-carrying-out-its-fiduciary-duty

Also, people can write contracts in languages other than English but the English translation is what has to be presented to the court if one wishes to have the contract enforced. This means English is the preferred language for all legally relevant communication and should be the default language when heterogeneous groups mix as is the case with a Strata council.

Edited by TimG

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A Strata Corp is not a really a 'private business' because it exists to look after the interests of many different owners which do not always have the same interests. All members of the council have a fiduciary duty to ALL owners and cannot discriminate against some based on arbitrary criteria like language. This implies an obligation to provide adequate translation services when requested.http://cooperator.com/article/is-your-board-carrying-out-its-fiduciary-dutyAlso, people can write contracts in languages other than English but the English translation is what has to be presented to the court if one wishes to have the contract enforced. This means English is the preferred language for all legally relevant communication and should be the default language when heterogeneous groups mix as is the case with a Strata council.

And that's why such contracts should present no surprises. It is reasonable to assume unless the contract states otherwise that the corporation will provide service in the language in which the contract was signed. It would not be unreasonable for a law to require a corporation to offer service in the languages in which its contracts are signed unless the contracts themselves state otherwise.

In this particular case I assume that these owners had signed an English-version of the contract (or at least one that included English translation) and with no mention of the corporation's linguistic policy, which led them to reasonably assume that the contract guaranteed service in English.

If the corporation intended otherwise, then it should have either refused to provide an English version of the contract or at least inscribed its linguistic policy into the contract. It did neither and so the Government should draft a new law requiring the corporation to provide English service in this case.

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