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

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Merging into the more-specifically-titled thread...

Wasn't the word racist in the original title? Because removing that also squelches the more immediate issue at hand which is countering the really misplaced knee-jerk nature of the concern over this issue.

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Wasn't the word racist in the original title? Because removing that also squelches the more immediate issue at hand which is countering the really misplaced knee-jerk nature of the concern over this issue.

Fine. I don't remember the title, something like "is this racist ?" - I will put that in the subheading so there's a reference there.

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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.

It is not a contract, the bylaws are a caveat on title that applies to any owner of a share in the corporation.

If they were written in Mandarin, or any language other than English, they could not be registered at BC Land Titles and therefore would have no effect.

I think the meetings could be conducted in any 'reasonable' way the board chooses. In court the decision would hinge on what is reasonable. Reguar meetings are often restricted to board members unless an owner has an agenda item that is allowed for discussion. ,

It would not be unreasonable for a complex with many Chineses owners to translate minutes into Chinese, nor would it be unreasonable for those same minutes to be tranlated into Engish.

Condo boards have wide latitiude in their affairs.

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I think the meetings could be conducted in any 'reasonable' way the board chooses.

There is one aspect of this story which has been ignored: there were English speaking members of the the council until they were ejected by one Mandarin speaker that had collected enough proxy votes from owners who could not be bothered to show up for meetings. It is not clear why they were ejected but the intent seems to be a desire to get rid of English speakers so they could conduct business in Mandarin. If true this behavior is not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination. I think the court will look dimly at these kinds of exclusionary tactics.

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It is not a contract, the bylaws are a caveat on title that applies to any owner of a share in the corporation.

If they were written in Mandarin, or any language other than English, they could not be registered at BC Land Titles and therefore would have no effect.

I think the meetings could be conducted in any 'reasonable' way the board chooses. In court the decision would hinge on what is reasonable. Reguar meetings are often restricted to board members unless an owner has an agenda item that is allowed for discussion. ,

It would not be unreasonable for a complex with many Chineses owners to translate minutes into Chinese, nor would it be unreasonable for those same minutes to be tranlated into Engish.

Condo boards have wide latitiude in their affairs.

When reasonableness is not defined in law, we end up with expensive HRC or even legal battles. Why not define reasonableness at least somewhat more clearly in law to avoid this problem? Would it be that difficult to say that, unless the contract a person signs states otherwise, the corporation must serve him in the language of the contract which he agreed to sign?

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There is one aspect of this story which has been ignored: there were English speaking members of the the council until they were ejected by one Mandarin speaker that had collected enough proxy votes from owners who could not be bothered to show up for meetings. It is not clear why they were ejected but the intent seems to be a desire to get rid of English speakers so they could conduct business in Mandarin. If true this behavior is not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination. I think the court will look dimly at these kinds of exclusionary tactics.

Sounds like our Western Parliamentary system taught them well.

Joking aside, a legal guarantee to service in the language of the contract you signed unless the contract in question states otherwise would have prevented this from happening since as long as some owners had signed a contract in English with no linguistic specification in the contract, they would then have been bound to provide service in English.

To say that those who don't regularly vote should lose the right to vote won't fly.

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To say that those who don't regularly vote should lose the right to vote won't fly.

In most elections if you don't show up to vote on an issue your vote is not counted. You don't lose your right to show up and vote on the next issue. In any case, the council has a duty to represent the interests of all owners and cannot avoid that responsibility with a majority vote. This means they have a obligation to provide adequate translation services if people cannot understand the language used in the meetings and wish to listen and/or attend. Edited by TimG

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And that's probably exactly what will happen.

Those who were hoping it would also result in us abandoning multiculturalism will probably still be disappointed.

That's a cheery thought actually.

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Multiculturalism would be when people of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds live in the same places and coexist.

This would be the exact opposite of that.

Canada has a unique type of multiculturalism. Cultural mosaic. USA has a melting pot.

LINK

Canada has a mosaic.

LINK

In America, doesn't matter what you were before, you come to America, you become an American. In Canada, notice how all the nationalities are keeping their nationalities and to themselves. No one "becomes" Canadian, there is no forced concept of assimilation and become Canadian.. The Brazilian will stay Brazlian, they Israeli will stay Israeli, look at all the different nations who make up Canada. You stay in your own little ethnic area and that forms the mosaic. That is the multiculturalism the federal government promised. The chinese in Richmond are just doing what the federal government told them they could do. Come to canada, stay in their ethnic enclave and not leave it and still be full Canadians. Is it the Chinese who should be blamed or a federal government which refused to assimilate French Canadians and make them speak English and set the bad example for all other groups to follow. Soon BC will be the Chinese version of Quebec, demanding chinese language rights, chinese federalism, chinese supreme court justices and so on and so forth. And they are correct to do it because the English government didn't make the French assimilate so why should the Chinese or any other immigrant group. I don't want to hear but french founded blah blah blah, no they didn't Quebec was run by Anglos as was Montreal and French were 3rd class citizens in their own province which is why there was violent rebellion by them. The French got their butt beat in a war hundreds of years ago fair and square and were lucky the English didn't forcibly assimilate them. Should Chinese and native indian be nation languages too?

Multi-culturalism isn't about many cultures in the same locality, just same nation. French in Quebec, Chinese in Richmond, and English in between. Still multi-cultural. Don't like the chinaman's way of doing busness return to a place with more white people, like whistler.

Edited by H10
EDITED LINKS

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There is one aspect of this story which has been ignored: there were English speaking members of the the council until they were ejected by one Mandarin speaker that had collected enough proxy votes from owners who could not be bothered to show up for meetings. It is not clear why they were ejected but the intent seems to be a desire to get rid of English speakers so they could conduct business in Mandarin. If true this behavior is not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination. I think the court will look dimly at these kinds of exclusionary tactics.

The real question I have is what was the perceived benefit of the mandarins by excluding white people/English speakers? How was this a net benefit? I don't really see why they would want to do this anyways.

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In most elections if you don't show up to vote on an issue your vote is not counted. You don't lose your right to show up and vote on the next issue. In any case, the council has a duty to represent the interests of all owners and cannot avoid that responsibility with a majority vote. This means they have a obligation to provide adequate translation services if people cannot understand the language used in the meetings and wish to listen and/or attend.

I disagree. Supposing that a Spanish-speaker signed an English contract with no accompanying Spanish translation that never said anything about Spanish-language services. Given that the corporation would not have done anything that could have given the buyer the impression that it would provide Spanish-speaking services, why would it then be obligated to now do so?

Interpretation is extremely expensive.

The corporation should be obligated to provide interpretation only for those languages that its contract stated or gave the impression the corporation covered.

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Wasn't the word racist in the original title? Because removing that also squelches the more immediate issue at hand which is countering the really misplaced knee-jerk nature of the concern over this issue.

Last I checked, my knowledge of Chinese has not changed my skin colour. I'm still as white as any Old Stock Frenchman.

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Canada has a unique type of multiculturalism. Cultural mosaic. USA has a melting pot.

LINK

Canada has a mosaic.

LINK

In America, doesn't matter what you were before, you come to America, you become an American. In Canada, notice how all the nationalities are keeping their nationalities and to themselves. No one "becomes" Canadian, there is no forced concept of assimilation and become Canadian.. The Brazilian will stay Brazlian, they Israeli will stay Israeli, look at all the different nations who make up Canada. You stay in your own little ethnic area and that forms the mosaic. That is the multiculturalism the federal government promised. The chinese in Richmond are just doing what the federal government told them they could do. Come to canada, stay in their ethnic enclave and not leave it and still be full Canadians. Is it the Chinese who should be blamed or a federal government which refused to assimilate French Canadians and make them speak English and set the bad example for all other groups to follow. Soon BC will be the Chinese version of Quebec, demanding chinese language rights, chinese federalism, chinese supreme court justices and so on and so forth. And they are correct to do it because the English government didn't make the French assimilate so why should the Chinese or any other immigrant group. I don't want to hear but french founded blah blah blah, no they didn't Quebec was run by Anglos as was Montreal and French were 3rd class citizens in their own province which is why there was violent rebellion by them. The French got their butt beat in a war hundreds of years ago fair and square and were lucky the English didn't forcibly assimilate them. Should Chinese and native indian be nation languages too?

Multi-culturalism isn't about many cultures in the same locality, just same nation. French in Quebec, Chinese in Richmond, and English in between. Still multi-cultural. Don't like the chinaman's way of doing busness return to a place with more white people, like whistler.

So the rhetoric goes.

In reality though, one could more accurately describe Canada as two melting pots: English and French. You only need to look at the Indian residential school system, the Gradual Civilization Act, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the abrogation of the freedom of French, German, and Ukrainian Canadians to send their children to school in their own languages in the English-speaking provinces after WWI, the French Language Charter, school underfunding on reserves and discriminatory immigration and education policy to see that, rhetoric aside, we have always had an assimilation policy, albeit more subtle today. Consider that all of those Chinese-speakers in Richmond must send their children to school in English.

As for the USA, the official language of El Cerito, TX, has Spanish as its official language, so the USA has a cultural mosaic of sorts too.

Canada and the USA are not all that different except in their choice of rhetorical stereotyping.

If anything, Canada might be more two melting pots and the US more the cultural mosaic than Canada considering its greater tolerance of Spanish in schools, funding and legislation for its indigenous languages, etc. Whereas Ontario's all have to learn French and Québécois English in high school as their second language, US students can choose ESL. Under Bush, the feds also provided funding (and maybe still do) to encourage Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, and Korean in high school (presumably for national security interests). Students living outside of Grand Ronde reserve in Oregon can also learn Chinuk Wawa to fulfil their second language requirement.

So again, which is more the melting pot (or two) and which is the cultural mosaic is not so clear when we look at the facts.

Edited by Michael Hardner
Removed images

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The real question I have is what was the perceived benefit of the mandarins by excluding white people/English speakers? How was this a net benefit? I don't really see why they would want to do this anyways.

They probably intended to save money on hiring an interpreter (which is very expensive) and were probably tired of sitting through relay interpretation (consecutive interpretation being even more expensive, requiring listening devices for all).

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My guess is that the HRC will also consider the cost of translation and the reality thst, unlike a government, a business might have more limited means. It might still rule in favour if interpretation in spite of this, but probably only because it did give the original owners a reasonable impression that it would provide English service, meaning that any such ruling is not likely to suddenly expend to the Spanish-speaker for example.

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Interpretation is extremely expensive.

The corporation should be obligated to provide interpretation only for those languages that its contract stated or gave the impression the corporation covered.

First: Strata councils are not like other private corporations because they are tasked with the collective management what could be the largest single asset held by a heterogeneous group of owners. This means that the position of minority owners deserves more consideration that it would in other contexts.

Second: English should be used because it is the common language in BC and everyone is expected to learn over time. Any other language choice is exclusionary. That said, the argument made above means that recent Mandarin speaking immigrants in this strata may feel just as disenfranchised and should not be ignored.

Third: translation from English to Mandarin is expensive but it is a more inclusive option than simply mandating that all council meetings be in English. Fortunately, in this situation the cost of paying for translation would come out of condo fees so non-English owners have a financial interest in minimizing the amount of translation that they ask for.

Edited by TimG

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Who? Me? I'm in America at present. Toronto to be exact.

No not you, I responded to something Hernandy said, before the mods decided to delete it I guess. Kinda leaves me hanging out there doesn't it?

Say hi to TO, my old home town.

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This means that the position of minority owners deserves more consideration that it would in other contexts.

The 'position' of all owners is the same, there is no 'minority' or majority when it comes to rights or responsibilities.. It is all spelled out in the bylaws. Some of those responisibilities are ceded to board members, who are elected solely by and from owners/shareholders.

English should be used

The board can choose any language it wishes at meetings, with majority consent of the board- not the members. However, they also have a duty to communicate their proceedings to members, and if aa significant number are unilingual English or Mandarin the minutes should be available in both.

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No not you, I responded to something Hernandy said, before the mods decided to delete it I guess. Kinda leaves me hanging out there doesn't it?

Not really...it is expected that "America" weighs heavily on such Canadian topics, even those as mundane as the language used by a BC condo council. That's just how things are defined/discussed here. All is well...

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The 'position' of all owners is the same, there is no 'minority' or majority when it comes to rights or responsibilities.

The Strata Property Act allows the court to intervene when a strata council makes decisions or actions significantly unfair to an owner or a group of owners. IOW, decisions that are unfair to minority owners can be overturned. A majority does not give the council carte blanche to do whatever it wants.

The board can choose any language it wishes at meetings, with majority consent of the board- not the members.

The council meetings are not private and guests can attend. In this case the council sent out an email to all owners that basically said 'in the meeting Dec 8 we are speaking Mandarin and if you don't like that you can pound salt'. IOW, the council acted to deliberately exclude non-Mandarin speakers with its actions. This is wrong. The only time it would be acceptable if a meeting was convened and 100% of the people in the room at that time agreed to use a language other than English. Edited by TimG

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The Strata Property Act allows the court to intervene when a strata council makes decisions or actions significantly unfair to an owner or a group of owners. IOW, decisions that are unfair to minority owners can be overturned. A majority does not give the council carte blanche to do whatever it wants.

The decisions made must be communicated to shareholders in a way they can understand, within reason. The board is not compelled by anything to ensure that the minutes produced(the decisions made) in every native tongue of every owner. The board may ,make any reasonable decision it wishes within the bylaws. The only 'majority' required is a vote within the board itself, owners/shareholders do not vote on everyday work done. I doubt the courts would intervene if a board chose any language for regular meetings. The courts might intervene if a board was sued because they failed to follow their own legal bylaws, or failed to follow the Strata Act which is mute on language of meetings.

The council meetings are not private and guests can attend. In this case the council sent out an email to all owners that basically said 'in the meeting Dec 8 we are speaking Mandarin and if you don't like that you can pound salt'. IOW, the council acted to deliberately exclude non-Mandarin speakers with its actions. This is wrong. The only time it would be acceptable if a meeting was convened and 100% of the people in the room at that time agreed to use a language other than English.

They have zero duty to communicate anything to a 'guest'. Guests have n right to anything other than to sit and be quiet. Being a guest implies they are present to observe. If they submitted an agenda item, the board could consider hiring an interpreter to accommodate another language for that agenda than the one they choose for daily business, as a courtesy to a shareholder..

The bylaws set out a fair and standard way to change all this if the shareholders so choose.

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