Asia Pacific trade policies started by Pierre Trudeau are incentivizing money laundering and Chinese interference: Academic
Thesis from former RCMP data scientist probes "Impact of Canada’s Pacific Rim Strategy on the Vancouver Model of Money Laundering"
A groundbreaking criminology thesis has found the Pacific Rim strategy, a high-level framework of policies started in Pierre Trudeau’s government to dramatically increase investment and immigration from China, has exponentially increased Canada’s vulnerability to money laundering and “economic espionage, foreign interference, and Transnational Organized Crime operations.”
The research paper by Ashleigh Rhea Gonzales tackles sensitive matters that she says have been ignored by Ottawa for decades, because successive governments have prioritized Pacific Rim trade and wealth derived from affluent migrants and underground banks over Canada’s national security and housing affordability.
The hard-hitting thesis suggests Justin Trudeau’s enthusiastic pursuit of Pacific Rim policies incentivizes money laundering, and raises questions of “systemic corruption” within his and prior administrations.
Stephen Harper’s government also used the Pacific Rim framework but mitigated its impacts, cancelling a federal immigration-investor program found to be rife with fraud, which also boosted home prices in Vancouver through “millionaire visa” migrants from China that bought luxury homes but often paid little income tax in Canada.
Gonzales, a Simon Fraser University data scientist who worked until 2023 with the RCMP’s anti-gang forces in British Columbia, also breaks ground by conceiving an economic model to more accurately assess the scale of global funds laundered into Canadian homes, banks, casinos and financial products.
She found that a provincially-commissioned study that estimated about $5.3-Billion laundered into B.C. real estate in 2018, likely significantly under-calculated the scale of illicit funds channeled through Vancouver’s Chinese diaspora.
This system of underground transfers between China and Canada, dubbed the ‘Vancouver Model’ by an Australian professor, brings together transnational organized crime, affluent Chinese migrants seeking to export their wealth, and Canada’s government and financial professionals, in a mutually-beneficial web of transactions that evade police enforcement, because the pivotal international transactions are completed through off-the-books cash exchanges managed by criminal bankers.
According to Gonzales, Canada’s Pacific Rim policies have boosted domestic wealth as intended.
But unintended consequences in national security and inequality, including skyrocketing real estate prices and harms from the opioid epidemic that RCMP attribute to Vancouver Model financing, are now seriously undermining Canadian society.
“Many of these factors, such as the exponential growth in size and valuation of the real estate sector, have become double-edged swords in creating new economic opportunities for some and decreasing accessibility to an affordable cost of living for others,” the thesis finds.
“100 percent this is impacting housing affordability,” Gonzales said in an interview, adding the fentanyl trade stemming from Chinese transnational gangs that causes thousands of deaths annually in British Columbia, couldn’t flourish unless governments continued to accept Vancouver Model investment.
“Directly are there lives being lost?” she said. “No. Indirectly? Yes.”
As Gonzales explains it, the “grey zone” economy that has proliferated from half a century of Pacific Rim trade policy, has become self-perpetuating, with the same factors that make Vancouver Model money laundering hard to detect, attracting even more shadowy global money.
Meanwhile, Vancouver’s economy is an increasingly useful tool for state-sponsored infiltration that becomes harder to regulate as Chinese investment becomes more important to Canada’s treasury.
According to Gonzales’ thesis, Canadian intelligence believes President Xi Jinping’s foreign interference includes Beijing’s fostering of partnerships between organized crime and money laundering networks and Chinese security officials, that combine to exert influence in Canadian society, by leveraging diaspora investment in real estate, finance and industry.
This type of Chinese Communist economic influence in Canada can manifest because Xi’s military, security and business systems are directed to work together for Beijing’s geopolitical objectives, according to Gonzales, while Xi’s regime attempts to “manage the Chinese diaspora overseas as agents of Chinese foreign policy.”
“There is a strategic gain in these partnerships that culminates in something ideologically problematic to Canadian sovereignty,” her thesis says, “[with investments from China] destabilizing democratic sensibility when persistent and at scale.”