Canada’s federal leaders’ election debates are a poor cousin of America’s presidential version, even if you know one of them will end up becoming the next prime minister. Even Canadians don’t bother much watching them on TV. But I did manage to watch a portion of the latest debate, which turned out to be intriguing. After all, what can be more fascinating than unaffordable housing, a big election issue? Well, it’s because the debates and criticisms are so remarkably similar in Hong Kong and Canada, at least when it comes to its biggest cities. The inflated market is driving away people who dream of becoming homeowners. People are forced into renting, which in turn is becoming unaffordable. Young couples have to bring up children in cramped flats. And of course, the generational war between older homeowners who are sitting pretty on their property with rising prices, and younger people who can’t get on the property ladder. Trudeau vows a two-year ban on foreign home buyers if re-elected As the moderator asked, which is more important: “Helping younger people get access to the market, or allowing older Canadians who rely on the value of their homes to live?” Sound familiar? It’s because they are practically the same concerns raised constantly in Hong Kong, and that is no accident. In fact, after criticising the housing supply policy of each other, the only thing the party leaders could agree on is scapegoating: foreign buyers are to blame for the housing woes in Canada. Well, how convenient; many Hong Kong people, too, blame mainland buyers for pushing up local property prices. Fleeing Hongkongers boost overseas property markets from UK to Canada The parties’ solutions range from banning foreigners from buying, to taxing them to high heaven. The only problem is that foreign buying is a symptom, not the cause, of the problem; it’s only because property prices are rising that foreign investors are jumping into the market. Housing is a universal problem in major cities around the world, not just Hong Kong, Vancouver or Toronto. Of the 40 economies tracked by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, only three have experienced house price falls this year, the smallest proportion since data was collected in 2000. So long as borrowing costs are cheap and major central banks are keeping interest rates low, the tidal waves of liquidity will always find their way into the global real estate market. Hongkongers fleeing to the West may find the housing situation there no less expensive – and terrible.