English-speaking B.C. condo owner files human rights complaint after board holds meetings in Mandarin

December 23, 2015

By Douglas Quan, National Post |

Andreas Kargut, a townhouse owner in Richmond, B.C., was shocked with the reply he got when he and a neighbour emailed their condo board this month asking to attend their next meeting.

The board president replied they were welcome to attend as observers.

“However, please understand the council team for this fiscal is using Mandarin as the preferred language for communication,” he went on.

“Therefore we have no intention of using English during the meeting on Dec. 8. That’s the most efficient way for the team this year.”

Kargut , one of the original owners in the 54-unit Wellington Court complex, built in 2004, said he felt discriminated against and filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

“This isn’t like a social club. It’s a legal entity. And the legal language in Canada is English and French,” he said Tuesday.

Reached by phone, Ed Mao, the condo board president, confirmed the proceedings were conducted in Mandarin. However, he said all official documents, including contracts and minutes, are written in English.

He disputed the assertion the board was being racist or discriminatory.

“We’re a bunch of people trying to make (the board) work. We are new and have learning to overcome,” he said. “What has happened in the past was not working, that’s why lots of change happened.”

The squabble is the latest example of community tensions that have arisen in the wake of a huge demographic shakeup in the suburb south of Vancouver. More than half the population is ethnic Chinese.

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