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James Hankle, a software engineer in his 50s who was sporting blue jeans and a Green Party T-shirt, was trying to explain to a reporter his fix for Vancouver’s runaway property prices when he was interrupted by an eavesdropping passerby: “Stop allowing people from China to buy our houses and leave them vacant,” she said and walked away.

Despite British Columbia’s aversion to pipelines and its affection for pot, housing affordability has pushed both aside as the No. 1 issue raised by residents in the run-up to Canada’s election this month. It is not completely surprising, given that Vancouver has become North America’s most expensive city.

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