Pierre Poilievre, the favored candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, is wrong about a lot of things. He is so constantly and noisily deceiving himself, in fact, that deceiving himself aggressively has become his stock in trade. But one thing he is right about is the dismal state of the housing market in Canada and the negative impact it is having on young people, new Canadians and anyone who does not already own property. real estate.
It’s no secret that house prices in Toronto and Vancouver have reached utterly absurd levels, and they certainly helped push the national average to a record high of $816,720 in February. That’s a 20% increase over the previous year, and finding a single-family home under $1 million in these markets has become as difficult as qualifying for the national Olympic team. But the MLS home price index, which attempts to create a national average that isn’t unduly influenced by markets like Vancouver and Toronto, is rising even faster. That’s a record 29.2% from February 2021, and it’s up 3.5% in the past month alone – yet another record high.
It’s not, as Poilievre has repeatedly said. suggested, entirely due to “money printing” by the federal government (the federal government, on the one hand, does not actually control the decisions made by the Bank of Canada). Local zoning decisions, the toxic influence of NIMBYism, and provincial housing policies have all contributed to this stew of unaffordability. From Vancouver Island to Prince Edward Island, soaring house prices are becoming an inescapable issue for elected officials who have been desperately trying to avoid it for years.
It’s not a partisan thing either. Whether it’s Doug Ford in Ontario, John Horgan in British Columbia, or Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, leaders of every stripe imaginable have not taken this as seriously as it demands, and even fewer address entrenched interests that stand in the way of meaningful progress. .
If Poilievre wants to make this a key issue of his campaign, and perhaps of his future leadership, then it’s up to the Liberal government to take the lead. Trudeau’s pact with Jagmeet Singh buys him time here, and it includes two agenda items specifically aimed at housing and affordability. Commitments to extend the Rapid Housing Initiative, which was a pandemic-era plan to create more affordable housing, and to top up the Canada Housing Benefit are good. But it is the suggestion that they will “tackle the financialization of the housing market” that will be the real litmus test.
Their deal didn’t specify how they planned to make said tackle, but Trudeau and Singh won’t have to look far for ideas. Generation Squeeze, a Vancouver-based organization focused on affordability and intergenerational equity (and which received funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and its Solutions Labs program), offered four potential solutions in a report published in January.
The government, he says, should make greater investments in green, affordable, purpose-built rental and co-op housing — and leverage the resources of the Canada Infrastructure Bank to do so. It should take low-density housing and use it to create a pool of permanently affordable rental units, along with a so-called “perpetual affordable housing bond” that could fund the expansion of that pool. And in a suggestion that should be music to Poilievre’s ears, Generation Squeeze thinks the government should order Statistics Canada to report annually on the relationship between monetary policy and house prices.
But it’s the band’s fourth suggestion that deservedly got the most attention – and generated much of the pushback. Generation Squeeze proposes the creation of a small surcharge (starting at 0.2% and increasing to 1%) on homes valued over $1 million. It’s nothing like the huge untaxed capital gains that many older homeowners have accrued, and it would only start out as $200 for a $1 million home. The proposal even suggests that this modest tax could be deferred by owners.
As Generation Squeeze put it in its report, “It’s time to ask the 10% who own the most valuable real estate in Canada to tolerate a small price tag on housing inequity to demonstrate their allegiance to the dream Canadian that a good home should be within reach of what hard work can earn, whether in rental or co-op accommodation, or as landlords.
However, some of the responses the group received weren’t exactly reasonable.
STEPUP, a Vancouver-based anti-tax group that calls itself “the leading voice of current and future homeowners in British Columbia and across Canada,” described Generation Squeeze leader Paul Kershaw as an “academic of radical left of UBC”. He suggested, “Those of you familiar with the work of Karl Marx will also recognize the communist undertones in Kershaw’s proposal.”
Opinion: For all his bluster and bravado, Pierre Poilievre is good at harnessing anger and putting it to work on his behalf, writes columnist @maxfawcett. #Canada #HousePrice
Better yet, STEPUP described Vancouver homeowners — many of whom have seen their homes double or triple in value without any real work or effort on their part — as “under siege.”
It might be funny if it weren’t for the real impact this attitude has on the lives of so many young Canadians. And while conservatives have traditionally struggled to break through among voters under 50, this question could be the key to finally unlocking that door for them.
For all his bluster and bravado, Poilievre is good at harnessing anger and putting it to work on his behalf. And make no mistake: young Canadians are increasingly angry at the unfairness and unfairness that is entrenched in our housing market.
If the Liberals are to avoid losing the next election in 2025, they really need to do something to quell this anger before it consumes them.