Justin Trudeau offers no timeline for first-time home buyer bill

Politics Insider for April 22: Poilievre turns attention to affordable housing; Russia bans a bunch of Canadians; and a call to replace 24 Sussex
Trudeau addresses a gathering of students, parents, and staff during a visit to the International School of Cambridge in Cambridge, Ont., April 20, 2022. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses a gathering of students, parents, and staff during a visit to the International School of Cambridge in Cambridge, Ont. on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

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CTV asked Pierre Poilievre awkward questions about his family’s rental properties during a North York campaign presser on Thursday. He looked testy as he defended investments he and his wife made in rental properties of the kind that some economists say contribute to rising real estate prices. Poilievre owns part of a rental property in Calgary, and his wife, Anaida Poilievre, owns a property in a semi-detached home in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans.

She paid $238,000 for the property in 2012, before they were married, but last June took out a $425,000 mortgage against it from Tangerine Bank. With interest rates climbing, economists have cautioned Canadians against using their homes as “ATMs” – borrowing against their rising equity. But Poilievre defended his wife’s decision to leverage the value of the property.  “She followed all of the rules and used the equity that she has built up through a very responsible and intelligent investment, to maximize the best interests of her financial position,” the MP said Thursday.

Carrots, sticks: Poilievre, the presumptive frontrunner in the CPC leadership race, was asked about his family’s rental properties while rolling out his proposals to use “carrots and sticks” to increase housing supply, the Post reports.

Speaking in front of a miniature house listed at $2.2 million in the Toronto neighbourhood of North York, Poilievre said he would require “severely unaffordable big cities” like Toronto and Vancouver to increase home building by 15 per cent per year — at the risk of losing some of their federal infrastructure funds. Cities that go over the target would receive a “building bonus” of $10,000 for every extra home, after it is built and occupied.

The Conservative leadership candidate has been hammering his message to remove “gatekeepers” ever since he got into the race, and has especially focused on the rising cost of housing. This time, the gatekeepers he seeks to get out of the way are municipal governments which, according to him, have been asking for more funds without delivering concrete results.

No timeline: Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau on Thursday offered no timetable on when new initiatives will be introduced as part of a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights to help first-time buyers enter the real estate market, CP reports.

Trudeau highlighted measures outlined in the latest federal budget meant to address rising house prices and supply shortages, but did not provide clarity on when those measures will become a reality. “These are measures that are going to support families as we try to address this significant challenge in real, concrete ways,” the prime minister said. Trudeau also pointed to the budget’s commitment to double the annual pace of building in the country over the next decade, up from the current 200,000 units per year, stressing that fixing the lack of supply is “unbelievably important.”

Banned by Russia: Russia targeted 61 Canadians — from politicians to journalists — with fresh sanctions on Thursday over Canada’s actions against the country for its invasion of Ukraine, CP reports.

Many of those named, including provincial premiers, military personnel, political staff and journalists, treated their inclusion on the latest list from President Vladimir Putin as a proverbial badge of honour. But others, such as Globe and Mail international correspondent Mark MacKinnon, saw nothing positive in the development.  “I’m getting a lot of ‘congratulations’ replies to this. But for me, it’s a genuinely sad day. I loved my time living in Russia, and made a lot of friends there (though many of them have left),” MacKinnon said on Twitter. “I always tried to report honestly about the country. I guess that was the problem.”

Farcical: From a beach in the Caribbean, the Post’s Sabrina Maddeaux has a funny column about being included on the list.

In Ukraine: Retired lieutenant-general Trevor Cadieu, who is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct, is now in Ukraine, the Citizen reports. Cadieu left the Canadian military on April 5, according to DND. He travelled to Ukraine shortly after with the intention to volunteer for that country’s military, multiple defence sources told the Citizen. He has denied wrongdoing. His alleged victim said she cannot believe he was allowed to leave the country. “I find it shocking. What is going on here?”

Navy boss leaving: Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Adm. Craig Baines will be retiring in a shakeup of several military senior leaders, Global reports. Baines faced criticism last summer after media reported that he had gone golfing with retired Gen. Jonathan Vance while the latter was still under military police investigation.

Walking back: Ottawa is scaling back regulatory changes to reduce the cost of drugs five years after heralding them as a way to shave billions off industry profits, the Globe reports.

The federal reprieve for pharmaceutical companies follows a series of court challenges, which the government either lost or remain outstanding. However, Ottawa didn’t cite the legal battles in justifying the watered-down policy, but instead pointed to unspecified changes to the pharmaceutical landscape brought on by the pandemic.

New residence? A new report from the National Capital Commission says the official residence of the Prime Minister, 24 Sussex Drive, should be replaced, CBC reports: “Most G7 and Commonwealth leaders receive official visitors in a space dedicated for these purposes. Canada currently lacks such a facility.”

Frequent flyer: Justin Trudeau flew 127,147 kilometres aboard government aircraft over the past 10 months, the Post reports.

One year’s worth of publicly available flight data examined by the National Post revealed the prime minister logged the airtime — equivalent to about three trips around the Earth — between his first post-lockdown trip in June 2021 and this Wednesday, when Trudeau touched down in Waterloo, Ont., as part of his cross-country tour hawking his government’s 2022 federal budget.

House reopens: The House of Commons will next week lift a COVID-related ban on public visits, CP reports.  The Commons chamber’s public gallery will reopen on Monday. The public will also be able to watch committees. Next month, guided tours of the House of Commons will also restart for the first time since March 2020.

Macklem talks tough: On a day when the Federal Reserve spooked markets with its tough talk on interest rates, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says he won’t “rule anything out” when it comes to the central bank’s own interest rate path and taming Canada’s out-of-control inflation, CP reports. Macklem wouldn’t rule out pushing rates beyond 50 basis points all in one sitting, and said he “is prepared to be as forceful as needed.”

Graves vs Skippy: Pollster Frank Graves and the Pierre Poilievre campaign are having words, the Post reports.

Too soft: Jason Kenney said Wednesday that Albertans are unimpressed with UCP melodrama, CP reports, adding that he has been too soft on dissenters: “What Albertans expect from their government isn’t a constant soap opera, and they certainly don’t want to see a family feud.”

UCP members are voting by mail on whether Kenney should remain leader.

Private delivery: Jean Charest said Thursday that he wants to improve the health system by changing the Canada Health Act to allow provinces to use more private health care delivery, CBC reports. He said care would still be paid for by the provinces.

—Stephen Maher