Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre is among the dozens of MPs who own rental property even as he blasts the unfairness of Canada’s housing market for young Canadians, Global News has learned.
Poilievre, the perceived frontrunner in the party’s leadership race, has made housing unaffordability a central part of his campaign so far, and has frequently criticized what he calls the “gatekeepers” keeping homes out of reach for home-buying hopefuls.
At the same time, the 42-year-old Conservative politician – who has drawn a six-figure public salary since he was 25 years old – co-owns a Calgary-area rental property through a real estate venture called Liberty West Properties Inc.
“Mr. Poilievre’s disclosure statement to the federal ethics commissioner remains accurate. He owns half of a company whose sole asset is a condo in the Calgary area. Mr. Poilievre does not own any rental properties in the Ottawa area,” Anthony Koch, a spokesperson for the Poilievre campaign, wrote in response to Global News’ questions.
“His wife Anaida Poilievre owns a condo in Orleans that is rented to a tenant that has no relationship with the Poilievres.”
There is nothing against the rules about Poilievre owning investment property – as Global News has reported, at least 65 other federal members of Parliament also own investment or rental real estate, including one-third of the Liberal cabinet.
But as political attention fixates on the role of investors in exacerbating soaring home prices, the willingness of elected officials with skin in the real estate game to make meaningful changes to lower home prices remains a major unknown.
John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty, a Toronto brokerage, raised the question during an interview with Global News earlier this month about the one-third of cabinet ministers who own rental or investment properties.
“In an ideal world, we think one’s financial interest doesn’t bias their decisions, but people are human and obviously there is some bias there,” he said.
“No one wants to see their financial assets or their retirement plan drop in value.”
Bank of Canada data shows investors – which they defined as “mainly domestic buyers” – outpaced first-time homebuyers during the COVID-19 pandemic and make up 19 per cent of home purchases since 2014.
That same year, former Alberta cabinet minister Jonathan Denis listed co-ownership in “Liberty West Properties Inc.” in ethics filings reviewed by Global News. Poilievre said in 2019 that he was proud to call Denis a friend.
Poilievre also confirmed the nature of the company’s holdings in 2017 during a question period exchange with former finance minister Bill Morneau.
“It’s a rental property. How hard was that?” Poilievre told the House of Commons in 2017 while urging Morneau to disclose his own company holdings in return.
Poilievre is among the 91 MPs whose most recent conflict of interest disclosure forms are not yet publicly available on the commissioner’s website. But his campaign verified that the information in his 2018 disclosure, which cited the rental properties, stands.
The 2018 disclosure also listed a second mortgage, but did not list the property it was attached to. Poilievre also listed that his spouse received rental income from a property she owned. He also listed her as receiving employment income from the office of Poilievre’s fellow Conservative caucus colleague, Michael Cooper.
In a video posted to social media last week, Poilievre decried the price of a Vancouver detached house listed at $4.8 million. The video received almost 448,000 views as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Who can afford mortgage payments on a $950,000 mortgage, forget property taxes and utilities?” Poilievre asked.
Poilievre blamed the issue on federal stimulus and “government gatekeepers” who he accused of protecting the “wealthy.”
“But the working-class person who can’t actually pay his or her bills, let alone save for a mortgage, finds their purchasing power go down and down. Their wages are actually worth less,” with inflation, Poilievre said.
According to Statistics Canada data released on April 12, “multiple-property owners possess nearly one-third of all residential properties” in 2019 and 2020.
“Owners seeking additional properties contribute to increased competition in already tight real estate markets, making it more difficult for prospective homeowners to purchase a home,” the agency said.
“The overall impact of such holdings on housing prices and housing affordability, however, depends on a multitude of factors that are not fully assessed” in the agency’s report.
Owners with income in the top 10 per cent of the province where they buy were found to “account for around one-quarter of residential housing value,” the data agency determined.
Poilievre’s campaign did not say how much money he was making from rental income.
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