Hussen gets his marching orders

Prime Minister Trudeau recently sent members of his Cabinet their marching orders for the new session of Parliament. Housing Minister and local MP Ahmed Hussen has been given a daunting list that probably won’t be tackled because of the transitory nature of minority governments. Such governments have a lifespan of around 18 months so the clock is ticking. There’s a whole lot of aspirational societal goals included in the letter but these are the ones that will most affect housing affordability. Minister Hussen is directed to help Canada’s housing shortage by,

  • legislating against rent gouging and renovictions
  • instituting an anti home-flipping tax
  • temporarily banning foreign buyers
  • curbing excessive profits in the housing industry
  • increasing consumer protection in real estate transactions
  • banning blind bidding in real estate deals
  • encouraging renters to enter the housing market through rent-to-own schemes
  • supporting office conversion into residential housing

Many of these directives were contained in the Liberals’ 2021 election manifesto. How much of this list will be accomplished by 2023 when the next federal election will likely occur? My cynical guess is very little but the items will probably be recycled for the 2023 Liberal Platform.

Read the full Trudeau letter here.

Ahmed Hussen now Minister of Housing

Ahmed Hussen, our MP, has been given a new portfolio in the new parliament. Hussen has been made Minister of Housing and Minister of Diversity and Inclusion.

Before the election, Hussen was Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and oversaw the CMHC, the Canada Housing Benefit, and the National Housing Strategy.

While Canada needs a housing minister, it’s going to be a tough job. Canada’s real-estate prices are among the most overpriced in the world (trailing only Sweden or New Zealand, depending on the measurement).

Hussen told the CBC his plan:

“I think the first and foremost thing is to build housing supply,” Hussen said of his priorities as the first federal housing minister in an interview airing this weekend on CBC’s The House.

He said in the interview:

“It is to ban foreign ownership and investment in our housing sector. It is to implement the promised tax on non-residential, non-Canadian vacant homes beginning in January, 2022.”

He also said that he wants to make the private sector build more affordable housing, and to prioritize “intensification… making sure we’re building more housing around transit hubs”. Weston and Mount Dennis have two hubs.

Hussen skips second debate, others follow

Incumbent Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen declined to attend the debate hosted by the Mount Dennis Community Association. Last week, he skipped the debate hosted by Friends of Smythe Park—meaning he has not attended any debates this election.

According to the MDCA, after Hussen decided to not attend, the other invited candidates cancelled. The MDCA said, the NDP and Conservatives “both felt that their candidates time was better spent at other activities.” (The PPC candidate was not invited to attend.)

Nicki Ward, the Green candidate, did attend, and answered questions as part of a town hall. Though I had to miss the first hour (kids had homework), it was quite a nice meeting. Ward was irreverent, knowledgeable and frequently funny. She also showed some of the research she did on hyperlocal inflation in the riding she’d like to represent, which I thought was quite interesting (though I am an economics nerd).

NDP candidate Hawa Mire said

… Less than 24 hours before the debate we had not been provided with any of the usual information – format, questions, or attendees. We were also informed the Liberal and Conservative candidates had dropped out of the event.

We went back and forth with the organizers to determine a format. Nothing was confirmed.

As a result of these discussions with organizers we withdrew from the event. Some hours later, we were informed it was to become a townhall and candidates were to get further information.

Unfortunately this did not happen.

I recognize that a 35 day election makes debates challenging to schedule, and understand the toll it takes on organizers of such events.

What I must be clear about was my intention to attend from the very beginning.

Our democracy relies on the opportunity to engage with and hold those seeking public office to account. This is a value I hold close to my heart…

(Capitalization corrected, otherwise as written)

I haven’t heard back from Ahmed Hussen, nor from Sajanth Mohan, the Conservative candidate.

Debate September 8

The Friends of Smythe Park have scheduled a debate for the federal candidates in York South–Weston for September 8 at 6:30. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the only debate announced so far in the campaign.

The debate will be online, and you can register here.

Pols announce funding for affordable seniors’ housing in Weston

MP Ahmed Hussen annnounced that the federal government would be giving a “$35 million low-cost loan to help construct 126 new rental units as part of a 15-storey development located at 2346 Weston Road”

The affordable apartment building has been promised since at least 2018 on a long-vacant property. The plan hasn’t always been well loved.

Hussen announced the loan with a who’s-who of politicians, including Councillor Nunziata and John Tory.