Last week, I published the 2023 version of The Maple’s landlord MP data, including an article and a searchable database, which found that nearly 40 per cent of MPs (and/or their spouses/dependents) are landlords or invested in real estate in some way.
Earlier this week, I published an article containing comments on the data from multiple tenant advocacy groups.
The Vancouver Tenants Union said: “While it’s one thing to say that the political class is out of touch with the tenant class, this data compiled by The Maple demonstrates just how many politicians are actual landlords whose actions directly reflect their economic interests as members of the capitalist class.”
And the Federation Of Metro Tenants’ Associations said, “The minister of finance … is a Toronto landlord. The minister of housing … is a Toronto landlord. The leader of the opposition … is an Ontario landlord. The only time these people likely think about or come into contact with a tenant is when they are collecting rent from them.”
To follow up on this article, I reached out to every MP included in the database (133), and asked them the following question: “How does your vested material interest in high real estate and/or rental prices impact your ability to advocate for tenants impacted by the housing crisis in your riding?”
Unfortunately, very few of them replied. Regardless, here is what they had to say.
The hyperlinks on the MP’s name takes you directly to the relevant section of the article detailing their involvement in real estate. In some cases, I’ve followed up their answers with comments of my own, which are italicized.
Ahmed Hussen (Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion): “Every Canadian has a right to a safe and affordable place to call home. We know that too many Canadians are struggling to afford the increased cost for rent. That’s why our government legislated the right to housing and we are making historic investments to make this a reality for all Canadians.
Unfortunately, Pierre Poilievre, who co-owns a real estate investment company and a rental property in Ottawa, doesn’t recognize this right. He voted against recognizing it, and he and his party have voted against every measure we have brought forward to build affordable housing, provide support to those struggling with the cost of housing, and tackle excessive profits in the housing market. They owe Canadians an explanation for this.
Our government will always have the backs of renters and all those struggling with the cost of housing.” - Spokesperson from the Office of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion.
As noted in the introduction, I asked all of these MPs how their vested material interest in high real estate and/or rental prices impacts their ability to advocate for tenants affected by the housing crisis in their ridings. This question seems particularly pertinent for Hussen, who is the minister of housing. His decision to attack the Conservatives instead of addressing that question doesn’t sit well with me, and I suspect it won’t for many others as well.
Patty Hajdu (Minister of Indigenous Services): “Please refer to the statement provided by the office of the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, on behalf of all MPs.” - Jacqueline Dyck, communications and outreach coordinator.
The response from Hussen’s spokesperson doesn’t say the answer was provided on behalf of all Liberal MPs.
Shannon Stubbs (MP for Lakeland, Alta.): “This issue is not in MP Stubbs portfolio and therefore we will not be giving a statement on the issue. Thank you for reaching out but we kindly decline.” - Kieasha Di Paola, administrative assistant.
Four minutes later, we received the following email with no further explanation: “Di Paola, Kieasha (Stubbs, Shannon - MP) would like to recall the message, ‘Media Comment Request Regarding Housing’.”
We replied to let them know we’d be including both emails in this article, and encouraging them to send a follow-up reply. They did. Here it is:
“I just wanted to correct my previous email as I misunderstood the context of the initial email.
MP Stubbs has:
‘Joint ownership with another individual of vacant land located at 1 County, Two Hills, Alberta’
‘Joint ownership with 2 individuals of an investment property located at 139 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta’
The first property is agricultural land for which she receives no rental income. The second property is her Husbands secondary residency which he has owned for over a decade and uses for work purposes. neither property has tenants, and neither produces rental income.
MP Stubbs's vested interests in these two properties do not pose a direct conflict with her ability to advocate for tenants or those affected by the housing crisis in her riding. Her investments do not directly profit from high real estate or rental prices, nor is she in a landlord-tenant relationship where potential conflicts could arise.
Transparency is critical in these matters, as the potential for conflict of interest could change if the MP were to have other undisclosed ties to the real estate industry. It's also worth mentioning that owning real estate does not necessarily inhibit an elected official's ability to make fair and balanced decisions. Legislators frequently have varied financial interests, and mechanisms are in place to ensure they act in the best interest of their constituents.” - Kieasha Di Paola, administrative assistant.
Di Paola is correct that the second property listed in the article is actually attributed solely to Stubbs’s husband on the disclosure form. We updated the article and database, and noted the change at the bottom of the article.
Mike Morrice (MP for Kitchener Centre, Ont.): “Mike co-owns his primary residence, part of which is rented to tenants. Mike isn't materially invested in real estate, as demonstrated by the disclosure showing no rental income. Here is the experience of one of his tenants: My chronically homeless friend rented a short term room from Mike Morrice last summer. : r/kitchener (reddit.com)
Mike has always been a strong advocate on affordable housing and tenant rights, and he continues to advocate for solutions to address the root causes of the housing crisis. As an MP, he has fought to limit the financialization of housing and called for significant government investments to build the affordable homes we need, including through his Private Members Motion 71.” - Rosalind Horne, senior communications advisor.
Rachael Thomas (MP for Lethbridge, Alta.): “We have reviewed the article by Maple and it claims that data is based on public reporting as of June 13, 2023. We are curious about where these reports might be found? Please provide a link. For MP Thomas, you have chosen to use this link: Public Registry Declarations (parl.gc.ca), which is based on June 17, 2022. It would appear that you are misleading your reader in two ways:
- Claiming that you are using up-to-date information
- Claiming that MP Thomas is a landlord, when in fact, as of December 2021 that was no longer the case. Please note that in the disclosure of June 2022 it refers to income from the previous 12 months.
Please correct the record. We look forward to your favourable response.” - Nolan Toscano, policy and communications advisor.
We replied and pointed out that our article stated the following: “This data is based on the most recent disclosures these MPs made as of June 13, 2023.” The June 17, 2022, disclosure from Thomas was the most recent disclosure available in the registry as of June 13, 2023, so the article is not misleading.
We also pointed out that the section dedicated to Thomas in the article includes the following quote from the disclosure: “Last 12 months: – Income from previously owned rental property.” As such, the article is also not misleading with regard to the categorization of Thomas.
With that said, the email did prompt us to add a couple of lines to the article making our categorization guidelines clearer: “We have taken items in the disclosure noted as having applied solely to the period prior to the disclosure into account when determining an MP’s eligibility and categorization. For example, an MP whose disclosure notes that they earned rental income in the prior 12 months would be included in our database and categorized as a landlord. Items no longer on disclosure forms, however, aren’t included in consideration.”