Last week, The Maple published the latest version of our annual resource listing every MP in Canada that is a landlord/invested in real estate (or has a spouse/common-law partner or dependent that is). You can search for your MP and much more by visiting the new mini website we created for the database.
Prior to publishing the database publicly, we reached out to several housing and tenant organizations to ask them for comments on what we found. We heard back from three of them: the Vancouver Tenants Union, the Federation Of Metro Tenants’ Associations and the Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec. Here’s some more information on each of them, and what they had to say about the latest results and our project in general.
Vancouver Tenants Union
About the group: “The Vancouver Tenants Union represents over 2500 members, and seeks to build a base of tenants throughout the city to establish political power to create change. Over 50 per cent of Vancouver households are rentals, yet tenants continue to be disempowered and disconnected. In an effort to address this, the Vancouver Tenants Union is committed to educating renters on their rights and standing up to landlords and developers who persistently compromise our security and livelihood. We are fighting for the rights of tenants and the preservation of affordable housing. Everyone, regardless of economic status, lifestyle, ability, age, gender, race, sexuality, or citizenship deserves a safe, secure, and affordable home.”
Comment: “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. In Vancouver a prime example is Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed, who was elected despite revelations that he was a serial property flipper. But this phenomenon extends to all levels of government as well.
At the provincial level in B.C. we have B.C. NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who represents the majority-renter neighbourhood of Vancouver-West End. Chandra Herbert played a key role in his government’s 2018 Rental Housing Task Force, which delivered miniscule changes to the Residential Tenancy Act. More recently, he was appointed to be the premier’s “Liaison for Renters.”
And at the municipal level, just last year delegates at the Union of BC Municipalities convention voted down a motion that would urge the province to explore vacancy control (rent controls tied to the unit, not the tenant). Some delegates spoke against the motion specifically because they were landlords.
At every level these politicians are actively profiteering from status quo housing policies that are evicting us, driving up our rents, and widening income inequality.”
Federation Of Metro Tenants’ Associations
About the group: “The Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations (FMTA) is a non-profit organization which advocates for better rights for tenants. Founded in 1974, we are the oldest and largest Tenant Federation in Canada. The FMTA is comprised of affiliated Tenant Associations and of individual members. We have over 3,000 members and continue to grow.”
Quote: “FMTA took a look at our constituency area — the City of Toronto — and the results were somewhat shocking, though also provided excellent insight as to why the Federal government never does anything tangible for renters.
In my 15 years at the FMTA, the federal government and Ministry of Housing have never reached out to ask about the needs of tenants in Toronto. While this might be no surprise to many, usually governments tend to focus some policy and advocacy towards their strongholds. Toronto is 100 per cent Liberal MPs (with a few MPs kicked out of caucus and now sitting as independents), and half the City is renters. You’d think a government would at least want to pay lip-service to half the population in some of the most Liberal of constituencies … but they don't.
Data provided by The Maple show one of the likely reasons why: landlords have fully infiltrated and taken over the government, including some of the most important offices in the housing file. While half of Toronto rents, it’s unfortunately governed at the Federal level by an extremely small cabal of landlords who control anywhere from 30 to 40 per cent of all federally elected seats in the city.
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.” (Geordie Dent)
Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec (RCLALQ)
About the group: “The Coalition of Housing Committees and Tenants Associations of Quebec’s (RCLALQ) principal objective is to advocate for the right to housing, and to act as a political spokesperson for tenants, in particular low-income households. Furthermore, it mobilizes people to take action on housing rights related issues through popular education and public awareness campaigns. Finally, the coalition supports tenants’ rights through informing, training, and disseminating legal, political, and social content.”
Quote: “I took a few minutes to explore disclosure sheets of two to three MNAs and found out that the procedure allows to mask the possession of rental units, if MNAs do not possess these units in their own name. They would cite companies they own and these companies own the rental units, and these units are not disclosed. The numbers are thus lower than the reality.” (Martin Blanchard)