Passersby within earshot of Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre’s recent Niagara Falls visit could be excused for thinking that a federal election had been called.
With the roar of the Horseshoe and the American Falls as his backdrop, however, only the gathered media heard Poilievre’s speech that was chock-full of ready-made platform slogans as well as frequent criticisms of the current Liberal Prime Minister.
At a podium emblazoned with blue and white lettering saying ‘Bring it Home’, Poilievre ditched his glasses and wore a black T-shirt under his Conservative blue jacket. His talk focused primarily on housing affordability during his visit to the Queen Victoria Place Restaurant.
“After eight years of Trudeau,” Poilievre said, “an adult looking for an affordable apartment with one bedroom has to wait 21 years. A senior waiting for an affordable apartment has to wait 12 years. A family looking for a four-bedroom housing unit has to wait eight years. Justin Trudeau likes to blame everybody but himself, but housing was affordable when he took office.”
To drive home his point, Poilievre pointed out a real estate listing for a $550,000 “tiny little shack” at 3047 Saint Patrick Avenue in Niagara Falls (realtor.ca actually lists the property at $539,900). He compared that listing to one for a larger home across the U.S. border advertised for $217,000 in Canadian funds.
“Why is it you pay twice as much for a quarter of a home on the Canadian side of the border?” queried Poilievre. "The answer is that Justin Trudeau’s policies have inflated the cost of everything.”
Offering an alternative to the current Liberal government, Poilievre promised to incentivize municipalities to speed up and lower the cost of building permits.
“I would require every municipality in Canada to commit to 15 percent more housing per year as a condition of getting federal infrastructure money,” he said. “I’ll give building bonuses to those cities that build more. And I’ll sell off 6,000 federal buildings and thousands of acres of federal lands so we can build, build, build.”
He went on to say food prices have risen substantially as a direct result of the carbon tax imposed on farmers and truckers.
“Justin Trudeau’s policies have inflated the cost of everything,” Poilievre said. “Rent has doubled, mortgage payments have doubled, needed down-payments have all doubled. It’s double-trouble with Trudeau on housing.”
‘Double-trouble’ was only one of the turns-of-phrase that he dropped during the session. His next came when he promised that a Conservative government would make daily life more affordable.
“A Poilievre government will ‘axe the tax’,” said the sloganeering Conservative leader, “to lower gas, heat and grocery bills. And we’ll cap government spending to balance the budget and bring down inflation and interest rates.”
'Jail not bail’ was another catchphrase thrown out by Poilievre in contrast to what he referred to as Trudeau’s ‘catch and release’ policy on crime. He also lauded Niagara Falls Conservative MP Tony Baldinelli, standing to Poilievre’s left, for introducing a bill to keep mass murderers in maximum security prisons in the wake of serial killer Paul Bernardo’s recent transfer to a medium security facility.
“Trudeau’s law C-83 requires public servants to put prisoners in the least restrictive conditions, including mass murderers like Bernardo,” Poilievre claimed. “I’m calling on the government to repeal C-83.”
When the floor was opened to questions from the media, Poilievre continued to slam Trudeau on the Bank of Canada’s infusion of currency into the economy, driving up inflation rates and interest rates, as well as what he called Trudeau’s bungling of the British Columbia port strike situation.
After it seemed that a solution had been reached, the strike by the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) resumed last Tuesday. Labour minister Seamus O’Regan has called the current job action illegal. Last Wednesday, the Prime Minister formed a response group consisting of cabinet ministers and senior officials, treating the issue as a 'national crisis’.
“This strike is another example of Justin Trudeau’s total incompetence,” said Poilievre. “He caused the strike by raising the cost of living. His mediator and his minister have failed to get the two parties to the table to secure a deal. His labour minister raised his hand in the air saying the strike was over. We learned now the strike is not over.”
Poilievre also visited Port Colborne and Thorold Tuesday. His sojourn in Niagara wrapped up later that evening with a meet and greet with his supporters at the Parkway Convention Centre in St. Catharines, where he delivered a lengthy campaign-style speech to rousing applause.
The following day, Poilievre was forced to issue an apology to Asha Letourneau, the current tenant of the Saint Paul Avenue home to which he referred during his visit to Niagara Falls. News outlets were able to contact Letourneau, who expressed her disdain that the Conservative leader had called her three-bedroom home a shack.
Poilievre admitted that the 1.5 story house wasn’t much different than the one he himself had grown up in, and reiterated that his point was that houses such as Letourneau’s should be affordable to the average Canadian.