Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre took aim at the mayors of Quebec’s two largest cities on Thursday, calling the local leaders “incompetent” and accusing them of blocking construction projects.
In a post to social-media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, the Tory leader pointed to what he called a “massive drop in construction in Quebec” despite what he said were billions of dollars in federal funds for Montreal and Quebec City.
Poilievre also shared a quote from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. analyst Francis Cortellino in a Jan. 16 report by Radio-Canada. “In Quebec, there have never been so few houses built since 1955, the year data began to be collected,” the statement reads.
In his tweet, Poilievre reiterated his proposal to peg federal funds given to municipalities to the number of residences they build.
Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante hit back at Poilievre on X.
Marchand accused the Conservative leader of playing “petty politics” and expressing “contempt for elected officials (and) for all those who work on housing issues in our city.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante accused Poilievre of misunderstanding municipal financing in Quebec.
Though cities in Quebec receive federal funds, provincial legislation prevents the federal government from sending them money directly without an agreement with the provincial government.
“The housing crisis affects everyone,” Plante wrote. “In such circumstances, a leader is only as good as his or her ability to rally forces to confront the situation.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also criticized Poilievre’s statement, saying in French that it was an example of “condescension” and “ignorance for how things work between the federal government and the provinces.”
“I think it’s high time that he apologizes for his behaviour and for … attacking Quebec elected officials,” he told reporters at a press conference in Nunavut.
Cortellino was commenting on a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. report that noted a seven per cent decrease in housing starts — the start of construction on a new residence — in Canadian population centres of at least 10,000 people.
There were 223,513 housing starts in those areas in 2023, compared to 240,590 in 2022.
The decline was mainly due to a 25 per cent drop in single-family housing starts.