Sabrina Maddeaux: Trudeau’s cupboard shuffle little greater than a PR train

The federal Liberals’ entrance bench is now full of recent faces, however Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s flailing authorities wants way more than the mere look of change. It wants precise, large, bold change. That is true on an array of information, from well being and transit, to immigration, heritage and housing.

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On the housing entrance, after years of accelerating obviousness that Ahmed Hussen wasn’t lower out for the job, Trudeau lastly moved him off the file. It’s now the accountability of former immigration minister Sean Fraser underneath his new umbrella position as minister of housing, infrastructure and communities.

This definitely makes much more sense than combining housing with range and inclusion, as was the association underneath Hussen. Inexpensive and fascinating properties are inherently intertwined with infrastructure and group.

Fraser is a comparatively younger up-and-comer, and one of many Liberals’ stronger communicators. There may be, nevertheless, the priority that the historic surge in immigration underneath his watch contributed to the housing disaster that he’s now tasked with fixing.

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However there’s additionally a probability Fraser by no means had a lot say within the big immigration targets Trudeau prides his authorities on. Which leads us to the futility of this cupboard shuffle to start with — it doesn’t matter who’s in what position if no energy truly modifications arms. And, on this authorities, energy has all the time remained steadfastly within the clutches of Trudeau and the Prime Minister’s Workplace. There’s no motive to consider that can change after practically eight years.

Trudeau essentially doesn’t get affordability points and may barely muster the desire to even speak about them. This is perhaps satisfactory if his finance minister might choose up the slack, however Chrystia Freeland has proven herself equally incapable of understanding, not to mention legislating for, right this moment’s financial actuality.

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With out hope of significant change, this cupboard shuffle appears little greater than a PR train. Liberal insiders confirmed as a lot to the Toronto Star earlier this week.

As if on cue, Fraser hit the bottom working with quotable strains that counsel no change from prior Liberal housing coverage that, in some instances, truly proceed to gas the affordability disaster.

“The reply is, at the very least partially, to proceed to construct extra inventory,” he mentioned to the media after his swearing-in. “However I’d urge warning to anybody who believes the reply to our housing challenges is to shut the door on newcomers.”

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That is unlucky for a number of causes. First, constructing extra inventory can’t be the one reply. Canada just isn’t humanly able to turbocharging provide to the extent it’s wanted within the subsequent decade. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Company says we’d like at the very least 5.8-million new properties by then, and we’re nowhere near being on monitor.

Additional, if Liberals maintain supporting evermore demand and financialization of the market, even 5.8 million properties is probably not practically sufficient. We have to stability either side of the supply-demand equation.

The second a part of Fraser’s quote can be worrying. To be crystal clear, completely no main political celebration is suggesting Canada “shut the door on newcomers.” To counsel as a lot is disingenuous and hearkens again to the not-so-distant days Liberals referred to as anybody who anxious about housing prices, and particularly the impacts of international funding, xenophobic.

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I sincerely hope Fraser doesn’t succumb to the temptation to revive this repugnant deflection tactic. Even the Financial institution of Canada now admits a connection between immigration ranges and the housing disaster; this isn’t some radical fringe thought.

Polls present immigration as a rising concern amongst Canadians for the primary time in a long time. Increasingly voters are searching for an affordable dialogue concerning the sustainability of present targets and the unintended penalties they might have. To politicize and moralize the subject can be a harmful recreation to play on high of already ill-conceived coverage.

Till Trudeau and Freeland resolve to take housing critically as an issue that impacts actual individuals, not simply their ballot numbers and re-election possibilities, there’s most likely not a lot Fraser can do apart from put a brand new coat of paint on the shortly deteriorating Liberal home.

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