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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was drawn into discussion about the Conservative leadership race on Wednesday as he was pressed on arguments that Pierre Poilievre is making about housing.

During a news conference in Laval, Que., Mr. Trudeau was asked about claims by Mr. Poilievre, an Ottawa-area MP seeking the leadership, that cities are adding costs and delays to the price of new housing.

In response, Mr. Trudeau cited the government’s commitment to a housing-accelerator concept that would allow cities to go faster on densification, and cut red tape.

During the recently revealed budget, the federal government proposed more than $10-billion in new spending on varied housing initiatives, including $4-billion over five years, to launch a Housing Accelerator Fund that aims to advance development and create 100,000 new housing units.

“We know that municipalities are an essential partner in solving the housing crisis. That’s why, instead of just talking about it as some Conservatives are doing, we’re focused on being a partner, in a meaningful way, with the cities,” said Mr. Trudeau.

During a visit to Vancouver, Mr. Poilievre recently spotlighted the housing issue, using a video of a vintage $4.8-million home to demonstrate challenges in the housing market, noting it could be torn down to allow for multiple units that would also be very expensive, at over a million dollars each.

“Big city gatekeepers – like Vancouver City Hall – are destroying the home ownership dreams of working class youth. Enough,” Mr. Poilievre said in a tweet about the issue. “If they want more federal money, these big city politicians will need to approve more home building.

Mr. Poilievre is among the candidates for the leadership of the federal Tories, and drawing big crowds at rallies across Canada with a pitch for support that presses such issues as affordability.

On another issue, Mr. Trudeau also said it is “absolutely right” that people are describing Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide. Story here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY'S HEADLINES

BANK OF CANADA INCREASES INTEREST RATE - The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, the first oversized rate hike in decades and an aggressive step forward in its campaign to tackle runaway inflation. Story here. There’s an explainer here on the impact of the interest rate announcement.

EX-ALBERTA JUSTICE MINISTER FOUND IN CONTEMPT - A former Alberta justice minister has been found in contempt of court for threatening to sue a plaintiff in the middle of her testimony in a civil trial. Story here from CTV.

AFGHAN SECURITY GUARDS APPEAL FOR HELP - More than 50 former Afghan security guards at the now-closed Canadian embassy in Kabul have produced a video pleading with Ottawa to swiftly issue them travel documents to escape Afghanistan as the Taliban hunt for Western collaborators. Story here.

TRUDEAU CRITICIZES ALBERTA GOVERNMENT ON OPIOID APPROACH - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the Alberta government Tuesday for not addressing the opioid epidemic in ways that have proven to be effective elsewhere. Story here.

KEYSTONE XL WON’T BE REVIVED: U.S. SENATOR - The Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to be revived, says a key U.S. senator, but Joe Manchin expects to see a greater push for more energy conduits between Canada and his country. The Democratic Senator for West Virginia intends to advance that discussion by getting Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to testify in Washington before the U.S. Senate committee on energy and natural resources, which Mr. Manchin chairs, about how much the U.S. relies on Canadian oil. Story here.

QUEBEC BY-ELECTION OUTCOME A BLOW FOR PQ - When the government of François Legault stormed a Parti Québécois stronghold in an upset by-election victory Monday night, it was a devastating blow for the storied sovereigntist party. Story here.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT LATE IN UPDATING VACCINE MANDATE POLICY FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS - The Liberal government is now a week late on updating its vaccine mandate policy for federal public servants, according to unions, leaving the 1,828 unvaccinated individuals on unpaid leave waiting to find out if they can go back to work. Story here from The National Post.

INFRASTRUCTURE KEY TO ESTABLISHING ARCTIC SOVEREIGNTY - The way to establish Arctic sovereignty and security is with infrastructure such as roads, says N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane. “If you need people to get to the Arctic and you can’t if your one airport in the Arctic is closed down, at that point you need to have the infrastructure – we need road systems to communities,” she said this week. Story here from CBC.

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP RACE

POILIEVRE CAMPAIGN CONCERNED ABOUT FRAUD - Pierre Poilievre is raising concerns over potential “fraud” in the Conservative leadership race, demanding the ban of prepaid credit cards to purchase memberships. Story here from Global News.

LEWIS IN B.C. - Leslyn Lewis is on the leadership campaign trail in the Fraser Valley, B.C. communities of Chilliwack and Abbotsford, according to a statement issued by her campaign. Ms. Lewis is to campaign Thursday night at a golf and country club in North Vancouver.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House is adjourned until Monday, April 25, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. (EDT).

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Federal cabinet ministers are on the road during the continuing break at the House of Commons, largely talking about the federal budget. On Wednesday alone, here are some of their travels, according to departmental advisories:

ALBERTA

-Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu in Edmonton. Talking about Indigenous housing investments.

-Women and Gender Equality and Youth Minister Marci Ien in Calgary. Talking about affordable housing.

-Rural Development Minister Gudie Hutchings - Fort McMurray, Alberta. Talking about housing measures in the budget.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

-Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in Vancouver. Speaking to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade about the budget.

-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in Vancouver. Talking about how displaced Ukrainians arriving in Canada will be supported on their arrival.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

-Seniors Minister Kamal Khera in Corner Brook, NL. Talking about housing affordability.

NOVA SCOTIA

-Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan in Halifax. Talking about housing affordability.

NUNAVUT

-Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal in Iqualuit. Remarks on Northern housing investments in the budget,

ONTARIO

-Families Minister Karina Gould in Windsor. Talking about housing affordability.

-Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino - Whitby. Talking about housing measures.

-Transport Minister Omar Alghabra - London. Talking about housing affordability.

-Treasury Board President Mona Fortier in Brampton. Talking about affordable housing.

SASKATCHEWAN

-Mental Health Minister Carolyn Bennett in Saskatoon. Attending a roundtable on housing to talk about the budget.

YUKON

-Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair in Whitehorse. Talking about intergovernmental co-ordination in emergency preparedness and response.

THE DECIBEL

On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, the Globe’s Quebec correspondent Eric Andrew-Gee talks about a by-election, this week, in a Montreal suburb that ended in defeat for the Parti Quebecois, the province’s champion of separatism for the last 50 years. Despite the PQ’s defeat, 35 per cent of Quebeckers still believe in independence for Quebec. Mr. Gee explains why that isn’t translating into support for the PQ anymore. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

In Laval, Que., the Prime Minister held private meetings, and met with local families to discuss federal budget investments in housing, then met with Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer, and held a media availability with the mayor. The Prime Minister was then, according to his schedule, set to spend personal time in Whistler, B.C.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Vancouver, visited a dental hygene facility to hold a news conference about dental care policy, hosted a roundtable with community members and dental professionals on the impact of public dental care and was scheduled to participate in Iftar with community leaders in Burnaby.

OPINION - PIERRE POILIEVRE

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Ben Harper scorching Jean Charest, while Pierre Poilievre’s team nurses a grudge: Stephen Harper hasn’t personally jumped into the Conservative leadership race’s public stage, but there is a Harper who has emerged to pick sides: Ben Harper, son of the former prime minister. The younger Mr. Harper’s tweets appear to put him all-in for Pierre Poilievre – and dead against former Quebec premier Jean Charest. And the tone of the tweets, or at least a couple of the latest ones, fit the elbows-up, pointed tenor of a campaign that has been nasty from the get-go.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how, whatever they may say, no politician actually wants to cut housing prices: That noise you hear is the sound of progressives panicking over Pierre Poilievre. It was all over Twitter this week, in the wake of the Conservative leadership candidate’s latest video production, in which he rants at length about the high cost of housing. Say what you will about him, liberal Twitter nervously told itself, but he’s onto something. Is he? You’d think so, to judge from the federal budget, which was full of measures aimed at the high cost of housing: a ban on foreign non-resident buyers; a new tax-free First Time Home Savings Account; a doubling of the First-Time Home Buyers’ tax credit; a tax on “property flippers,” i.e. those who sell a home within 12 months of purchasing it; all backed by a pledge to somehow double the number of homes constructed over the next decade.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on data backing up younger voters’ excitement over Pierre Poilievre: Pierre Poilievre is upending every conventional assumption about Canadian politics. There is growing evidence that the Carleton MP has successfully tapped into the anger and frustration of younger suburban voters who believe they have been denied the right to home ownership and job security by “gatekeepers,” as Mr. Poilievre calls them, who have been acting in their own, selfish, interests.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Pierre Poilievre being onto something when he rants about Canada’s housing nightmare: His tone is perfect for the swaths of young Canadians who have done everything right, but who not only can’t afford to live where they grew up, likely can’t even afford to live hours away. (The average home price in Barrie, Ont., about an hour and a half north of Toronto, is over $1-million, up 32 per cent over last year.) Plenty of politicians have talked about the problems with a housing market where only the wealthy can own property, but few have channelled the frustrations of a generation in the way Mr. Poilievre has.”

John Michael McGrath (TVO) on what’s the progressive answer to Pierre Poilievre’s housing plan: “The MP for Carleton is laying out an argument that’s been made by other critics of conventional land-use planning, and other conservatives have said much the same recently: on Tuesday, fellow CPC leadership aspirant Scott Aitchison explicitly allied himself with the YIMBY movement. By associating it with numerous other cases of “gatekeeping,” Poilievre is adopting the arguments made by people like Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles in their book The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Become Richer, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality. Lindsey and Teles argue that numerous areas of government regulation serve primarily to enclose the privileges of the already-wealthy and protect them from any serious competition. What’s interesting about Lindsey and Teles’s argument is that there’s nothing inherently conservative about it; indeed, in many ways it could just as easily have been adopted by someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren – or, in the Canadian context, Jagmeet Singh or Andrea Horwath.”

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