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Poilievre talks housing, international students and trans women during Kitchener stop

Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre visits Fiddleheads Health and Nutrition in Kitchener on Feb. 21, 2024. (CTV News Kitchener/Chris Thomson) Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre visits Fiddleheads Health and Nutrition in Kitchener on Feb. 21, 2024. (CTV News Kitchener/Chris Thomson)
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Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre made a stop in Kitchener Wednesday morning trying to drum up support ahead of the next federal election.

During his visit to Fiddleheads Health Nutrition, most of his prepared statement surrounded the slogan: “Axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget, stop the crime.”

He referred to line-ups outside Canadian food banks as “reminiscent of The Great Depression” and accused the federal Liberals and New Democratic Party (NDP) of “stuffing the pockets and the faces of billionaires while screwing over the middle class.”

Housing

Poilievre laid out the Conservative’s plan to tackle the ongoing housing crisis.

“We’ll require municipalities permit 15 per cent more homebuilding per year as a condition of getting federal funds,” he said during his prepared speech.

“Those that build more will get bonuses, those that build less will be fined so that we can clear the bureaucracy and build the homes.”

He also criticized the Liberal government, saying, “young, working class Canadians cannot even afford the prospect of ever owning a home.”

Late last month, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released a report showing rental pressures increased in 2023 as buying a house in Canada remained financially out of reach for many.

Average rent prices for a two-bedroom jumped eight per cent from 2022, with CMHC reporting the lowest national vacancy rate on record since the organization first began tracking that data in 1988.

In the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, the federal government announced one billion dollars over three years to help build more than 7,000 homes by 2028.

International students

During the question and answer session following Poilievre’s prepared statement, he was asked if his government would walk back a recent change to the international student cap.

He alleged the situation is so bad, international students are living under bridges and on street corners. While he did not address the cap specifically, he did lay out some measures his government would take to limit the amount of international students studying in Canada.

“A common sense Conservative government will ensure that if someone comes as an international student they have to be registered for a real educational institution that offers a real certificate. Two: they have to prove they have the income to pay their bills while they are here. Three: they have to prove that they have homes. And finally, we’ll have a mathematical formula that links population growth to the growth in the supply of housing. The only way to eliminate the housing shortage is to add homes faster than we add people. I will be removing bureaucracy to build the homes and set immigration levels so that our housing stock outgrows out population.”

Last month the federal Liberal government announced they were implementing a new intake cap for international students. The government expects the change will result in a 35 per cent decrease in approved study permits.

The government also updated financial requirements late last year, requiring prospective international students have access to $20,635 instead of the previous $10,000 requirement.

Trans women

Poilievre was also asked if the Conservatives would introduce legislation regarding trans women in women’s prisons, shelters, and sports if they come into power.

“Female spaces should be exclusively for females, not for biological males,” Poilievre said.

“A lot of the spaces you described are provincially and municipally controlled, so it is unclear what reach federal legislation would have to change them. But obviously, female sports, female change rooms, female bathrooms, should be for females, not for biological males.”

The Conservative party has become more vocal on their stance regarding gender identity over the last few months.

During a gathering in Quebec City in early September party delegates overwhelmingly supported a motion amending party policy to say it believes women should have access to “single-sex spaces” in places like prisons and bathrooms and in sports.

Delegates also voted to prohibit “medicinal or surgical interventions” for people under 18 if they form government.

The decision prompted backlash and concerns from advocates and families with LGBTQ2S+ children.

When is the next federal election?

The next federal election is expected by Oct. 20, 2025, but a recent survey conducted by Nanos Research showed 46 per cent of respondents wanted the next election to happen as soon as possible or in 2024.

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