The federal government can balance coming up with a new residence for the Prime Minister with action on creating more affordable housing for other Canadians, the Public Services Minister says.
Jean-Yves Duclos said Monday that the balance is feasible although Pierre Poilievre, the federal Conservative Leader, has said there should be a focus on housing for working-class Canadians instead of housing for the Prime Minister.
“I think most Canadians understand that we have to do a couple of things in parallel and the most important thing is to look after the interests of Canadians, recognize the cost-of-living crisis that many of them are going through as we also make progress on many other different files,” Mr. Duclos told journalists as he arrived at the House of Commons for Question Period.
Mr. Duclos was asked about the politics of dealing with this issue at a time when Canadians are concerned about housing.
“Well obviously, the most important thing is to recognize the difficulty that Canadians have. Many of them, including in my riding, you know, find it difficult to pay for rent or to buy a home as a young Canadian,” he said.
Mr. Duclos, asked about the fate of 24 Sussex Dr., said his department is listening to and grateful for the input it has heard from people across Canada and will be able to make a decision based on that “important input.”
Valérie Dufour, senior strategic communications manager for the National Capital Commission, which manages official residences such as 24 Sussex Dr. and Rideau Cottage, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family live, declined to comment.
In August, Radio-Canada reported that the government was leaning toward giving up on the idea of restoring 24 Sussex Dr., which is no longer considered habitable, to continue as the prime minister’s official residence, and looking at other locations.
Prime ministers lived at 24 Sussex Dr. from 1951 until Mr. Trudeau became prime minister in 2015, and declined to move his family into the residence. Mr. Trudeau lived in 24 Sussex Dr. in his childhood as the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
Mr. Poilievre has said that renovating or building a new official residence for the prime minister would be at the bottom of his priorities should his party form government after the next federal election.
“We don’t need a new home for the prime minister. We need a new home for working-class Canadians,” he said at a news conference in Oshawa, Ont., last month.
A survey released earlier this year by the Angus Reid Institute found that two-thirds of Canadians surveyed, or 64 per cent, said recent federal governments have failed to maintain the prime minister’s residence “because they are afraid of the public backlash.”
The online survey of 1,602 Canadian adults was conducted from Jan. 13-16. It does not have a margin of error.