Burnaby-Douglas: Is home ownership in riding necessary to be a good MP?
Is owning a home in the riding necessary to be a good MP?
Ronald Leung, the Conservative candidate in Burnaby-Douglas, seems to think so.
In a press release last week announcing that Leung had officially filed his candidacy with Elections Canada, he is described this way: "A long-time north Burnaby resident, Leung is the only candidate in Burnaby-Douglas to own a home in the riding."
The problem is, it's not true.
Green Party candidate Adrianne Merlo also lives in the riding and owns her own home.
"That's absurd and even if you were [a homeowner], what difference does it make?" Merlo responded to Leung's assertion. "I mean, does that mean he's more eligible to run for office because he's a homeowner? I'm just stunned by that.
"It's not only irrelevant, it's elitist."
Liberal candidate Ken Low owns his own home but lives in the Killarney neighbourhood of East Vancouver. He said he's looking to purchase a home in Burnaby in coming months.
"I think as long as the candidate has great ties to the community and cares for the community, I don't think where he lives is a major part of the campaign," he said.
Low pointed out that Ronald Leung himself ran for city council for the City of Vancouver in 2005, despite living in Burnaby.
"I'm not going to make a big deal about that," Low said with a laugh.
Meanwhile, New Democrat candidate Kennedy Stewart is currently a renter, which makes him the likely target of Leung's statement.
Stewart has lived in the riding for lengthy periods since moving to Burnaby from Nova Scotia in 1988. But with his wife pursuing her PhD in London, England, in recent years the couple had been living overseas, where Stewart worked as a visiting scholar. As a result, they had to give up their rental suite locally.
They currently split time between a home in downtown Vancouver and a room in the riding, at the house of fellow Simon Fraser University political science professor Patrick Smith, who served as Stewart's masters degree supervisor in the 1990s.
"So, I'm a renter. Whether that makes me a bad person or not, I don't know," Stewart said in response to Leung's press release.
"For me, I would love to own a home, I just can't afford it at the moment. Just with these prices and things, maybe [Leung] is wealthy enough he can own a home, but that's not my current circumstances."
Property ownership is, however, a pre-requisite to being appointed to the Senate, he noted.
"When he loses this race, maybe he's planning to go to the Senate."
Stewart wasn't particularly surprised with the statement from Leung's campaign.
"He's probably looking for anything to give him an edge in this campaign. If that's the best he can do, I think he's going to be in trouble."
Despite a repeated request for an interview well in advance of the NewsLeader's deadline, Ronald Leung was not available for comment.