The stage was set as the Liberal leader walked through a construction site in Royal Oak Thursday morning. From the seven Liberal candidates standing, smiling in the background to the three children with their parents playing beside the podium, the photo-ops were there and so was Justin Trudeau.
Opting to skip the first leaders’ debate on Day 2 of the election campaign, Trudeau was in Greater Victoria to announce added encouragement for the First-Time Home Buyers Incentive program, which provides Canadians up to 10 per cent off the purchase of their first home. If re-elected, the Liberal party promised to see the program expanded to give more help to people living in Greater Victoria or the greater Vancouver and Toronto areas, where the value of a qualifying home will be increased from $500,000 to nearly $800,000. In all three of those areas housing prices are up to 60 per cent higher than the national average.
In addition to the expanded incentives, is a one per cent annual tax for residential property owners who are not Canadian and do not live in Canada, on top of local taxes already in place. Canadians living abroad or permanent residents in Canada will not be affected.
Questioned as to why he didn’t tackle this issue in the budget, instead waiting for election time, Trudeau pointed to the National Housing Strategy launched in 2017 and added “there needs to be extra help” in certain areas where housing prices are significantly higher than the national average.
When asked why he was skipping the first debate of the federal election, taking place Thursday night in Toronto, Trudeau dodged the question by saying he was very happy to be in Victoria and was looking forward to being in Edmonton later in the day.
“I look forward to the opportunity to debate against my fellow leaders in the three occasions we’ll be doing this campaign,” Trudeau said.
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