Chaos ensues during parliamentary committee hearing on housing affordability

Meeting descended into loud crosstalk and shouting

Chaos ensues during parliamentary committee hearing on housing affordability

An Ottawa parliamentary committee hearing about the rising cost of housing descended into chaos as parties convened yesterday.

During the hearing, Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan asked Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland if she had watched Pierre Poilieve’s recent video about housing before asking why Canadians should believe in the Liberal government’s ability to build millions of new homes.

As Freeland began to comment regarding the “Conservative scheme on housing,” Hallan interjected, causing shouts from the Liberals.

Liberal MP Peter Fonseca, the committee chair, asked Hallan to let Freeland respond to his questions which was then countered by Conservative MP Philip Lawrence with a point of order.

Hallan resumed questioning Freeland regarding the rising number of people using food banks in Canada as the chair pleaded for order, asking why people should believe that the government has made moves in mitigating the affordability crisis.

“The Conservatives cannot be trusted when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable people in Canada,” Freeland said in reply.

Hallan interjected once more before NDP MP Daniel Blaikie raised a point of order.

“What I didn't realize was that Mr. Hallan wanted her here to perform a monologue in front of her and not to actually have a conversation,” he said.

Freeland questioned the validity of the finance committee hearing.

“If committee members prefer to engage in monologues, then there doesn't seem to be much point in actually gathering as a committee,” she said.

Eventually, the committee calmed down for the remaining round of questions where Freeland was asked why the recently announced Canadian Mortgage Charter exempted insured mortgage holders from re-qualifying under the stress test when they switched lenders at the time of renewal while the exemption was not extended to uninsured holders.

Blaikie asked about the consequences a financial institution may face if they do not follow charter and if it was even legally enforceable in the first place.

Freeland said that the charter’s intention is to provide comfort and give options for people so that they may be allowed to stay in their homes.

“On the question, I'm going to take that as a no,” said Blaikie.

The national average home price sat at $650,000 in October 2023, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has said the construction of 3.5 million housing units is needed by 2030 to restore housing affordability.