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Fun and wacky? NDP calls Liberal leader's rental comments 'out of touch'
The NDP minority government is taking Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson to task for calling renting “fun” and “wacky.”
During a debate on the 2019 budget, Wilkinson was criticizing the government’s policy on rentals, claiming it would lead to fewer landlords and a reduction in supply. He also said the NDP’s moves to “protect the renters” were misguided.
- Read a transcript of the debate
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“I was a renter for 15 years,” Wilkinson told the house. “I lived in a dozen different rentals. It was challenging at times, but it was fun. It was part of growing up and getting better. We've all done it. It's kind of a wacky time of life, but it can be really enjoyable.”
Wilkinson also went on to accuse the government of “pandering” to renters by promising a renters rebate that has yet to materialize.
Within hours, NDP operatives and ministers took to social media and slammed Wilkinson’s comments, pointing out renting can be stressful and, increasingly, expensive.
Thursday, the same messaging was heard in the legislature hallways from Housing Minister Selina Robinson. Robinson also defended her government’s actions on the rental file, claiming the NDP minority government was cleaning up the mess left behind by the Liberals, even as the government has as of yet failed to deliver on a key election promise of a $400 a year renters’ rebate.
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Wilkinson appeared to clarify his comment on Twitter Thursday in a thread trying to assure people he understood the challenges faced by renters.
A tweet from his account reads in part, “I know what it feels like to worry about making ends meet each month. I know what it feels like to dream of a better situation, more choice and freedom in life.”
He also went on to criticize the government’s record on job creation, saying that’s why better jobs and homes were out of reach.
Responding to a question about whether the government would fully implement recommendations from a Rental Task Force report last year, Premier John Horgan also made mention of the comments.
“How out of touch can one be to think that renting a home is a rite of passage or a phase that one goes through?,” Horgan said.
He said the government would work with the task force, but stopped short of saying the suggestions would be fully implemented.
The government says there are more than a million and a half renters in B.C.