Skip to main content

'So disrespectful': Montreal mayor fires back after Poilievre calls her 'incompetent'


Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre showed a lack of respect for elected officials by calling the mayors of Montreal and Quebec City "incompetent" on social media, Valérie Plante said Friday.

The Montreal mayor said she was "quite disturbed" by the Tory leader's comments on Thursday when he accused her and Mayor Bruno Marchand for stalling new housing construction in their respective cities.

"We keep on talking about mental health and how we want everybody, all of society, to be respectful to each other … he calls himself a leader and attacking personally, naming people, calling them names — to me, it is so disrespectful to my job, his job, anyone's job, and also of the type of climate, the social climate we want to be part of," Plante said Friday in an interview with CJAD 800.

A day earlier, the Conservative leader had shared a quote from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) analyst Francis Cortellino in a Jan. 16 Radio-Canada report, in which he said, "In Quebec, there have never been so few houses built since 1955, the year data began to be collected."

In an interview with CTV News, Cortellino said there is a shortage of standalone homes, but more high-density apartment buildings are going up.

"If you look at single family home starts, it's true there was a big decrease in 2023 and it was the lowest level 1955," he said Friday. "But at the same time, there's apartment starts and this is what we've been building mostly in the last few years."

Poilievre vowed to tie federal money for municipalities based on the number of homes they build if he becomes prime minister.

Quebec City's Marchand accused him of "petty politics" and expressing "contempt for elected officials (and) for all those who work on housing issues in our city."

According to Plante, Poilievre's assessment of the housing situation didn't account for the "complexity" of housing needs in her city and her administration's goal to increase the number of housing units for vulnerable populations.

She said in the interview that her administration is already trying to cut down red tape on permits for developments to go ahead and cited her 20-20-20 bylaw, which requires private developers to incorporate 20 per cent social housing, 20 per cent affordable housing and 20 per cent "family housing" in new housing projects.

However, that bylaw, enacted in 2021, has largely failed. Documents released by the opposition at City Hall last August showed that not a single developer in the past two years has built any social housing. Developers overwhelmingly prefer to pay a fine to the city instead, which is allowed under the bylaw.

The opposition said at the time that about $24 million went into city coffers as a result of the bylaw, which the mayor said is used to support social housing. In response to those numbers being released, Mayor Plante said that while City Hall has made affordable housing a priority, the Government of Quebec has not. "We haven't had any new money," she said in an August interview.

Last October, a survey of real estate developers revealed that stalled construction projects were holding up the delivery of at least 25,000 homes in Quebec, with more than half of those projects being planned for the Greater Montreal Area.

Respondents cited factors including burdensome permit-granting processes, zoning obstacles and public resistance to densification projects in residential areas as reasons for the holdups.

On Friday, the Montreal mayor said she will continue making affordable housing a priority because it's what residents want.

"I know that Montrealers want to have mixing, they want to have a roof on top of their head," and not just for the rich, she said. "My job is to make sure that there's social and economic mixing."

Poilievre's strategy 

Former Quebec Liberal Party MNA and political analyst David Heurtel said Poilievre is trying to put issues that he feels are his strengths on the table, which, as a strategy, is "pretty smart."

"By hitting these two mayors, what is he doing? He's reaching Quebecers on what has put him on top of the polls federally speaking, he's talking about pocketbook issues," he said.

"Right now, there are a lot of voters — and this has always been a key to the rise of the right — listening to people who feel they are not heard."

The latest Nanos poll from December shows support for the Conservatives has gone up. But in Quebec, projections show they would only hold onto their current 10 ridings. Heurtel said that the swell of support might translate to more seats.

With files from CTV News Montreal's Kelly Greig and The Canadian Press Top Stories

Stay Connected