Real estate investors in public office represent a conflict of interest

Dear Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner,

Disclosure documents from your office show a full one third of Canada’s federal cabinet ministers, including the Finance Minister and Housing Minister, to real estate investors. At least a fifth of the Members of Parliament also hold rental and investment properties. A significant number of senior bureaucrats, including the Senior Deputy Government, are also real estate investors.

Many of these individuals are able to, and indeed have in the past, made policy decisions that have contributed to rising real estate prices.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself added that increased levels immigration were contributing to booming home prices. The then Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, a real estate investor, played a part in increasing immigration levels. Mr. Hussen, now the Housing Minister, has publicly stated that the government will take no action to deter real estate investors, despite rampant home hoarding contributing to rising home prices.

I believe that public office holders making decisions that contribute to increasing home prices, which in turn causes their real estate investment portfolios to appreciate, are in violation of sections 4, and 6(1) of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Conflict of interest
4 For the purposes of this Act, a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.

Decision-making
6 (1) No public office holder shall make a decision or participate in making a decision related to the exercise of an official power, duty or function if the public office holder knows or reasonably should know that, in the making of the decision, he or she would be in a conflict of interest.

In conclusion, I’m asking you to open examinations into all public office holders who are also real estate investors whose decisions may have led to an increase in home prices.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Rohana Rezel

Contact the Author

You can reach Rohana Rezel at [email protected] You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Github.