The main theme of the Toronto Centre federal byelection has been helping the 'average Joe and Jill'.
The two front-runners — Liberal Chrystia Freeland and New Democrat Linda McQuaig — have written extensively about the struggling middle class and both claim to be advocates for that huge demographic.
It turns out, however, that both candidates are — wait for it — relatively wealthy.
Last month, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Freeland purchased a $1.3 million home. Now they're reporting that McQuaig's old house just re-sold with a listing price of $4,795,000.
The beautiful Oakville home she sold in 2000 for $1,050,000 is situated on a 1.4 acres of property.
Details of the Lakeshore Road home she used to occupy became public recently when the current owners put it up for sale via, ahem, Sotheby’s. While it appears the home has been substantially upgraded since McQuaig lived there, the real estate listing says it now has seven bedrooms, six and a half bathrooms and five (yes, five) indoor fireplaces and one outdoor fireplace.
There are now people complaining that, because she lived in such a house, she is a hypocrite; that because she has some wealth, she can't connect to the average voter.
— Geoff Sharpe (@Geoff_Sharpe) November 15, 2013
— Zak Paget (@zpaget) November 15, 2013
A similar brouhaha erupted, last year, when Manitoba PC leader Brian Pallister bought a $2 million 9,000 square-foot mansion which included a basketball court and seven-car garage.
Just because politicians are rich, does that really mean they can't advocate for the middle class, the poor the downtrodden?
In 2004, former prime minister Paul Martin was worth $225 million. Did that make him a bad prime minister? Pierre Elliot Trudeau, John Turner, Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper were no slouches either when it came to their finances.
Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was worth $18.1 billion and just received an award for his anti-poverty efforts from the Children's Aid Society.
"Nineteen of twenty largest U.S. cities all saw poverty rates increase – with an average increase of 36 per cent," notes a press release.
"New York City poverty rate remained flat over same period."
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The fact that Pallister, McQuaig and Freeland have significant monies while advocating for the middle class shouldn't be a 'story'.
Certainly, McQuaig does sound like a bit of a hypocrite. During this campaign, she hasn't hesitated to opine about Freeland's wealthy friends.
“You’ve been there in Manhattan, you know, hanging out with the rich," the NDP candidate said to Freeland at an all-candidates debate."
"Meanwhile, here in Toronto Centre — in Regent Park and St. James Town — people are feeling the real impacts of income inequality."
McQuaig probably should reign-in her rhetoric but shouldn't have to apologize for working hard, making the right career decisions and earning financial rewards. Aren't these the types of politicians we should be coveting — people who have been successful outside of politics?
The byelction campaign concludes on November 25.
(Photo courtesy of the Linda McQuaig's Facebook page)
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