‘Affordability’ Is the New ‘Middle Class’

Pierre Poilievre is perfecting his populist pitch. Recent history shows it could work.

Colin Horgan
4 min readApr 14, 2022


“Want to see a $5 million house here in Vancouver?” Canadian Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre asks at the start of a recent video. “Feast your eyes on the home of your dreams,” he says as the camera pans and he stands in front of a small, slightly dilapidated bungalow. His point, which he makes over the next five minutes — albeit with some questionable math — is pretty simple and obvious: no house that looks like this should cost this much. More to the point: if he ends up as Prime Minister one day, it won’t.

It’s a message delivered surprisingly well. I say surprisingly because up until the point that he announced his intention to run for leadership of the federal Conservatives, Poilievre’s communication style was abrasive and off-putting. It was sneering and simplistic, often borderline juvenile — endless trolling and dunking. This behaviour matched the rest of his personal aesthetic, which is that of a smirking, know-it-all dweeb. While he was never to be wholly dismissed because, let’s face it, that kind of internet-addled brain-worm vibe gets a lot of attention these days, it still relegated him to the level of your average aggrieved newsletter writer — with probably a similar sized audience.

But now here he is now talking more or less like a normal person? Unexpected. So unexpected that a lot of people seemed unsure of how to deal with it. On its face, his promise to bring down housing prices so much that a house currently listed for $4.8 million in Vancouver will be affordable to the average person is mostly bullshit, most of all due to federal jurisdiction limitations. The wake following his video’s release was roiling with the finer details about municipal zoning permits and provincial regulatory responsibilities, as various experts and economists weighed in on the validity of Poilievre’s proposed approach.

All of which are important to note. But, I’d argue, more importantly: who cares?

When Poilievre announced his intention to run for party leader, he offered a similar argument about affordability. Big Government, he said in his campaign launch video, has spent wildly and devalued paycheques. “More…