Critics slam housing minister for ethics breach, lease transfer legislation

A woman sits in an opulent chair with two laptops and a microphone in front of her.
Housing Minister France Elaine Duranceau speaks in favour of Article 7 at commission on Tuesday. Photo via the National Assembly livestream.
Jules Bugiel - CKUT - MontrealQC | 30-11-2023
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Opposition members and community groups have had harsh words for Quebec Housing Minister France Elaine Duranceau this week over an ethics breach and a contentious article adopted at commission.

On Tuesday, Article 7 was adopted into housing Bill 31 at the Commission de l'aménagement du territoire. The article revokes Quebecers' right to transfer their lease. If the bill comes to pass, a landlord will be able to refuse a lease transfer notice for any reason, which will then trigger the termination of the existing lease.

Duranceau said this new mechanism would uphold the original reason lease transfers were codified: to allow tenants a way to leave a lease early. She argued that lease transfers were not a "good tool" to keep rents low between tenants, for which they are sometimes used.

But critics say the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government is not adding better protections than the ones they're taking away. One such critic is Cedric Dussault, who spoke on behalf of the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) at a press conference on Wednesday.

"In the midst of the deepest housing crisis in the history of modern Quebec," Dussault said, "taking away rights from tenants makes absolutely no sense."

Duranceau was in the spotlight yet again when on Thursday, the ethics commissioner ruled that she had violated the code of ethics by fast-tracking an audience with friend and business partner Annie Lemieux last year.

In particular, she was found to have breached Article 16 by prioritizing the interests of Lemieux in an "abusive" manner.

In response, the RCLALQ has called on the minister to resign and scrap Bill 31. Quebec Solidaire Parliamentary Leader Alexandre Leduc condemned the "proximity between the minister of housing and the world of real estate brokers," calling for Duranceau to "broaden [her] horizons" when making decisions on housing, especially on lease transfers.

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