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Trudeau vows tax on foreign property speculators if re-elected Canadian PM

Ottawa

IN an attempt to curb foreign speculation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to tax non-residents who buy properties in the country but do not live in them, as he campaigned on Thursday for reelection.

At a stop in British Columbia, which has seen double-digit annual rises in housing prices over the past decade, the Liberal leader said that most young people "cannot even imagine buying a home right now", which he blamed partly on overseas purchases.

"Owning a house should be a realistic life goal," he told reporters. "It's where you set down roots, where you raise a family, where you grow old. But young people hoping to buy their first home, just like their parents did a generation ago, are facing a tough housing market."

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In addition to expanding first-time buyer incentives, Mr Trudeau said if elected to a second term, he would introduce a one per cent annual tax on all residential properties owned by non-resident, non-Canadians.

The tax would be applied on top of similar measures already introduced in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia to cool red-hot real estate markets in Toronto and Vancouver, where average home prices top C$1 million (S$1.04 million).

Mr Trudeau and others blamed these soaring prices "in part on housing speculation by foreign owners". Record-low interest rates and a housing supply shortage have also contributed to the increases.

"We are sending a message that Canada is not a place for those who wish to speculate in the housing market," Mr Trudeau said. "We are doing this because we want our markets to stay stable and affordable."

Mr Trudeau faces a tough general election on Oct 21, dogged by an ethics scandal that has taken the shine off his golden boy image and left him vulnerable to a sharp challenge from Conservative Andrew Scheer. AFP