$1,200 shoes, controversial statements, breach of the code of ethics… Quebec’s Minister responsible for Housing opens up about the controversies that weaken her credibility and what she intends to do to “reverse the trend.”

France-Élaine Duranceau in a restaurant.

The Minister responsible for Housing, France-Élaine Duranceau, admits that she must show more sensitivity to the housing crisis.

Photo: Radio-United States

Now halfway through her term, the Minister responsible for Housing in Quebec not only has a housing crisis to manage: she also has to deal with a perception crisis that directly affects her. “I maybe… No, not maybe: I wasn’t empathetic enough,” she admits in an interview with Radio-United States.

The day we visit her office, the minister must still defend her integrity. This time, it was her press secretary who embarrassed her with what her office calls the ghost gate, ghost gate ghost gate. In an email sent by mistake to a journalist, the press secretary weighed various options for not responding to a request for information from a journalist from The U.S. Press.

We are witnessing discussions during which the communications team makes its recommendations to Minister Duranceau about what she should say to the media and political adversaries to get out of this affair.

Staff turnover in the minister’s office has not gone unnoticed since the start of her mandate two and a half years ago. She is described as a headstrong and determined woman, characteristics which may advantage her in carrying out her cases but which discourage those who try to advise her on her way of communicating.

France-Élaine Duranceau interviewed in an office.  She balances a pencil between her fingers, her hand raised forward.

Minister France-Élaine Duranceau is described as a headstrong and determined woman.

Photo: Radio-United States / Simon Brown-Racine

I think that for the whole question of image, yes, I have my share of blame to take. I understand that I need to work more on the reassuring side and not just on the rational side (…). My message is not overwrought, I go straight to the point and I understand that it can be hurtfulsays France-Élaine Duranceau about the housing crisis.

She refers to homes for abused women, which she considered too expensive at “$900,000 a door”. After verifications, the organizations involved in the file and the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) found solutions to carry out the project while respecting the planned costs, but this story has left its mark. Since then, Ms. Duranceau has denied lacking sensitivity.

I don’t give a damn about the world! When I go to bed at night, I am able to sleep. My involvement is sincere. I know I’m doing this for the right reasons. My goal was to make sure we did more with the budget we had.

A quote from France-Élaine Duranceau, Minister responsible for Housing

She concedes in the same breath that she is not known for her compassion, but she affirms that she is rather known for her effectiveness.

“You’re too stiff! Be gentler!” My friends, if they have a problem and they need a girl to cry with them on the phone, they don’t call me. But if they want a solution, they call me, because I’ll get one quickly!, Since I was little, my parents have told me: “You’re too stiff! Be gentler! “My friends, if they have a problem and they need a girl to cry with them on the phone, they don’t call me. But if they want a solution, they call me, because I’ll get one quickly! Ever since I was little, my parents have been telling me: “You’re too stiff! Be gentler!” My friends, if they have a problem and they need a girl to cry with them on the phone, they don’t call me. But if they want a solution, they call me, because I will get one quickly! says the minister.

The Louboutin shoes that stick to his feet

A foot wearing a Louboutin shoe.

One of Minister France-Élaine Duranceau’s Louboutin shoes, which sparked some controversy.

Photo: Radio-United States / Simon Brown-Racine

As for the famous $1,200 Louboutin shoes that she wore on the day of a social housing announcement, Ms. Duranceau says she will continue to wear them, even if they convey the image of a well-off woman who does not has no difficulty finding accommodation.

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I think I’m not represented as I am. It’s a relentlessness that is useless. We were in a building under construction. There were no users, no tenants there! she insists.

For her, this debate is archaic. : \”I’m not going to go into politics, I don’t need that in my life.\” We’ll get the politicians we deserve if we discourage them all! We should focus on the real business. That day, I announced an investment of 150millions of dollars. It seems to me that that’s what we should be talking about! Such nonsense makes people say to themselves: \”I’m not going to go into politics, I don’t have I don’t need that in my life.\”We’re going to get the politicians we deserve if we discourage them all! We should focus on the real business. That day, I announced an investment of 150 million dollars. It seems to me that this is what we should be talking about! Such nonsense makes people say to themselves: “I’m not going to go into politics, I don’t need that in my life.” We’ll get the politicians we deserve if we discourage them all! We should focus on the real business. That day, I announced an investment of $150 million. It seems to me that this is what we should be talking about!

A start to the mandate marked by controversies

We also reminded her of an interview in Noovo during which she suggested that dissatisfied tenantsinvest in real estate. During our interview with the minister, we also return to her breach of the code of ethics for having favored the personal interests of a lobbyist friend.

As for the “real estate flip” that her opponents accuse her of having done, Ms. Duranceau explains that it is more about the transformation of an empty duplex into a condominium building. She denies having engaged in real estate speculation.

However, all these controversies have allowed these same adversaries to represent it as a weak link in the Council of Ministers. I sincerely want to reassure everyone. I’m here for the right reasons, to make a differencesaid Ms. Duranceau.

France-Élaine Duranceau says she understands that housing is a emotional issue which causes a lot of stress among people unable to find housing. Vulnerable people being thrown out just because someone wants to make a quick profit doesn’t make sense! Although I come from the real estate field…

Close-up, side shot of France-Élaine Duranceau, whose clasped hands are pressed to her mouth.

France-Élaine Duranceau says she is a minister “for the right reasons, to change things”.

Photo: Radio-United States / Simon Brown-Racine

She trained as a chartered accountant, holds a master’s degree in taxation and says have worked in commercial real estate, which does not make her a simple broker, as the opposition parties describe her. She also does not feel in a situation of conflict of interest.

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The responses to the crisis at the moment are financial and Cartesian. This is reflected in the way I express myself, but it has the merit of being clear. We don’t want politicians who will feel sorry for everyone. We want things to changeshe adds.

I’m not going to misrepresent myself, that’s for sure! “What you see is what you get!” We always hear that politicians are tongue-tied. I like it when people say the real things, I don’t want to be fooled, I want to get the facts right. I take full responsibility! You take me as I am!

A quote from France-Élaine Duranceau, Minister responsible for Housing

She then adds: But I understand that we need to have a more reassuring approach for people.

We will not solve the housing crisis in this mandate

When asked how she plans to reverse the negative perception associated with her public image, she answers: I dare to hope that it is with results that I will reverse the trend.

But the results are not yet there, which puts his government on the defensive. Bill 31, adopted recently, has given rise to numerous outcry, in particular because it provides that an owner will be able to refuse an assignment of lease for reasons other than serious ones. Municipal administrations will also be able to ignore their zoning and urban planning regulations to accelerate the construction of housing.

Ms. Duranceau also had to make corrections to her new Quebec Affordable Housing Program (PHAQ), which experienced failures.

We will not resolve the housing crisis within this mandate (…). It doesn’t happen overnight. What I want is to leave the house in order, with more modern tools to finance housing and the agility of the different partners to move faster and do things differently. I stirred up a lot of things in an ecosystem that hadn’t been touched for 35 years.

A quote from France-Élaine Duranceau, Minister responsible for Housing
France-Élaine Duranceau sits at a restaurant table and is interviewed.

Minister France-Élaine Duranceau believes that the discontent came from groups “less modern in their approach”.

Photo: Radio-United States / Simon Brown-Racine

Real estate projects take too long to complete. That’s why she says shake up the status quo and wants to review funding models to put an end to an approach based solely on traditional grants.

In a strategy that she plans to unveil soon, Minister Duranceau wants to call on private and philanthropic partners to build social housing. She asks community organizations involved in the projects to update their approach.

I think we heard the discontent from groups that were less modern in their approach. We will not have enough money to do everything if we remain stuck in a subsidy model, without imposing deadlines or limits on costs. she explains.

France-Élaine Duranceau therefore maintains her accounting perspective on the housing crisis, while committing however to show more sensitivity in the future.

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