‘Out-of-touch’ Liberal leader backtracks over dismissive renter comments

Andrew Wilkinson, slammed for saying the challenge of paying rent is “fun,” takes to Twitter for some urgent damage limitation

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, who was widely criticized Thursday for saying that struggling to pay rent is challenging but also “fun” and “a rite of passage,” has taken to Twitter to rephrase his comments.

Wilkinson made the controversial statement in the legislature Wednesday, during a discussion on upcoming changes to the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act. He said, “I rented for over 15 years, I lived in a dozen different rentals. It was challenging at times, but it was fun. It was part of growing up and getting better. We’ve all done it. It’s kind of a wacky time of life, but it can be really enjoyable.”

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The Liberal leader added that, by imposing rent caps and stricter rules on tenant protections, the current NDP government is making it harder for landlords, which ultimately reduces rental supply.

NDP housing minister Selina Robinson was quick to criticize the comments, saying that Wilkinson’s comments “demonstrate how the B.C. Liberals are out of touch.” The Twitterverse also jumped on Wilkinson’s statements with an array of responses, largely slamming the Liberal leader’s position.

Wilkinson responded on Twitter with a long message in four parts in an attempt to reposition his commentary.

The debate comes in the week that the City of Vancouver implemented new rental guidelines that have been criticized over the rent prices that the City describes as "affordable."

Also this week, an online campaign in support of renters called Stand Up For Renters was launched, calling in B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan to implement the changes recommended by the party’s Rental Housing Task Force.

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