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Kayabaga refuses to be 'a pawn'— pushes back against Conservative critics

When London, Ont. became the focal point of federal politics this week, comments by local Members of Parliament became fodder for online politicking across Canada.

Conservatives seized upon a comment made by London West MP Arielle Kayabaga at the National Liberal Caucus on Tuesday, “I’m 32 years old. I’m a Member of Parliament. I haven’t been able to purchase a home.”

A post on the Conservative Party’s Facebook page reads, “Even Trudeau’s own MP can’t afford a home.”

On Thursday, Kayabaga fired back.

“The Conservatives try to use me as a pawn for speaking on behalf of so many young people, like myself, who do not have $100,000 sitting in their [bank] account to put down for a down payment,” she told CTV News. “We’re taking steps to address those needs where Canadians are saying, ‘This is where it hurts most.’”

Her full comment from Tuesday provides additional context, “I’m 32 years old. I’m a Member of Parliament. I haven’t been able to purchase a home. I came here to this country as a refugee. I’ve been a single mom for the last 14 years, and these are things that are not unique to just me.”

Rebuking the online criticism, Kayabaga cited the federal government’s $74 million contribution to the City of London from the Housing Accelerator Fund to create 2,000 additional housing units over the next three years.

But it’s not just the Conservative Party using the words of a local MP to seed a reaction on social media.

This week, Liberal MPs from southwestern Ontario, including Kayabaga, produced an online video that included the words of Conservative MP for Elgin Middlesex London Karen Vecchio.

In the video, Liberal MPs praised the federal government’s leadership role in bringing the Volkswagen EV battery plant to St. Thomas (in an apparent rebuttal to Conservative attacks over the cost to taxpayers).

Liberal Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield said in the video, “Don’t just take our word for it.”

What follows is a clip of Vecchio from a news conference earlier this year stating, “The impact to this community is going to be phenomenal. You know, those jobs people are looking for to pay for everything these days.”

Asked on Thursday about the Liberal video, Kayabaga denied that it’s politicking, “Karen supports the EV plant because she believes that it’s a good plan. We’re not politicking; we’re talking about things that we are putting forward for Canadians, for our region, for our ridings.”

Vecchio was not available on Thursday for an interview.

While the online back and forth between federal parties may fuel their political bases on social media, several Londoners told CTV News the tactics are unlikely to sway their decision next election.

“You have to be able to ask yourself, ‘What is the agenda? What is the wider context?’” explained Erik Town of London.

Janet Swanick said online jabs between politicians don’t influence her either, “I already have my political convictions and I guess I’ve been around long enough and seen enough.”

The three-day National Liberal Convention concluded on Thursday. Top Stories

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