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Poilievre says Canadians 'fleeing' to Nicaragua, Liberals say it shows he 'doesn't have a clue'

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Liberal parliamentarians are criticizing Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre over a new video in which he promotes the idea that some Canadians are "fleeing" Canada to live in Nicaragua because they can't afford a house in this country.

In a video posted Tuesday that's racked up hundreds of thousands of views across platforms, Poilievre features a woman he met while engaging with supporters, who tells him she moved her family to Nicaragua in 2022 – without any ties to the country – after being unable to afford a larger home in Canada. 

"This is nuts," Poilievre says to the camera. "A family from Cape Breton, a fishing family, can't afford to live here."

"It used to be that people would flee from countries like Nicaragua to come to Canada, but now people are actually fleeing from Canada to go to Nicaragua, because they can't afford nine years of Trudeau," Poilievre said.

In the video, the woman says she's aware of 8,000 other Canadians who moved there looking for "a lower cost of living" and "better quality of life."

"That's how badly this guy has ruined our country... This is insane," Poilievre says. "We're going to bring our people home."

Asked to comment on the Official Opposition leader's video, a pair of federal Liberal cabinet ministers panned Poilievre for talking down Canada.

"I think he doesn't have a clue what Nicaragua is all about and he's never been there. It shows," Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez said. "Trust me, I know Nicaragua."

Canada advises travellers to Nicaragua to "exercise a high degree of caution … due to the political situation, the potential for civil unrest and crime."

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Poilievre's narrative was "irresponsible" and "shows who he is."

"How ridiculous that would be. Honestly. I mean, Canada is the envy of the world… We're a big magnet for talent. You see people coming and coming. People come to study, people come to work, people come to live," Champagne said.

"At a certain stage, we have to stop that kind of rhetoric which makes no sense," he said. "I think we should be proud. We should be talking up Canada … as leaders we should be talking up, I mean who could be more optimistic than us as elected leaders."

Last year, CTV News reported on Canadians who decided to relocate to countries where they will pay less for accommodation and other essential items, amid struggles to find affordable housing. 

Jaime Battiste, the Liberal MP who represents Sydney-Victoria, N.S., and lives in Cape Breton, was asked what he made of the story of one local family leaving the country because they couldn't find an affordable home.

He said he'd "invite them back" to the region, adding that the "growing economy" has seen people return.

Battiste said while he didn't have much to say about Poilievre's claims, based on what he knows about his riding, "there's all kinds of homes in Cape Breton to welcome families to work in our area. It's a beautiful part of the country as well."

In a response to questions from CTV News about the video and the comments made by Liberal MPs, Poilievre spokesperson Sebastian Skamski said the Conservatives "recognize that many people around the world are also forced to leave countries like Nicaragua to avoid political repression, crime, or violence."

"Nothing in this video of this Canadian's experience diminishes the struggles of these people," he said.  

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