SHEPHERD: Who is Sabrina Maddeaux?
SHEPHERD: Who is Sabrina Maddeaux?

If you follow the discourse on housing affordability in Canada, chances are you’ve come across the writing of Sabrina Maddeaux, who describes herself as a millennial renter locked out of home ownership.

“It shouldn’t be a luxury to raise your family in the community you grew up in,” Maddeaux said in a video announcing her run for the Conservative nomination in the Ontario riding of Aurora–Oak Hills–Richmond Hill.

Maddeaux didn’t grow up in a traditional conservative household, and she spent much of her career as a Toronto fashion and design writer. In her past life (2012, that is), she was named in a local magazine’s “Dirty 30: Toronto’s most notoriously nocturnal.”

The 35-year-old Anglican Christian was never a partisan and never held a political party membership before becoming ignited by Pierre Poilievre’s 2022 leadership race.

“My parents would not identify as conservative… it’s something I found my way to,” Maddeaux told True North, relaying her long-held belief in protecting individual liberties and freedom of speech, as well as support for free markets, smaller government, and cutting red tape. 

“All of that has always very much spoken to me, and that’s what drew me into conservatism.”

(It checks out – I dug up a 2012 interview in which she indicated her passion for freedom of thought and her disdain for censorship.)

“Specifically, what motivated me to actually take the leap and run was Pierre Poilievre’s run as leader and how he used conservative principles to start to address the housing crisis and affordability issues,” she said.

“Before that, young people had been very overlooked in our political system. Certainly, their struggles with housing had been overlooked. And as a millennial who has been directly impacted by the crisis and who is a renter, I have a pretty big stake in that.” 

Maddeaux’s accountant mother and auditor father still live in the same Richmond Hill home that they bought six months before she was born, in 1988. While Maddeaux moved to downtown Toronto in her mid-20s for work, she had always planned on moving back to the Richmond Hill area to raise a family there. 

However, among her friends in the late-20s to late-30s range, she said she is seeing an exodus from the GTA as young parents flee in search of more affordable housing. 

“As someone in my mid-30s, who’s thinking about starting a family and wants to start a family and lives in a condo right now, I think okay, maybe that could work at the very beginning with a crib. But after that child’s a couple of years old, where are they going to go? How are we all going to live together?” she said.

“And it’s stressful because throughout Canadian history, we got used to every generation at least being, on the whole, a little bit better off than the last in terms of living standards. And our generation isn’t, and it worries me, if I have kids, what’s their experience going to be like as well? How are they going to grow up?”

Maddeaux lays blame on all three levels of government on the housing issue, but her most pointed critiques are aimed at Trudeau. 

While she lauds immigration as a social, cultural, and economic strength, she says the Liberal immigration targets of the last few years have been unsustainable.

“They were warned that significantly increasing immigration, especially when it came to uncapped international student visas and temporary foreign workers, would have quite a disastrous effect on housing affordability. And they decided to go ahead and do that.” 

She added that the Liberals’ “solution” to the housing affordability crisis “has always been to send out checks or to have more savings accounts that really don’t help anyone afford housing – they are just setting a new floor for housing prices.”

“On top of that, (Trudeau) really didn’t pay any attention to the need of increasing supply over the last several years. It wasn’t until Poilievre came forward with his idea of using the federal purse to influence provinces and municipalities to actually upzone and allow more housing that the Trudeau Liberals came on board and have started to do some of that, although not as aggressively as I think they need to be doing.”

Currently, Maddeaux is on leave from her “dream job” as a National Post columnist. The day she announced her nomination run, Liberal MPs Pam Damoff and Dianne Lebouthillier posted screenshots of Maddeaux’s past columns on X in a dishonest effort to nail her as “anti-francophone” and ignorant about firearms

Maddeaux has addressed in her columns that she is pro-choice, telling True North that abortion is a matter of “individual freedoms” to her.

On the environment, she believes in capitalizing on natural resources and promoting natural gas over coal.

“The other piece that I’ve written about a lot lately is the lack of moral clarity with Canada’s foreign policy,” said Maddeaux.

“We’ve seen that since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel… I would like to see a moral recentering when it comes to our foreign policy and our international relations, and be part of returning Canada to respectability on the world stage.”

As a fun fact, Maddeaux is indefinitely banned from Russia because of her critiques of Vladimir Putin and calls for harsher sanctions against his regime.

Now, in case you’re still stuck on that “Dirty 30: Toronto’s most notoriously nocturnal” thing I mentioned at the start of this article… Maddeaux laughed as she explained, “One of the biggest pieces of advice I got very early on in my career was to ‘be everywhere and meet everyone.’ So especially in my early 20s, as someone who really didn’t have any natural connections in Toronto and didn’t have parents in that scene… I made a point of getting out and getting to know the local scene and people involved in it.”

Maddeaux also noted she didn’t attend university in Canada – she obtained her political science degree (with a double minor in journalism and theology) from St. Bonaventure University in New York as an NCAA soccer player.

Maddeaux previously covered the “Society” page for the National Post, which made some question how she had attained such a coveted position covering local philanthropic events. 

“People look sometimes at the fact that I did that, or the photos from that era. And they think, oh, she must be a nepo baby or come from money, when that’s not at all the case. I worked really hard to get there.”

Maddeaux is currently in a relationship with Keith Sheppard, the former manager of internal communications for the Conservative Party of Canada. Maddeaux insisted he didn’t influence her nomination run, as he left the Conservative position about two years before they met and is now employed as a lobbyist with Blackbird Strategies.

Maddeaux isn’t yet the candidate, but her nomination campaign has found support from two members of the Conservative caucus, MP and former Conservative leadership candidate Scott Aitchison as well as Calgary MP Shuvaloy Majumdar.

So far, Maddeaux’s only declared competition is Rachel Gilliland, an Aurora town councillor. Gilliland may not have the media darling profile that Maddeaux has built up over the last decade, but time will tell if that really matters. The Conservative party has not yet set a date for the nomination.

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