Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre are set to face off in question period on Thursday — their first direct confrontation since the new Conservative leader was crowned on Sept. 10.
Questions will begin at 2:15 p.m. ET. Global News will carry question period live here.
This won’t be the first time, however, that the leaders have traded barbs in the 12 days since Poilievre has been Conservative Party leader.
Poilievre’s first speech to caucus as leader included several lobs aimed at the Liberal Party — including his call for it to act on the growing affordability challenges Canadians are facing.
“Canadians are out of money, and this prime minister is out of touch,” he said in the Sept. 12 speech.
Trudeau unveiled the government’s proposed affordability measures the following day, on Sept. 13. The plan has already proven to be a contentious topic during question period this week as both parties continue to focus on cost-of-living issues.
The Liberal Party’s proposal includes money for struggling renters, a temporary dental care benefit for some kids under 12, and a one-time boost to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Credit. Of the $4.6-billion plan, $3.1 billion is new money — on top of what was already earmarked in Budget 2022.
Poilievre wasted no time criticizing the proposal publicly, suggesting last week that the spending would not help average Canadians — and could risk making inflation worse.
“It simply pours more gasoline on the inflationary fire,” Poilievre said.
Trudeau immediately faced similar questions from reporters, but during his announcement, he pushed back on the assertion his plan could worsen inflationary pressures.
“I think the most important thing is to understand there are Canadians out there who are really hurting. … What we’re doing with these specific measures is targeting those most vulnerable, those most hard-hit by increases in inflation,” Trudeau said.
“They are also sufficiently targeted that we are confident they will not contribute to increased inflation.”
MPs clash over inflation, affordability as Parliament returns
Trudeau has also launched some attacks of his own against the new Conservative leader.
While congratulating Poilievre on his leadership victory on Sept. 12, the prime minister immediately pivoted to calling on Canadians to choose “responsible leadership.”
“Buzzwords, dog whistles and careless attacks don’t add up to a plan for Canadians. Attacking the institutions that make our society fair, safe and free is not responsible leadership,” he said.
Poilievre has taken jabs at a number of Canadian institutions over the course of his leadership campaign, including calling for the Bank of Canada governor to be fired and criticizing universities as being influenced by “thought police.”
Trudeau also went after the Conservative leader for his past support of cryptocurrency — a digital form of currency.
The value of one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, has fallen significantly in recent months. As of Thursday afternoon, it was trading at just over US$19,000, marking a significant drop in value since its all-time high of about US$68,000 last November.
“Telling people they can opt-out of inflation by investing their savings in volatile cryptocurrencies is not responsible leadership. By the way, anyone who followed that advice would have seen their life savings destroyed,” Trudeau said.
As the two leaders make their respective cases in favour of their own parties — and against the others — the verdict on which has the strongest appeal for Canadians won’t come down until the next federal election.
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