Hours later, Trudeau addressed his public remarks during a Liberal caucus retreat directly to his new foil.
“Now is not the time for politicians to exploit fears and pit people against each other,” Trudeau said in a speech at St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick.
He insisted that the Liberals tried to work with all parties. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t launch highly questionable and reckless economic ideas…. Buzzwords, dog whistles and reckless attacks are no plan for Canadians.
The scene: The Trudeau-Poilievre showdown begins as Canada, like many countries around the world, grapples with high inflation for decades following the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Poilievre now holds the mighty controls of the federal party with, by far, the best chance of defeating the prime minister’s minority government in seven years.
The next national election will take place in two years, at the latest. After suffering three straight defeats to Trudeau, the center-right Tories have turned to Poilievre, 43, a populist and freedom fighter, to end the losing streak.
Terms: Poilievre wasted no time Monday outlining his goal for the coming months — the Canadiens concern about high inflation, taxes and the state of the federal books.
He made it clear that he would sue the Trudeau government for the tens of billions of dollars it spent during the Covid-19 emergency. The federal money came as Covid measures shut down huge swathes of the economy, forcing businesses to close and leaving many Canadians out of work.
“We know the problem – the cost of government drives up the cost of living,” said Poilievre, who has made a name for himself as a quick agitator in parliament – particularly on government issues. economy and finance.
“It’s not only unwise for the future, but it’s too expensive for the present to keep racking up these debts.”
Poilievre has long harassed Trudeau and his finance ministers with accusations that Liberal spending during the pandemic has driven up inflation. Between spring 2020 and last fall, for example, the government provided over C$289 billion in direct revenue and business support.
He hammered the government on the issue, even as Trudeau and most economists attribute most of the price spike to global factors such as supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine and strict measures. of Covid from China.
Seizing on the Trudeau government’s handling of pandemic finances provides a safe opening for Poilievre, whose Conservatives could get a pass on hypothetical questions about how they might have handled the crisis.
Poilievre, who received several Monday’s extended standing ovations from his reinvigorated MPs also positioned themselves to attack the Liberals whenever they announce new ways to help address affordability issues.
He claimed the Liberals had done little to help overstretched households – and argued that any further measures from Trudeau in the future would come in response to pressure from the Conservatives with Poilievre at the helm.
But Poilievre has come under fire for his own economic proposals in the leadership race.
Among them, he vowed that if elected prime minister, he would fire Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem for his pandemic monetary policy.
Poilievre also encouraged Canadians to invest in cryptocurrencies as a way to “treat out” of inflation, a message he delivered shortly before asset values plummeted.
Trudeau’s opinion: Trudeau said Monday that anyone who took Poilievre’s cryptocurrency advice would have had their “lifetime savings destroyed.”
“Attacking the institutions that make our society fair, safe and free is not responsible leadership,” he said.
Trudeau argued that the Liberals have helped Canadians cope with affordability by, for example, launching a national child care program in a bid to cut fees to $10 a day.
He said government financial support during the pandemic for workers, families and businesses was “the smart thing to do”.
“Humble Beginnings”: Poilievre is also trying to position himself to challenge Trudeau by portraying himself as someone from a modest background.
In the past, he has accused Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, of being out of touch with the average citizen.
“It touches my heart that I can apply to this incredible group, to become leader of the Conservative Party from humble beginnings,” Poilievre said. “The son of a teenage mother, adopted by two schoolteachers, raised in a normal Canadian suburban home.”
Search for party unity: Poilievre also has work to heal the wounds within the caucus of a deadly – and at times unpleasant – leadership campaign that has tested the unity of Canada’s conservative movement.
Sixty of the 119 sitting Tory MPs have publicly backed Poilievre. But 16 gave their support to the finalist Jean Charest, who was rather a centrist candidate.
“No matter which candidates you supported during the leadership race, or whether you remained neutral, I am very grateful for your contributions,” Poilievre said in French. “We are all together, we are all part of the big conservative family.
And after: With Parliament due to reconvene next Tuesday after a summer break, Poilievre will have to demonstrate he can lead all Canadians, not just the Tories.
Trudeau will have to show Canadians that he is still the best person to guide the country through economic turbulence.