Pierre Poilievre denounces Justin Trudeau’s “radical awakening coalition”

ST. ANDREWS BY-THE-SEA, NB – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre offered competing visions for the country on Monday in dueling caucus speeches that laid battle lines bare for the return of Parliament next week.

The ideological divide will pit the Trudeau Liberals, who champion the role of central government in program spending and job creation, against the Poilievre Conservatives’ call for less state involvement in the lives of empowered individuals. .

“Our job as government is to build an economy where everyone is ready to thrive in a net zero world, an economy where everyone has real opportunities for meaningful work, an economy where people can rely on their neighbors, on their communities and – yes – on their governments, to support them in difficult times,” Trudeau said Monday during his party’s New Brunswick caucus retreat.

“Now is not the time for politicians to exploit fears and pit people against each other.”

It was a blunt blow to Poilievre, who the Prime Minister went on to accuse of pursuing “highly questionable” and “reckless” economic policies. Trudeau cited the new Conservative leader’s support for cryptocurrencies, hinted at his promise to fire the Bank of Canada governor over soaring inflation, and accused him of ‘fighting’ vaccinations COVID-19 “that have saved millions of lives”.

“What Canadians need is responsible leadership,” said Trudeau, who stood at a podium with dozens of Liberal MPs lined up behind him on a road outside a resort. on the coast of New Brunswick.

Last week, the Star reported that Trudeau had told his cabinet in Vancouver that he would lead the Liberals against the new Conservative leader and until the next election.

“In stormy times, now and in the future, we will continue to be there for Canadians with the investments and supports that build a better present and a better future,” he said Monday.

Earlier in Ottawa, Poilievre addressed the Conservative caucus for the first time as a leader since his decisive leadership victory on Saturday night.

New Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre met with his party’s national caucus on Monday after winning a landslide victory in the leadership race. He says he wants the Conservatives to give Canadians hope. (SEPTEMBER 12 / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

In his speech, he lambasted the Liberal government for allegedly reckless spending and its “woke radical coalition” with New Democrats in the minority parliament. He called on the Liberals to freeze all ‘tax increases on workers and seniors’ after citing planned increases to federal pensions and EI premiums, and pledged to halt all growth future overall government spending if his party wins power.

“I want every Canadian to have the opportunity that I had,” Poilievre said. “Coming from humble beginnings, but working hard every day, making sacrifices, being responsible, and making all those virtues pay off as they pursue their dreams in their country – a country with a small government and great citizens, where the state is the servant and the people are the master.

He also backtracked on the rhetoric of his leadership campaign, arguing that government regulations and “access control” are holding back economic growth.

“We know that every dollar spent by government is paid for by the working class taxpayer and senior citizens of this country, whether through inflation, debt or taxes,” Poilievre said.

“We know that when excessive regulation and oversight hold back our economy, it means hold back the ambitious dreams of hard workers.”

Poilievre’s resounding victory in the Tory leadership race – he won with 68% support on the first ballot – came days before the Liberals on Tuesday unveiled a host of measures they say will help Canadians struggling with the rising cost of living. Trudeau had planned to announce them last week, until the death of Queen Elizabeth II triggered a long period of official mourning across Canada.

The Star reported at the time that the package was tied to the confidence and supply agreement with the NDP, in which the Liberals pledged to adopt a series of progressive policies in exchange for New Democrats maintaining their minority government until June 2025. The measures include money for dental care for children under 12 without existing insurance coverage, an increase in federal housing benefits and a doubling of GST refunds paid to low-income Canadians.

In his Monday speech, Poilievre took credit for the fact that there was even a package on the table, citing the alarm bells he’s been ringing about inflation for years.

“They finally had a revelation that Canadians are paying too much,” he said, “and in fact Canadians are out of money and this prime minister is out of touch.”

His meeting with Tory MPs on Monday came as the House of Commons was set to return from its summer break and Poilievre was due to organize and implement a plan for the work of the official opposition this fall.

MPs will meet later this week to pay their respects to the Queen, but the real work of Parliament resumes next Tuesday.

He took a personal moment on Monday, inviting his wife Ana and son Cruz to the caucus room stage to celebrate Cruz’s first birthday with cake.

Poilievre said his goal — and that of his party — is to work toward a Canada that gives everyone the same opportunities they had growing up.

“We know people are hurting across this country,” he said, “and the way we turn that pain into hope is to fight for people to have the chance to realize their dreams.”

Meanwhile, in their caucus meeting, Liberal MPs hit back, saying Poilievre was speaking empty words without real solutions to the complex economic problems facing Canada.

Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, who earmarks billions of dollars to subsidize affordable housing and federal coffer rents, criticized Poilievre for using political rhetoric based on “gimmicks.”

Responding to Poilievre’s pledges on spending restraint, Hussen said Liberals and Conservatives have a “fundamental difference of opinion” about how government can help people.

“When you invest in child care, for example, you might think of it as a government expense, but it actually frees people up so they can get back into the workforce,” Hussen said.

“I see these things as much-needed investments that pay off many, many times over.”

Mark Holland, the Leader of the Government in Parliament, also dismissed Poilievre for offering “simplistic” solutions.

“Pretending you can snap your fingers and make things go away – of course, throughout history these things have had appeal. But the reality is that dealing with what we have in front of us is going to require seriousness, honesty and challenges,” Holland said.

“We have to be upfront and direct with people with this.”

Others acknowledged that Poilievre might have the potential to compete with the Liberals for government.

Nathaniel Erksine-Smith, Toronto Liberal Caucus Chair and MP for Beaches—East York, called Poilievre a “capable” politician who could pose a threat if he drops his leadership campaign talking points on the Economic Forum. world and cryptocurrencies.

“We need to approach this fall with a focus on economic recovery and tackling inflation, the cost of living, job creation, health care and labor shortages there. “, Erskine-Smith said.

“If he comes after us on these issues, I think we will have a really substantial debate. But if it’s about, you know, suing us for being woken up by climate change, then that’s going to be very silly and I think we’ll continue to be the ruling party.

Within the Conservative Party itself, MPs and others were discouraged by some of Poilievre’s leadership campaign rhetoric during the race, but on Monday all were ready and willing to rally behind their new leader.

“We have differences of opinion from time to time,” said Ed Fast, a BC MP who backed Jean Charest for leadership. Fast was kicked out of his role as the party’s finance critic in May after telling reporters he was “deeply disturbed” by a promise to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada if Poilievre became prime minister.

“We will have arguments, we will resolve them as a family and we will pursue the case of hopefully replacing the failed government of Justin Trudeau.”

With files by Raisa Patel

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