Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Pierre Poilievre, the newly elected leader of the federal Conservative party, sparred from afar on Monday, positioning themselves for the battle ahead to win the support of Canadians.
In Ottawa, Mr. Polievre used his first speech to the national caucus of the Conservative party - a mix of MPs and senators - to call for a freeze on tax hikes affecting workers and seniors.
“I am issuing a challenge to Justin Trudeau today. If you really understand the suffering of Canadians, Mr. Prime Minister. If you understand that people can’t gas their cars, feed their families or afford homes for themselves; if you really care, commit today that there will be no new tax increases on workers and on seniors. None,” Mr. Poilievre told caucus members.
The Ottawa-area MP said the Conservatives will work with any party on advancing the interests of Canadians, but said the Official Opposition would not support any new tax increases.
“And we will fight tooth and nail to stop the coalition from introducing any,” he said, referring to the New Democratic Party and Liberals.
The NDP is supporting the Liberals in Parliament in return for action by the government on NDP priorities such as pharmacare and a dental program. However, the agreement is not a coalition.
At a federal Liberal retreat in St. Andrews, N.B., Mr. Trudeau congratulated Mr. Poilievre on winning the leadership, but made it clear he will challenge his rival’s political positions.
“We’ve been making every effort to work with all parliamentarians and we will continue to do so, but this doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be calling out highly questionable reckless, economic ideas,” Mr. Trudeau said.
He said that Canadians need responsible leadership. “Buzz words, 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 took note of Mr. Poilievre’s endorsement, during the leadership campaign, of crypto currencies, saying it was irresponsible and would have been detrimental to anyone who acted on the counsel of the new Conservative leader.
The value of bitcoin, the most popular form of cryptocurrency, has dropped by more than 50 per cent since Mr. Poilievre made those comments.
“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.”
Mr. Trudeau also challenged Mr. Poilievre on other issues, including vaccines, economic supports for Canadians during the pandemic, and the Conservative leader’s opposition to carbon taxes.
Both men will be in the House of Commons this Thursday as it meets for the first time since the summer break began to pay tribute to the Queen. Parliament is set to resume fully on Sept. 20.
Also, Quebec federal Liberal MPs and ministers attending a caucus retreat in New Brunswick say they doubt Mr. Poilievre’s win will alter the political landscape in the province, even though Mr. Poilievre made several direct pitches to the province’s voters in his Saturday night victory speech. Story here.
And there’s a report here from The National Post on Mr. Poilievre’s wife, Anaida.
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THE QUEEN - The late Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was taken along the Royal Mile in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Monday in a silent and solemn procession watched by thousands of people paying their respects to Britain’s longest-serving monarch. Her funeral will be held on Sept. 19 at Westminister Abbey. Story here. Meanwhile, Canada will have a “prominent” role in the lying-in-state and funeral of Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom says, as preparations in London shift into high gear with one week to go before the ceremony. Story here.
FEDS CAPPED AFGHANS IMMIGRATION EFFORT - When the federal government launched an immigration program for Afghans who worked with Canada’s military or government in Afghanistan, it capped the number of people it was willing to receive at a maximum of 2,500, thoughit did not make that figure public for more than a year. Story here.
GREEN PARTY PRESIDENT QUITS - The president of the Green Party of Canada has resigned, telling members her “optimism has died” amid ongoing party turmoil. Story here. Meanwhile, CBC says the Green Party’s two MPs were both prepared to walk away from their party and sit as Independents if the federal council cancelled the party’s leadership race. Story here.
FLIGHTS LARGELY ON TIME: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - As a chaotic summer at Canadian airports lurched to a close, the federal government said 86 per cent of flights at the country’s four biggest hubs departed on time during the week of Aug. 22 to 28, but industry experts say the government is using an unheard-of definition of “on time” to exaggerate the improvements. Story here.
NET WORTH DECLINES - Canadians saw their collective net worth fall by the most on record in the second quarter as financial markets and residential real estate hit a rough patch, ending a streak of massive wealth generation during the previous two years of the pandemic. Story here.
QUEBEC ELECTION - Federal politics crept into Quebec’s provincial election campaign on Sunday as the province’s political leaders faced questions about Pierre Poilievre’s status as the newly minted head of the Conservative Party of Canada. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
COMMONS NOT SITTING – The House of Commons is not sitting again until Thursday when MPs will pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth. Beyond that, the opening of the session after the summer break will be delayed one day to Sept. 20.
HARPER AND BUSH - Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and former U.S. president George W. Bush are to appear on stage together on Monday night to talk through varied issues including the war in Ukraine, and inflation as part of an event organized by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. Details here.
Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features Report on Business reporter Chris Hannay discussing Canada’s management of plasma. Plasma is a critical part of some medicines but Canada currently only gets 15 per cent of its supply from Canadians. That means we’re dependent on the paid-plasma international market for 85 per cent of it. So to secure a domestic supply, the Canadian Blood Services has reversed course on its historic position of only administering a voluntary donation system and signed a deal with for-profit Spanish company Grifols, which will collect Canadian plasma by paying people. The Decibel is here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in St. Andrews, N.B., attends the National Caucus retreat and delivers brief remarks.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, in Ottawa, attended a meeting of the national Conservative caucus and addressed the group.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Sudbury, met with seniors at Club d’Âge d’Or de la Vallée and visited Collège Boréal.
No schedules on other party leaders.
OPINION - PIERRE POILIEVRE
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on four things from Pierre Poilievre’s first night as Conservative leader: “Mr. Poilievre won’t suddenly drop all the grievances of the truckers’ convoy, or culture-war calls – and he didn’t on Saturday night. He promised at one point, to kill the ArriveCan border app and end all remining COVID-19 vaccine mandates. But he didn’t linger on those things. He toned down stuff that provoked cheers at rallies, leaving out his promise to defund the CBC. Instead, the focus was economic, from inflation to deficits to taxes. It was heavily centred on the struggles of those of modest means, such as 30-year-olds who can’t afford a home or people “downgrading their diet” because of food prices – and an argument that the cost of government is costing them.”
Mike Coates (The National Post) on how Pierre Poilievre won handily and it’s time to unite behind him: “When a very small group of us decided to back Jean Charest last January, we looked for someone who could defeat Trudeau. We didn’t have an interest in entering a race that was about the soul of the party. To us, Jean was the perfect choice to put the boots to Trudeau. A national hero to my generation, Jean would break the Liberal hold on Quebec. His centre-of-the road social policies would resonate in urban Canada, just as his economic policies would speak to the interests of rural Canada. Jean understood the needs of the provinces and had the experience governing to get big things done.”
Jen Gerson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Pierre Poilievre’s dominant win is the death knell of moderate conservatism in Canada: “With Pierre Poilievre’s decisive victory in the federal Conservatives’ leadership race, the party now has a generational opportunity to radically re-imagine what Conservative policies could be palatable to the Canadian public. With a strong mandate at his back, the man nicknamed Skippy need only to win the trust of a plurality of the electorate to implement reforms that would have been dismissed as untouchable by Stephen Harper. And if this Conservative leadership race was a fight for the soul of the party, as former Progressive Conservative activist and senator Marjory LeBreton recently posited, well, the results are in. Reform is back, baby. Moderate conservatism is dead, and the harder-right, angrier, rougher edge will live the life everlasting. In the end, it wasn’t even close.”
Andrew MacDougall (The Ottawa Citizen) on why, with Pierre Poilievre as leader, the party finally goes ‘full-fat’ conservative: “The other predator Poilievre will have to contend with is, of course, Trudeau. The personal antipathy many assume Poilievre has for Trudeau is equally true in reverse. The instinct for Trudeau will be to come at Poilievre over his character and his tone, to essentially ‘Freedom Convoy’ him to death. It is, after all, the tactic that (eventually) helped see off O’Toole. But it would be a colossal mistake. Trudeau needs to understand the appeal of the Poilievre we see in his self-released campaign videos, the man concerned about ordinary Canadians speaking to ordinary Canadians in a way that relates to their difficulties. If Trudeau tries to fight Poilievre’s fire with fire, he’ll have fallen into the trap, and end up getting badly burned.”
OPINION - THE QUEEN
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how Canada is stuck with the monarchy and we should thank our lucky stars for that: “There are three obstacles to changing Canada’s head of state. The first obstacle is practical. So is the second. And the third. Start with the fact that the only way to change the place of the Crown in our system of government is with – warning: what follows are the most disturbing words in the Canadian political lexicon – a constitutional amendment. And (danger: more strong language here) not just any amendment, but one requiring the approval of all provincial legislatures, plus Parliament. That’s not impossible, but it is about as likely as, say, the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the next five Stanley Cups, or Elizabeth May becoming a two-term prime minister. More importantly, reopening the Constitution is a form of surgery that runs a high risk of killing the patient, the patient being Canada.”
Gordon Campbell (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Queen Elizabeth gave us the gift of her life and her commitment to others: “In 2015, the Queen opened a renovated Canada House. On the main floor, a beautiful large painting by Gordon Smith welcomes visitors. Gordon did the painting just for Canada House and had flown to London for the opening. The Queen and Prince Philip were incredulous that he could paint such a large piece from his wheelchair. Close to the end of my stay in the United Kingdom, I was invited to have dinner with the Royal Family and stay overnight at Windsor Castle. Usually at these events, there is a plan of the table with your name next to your chair. I looked at the plan and could not see my name. I inquired with the butler whether he knew where I was sitting. “Who are you?” he asked. Not an auspicious beginning. “Canada’s high commissioner,” I replied. “Oh,” he said. “You will be sitting next to Her Majesty.” The Queen always had a soft spot for Canada.”
Michael Valpy (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on what King Charles needs to do to win Canada’s heart: “Charles needs to give Canadians a fair chance to get to know him – to know his interests in young people, Indigenous culture, architecture, urban planning, organic agriculture, military veterans and, above all, the environment and climate change. It can happen. Charles is “not one for chilling,” Camilla has said of her husband. She meant he doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. But his presence in Canada will depend on who is prime minister and who will speak out in support of the monarchy. Ottawa could invite Charles to Canada almost immediately, present him to the country as head of state – actually, in historic terminology, he is not so much head of state as he personifies the state – get him out talking to ordinary people and have him visit regularly thereafter. Canadians, given the chance, could see a close relationship with Charles as beneficial. He is a complex, passionate, determined and intelligent man. His interest in environmentalism, in particular, could be a strong tie that links him with the country.”
Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on how the UCP leadership race has turned into a referendum on Danielle Smith’s sovereignty act: “Any belief that Jason Kenney’s departure was going to usher in a new era of cohesion among Alberta conservatives is long gone. The Union Conservative Party of Alberta leadership contest to replace him has transformed into a party referendum on Danielle Smith’s sovereignty act. Ms. Smith is the presumed front-runner and her proposed act, which she says would give the province the power to refuse to enforce federal laws it deems unconstitutional, has dominated the leadership race.”