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Pierre Poilievre tells MPs Canada really ‘feels broken,’ despite what Trudeau says


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By Stephanie Taylor in Ontario

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre doubled down on his belief that “everything feels broken” in Canada Friday, as he laced into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for suggesting otherwise.

At the start of a two-day caucus retreat to plot out their priorities when the House of Commons resumes sitting next week, Poilievre asked Tory MPs: “What’s happening in our country?”

His speech offered a blistering review of Trudeau’s nearly eight years in power, listing off the ways he believes Canadians are hurting — from high prices at the grocery store to crime that he characterized as out of control — and areas where he believes the government is failing. He cited the recent holiday travel chaos as an example of that.

“Everything feels broken,” said Poilievre. “Oh — I just offended Justin Trudeau. He gets very angry when I talk about these problems.”

He pointed to Trudeau’s comments at the annual Liberal holiday party last month, where the prime minister countered the Conservative leader’s message by telling his own supporters, “Canada is not broken.”

Poilievre charged that Trudeau is unable to see how much people are suffering, saying their problems are Trudeau’s fault alone. 

“You told us that better was always possible,” said Poilievre. “And yet everything is worse.”

He then suggested if Trudeau is unwilling to fix the country’s woes, he should “get out of the way and let someone lead who can.” That comment was greeted with cheers from his caucus.

For his part, Trudeau responded to Poilievre’s remarks on his way into the Liberal caucus meeting by saying the Conservative leader was amplifying people’s anger, rather than “offering them solutions.”

Poilievre’s speech emphasized the issue of crime, saying cities are becoming “crime zones” under Trudeau’s watch and suggesting he is not taking the necessary action to reduce violence.

Poilievre named Toronto as an example after a string of violent incidents on the city’s transit system in recent weeks.

A Statistics Canada report released last November shows the country’s homicide rate increased for the third consecutive year, with cities like Winnipeg and Regina boasting the worst rates per capita. The crime severity index was down in 2021 and 2020 after five years of increases.

Poilievre enters the upcoming parliamentary sitting — his second since winning the party’s leadership last fall — having just wrapped a stretch of campaign-like stops in Quebec, northern Ontario, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

And if his first few months in leadership were focused on transitioning into the office, he’s now well into the business of managing a 116-person caucus.

That is not without its issues. This week, at Poilievre’s direction, the party whip informed MPs they were to lead by example in showing fiscal responsibility by ending the practice of having taxpayers pay for home internet services.

The House of Commons allows members to be reimbursed for those expenses through their office budgets, but the Tories asked their MPs and staff to stop.

Emails obtained by The Canadian Press show that several rural MPs voiced their displeasure, asking the office to hold off on making a policy change until the caucus met Friday to talk. That ultimately did not happen. 

Asked about those concerns, Poilievre’s spokesman Sebastian Skamski referred to an earlier statement provided by chief Opposition whip Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who said the change was made in light of the high cost of living.

Poilievre has also released several policy statements in the past week, including an announcement that he planned consultations with First Nations about increasing their access to revenues from resources developed on their land.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023.

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Federal Election 2021

Trudeau chief of staff Katie Telford to testify on foreign interference at committee

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Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Katie Telford arrives to appear as a witness at the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a motion to compel his chief of staff to testify about foreign interference at a House of Commons committee will not be a confidence matter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ottawa (CP) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says his chief of staff, Katie Telford, will testify at a House of Commons committee on the issue of foreign interference in the last two Canadian elections.

The move came Tuesday as Trudeau’s office issued the mandate for special rapporteur David Johnston, giving him until May 23 to recommend whether any additional mechanisms — like a formal public inquiry — are necessary.

Johnston will have until the end of October to complete his review of foreign interference issues and make further recommendations for how the government should proceed.

Trudeau told reporters Tuesday morning that Johnston will have access to all relevant documents, including classified information.

The Liberals’ decision to drop their opposition to having Telford testify at committee made moot a vote planned for Tuesday afternoon on a Conservative motion asking the entire House of Commons to demand her appearance.

Liberal members of Parliament had been filibustering the Procedures and House Affairs committee for several weeks to prevent a similar motion that would compel Telford to appear.

The announcement on Telford’s testimony came moments after NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party would back the Conservative motion if the government didn’t stop filibustering at the committee.

Singh insisted the committee is not the best placed to get to the bottom of the foreign interference problems, and he wants a public inquiry. He said the Liberals and Conservatives are too bent on scoring political points at the committee for it to do the best job.

Trudeau has not heeded the calls for an inquiry thus far, but has said he will listen if Johnston recommends one.

Trudeau appointed Johnston, a former governor general, last week amid allegations Beijing attempted to influence the results of both the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

The government and opposition parties have said those attempts did not compromise the validity of the elections, a contention backed up by the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

But opposition parties have been demanding the government produce more information about what Beijing tried to do, what Trudeau knew about it and what he did about it. They want a full public inquiry but Trudeau instead appointed Johnston to look into the issue and make recommendations.

He has said if Johnston recommends an inquiry he will abide by that.

Trudeau said earlier Monday he wanted the issue of foreign interference to be treated with the seriousness it deserves and accused Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre of turning the matter into a “political circus.”

The Liberals left the door open on Monday to making the vote on the Telford motion a confidence matter, but Trudeau shut that door firmly Tuesday morning.

“No, it’s not going to be a confidence motion,” he said, prior to the Liberal cabinet meeting.

“Obviously, it goes to how important the issue of foreign interference is, and I’m actually pleased to contrast the approach that we’ve taken.”

He said the process the Liberals are following “is an expert process that will dig into this in a nonpartisan way.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.

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Food inflation in Canada shows signs of easing, but grocery prices to remain high

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A woman shops for produce in Vancouver, on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Food inflation appears to be easing in Canada but experts say consumers shouldn’t expect lower prices at the grocery store. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Food inflation appears to be easing in Canada, but experts say shoppers shouldn’t expect lower prices at the grocery store.

Statistics Canada says the cost of groceries in February rose 10.6 per cent compared with a year before, down from an 11.4 per cent year-over-year increase in January.

Yet a falling food inflation rate doesn’t mean the price of food is coming down.

Instead, it means prices are rising less quickly, signalling the worst of the era of grocery price hikes could be behind us.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, says the food inflation rate is expected to continue to cool throughout the spring and into summer.

But he says Canadians may still experience sticker shock at the grocery store as some food prices are still significantly higher than a year ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.

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