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Opposition Takes Aggressive Stance Against Growing Inflation Figures

Opposition parties take jabs at the Liberal government over rising inflation rate.

Opposition parties went on the offensive in Question Period on Sept. 19 over the latest inflation numbers.

The monthly consumer price index showed inflation jumping by 4 percent in August, a rise from the 3.3 percent recorded in July.

The higher-than-expected inflation rate was driven by factors that included rising fuel and grocery prices.

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“His accelerating inflation rate proves that after eight years, this prime minister is just not worth the cost,” said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“After [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] and his ministers pumped their fists in the air and declared victory over inflation,” it has gone up, continued Mr. Poilievre, referring to a statement in June by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland that getting inflation to 2.8 percent was a “milestone moment” for Canadians. The inflation rate has been rising since then.

“Inflation is now accelerating; he hasn’t brought it down,” said Mr. Poilievre. “He stacked 4 percent inflation on top of the previous 8 percent inflation, which means that Canadians can’t eat, heat, or house themselves.”

“And worse, it may force the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates again, causing Canadian households, who are the most indebted in the G7, to go bankrupt. Will he balance the budget to bring down inflation and rates before that nightmare unfolds?” asked Mr. Poilievre.

He later warned one-fifth of Canadians may be unable to pay the interest on their mortgages. “How many Canadians will go bankrupt? And will we have a mortgage crisis when that happens?”

Mr. Trudeau responded by pointing to the record of his government in trying to make life more affordable.

“We demonstrated that we were able to bring down inflation from the highs of 8.1 percent while at the same time being there to invest in Canadians,” he responded.

“The leader of the opposition is saying he wouldn’t have been there to help 11 million Canadians with the grocery rebate … He certainly wouldn’t have been there to cut childcare fees in half right across the country all the way to $10 a day. Those are measures … that have helped Canadians.”

In French, Mr. Poilievre said he has been warning the federal government for years that rising federal spending would fuel inflation.

“The prime minister has printed money and doubled our national debt,” he said. “He is causing inflation and then denying it. I warned him about this three years ago, and I warned him five months ago that inflationary deficits would cause the problems we’re experiencing today.”

Mr. Trudeau continued to point to other measures his government has undertaken, such as a promise to drop the GST on the construction of new rental housing.

“We’re also moving forward on extending the repayment deadline for CEBA [Canadian Emergency Business Account] loans to help small businesses and we’re working directly with grocery chains to stabilize food prices,” he said, referring to a meeting held Sept. 18 with the heads of the country’s five biggest grocery chains.

Statistics Canada on Tuesday confirmed that food inflation was at 6.9 percent in August—a slight drop but still above the overall inflation rate of 4 percent.

Other parties were also asking questions about inflation, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

“Canadians have been struggling with food prices for almost two years now,” said Mr. Singh. “And here’s the classic Liberal response. They asked the CEOs of the big grocery stores to come to Ottawa to nicely ask them to stabilize the prices, not to bring them down—to stabilize them.”

The NDP is keeping the minority Liberals in power through a supply and confidence agreement.

Mr. Trudeau responded that the government expects results from the meeting with grocery chains.

“We’ve said clearly that we expect to see a concrete plan from those grocery CEOs and if they don’t come forward with strong enough measures, then we will take measures,” he said.

Earlier this month Mr. Trudeau suggested Ottawa might respond with unspecified “tax measures” if grocery prices don’t stabilize.

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