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Trudeau and Poilievre debate cost of living, point fingers over latest inflation rate increase

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the federal government is doing “everything it can” to help Canadians get through the “difficult” current economic period after Canada’s inflation rate increased to four per cent last month, once again sparking debate over the issue in the House of Commons Tuesday.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have been pointing fingers at the Liberals for August’s inflation numbers, with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre laying the blame for the increase at the feet of the government and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calling the Liberal plan to address rising grocery prices “frankly ridiculous.”

“Not only is inflation up, it is rising, and rising faster,” Poilievre said Tuesday. “Inflation in Canada, after eight years of Justin Trudeau, is not only high, but it is broad.”

“It is across all different products and services,” he added. “Whether you include or exclude food and gas, inflation is now double its target.”

Poilievre also criticized Freeland for asking “everyone to give her a pat on the back” in July when inflation numbers started to dip and called the now increasing numbers “entirely made in Canada” due to Liberal government spending.

August’s inflation numbers are the second consecutive monthly increase. The jumps come after Freeland called the inflation rate dropping to 2.8 per cent in June a “milestone moment” that Canadians should find some relief in.

Inflation and the cost of living also remained a focus of debate in the House of Commons on the second day of the fall sitting of Parliament Tuesday, with the prime minister going back and forth with Singh and Poilievre as the politicians debated who’s to blame.

Both Trudeau and Freeland pointed to recently announced measures to help tackle the affordability crisis, including removing the GST on the construction of new rental apartments in a bid to build faster and reduce housing costs and calling on the heads of the country’s largest grocery stores to come up with a plan to “stabilize” prices.

“We will continue to be here for Canadians, all while managing our finances responsibly,” Trudeau said in French.

“The Leader of the Opposition continues to talk down Canadians and talk down the Canadian economy and say that everything is broken,” he added. “We’re getting to work (on) helping Canadians through this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, Singh — who has been calling on the CEOs of Canada’s largest grocery chains to reduce their profit margins since last winter — said the Liberals’ plan to “stabilize” grocery prices is “ridiculous” and “a failure of leadership.”

“Canadians have been struggling with food prices for almost two years now and here’s the classic Liberal response,” Singh said during question period Tuesday. “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.”

With files from CTV News’ Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello 

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