The Conservatives’ finance critic raised eyebrows Wednesday for the way he criticized an excess of “self-praise” from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the face of job losses.
Pierre Poilievre rose during question period to press Trudeau on sobering figures released by Statistics Canada last week. The data shows Canada’s economy shed 71,000 jobs in November, the biggest monthly drop since the financial crisis a decade ago, and that the country’s unemployment rate has now climbed to 5.9 per cent from 5.5 per cent.
“If self-praise could build economies and create jobs then we wouldn’t have lost 71,000 of those jobs last month,” Poilievre said in the House of Commons. “We wouldn’t have higher unemployment than the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan.
“Will the prime minister stop making rhetorical love to himself and get out of the way so that Canadians can get back to work?” he asked.
Watch the exchange:
Though the quip — an apparent dig at how Trudeau took all questions Wednesday afternoon — sparked laughs and surprised looks from some on the Tory benches, Trudeau brushed it off.
“While the parties opposite choose to sling mud and play politics, we’re going to stay focused on families,” he said.
Earlier, the prime minister told Poilievre that his government recognizes that many Canadians are struggling, even after years of growth.
Trudeau said the Liberals will press on with measures they proposed in the most recent election campaign, including a promise to boost the Canada Child Benefit by 15 per cent for children under the age of one. The party believes the move will give eligible families as much as $1,000 more per year.
Tories have pounced on the latest jobs numbers to demand Liberals unveil a fiscal update before MPs head home for the holidays. Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters this week that the government will update Canadians on the state of the economy “before Christmas.”
Tory Leader Andrew Scheer led off question period on Wednesday by accusing Trudeau of having no plan to return to a balanced budget. Scheer asked the prime minister to commit to tabling a “long-term economic and fiscal projection” in the House this week.
Trudeau did not commit to a fiscal update in the coming days but said his government’s economic approach is based on investing in Canadians, not the “cuts and austerity” the Tories proposed in the most recent election. Scheer had pledged on the campaign trail to balance Canada’s books after five years.
“We got Canadians’ support in 2015 and in 2019 to keep moving forward with a plan that invests in them for a brighter future for everyone,” Trudeau said.
Scheer also charged that November’s job numbers show “the prime minister has created the conditions for a made-in-Canada recession.”
Trudeau responded that, since coming to power in 2015, Canadians have created more than a million jobs.
“We’re going to keep investing in families, supporting Canadians, building for a brighter future every day through working with Canadians in communities right across the country,” he said.