PM Trudeau, Poilievre spar over recession concerns, affordability bill


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre sparred in the House of Commons on Tuesday over concerns of a looming recession and how the federal government should be tackling inflation, with Trudeau accusing Poilievre of “blocking” the Liberals’ bill to implement housing and dental benefits.

Tuesday’s Question Period saw a back-and-forth between Trudeau and Poilievre, with the Conservative leader accusing Trudeau of “bragging about” the $500 top-up for low-income renters as part of the proposed affordability legislation, while adding “these days, you can’t even rent a dog house in the backyard for that kind of money.”

He, along with several other Conservative MPs, also repeatedly called on the government to end its plans to “triple, triple, triple” the carbon tax.

“It is not a luxury to heat your home in Canada in the winter time, yet the prime minister wants to punish people for doing it,” Poilievre said.

“If he’s not going to back down on his plan to triple the tax, will at least he have the decency to exempt home heating this winter from that tax hike?” he added.

In response, Trudeau said that if Conservatives cared about affordability for Canadians, they would be backing and not blocking Bill C-31. It was a line of attack he repeated throughout the day, starting first in remarks to reporters on his way into a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.

“If (Poilievre) actually wanted to support low-income families, he’d step up and support our measures to give more money to low-income families for the cost of dental care to their kids, or to help the 1.8 million Canadians who will benefit from our additional help on the housing benefit,” Trudeau said in the House.

“Not only does the leader of the Opposition not support those measures to help low-income families with real money this fall, he’s blocking their passage in the House, preventing anyone from getting that money,” he added.

Many experts are forecasting a recession, with economists from the Royal Bank of Canada saying last week it’s expected as soon as early 2023.

The Liberals’ Bill C-31 — to provide dental-care benefits for children under 12, and a one-time rental housing benefit for eligible Canadians — has remained at second reading in the House of Commons since it was tabled on Sept. 20.

In a move to see the bill fast-tracked through remaining stages by the end of next week, the government has advanced a motion that would see MPs burning the midnight oil to wrap up their work on the 36-page legislation and pass it into the Senate. The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois are opposing the government’s attempts to expedite the bill, suggesting more study and consideration is needed on the government’s spending plans.

The Liberals promised to focus on affordability and the rising cost of living this fall by passing two pieces of legislation: Bill C-30 to temporarily double the GST credit, which passed through the Senate and received Royal Ascent on Tuesday, and the dental and housing benefit bill. Connected to the Liberal-NDP supply-and-confidence deal, there is some urgency from the government benches, as Trudeau pledged to the NDP that the government would get both cost-of-living bills passed into law, and the benefits out to eligible Canadians, before the end of the year.

While the NDP is helping the Liberals advance Bill C-31, getting in on the affordability conversation during question period NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused the Liberals of having no plan to deal with a looming recession, especially when it comes to employment insurance and support for Canadians who may lose their jobs.

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello

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