Justin Trudeau and Pierre Poilievre attacked each other in duelling speeches. We break down their war of words
OTTAWA — Dueling speeches by leaders of the ruling and official opposition parties on Friday made crystal clear how each intends to attack the other when federal lawmakers return to Parliament next week.
Here’s a comparative look at how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre have thrown down their gauntlets in speeches at their Ottawa meetings.
It’s game on.
Poilievre was hard-edged and energetic, dropping the honorable “Prime Minister” and pounding “Justin” for everything from high gas and food prices, high interest rates, high housing costs, high crime and airport travel chaos.
Trudeau later consciously adopted a reserved, low voice aimed at a statesmanlike mood, addressing his opponent as “Mr. Poilievre.” Still, Trudeau’s quiet podium persona was just as partisan and elbows-up as his conservative rival.
The mood in both caucus rooms was predictably enthusiastic, with applause for shots across the parliamentary divide.
Poilievre, who claims Trudeau is evading responsibility for the myriad problems in the country, said: “If there’s nothing you can do about it, why not step out of the way and let someone who can lead?”
Trudeau disputed Poilievre by claiming that while the Liberals were focused on Canada’s economic future, “Mr. Poilievre was just talking about how we should all invest in bitcoin to avoid inflation after watching videos on YouTube.”
Trudeau has hyped his long-term “green” economic agenda to boost supply chains for electric vehicles and critical minerals. The Prime Minister vowed to “hit that moment” to help individual families struggling with bills and mortgages, and didn’t miss an opportunity to announce childcare deals with provinces, which last year halved childcare fees for parents, helping many families, weather the inflationary pressures on their household budgets.
Poilievre built his political brand on undercutting Liberals’ economic assumptions and targets, but little mention was made of the Friday issue that has helped drive that message in recent months: inflation. Instead, he focused on other political implications of a liberal government while reiterating his pledges to limit government spending, sack highly paid government advisers and scrap the carbon tax.
Ordinary Canadians as props
Both men spent part of the winter break on the road, meeting formally and informally with Canadians who became narrative tools to contrast their approaches on Friday.
Poilievre suggested that Trudeau only had the ear of loyalists and advisers and was deaf to the pain and suffering of real Canadians telling narrative stories of a 60’s chef at an Ottawa grocery store who, with “tears in his eyes… he must procrastinate his retirement” and could not afford the ingredients he used at work at home; an elderly woman who cannot afford to heat her house; and college students living in homeless shelters because they can’t afford rent.
Trudeau also played this game. Fresh from a tour to highlight government investment in Canadian-made electric vehicles and critical mineral developments, the prime minister shared stories of “skilled, ambitious” Canadians like two auto workers at Windsor’s Stellantis plant who build hybrid cars and are “proud of what they do and do.” fuel the economy of today and tomorrow.” He underscored his intention to spend more on health care reform, dismissing the concerns of Catherine, an emergency room nurse in New Brunswick, and Monique, a Quebec woman who pointed out a Knee replacement is waiting, back to say money alone isn’t the answer.
Aside from the stories of ordinary Canadians, each man blamed the other for leading the country in certain directions.
Poilievre’s latest rhetorical upsurge is that everything in Canada feels broken, and he underlined this in relation to crime, saying it is now “raging out of control”. Poilievre said Trudeau is the source of polarization and division in Canada.
“We know what you are going to do in this session of Parliament. They will share to distract. You try to scare people because you think if the average Canadian is afraid of their neighbor, they forget that they can’t feed themselves or pay the rent.”
Trudeau fired back, calling Poilievre “a conscious choice” to twist facts or reinforce misinformation, and called the Conservatives a party that does not rely on facts and science and denies the need to address climate change or the housing heritage School trauma and inflames divisions.
“There are politicians like Mr Poilievre who have no real solutions to offer and are just trying to exploit people’s anger and concerns. The Liberal vision for the future could not be more different than Mr Poilievre’s version.”
HOPE, SUNNY WAYS AND BETTER IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE, VERSION 3.0
Trudeau dismissed Poilievre’s characterization of Canada as a broken country, stressing the need to confront the decade’s “crucial” challenges as Canadians have done in past wars, economic crises and the pandemic.
“We, all of us, we have to be ready to face this moment,” he said, a new catchphrase almost certain to reappear in the coming months.
The prime minister urged people to remember the early days when COVID-19 challenged the country and Canadians showed up “when people were making noise and honking their horns in support of our frontline health workers, not against it”.
He said his government will continue to address climate change and indigenous reconciliation, saying: “That’s what our positive vision for the future is about: good jobs for the middle class, safe communities with clean air, where Families and workers are supported and where everyone has a real and fair chance of success. An economy that works for all Canadians.”
Poilievre also struck an upbeat tone, reaching out to his parents, who said it doesn’t matter where he comes from, it only matters where he goes.
“We will restore hope that Justin Trudeau and his administration have destroyed over the past eight years. We will once again make this a country where hard work pays, where people keep more of every dollar earned so they can get ahead.”
A deal with NDP federal leader Jagmeet Singh (who pumped up his caucus last week) has secured – on paper – support for the Trudeau-led minority government until June 2025. But that hasn’t stopped speculation as to how long it may really last. considering most minority governments survive less than two years, and Trudeaus is now entering its 16th month.
Poilievre, who has been keen to replace Trudeau for years, seemed keen to overthrow the Liberal government as soon as possible. “Now ladies and gentlemen, let’s get to work, let’s bring it home.”
Trudeau warned his MPs to remain campaign ready, and a senior government official said: “You’re all working hard to get nominated again because we’re in a minority parliament and we have to be prepared for anything.”
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