Poilievre banks on Trump-style politics


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Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre says senior officials at the Bank of Canada are “financially illiterate.”

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Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre says senior officials at the Bank of Canada are “financially illiterate.”

This is the same politician who is urging Canadians to “opt out” of inflation by purchasing cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

Poilievre says Canadians have “lost control of their lives” and that if he becomes prime minister, he’s going to restore that control by “firing the gatekeepers” in government. One of the ways he’s going to do that is by cutting funding to municipalities if they refuse to follow his rules on how and where to build new homes. Poilievre makes the bizarre claim that people who don’t own homes don’t have control of their lives (including those, presumably, who choose to rent) and says he can get them into the housing market.

If leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre's Trump-style tactics become a part of the Conservative Party's future, it'll be a scary one, says columnist Tom Brodbeck. (Patrick Doyle / The Canadian Press files)

This is the kind of snake oil the Ontario MP for the Ottawa-area riding of Carleton has been peddling during his dog-and-pony road show in recent weeks to drum up support for his leadership bid.

The Bank of Canada has conducted a number of surveys in recent years to gauge public awareness of cryptocurrencies, including the risks involved in owning it. It does so because it’s part of its job to maintain financial stability in the country by managing and overseeing currencies, as well as analyzing emerging trends. It’s also examining the possibility of establishing its own digital currency.

One of the findings in the central bank’s surveys is that people who scored lower on financial literacy questions showed higher rates of cryptocurrency ownership.

“These results reveal interesting facts, specifically that Canadians who are financially literate are more likely to be aware of Bitcoin but less likely to own it,” the report said.

Poilievre, who fashions himself as a cryptocurrency expert because he watches YouTube videos on the subject, took exception to that finding and lashed out at Bank of Canada officials Friday.

“This from the same people who promised we’d have ‘deflation’ right before inflation hit a 30-year high,” Poilievre wrote on Twitter. “It is our central bank that is financially illiterate.”

That’s a pretty serious charge. It’s like accusing a Supreme Court of Canada justice of not understanding the law, or a chief coroner of not knowing the human anatomy. It’s especially egregious coming from a member of Parliament, particularly one who wants to be prime minister.

It’s fair game to debate Bank of Canada monetary policy. In fact, it’s encouraged in a free and democratic society. Some economists, for example, have criticized the central bank for not raising interest rates, or pulling back on the money supply, sooner to combat growing inflation. Others have pointed out that in a highly volatile economic environment, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, decisions made last year about interest rates and the money supply were based on the best available evidence at the time.

None, however, accused central bank officials of being “financially illiterate.” Moreover, all agree inflation is caused by many global factors and that government spending is just one small part of it. Poilievre’s claim that inflation (which he continues to refer to childishly as “JustinFlation”) is caused primarily by government spending is a deliberate attempt to deceive.

This is Donald Trump-style politics. The former U.S. president made a political career out of lying to Americans and attacking the integrity of public institutions, such as the courts, intelligence agencies and the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Poilievre’s tactics are very similar. He has impugned the integrity of the Bank of Canada, municipalities and the country’s public health officials for waging what he calls “unscientific attacks on people’s medical decisions.” He describes government’s public health measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as “malicious mandates” that violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and prevent people from earning a living. It sounds very much like the unhinged rhetoric of the “freedom convoy” protesters with whom Poilievre has aligned himself, and whose leaders are now facing criminal charges.

It’s the kind of toxic, deranged, and dumbed-down politics that almost won Donald Trump a second term in the White House. If this is the future of Conservative political leadership in Canada, it’s a pretty scary one.


Tom Brodbeck

Tom Brodbeck

Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.


Updated on Monday, April 25, 2022 6:40 PM CDT: Corrects spelling of Carleton

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