Chrystia Freeland slams Pierre Poilievre as ‘economically illiterate’

OTTAWA — Canada got a taste Thursday of what a head-to-head political fight between two people believed to want the country’s top political job — the post of prime minister — would look like.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland lambasted Pierre Poilievre — the front-running candidate for the Conservative party’s top job — for his attacks on the central bank and his promise to fire its governor, Tiff Macklem, if he becomes prime minister.

In a major speech to the Empire Club of Canada Thursday outlining her approach to tackling inflation, Freeland said that respect for the Bank of Canada’s “central role” and its policy aim to keep total inflation to within, and at the midpoint of, one- to-three per cent range over the medium term is part of the Liberal government’s approach.

She said the bank has “begun the work of bringing inflation back within target, and it has the tools and the expertise it needs to keep inflation from becoming entrenched.” She underscored other previously announced measures to provide more individual income supports as well.

Without directly naming Poilievre, Freeland blasted his criticisms of the Bank and its governor, using the same words that Poilievre used in a tweet where he called the institution “financially illiterate.”

“At this time of global economic and political volatility, undermining Canada’s fundamental institutions — very much including the Bank of Canada — is highly irresponsible, not to mention economically illiterate,” Freeland told the Bay Street audience.

Freeland said that “while fighting inflation is the central bank’s job, good government policy can make it easier by tackling the supply constraints which are driving the rise in prices.”

Asked later if she meant Poilievre in particular, Freeland said only “I said exactly what I meant to say in my speech.”

Poilievre, who claims to have sold more than 300,000 new memberships in his bid for the Conservative leadership, immediately retorted Thursday in a post on his Twitter account.

“Freeland’s spending pours gas on inflation fire,” Poilievre said, listing his four priorities to tackle inflation that would “end money-printing deficits; ax the carbon tax & suspend gas taxes 3. Replace the central bank governor” and “4. Make more of what cash buys: energy, housing, food.”


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