Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came out swinging Thursday in response to Pierre Poilievre’s pledge to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada if he became prime minister.
Trudeau questioned whether the perceived Conservative leadership frontrunner grasps how integral the independence of the central bank is to the country’s economic stability and international reputation.
“The fact that one of the leading candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada… seems to profoundly either misunderstand that or not care about the facts at all, is somewhat disappointing in an era where we need more responsible leadership, not less,” Trudeau said. “But that is a decision obviously for members of the Conservative Party to weigh in on, not for me.”
During Wednesday night’s debate in Edmonton, Poilievre pledged to replace the governor of the Bank of Canada Tiff Macklem with someone who has a low-inflation mandate.
When asked about this during a press conference on Parliament Hill Thursday, Trudeau said the Bank of Canada is one of the “strongest, most stable, most reputable banking systems in the world,” and that its independence from the government of the day is “a really important principle.”
“It is something that is a source of pride and a source of stability not just for Canadians, but for Canadian businesses, for Canadian investors and investments, for investors coming into Canada, to know that we have a robust and rigorous central bank that is independent from political machinations or interference,” Trudeau said.
Poilievre’s criticism of Canada’s central bank is a key pillar of his leadership campaign. He’s vowed to have it audited, said he would bar it from using its own digital currency, and overall has questioned its independence.
With inflation at its highest rate in three decades, the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy has been getting more attention. Asked whether he thinks the recent scrutiny is a problem for the central bank or whether the federal government has a role to play, Trudeau said there is work to be done on both sides to lower inflation and improve affordability.
“We have a responsibility to be there to support Canadians, the Bank of Canada has a responsibility to fight inflation. We do that independently of each other,” Trudeau said.
Poilievre’s latest suggestion to intervene and fire the governor has also raised eyebrows among some of his leadership opponents, a few of whom were highly critical of their competitor’s comments about opting out of inflation through cryptocurrency during Wednesday’s debate.
Fellow candidate Leslyn Lewis told reporters following the English-language faceoff that she was concerned by Poilievre’s Bank of Canada comments, stating that politicians should not be undermining Canada’s financial institutions.
Former Bank of Canada governors have spoken out against Poilievre’s campaign comments about the institution, something he seems to be embracing. After former governor David Dodge went on CTV’s Question Period to say he thought Poilievre’s assertion that the central bank was “financially illiterate” was “bull****,” Poilievre shot back on social media.
“Former central banker Dodge should be embarrassed he said nothing as the Bank of Canada became Trudeau’s ATM… The establishment doesn’t want to be held accountable for the misery they caused our working class. Too bad. Get used to it. I’m just getting started,” he tweeted.
With files from CTV News’ Sarah Turnbull