Politics

O’Toole delivers economic attack of the Trudeau government as parliament resumes

The government is not paying attention to real issues like inflation and is not taking steps to improve the economy, he says in caucus meeting

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OTTAWA — Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rallied his troops Wednesday, making clear the party will attack the Trudeau government’s management of the economy as he attempts to move past questions about his leadership and the party’s stance on vaccines.

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O’Toole took the rare step of allowing reporters into his caucus meeting on Wednesday to hear his address to fellow MPs. He accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of running an ideological government not focused on the needs of Canadians.

“At the kitchen tables in St. John’s, in the GTA and on Vancouver Island, family budgets are being stretched thin and sadly more and more Canadian families are relying on food banks,” he said.

The blistering speech is likely to be echoed Wednesday as the House of Commons convenes for the first question period of the new Parliament. O’Toole said the government is not paying attention to real issues like inflation and is not taking steps to improve the economy.

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“Other countries are launching ambitious plans to unleash innovation, lower taxes and slash red tape to get their economies surging and we see nothing from Justin Trudeau,” he said.

O’Toole has faced grumbling and outright challenges to his leadership in the form of a petition from Conservative Senator Denise Batters, who is seeking to move up a leadership review of O’Toole to early next year instead of 2023, as currently planned. In caucus his MPs showed nothing but support, with several standing ovations during the speech and they also gave him a captain’s hockey jersey as a measure of support.

The party is also facing questions, which O’Toole has consistently refused to answer, about the vaccination status of his MPs. MPs must either be vaccinated or present a medical exemption to House administration to enter the House of Commons.

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The Liberals proposed a motion, which will be debated later on Wednesday, to clamp down on the type of medical exemptions that would be valid and to return the House of Commons to hybrid sittings. O’Toole did not address those issues in his speech, but kept focused on the economic message, arguing the Trudeau government was leaving too many people behind.

“Conservatives will work hard to ensure the voices of all Canadians are heard here in Ottawa. The voices of energy workers and auto workers the voices of small business owners and farmers, and most importantly, the voices of families raising young children and seniors.”

More to come …

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