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'Everything is broken in this country' Pierre Poilievre says, blaming PM Trudeau

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Decrying high inflation and the rising cost of food, housing and fuel, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held a rare media availability on Wednesday to declare: "it feels like everything is broken in this country right now."

Listing off "40-year high inflation," "35 year olds living in their parents' basements" and the "nearly 100 per cent increase in fuel prices," Poilievre placed the blame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, while pitching a Conservative government as the solution.

Poilievre made these remarks while taking questions from reporters, inside a Vancouver supermarket on Wednesday.

The Conservative leader also pointed to the rates of addiction, crime and homelessness as other examples of what he views as the federal government's shortcomings, without mentioning factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic that have exacerbated overdose deaths, for example. 

"So what are we going to do about it? We have to get the country back on track. My plan is to cap government spending and end the inflationary deficits so that we can bring inflation down," Poilievre said, proposing changes to federal policy which would only come into fruition should the Conservatives be elected following the next federal election, currently not scheduled to occur until 2025.

"It's time for us to take back control of our lives in this country, to fix what is broken, and that's what a Poilievre government would do," he said.

During last week's fall economic update, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland defended her government's economic approach, saying that the government has pared down its planned new spending as to not exacerbate inflation, and while the risk of a recession is rising, the Liberals are also projecting a potential return to budget balance by 2027-28, after the next election.

"What we've been doing throughout is to strike a balance between necessary compassion and support for Canadians, and fiscal responsibility," Freeland said.

Wednesday's appearance was one of only a few times Poilievre has taken reporters' questions since he was elected as the official Opposition leader on Sept. 10, continuing the approach he had during the leadership race, to largely use social media to get his message out. Asked about the amount of questions he’s taken since taking on the top Conservative job, Poilievre defended his media strategy, saying he's spoken to journalists across the country.

"I think that part of the problem is that, you know, we're all too obsessed with Parliament Hill. We need to be out in the real world, to talk to real people on the ground, everyday people who are living their lives under the terrible policies of Justin Trudeau, who can't pay their bills, who see crime going wild on our streets, who can't get children's medicine in their local pharmacies," Poilievre said. "These are the stories of everyday Canadians. These are the stories that I want to share. These are the problems that I want to solve."

In the press conference, Poilievre also spoke about his concerns regarding foreign interference in Canadian elections, as well as federal-provincial jurisdictional tensions and divisions across the country that he also blames Trudeau for.

During a photo-op in Ottawa where Trudeau received a COVID-19 bivalent booster shot as well as a flu shot, he was asked to comment on whether he thought the results of Tuesday’s U.S. midterms were a repudiation of divisive politics, to which Trudeau said in part, “it's important that we stay focused on the things that matter for Canadians. Keeping them safe, making sure we're fighting inflation, making sure we're growing the economy.”

Poilievre also told reporters on Wednesday that he stands by his support for the "peaceful, law-abiding" protesters that were part of the "Freedom Convoy" amid the mountain of testimony and evidence being heard at the Public Order Emergency Commission in connection to the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act to bring what they felt were protests that threatened national security to an end. 

"I think it's possible to support the overall cause—a personal free choice in vaccination, and the overall cause of respecting the truckers' ability to have to earn an income— while holding individually responsible anyone who behaved badly, broke laws, or blockaded key infrastructure. That was my position before, during, and now," he said. 

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