Canada seeks three-decade high inflation, hitting Justin Trudeau’s popularity


Just four months after his Liberal Party returned to power in Canada after mid-term elections in September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popularity is taking a battering due to high levels of inflation. he government’s data agency, Statistics Canada has reported that the consumer price index for December was at 4.8%, the highest point it has reached in three decades.

That has led to what is being described an “inflation anxiety”. Justin Trudeau’s opponents have used the hashtag #JustinFlation to good effect on social media.

As a result, for the first time since he formed another minority government in September, after precipitating snap polls, Trudeau’s Liberals are trailing the principal opposition Conservatives in tracking polls. As per numbers released by Nanos Research, the ruling party has 28.2% support marginally behind the Conservatives who have 28.5%.

A majority of Canadians, 57%, “say that it is currently difficult to feed their household”, according to a new poll from the non-profit, non-partisan polling agency Angus Reid Institute (ARI). In contrast, the number stood at 36% in 2019. More of the respondents, 29%, believed their financial standing will worsen in the next 12 months, six points higher than those who believed it will improve. As the dominant political issue, even amidst a fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic driven by the Omicron variant, there is concern that inflation, particularly for groceries, could escalate further as Canada has announced it will only allow in fully-vaccinated truckers from the United States, and experts expect a resultant supply crunch.

Opposition finance critic and Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre tweeted, “Trudeau’s vaccine vendetta is emptying grocery shelves and ballooning food prices.”

Justin Trudeau is likely to try and address the matter in the days ahead. Bringing down costs will be on the agenda as he heads a virtual Cabinet retreat this week, as “making life more affordable” was listed on the priorities, in a release from the Prime Minister’s Office. In addition, the Bank of Canada is expected to announce an increase in interest rates next week, as well, which could curb the inflationary trend.

Such measures will be necessary politically for Trudeau, as 39% of those sampled in the ARI survey stated they were worse off now than they were last year. “This represents the largest group saying this in 13 years of tracking by ARI,” the agency noted.

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