Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem declined to comment on Pierre Poilievre’s statements last month that the central bank was “financially illiterate”. David Dodge, one of Macklem’s predecessors, felt no such compulsion to hit the highway in a weekend interview, flying back at the conservative leadership candidate with an expletive on Sunday morning television.
“That’s bullshit,” Dodge said in a pre-recorded interview that aired during CTV’s May 8 question period. “I am very offended by that,” he continued. The Bank of Canada “understands what’s going on, they made a judgment, which I think was 100 percent correct.”
Dodge added: “It was that decision in the spring of (2020) that saved us from a real depression stemming from the pandemic.”
The comments come after Poilievre’s response to an April 19 Bank of Canada report that noted that “Bitcoin ownership remained concentrated among young, educated men with high household incomes and low financial literacy.”
Poilievre, who has courted the crypto community throughout his campaign, seized on the report, although only one of the three authors was affiliated with the Bank of Canada, and the paper stated that the research was produced independently of the Board of Directors and the conclusions could differ from the views of Macklem and his deputies.
“The Bank of Canada says Bitcoiners have no financial knowledge,” Poilievre tweeted April 22nd† This from the same people who promised we would have ‘deflation’ just before inflation hit its 30-year high. It is our central bank that is financially illiterate.”
Poilievre, a career politician and longtime member of the House Finance Committee, is the alleged frontrunner in the race to replace Erin O’Toole as Conservative leader. He is an outspoken critic of the Bank of Canada’s pandemic policy and questions Macklem’s independence from the federal government. He held a press conference outside central bank headquarters last month, promising to monitor the Bank of Canada.
Carolyn Rogers, senior vice-governor of the Bank of Canada, directed her first remarks as Macklem’s No. 2 to the mounting criticism and declining confidence around the central bank. She didn’t mention Poilievre in her speech, but she did state that the central bank’s bond-buying program — a central point of Poilievre’s allusion — was already public on the central bank’s website.
“We are well aware that, with some of the extraordinary actions we have taken during the pandemic and with inflation well above our target, some people are questioning that confidence,” Rogers said, adding that they welcomes more scrutiny from concerned Canadians.
Dodge does not apologize to his former colleagues. Last summer, he questioned the Bank of Canada’s confidence that inflation would be temporary, a criticism that has turned out to be a good one, as the consumer price index is now growing at nearly seven percent annually.
“By insisting it’s all temporary they tend to undermine their own credibility, which is a shame,” Dodge said in August 2021. “It’s better to be humble and say what we think, but there’s is of course a chance that things could be different.”
But the former governor has made little use of Poilièvre’s attacks on inflation.
The conservative candidate for leadership is promoting cryptocurrencies as a way for Canadians to “take back their money” and “opt out of inflation”. When the question period host, Evan Solomon, submitted these comments to the former governor, Dodge started to stutter again.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about and neither does he,” Dodge said. “On the crypto issue, he’s just wrong, because the rising prices are an issue… you’re going to have to deal with your income, although it’s fundamentally structural at the moment.”
Dodge pointed to ongoing drivers of inflation, such as supply constraints due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, supply chain hitches from COVID-19 and an aging economy.
Poilièvre responded in a tweet hours after the interview aired and his campaign commented on the Financial Post.
“David Dodge says he’s offended. Good,” he added. “You know who else is offended? The single mother who can’t afford food, the worker who can’t afford to fill his gas tank, and the 32-year-old who lives in his mother’s basement because the government has pushed up the cost of living to generational heights.
“The establishment does not want to be held responsible for the misery they have caused our working class,” he wrote. “Too bad. Get used to it. I’m just getting started.”
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