‘Justinflation’ can’t be said in Commons, MPs try anyway

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OTTAWA — The brazen term used by the Conservatives for inflation under the Liberals has caused trouble for some MPs in the House of Commons, where the phrase « just inflation » has been deemed verboten.

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Speaker Anthony Rota repeatedly chastised Tory MPs this week for breaking the rules, asking them to ‘correct the mistake’ as their ‘pun intended’ indirectly violated procedure.

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The House of Commons has long dictated that MPs must use each other’s titles during debate, but never their first names – so anything that deliberately includes « Justin », the prime minister’s first name, is excluded.

Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota looks on during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 16, 2022. Photo by Justin Tang /The Canadian Press

The Tories have not yet been deterred, however, with the daily transcript of Commons debates recording their use of the term more than a hundred times since last November.

It was then that Pierre Poilievre, then finance critic and now Conservative leader, began to popularize the term.

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Some MPs appeared to respond to Rota’s warnings by adding an exaggerated pause between the two words on Wednesday – just in case.

The Liberals rose to complain about the term as early as March, and again this week, after Tory MP Garnett Genuis declared “Justinflation” three times in a speech.

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux said he had been ‘somewhat patient with the MP’ but three times was enough to say Genuis was intentionally using the phrase ‘unparliamentary’ and ‘inappropriate’ to flout the rules.

Longtime NDP MP Charlie Angus chimed in, complaining that Genuis uses the term all the time. « It’s a bit lame and I don’t think it’s appropriate. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it think. The Speaker should ask the MP to withdraw his lame comment.

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Assistant Deputy Speaker Carol Hughes said: ‘I know the MP puts it into his speech a little differently, but again I want to caution him about the use of that word.

The Conservatives, who have worked it into their speeches a little differently on a myriad of occasions, aren’t the only ones making the joke.

NDP MP Niki Ashton, in a statement to the House last week, alluded to it, saying that while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Poilievre have little in common, they’re both « just in bed with their business buddies”.

Trudeau himself has only uttered “fair inflation” once in the House, when he tried to turn the tables on the Conservatives last December.

« They talk to Canadians about the problems they face with decreasing affordability, increasing prices for everything, difficulty buying gas, difficulty buying computers, and they shrug their shoulders and say « Oh, it’s just inflation, » he said.

“Well, it’s not just inflation; this is the direction we need to have in order to continue to invest in Canadians.

He never said it again.


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