Trudeau takes aim at Conservative leader, absent from Press Gallery dinner

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre did not attend the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner on Saturday night, but he was nonetheless at the center of a long political tradition of hurling small arrows at political rivals during speeches at this opportunity.

The traditionally annual event sees politicians and journalists who work on Parliament Hill come together for an evening of laughs at each other’s expense, but it was halted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began to lash out at Mr Poilievre by suggesting the Tory leader would have come if the Press Gallery had told him they were ‘occupying’ the venue – a reference to his support for the protest of the « Freedom Convoy ».

Mr. Poilievre declined the invitation to the dinner in the same way as his former boss and predecessor as leader of the party, Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper did not go to this event when he was in power, but he attended when he was Leader of the Opposition and showed his sense of humor.

While many of the jabs were indeed mild, some wavered between humor and insult.

Mr. Trudeau mentioned, for example, Pierre Poilievre’s comments on a podcast hosted by controversial commentator Jordan Peterson on the use of plain language.

« He said he believed in using simple Anglo-Saxon words, » recalls Mr. Trudeau. I didn’t get it either, but I’m told it sounds much better in the German original. »

At the time Tory MP Garnett Genuis came to the defense of Mr Poilievre, who was a leadership candidate, saying he insisted on using ‘shorter and more precise’ words in an effort to provide clarity .

Justin Trudeau also accused the Leader of the Opposition of giving bad advice when he suggested that Canadians could opt out of inflation by using digital currency.

“Certainly one of us should be thinking about monetary policy,” he said in one of the many cryptocurrency jokes that night.

All party leaders have turned to the Conservatives in turn, including New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh, who said many politicians have used the pandemic as an opportunity to take on new projects.

He had a baby, Justin Trudeau grew a beard and Mr. Poilievre took control of the People’s Party of Canada, joked Jagmeet Singh. He was referring to the right-wing party led by Maxime Bernier, a former Conservative minister.

The leaders also poked fun at themselves: Jagmeet Singh promised to divulge secret details of his deal with the ruling Liberals and Yves-François Blanchet told the Press Gallery he would miss them after Quebec’s declaration of independence.

Mr. Trudeau was also self-deprecating. He said he had learned over the years to avoid having to apologize for his missteps.

You all remember the scandal at the Finnish Embassy, ​​he said. Oh no, wait, no one remembers « because I got my hair cut over the weekend, » he said.

The haircut had indeed been remarkably bad; he got one of the biggest laughs of the night.

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