Conservatives unsuccessful in bid to launch emergency debate on inflation

The Conservative Party has failed to advance an emergency debate on inflation before the House of Commons rises for summer recess.

After putting forth a request to the House Speaker for a debate, Conservative MP and finance and housing inflation critic Dan Albas wasn’t present in the chamber to speak to his proposal and explain why it was needed.

Conservative House Leader John Brassard sought unanimous consent for a debate in his place, but was denied.

The developments come as Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that inflation rose to its highest level in nearly 40 years in May.

The agency said the consumer price index (CPI) accelerated 7.7 per cent, the largest yearly increase since January 1983 , due largely to higher gas prices.

“Higher prices for services, such as hotels and restaurants, also contributed to the increase. Food prices and shelter costs remained elevated in May as price growth was unchanged on a year-over-year basis,” the agency said.

Ahead of a caucus meeting Wednesday, Brassard told reporters the party is turning its attention away from issues that can be addressed in the fall session of Parliament, such as hybrid sittings, to issues he says require immediate focus.

“The first issue is on inflation and affordability. Obviously, with the inflation numbers being at 40-year highs this morning – the impact that this is having on Canadians, families, businesses right across the country,” he said.

He listed ongoing passport delays and accusations of political interference in the RCMP’s investigation into the Nova Scotia mass shooting as other priorities.

Dan Albas noted on Wednesday that the last time the CPI rose at this pace Pierre Elliot Trudeau was prime minister.

Albas said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland was warned that the government’s stimulus spending would lead to this.

“She’s making the lives of Canadians more difficult at a time when government should be trying to make things easier. So this puts more pressure on the Bank of Canada, and the government only has itself to blame,” he said on Wednesday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also addressed inflationary concerns today, raising several proposals to return money back to Canadians.

“Our proposal is one that will not increase inflation. It’s about redistributing the windfalls in the system. The GST windfall that the government has right now as a result of the inflation – we can redistribute that back through a GST tax credit,” he said.

Singh also suggested increasing the Canada Child Benefit by $500.

He said the party has consulted with a host of economists about its strategy and addressed the idea with the prime minister.

During a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Toronto on Monday, Freeland said the government is committed to “fiscal tightening” and touted Liberal programs aimed at reducing the cost of living such as their new $10-a-day child care deals with the provinces.

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