Conservative finance critic out after slamming Poilievre’s plan to fire BoC governor

Ed Fast will stay on as MP and co-chair of Jean Charest leadership campaign. Tory leader Candice Bergen said she will announce a new finance critic shortly

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Conservative Finance critic Ed Fast resigned from his role on Wednesday after a scathing criticism he made about leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre’s promise to fire the Bank of Canada governor.

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Ed Fast, who is also national co-chair of rival Jean Charest’s campaign, told reporters on Wednesday that he was “deeply troubled” by Poilievre’s idea to replace Tiff Macklem and said that the idea undermined the party’s credibility on economic issues.

Interim leader Candice Bergen put out a written statement hours later to declare that Fast had resigned from his duties as Finance critic.

“Ed has publicly stated his support for one of the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership candidates and would like to be able to offer more dedicated support to that team,” she said.

“I want to thank Ed for his many years of service to our Party and our caucus. While he won’t be serving in an official capacity, I know Ed will continue to be a valued member of our team and our caucus.”

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Bergen added she will be announcing a new Finance critic shortly.

A source who is familiar with matters in the caucus told the National Post that MPs who support Poilievre were angered and demanded Fast’s resignation. They thought it was inappropriate for Fast to criticize Poilievre while proclaiming to speak as the party critic.

Another source mentioned that it was not the first time that Fast had raised eyebrows for his criticism of Poilievre’s stances on inflation and monetary policy and that Fast’s comments on Wednesday were “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

“He made it abundantly clear to caucus that he would not apologize, would not back down, and even people that weren’t supportive of Pierre were very uncomfortable with that position,” alleged the source, who was in the room when the events unfolded.

Fast did not offer comments on Wednesday evening, but Charest’s spokesperson Michelle Coates Mather put out a tweet that summarized her sentiment: “Ed Fast deserved better.”

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Fast had made these comments while entering the party’s caucus meeting on Wednesday morning. “I think we lose some credibility when we do this,” said Fast about Poilievre’s proposition.

“It is fair to ask questions, to demand solutions to the skyrocketing cost of living but we also have to respect the institutions that have been granted independence to ensure that they function apart from political interference. And that’s my big concern.”

Poilievre has been blasting the Bank of Canada for weeks, but went further during last week’s leadership debate in Edmonton when he pledged to fire the governor of the country’s central bank if he became prime minister. Macklem’s mandate ends in 2027.

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Fast, who served as Minister of International Trade under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, added that the Bank of Canada has served Canadians “well” over the years – although “not perfectly”, he specified – in keeping inflation in check.

“Central banks around the world have struggled with the same challenges that our central bank has struggled with and I believe it’s imprudent to attack the governor of the central bank when, in fact, the real problem is the borrowing and spending of the federal government,” he said.

But MPs who have endorsed Poilievre tiptoed around the idea when asked about their opinion.

“I think in the heat of the leadership race, everybody has ideas,” said Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu. She added that the central bank needs to address its mandate and keep inflation low, but
“would rather work with the Bank of Canada to make sure that we achieve those targets”.

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“And you know, I will give my input to the leader as we move on!” she smiled.

Alberta MP Stephanie Kusie said in French that candidates have different ideas, some which are popular and some that are less popular. “So if this is Mr. Poilievre’s decision, we’ll see,” she said shortly before leaving as reporters were asking her to elaborate on her position in English.

Her colleague Dane Lloyd feigned not having heard about Poilievre’s promise that has been making headlines for a full week, and said he “couldn’t really comment authoritatively on that”.

Former conservative strategist and chairman of Summa Strategies Tim Powers wrote on Wednesday a piece in the Hill Times asking Poilievre’s caucus supporters to “speak out” before this idea damages the conservative brand of fiscal responsibility.

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“It’s getting so much attention because I think serious people and experienced politicians get that this cuts not only at the core of the conservative end of economic management and competency and separation of church and state,” said Powers in an interview.

“Salacious sells, but serious matters often define,” he said. “That’s why I’d like to see some caucus members, again, they don’t have to condemn their candidate, but they can say ‘Look, I get why he said it but this is not the way to go.’”

Quebec MP Gerard Deltell, who supports Charest, echoed Fast’s comments on Wednesday, adding that members will ultimately decide the direction they wish to go with the next leader.

“At the end of the day, all the members of the party will have to get the chance to express themselves and then we will live with the new leader and we will try to do our best to have another offer from Canadians and be sure to form the next government,” he said.

Poilievre has dismissed criticism of his proposal to fire Macklem, firing at what he considers are elites attacking his message. Gladu, who is co-chairing his campaign in Ontario, echoed that sentiment when asked about it on Wednesday.

“The more the Liberal media gets excited and upset about Pierre Poilievre, the more I know that they’re worried he’s going to win.”



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