ontario news watch

Trudeau takes jabs at Conservative leader in absentia at annual press gallery dinner

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre did not attend the press gallery dinner tonight, but was nonetheless much of the focus of a long-standing political tradition of lobbing light-hearted shots at political rivals during speeches at the event.

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 put on hiatus for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began getting his digs in at Poilievre with the suggestion that the Conservative leader would have come if the press gallery had told him they were “occupying” the venue — a reference to his support for the “Freedom Convoy” protest.

Poilievre declined an invitation to the dinner in similar fashion to his former boss and predecessor as head of the party, Stephen Harper.

While many of the jabs were indeed light-hearted, some walked the line between humour and insult. 

All the party leaders took their turn at the Conservatives, but they also made fun of themselves: the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh promised to divulge secret details of his deal with the governing Liberals and Yves-François Blanchet told the press gallery he would miss them after Quebec declared independence. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2022.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press