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Trudeau Takes Another Swing at Crypto in Latest Speech

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has lashed out against cryptocurrency investing following the election of a pro-crypto opposition candidate. 

Trudeau Takes Another Swing at Crypto in Latest Speech
Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg

Key Takeaways

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has attacked crypto in his latest speech, saying his new opponent's pro-crypto stance was "not responsible leadership."
  • Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre has previously said that crypto offers people an opportunity to "opt out of inflation."
  • Trudeau sparked controversy in the crypto space earlier this year when he invoked the Canadian Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy protests, giving the government special powers to freeze bank accounts and blacklist cryptocurrency wallets.

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Justin Trudeau has criticized the newly-elected Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre, saying that his pro-crypto stance was “not responsible leadership.”

Trudeau Slams Pro-Crypto Opponent

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down on his anti-crypto stance. 

In a September 12 speech at the Liberal summer caucus retreat in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the Liberal Party leader took shots at his new rival Pierre Poilievre, who was elected as the Conservative Party of Canada head on September 10. Referencing Poilievre’s history of pro-crypto comments, which include calls to make Canada the “blockchain capital” of the world, Trudeau criticized the new leader, stating: 

“Telling people they can opt out of inflation by investing their savings in volatile cryptocurrencies is not responsible leadership. By the way, anyone who followed that advice would have seen their life savings destroyed.” 

Like most of the world, Canada has struggled under surging inflation in recent months, registering an eye-watering 8.1% year-on-year increase in July, its highest level in 30 years. Poilievre, who had previously criticized the Canadian government for “creating $400 billion in cash out of thin air since 2020,” suggested earlier this year that increased adoption of cryptocurrencies could give Canadians “better money and financial products” and let them “opt out of inflation, with the ability to opt-in to cryptocurrencies.”

However, although crypto adherents have long touted that digital currencies like Bitcoin are a hedge to inflation, in reality, most have acted as risk-on assets during the recent market downturn. Since Poilievre’s comments in March, the total cryptocurrency market cap has fallen over 50%, maintaining a high correlation with traditional equities. 

Canada Continues Crypto Bashing

Poilievre’s penchant for crypto comes in stark contrast to the approach of the current Canadian government. In February, Trudeau invoked the Canadian Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy movement protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions. The unprecedented move allowed the Canadian government to freeze citizens’ bank accounts and blacklist several crypto wallets linked to the protests without court orders.

In response, several prominent crypto figures spoke out against the move. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Kraken CEO Jesse Powell both slammed the Canadian government for sanctioning crypto addresses and confiscating funds, advising anyone concerned by the development to transfer their funds off centralized exchanges into non-custodial crypto wallets. 

Surprisingly, the Ontario Securities Commission announced that it had reported Armstrong and Powell’s tweets to law enforcement, highlighting an aggressive stance on those wanting to self-custody their crypto assets. The move highlighted the Canadian government’s intent to bring all its citizens’ assets under the control of FINTRAC, Canada’s financial intelligence agency, and potentially criminalize holding cryptocurrencies using methods outside of regulatory control. 

However, as it’s difficult to prove an individual has access to the funds contained within a non-custodial crypto wallet, criminalizing crypto self-custody would likely be near impossible. As such, the Canadian government hasn’t taken any further measures to restrict the use of non-custodial wallets. Still, for many crypto diehards, Canada became one of the anti-crypto capitals of the world after the government’s response to the Freedom Convoy protests. Trudeau’s latest comments will only solidify that belief. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing this piece, the author owned ETH, BTC, and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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