Editorial – Could you live on $75 of groceries per week, Coulliard?

Mac Olsen

Philippe Couillard, Leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, should be taken to task for saying that a family of three in his province could live on $75 worth of groceries per week.

Couillard made that statement during a radio interview on September 20. According to a CTV News report on September 21, Couillard stated that it would be possible to feed an adult and two teenagers on that amount, acknowledging later to reporters the menu would lack meat and variety.

“You look through all the flyers, and you shop only for what is on sale,” Couillard added. “It’s almost a full-time job.”

He gave the example of a roast pork bought on special that is used in macaroni the next day, shepherd’s pie the third day and sandwiches the day after. Later, when the criticisms came in, Couillard made no apologies and stood by his remarks.

“No, I said the truth,” Couillard said. “The question was, ‘Is it feasible?’ Yes, it’s feasible. I know people who do that. Is it good? No.”

The story also notes Dalhousie University Professor Sylvain Charlebois’ statement from 2017, who said the bare minimum grocery bill for a Quebec family of two adults and two children, including one teen, would have been $149 a week.

Couillard may stand by his pronouncements and convictions, but I see him as standing aloof from those who have to live a hand-to-mouth, paycheque-to-paycheque existence, whether it’s in Quebec or across Canada.

He is out of touch with the reality of people living in poverty and he can be rightly criticized for it.

To put this in the context of “walking a mile in someone’s shoes,” Couillard should live in poverty stricken circumstances for a year to really appreciate the plight of those who struggle to put food on the table.

Along with two members of his immediate family, Couillard should accept this one-year challenge and attempt to live on no more than $75 per week.

Couillard may not live a lavish, steak and caviar lifestyle, but I would like to see him perform the “full-time job” of going through flyers looking for the least expensive foods.

Moreover, Couillard and his family members should be willing to give open and honest monthly reports, so everyone can see if they can cope with the hardship and stress of surviving on $75 worth of groceries a week.He should also be encouraged to visit low-income families of three to see how they manage subsist on on a monthly basis.

No one should minimize or disregard the struggles of the marginalized and those at the lower end of the economic scale.

It should be noted, during the week that Couillard made his statements, that the Quebec Liberals and other political parties held live TV debates in the lead up to the provincial election on Oct. 1.

Given his arrogance and lack of empathy regarding those who live in poverty, Couillard, I hope the other political parties use this against him and bring his party’s rule in Quebec to an end.


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