Politician claims $75 a week can feed a family.
Politician claims $75 a week can feed a family. Pixabay

Pollie claims $75 can feed a family

A CANADIAN politician has come under fire for claiming it is possible to feed a family of three on just $75 a week.

Quebec Liberal leader Phillipe Couillard made the comment in an interview with a radio station last Thursday, saying it simply required a lot of work and an eye for bargains, local media reported.

The former university professor and neurosurgeon stood by his statement in a subsequent radio interview, saying he wished people didn't have to live on such a tight budget but realised many did.

"You look through all the flyers, and you shop only for what is on sale," he told Montreal's 98.5 FM on Friday, The Globe and Mail reported. "It's almost a full-time job."

Quebec goes to the polls next Monday, October 1 with Mr Couillard's party battling to hold on to power. Political rivals immediately seized on the comments, branding him out-of-touch.

The left-wing Quebec Solidaire party called it an "insult to all the families who tightened their belts for his balanced budget", while the centre-right Coalition Avenir Quebec described Mr Couillard as "disconnected from reality".

He later told reporters he did not regret making the comments. "No, I said the truth," Mr Couillard said. "The question was, 'Is it feasible?' Yes it's feasible. I know people who do that. Is it good? No."

Cost-of-living questions are a perennial pitfall for politicians. Earlier this year, Liberal MP Julia Banks was similarly branded "out of touch" for claiming she could live on the Newstart rate of $40 a day.

Five years ago, Labor's then Families Minister Jenny Macklin was forced to apologise for making the same faux pax, admitting it was "insensitive" to claim she could survive on the dole.

During the 1987 election, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had her advisers provide her with a list of current prices for milk, beer, eggs, sugar and newspapers and the average fare on London's Tube network.