A former deputy prime minister believes last week’s federal announcements on housing and grocery prices came as the Liberals are feeling the heat over their re-election prospects.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Ottawa would cut the GST from new rental builds, and called on grocery executives to deliver a plan within weeks to stabilize food prices.

John Manley, a senior advisor at Bennett Jones who served as Liberal deputy prime minister between 2002 and 2003, said the moves show that Trudeau’s Liberal government is worried about where it stands in the minds of Canadian voters. 

“They’re in a real pickle because some of these issues have been brewing for a long time and all of a sudden their polling numbers have deteriorated rapidly,” he told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview on Monday.

“Liberal members of Parliament are starting to feel pretty anxious about the messages that they’re getting back in their constituencies.”

The latest polling from Nanos Research shows the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals with 33.1 per cent compared to the Liberals’ 29.7 per cent. The NDP sits in third with 21.7 per cent.

When it comes to the government’s housing announcement, Manley applauded the Liberals’ shift away from focusing on boosting saving methods to look at boosting housing supply – but he questioned their focus on food prices at the grocery level.

“If the government and the politicians in other parties actually wanted to do something about food prices, they’d start looking at supply management,” he said.