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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh last week wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warning against more rate increases by the central bank. The bank on Wednesday raised them by another half percentage point.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Jagmeet Singh is the latest politician to suddenly deem himself an expert on monetary policy, adding his voice to the ranks of backseat quarterbacks on the left and right who think they know better than the Bank of Canada how to do its job.

The New Democratic Party Leader accuses the central bank of “arbitrarily choosing an approach” to tackling inflation that ignores the “root causes” of rising prices, among them “corporate greed.” In an analysis that says more about Mr. Singh’s political ideology than his mastery of monetary theory, the NDP chief last week wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warning against more rate increases by the central bank. Spoiler alert: The bank on Wednesday raised them by another half percentage point.

“This one-size-fits-all solution to inflation is already laying the groundwork for a recession and making life hard for most people, especially working families and Canadians living on fixed incomes – like seniors living with disabilities,” Mr. Singh wrote in his letter, before declaring in a CTV interview on Sunday: “There’s absolutely no merit to [the bank’s] approach.”

Mr. Singh’s comments echoed those of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, another star on the progressive left, who this month tweeted: “There is something seriously wrong with the prevailing ideas of monetary policy when central banks protect their credibility by driving economies into a recession.”

Lest he be accused of stoking populist anger against bedrock institutions à la Pierre Poilievre – the Conservative Leader this year having vowed to fire Governor Tiff Macklem if he becomes prime minister – Mr. Singh insists he supports the principle of central bank independence. His letter suggests otherwise, and only serves to muddy an already opaque (for most Canadians) debate.

Monetary policy, by definition, is a one-size-fits-all economic tool. The Bank of Canada cannot dictate one level of interest rates for the rich and another for Canadians on fixed incomes. Unreasonable expectations that monetary policy should be all things to all people is the main reason democratic governments decided decades ago to make their central banks independent.

Independent does not mean immune from criticism, even from politicians. Ms. Marin gets closer to the nub of the image problem facing central bankers these days than Mr. Singh. Her critique, however, misses the basic point.

“During COVID, when the economy was actually contracting because of lockdown, central banks decided it was a good time to print a lot of money,” former Bank of England governor Mervyn King told the BBC on Sunday. “That was a mistake. That led to inflation. We had too much money chasing too few goods. And the result was inflation. That was predictable. It was predicted, and it happened. So that’s one problem we have to try to get out of.”

The Bank of Canada has pushed back against that narrative, insisting that it did not “print cash” to buy more than $400-billion worth of Government of Canada bonds starting in early 2020 in an exercise known as quantitative easing (QE). But it makes a distinction without a difference by relying on a technical definition that is almost Shakespearean.

No, the bank did not literally print banknotes to hoover up all those bonds, but it did, by its own admission, use “a unique form of money that the bank creates” to increase reserves held at the central bank by financial institutions. Those reserves determine how much banks can lend out to customers, which in turn determines the supply of money in the economy. And Canada’s money supply surged during the pandemic.

In an explainer posted on its website, the bank also insists that “QE doesn’t finance government spending, because we buy bonds that have already been sold by the government to banks and other financial institutions.” This is another distinction without a difference. The fact that the central bank bought up almost 40 per cent of outstanding federal debt during the pandemic reduced the supply of bonds on the open market, making it easier for Ottawa to borrow more.

There is nothing scandalous about this, no matter how much Mr. Poilievre and some right-wing conspiracy theorists want you to think otherwise. Mr. Macklem and his team were surely aware of the potential risks they were running in 2020 by going all in on QE and promising to keep interest rates near zero indefinitely. But they considered deflation to be a much bigger threat to the economy than what was then a largely theoretical risk of runaway inflation occurring. That turned out to be a mistake.

Unfortunately for them, and now for all of us, the time-tested relationship between the money supply and inflation that some central bankers thought had been severed after the 2008 financial crisis has proved itself once again. And that is why the bank must ignore Mr. Singh now, no matter how much it hurts.