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Pierre Poilievre’s convincing win

Pierre Poilievre’s convincing win

Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

By any measure, Pierre Poilievre’s win was impressive. Even “historic” may not be hyperbole.

The new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) cruised into his new role with almost 70% of the CPC membership backing him, outpacing his nearest opponent, Jean Charest, by a margin of almost 7-1. Charest finished well back at 11% of the vote. Poilievre’s victory was as close to a clean sweep as it gets, getting the nod from conservative party members in virtually every riding in the country, including almost all of Quebec and Ontario.

Thinking about Poilievre’s margin of victory, a couple of thoughts immediately spring to mind. They start with “I am not surprised”, “I told you so”, and “a lot can happen in a week in politics”.

At the start of the campaign, I wrote a piece that was partly premised on the importance of signing up new members. There were two candidates noted for their prowess in that department, Pierre Poilievre and Patrick Brown. Jean Charest wasn’t.

In the end, Pierre Poilievre sold over 300,000 memberships, and when all was said and done, he rolled up everywhere. I am not surprised.

There are those who will debate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the CPC is not the Progressive Conservative Party of Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Peter Mackay, Jean Charest, even Joe Clark, Robert Stanfield or John Diefenbaker before them. The CPC is a party with a relatively young history, mostly evolved out of the Reform and Alliance parties, and, yes, a coming together with the remains of the PC Party at the time Stephen Harper and Peter Mackay formalized the union.

The reality, arguably, is that in practice and in philosophy, today’s federal conservative party far more resembles the party started by Preston Manning and eventually led by Prime Minister Harper, than the PC iteration before them.

In a week where a new Prime Minister in the UK assumed office, Queen Elizabeth passed away two days later, and King Charles ascended to the throne, Canadians are reminded of our long history and constitutional relationship to the monarchy.

By week’s end, politics was playing out in Canada in the Conservative Party leadership race. Whether it goes down as a truly ‘defining moment’ or not, time will tell. The next election is up to three years away. Nonetheless, a lot happened in a few short days this past week that will/may have long-term implications for Canadians.

So, what is next? Pierre Poilievre’s acceptance speech was as much targeted at Canadian voters as it was to party members assembled. And he wasted no time describing what his priorities will be, starkly contrasting his approach to that of the sitting Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Indeed, political pundits and media observers alike seemed struck by the clarity and conviction in his speech (while maybe beginning to reassess Poilievre in the wake of his dominant victory, and his ease in both official languages) focused on how to help Canadians get ahead in an era of high inflation, lack of affordable housing, high gas and food prices. Notably, there was no mention of firing the Bank of Canada Governor or affection for cryptocurrency. In the new leader’s words:

We will restore Canada's promise in a country where it doesn't matter who you love, or if your name is Smith or Singh, Martin or Mohammed, Chang or Charles; a country where the dreamer, the farmer, the worker, the entrepreneur, the survivor, the fighter, the ones who get knocked down but keep getting back up and keep going can achieve their purpose; a country where the son of a teenage mother adopted by two teachers can dare to run for Prime Minister of Canada.

Parliament returns for the fall session in mere days. Prime Minister Trudeau earlier this week informed his caucus that he plans to fight the next election. He now knows who his main opponent will be. Your team at NATIONAL will be watching intently as Members of Parliament return to the House of Commons and this new leadership dynamic begins to play out.


Written by Julie-Anne Vien | Alexandre Boucher

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