by Harvey Oberfeld
September 12, 2022
It really was a terrific victory address: Pierre Poilievre pushing all kinds of buttons many, many Canadians would find appealing, as the new federal Conservative leader assumed the leadership of his party.
Polievre won overwhelming support from Tory members in 330 of Canada’s 338 ridings, not only defeating, but trouncing his closest competitor for the job, former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who won in only eight ridings … and only six of them in his own home province of Quebec.
Even more humiliating for Charest, Poilievre took the leadership on the first ballot, capturing more than 68% of the total vote, compared to just 16% for Charest.
In his subsequent speech, Poilievre hit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the governing Liberals where it hurts: high taxes; high housing costs; high inflation; a burgeoning federal bureaucracy; the “disastrous” ArriveCAN app; and, restoring personal freedoms.
No doubt issues that hit home with many Canadians.
“”They don’t need a government to run their lives. They need a government that can run its own passport offices. They need a prime minister who hears them and offers hope that they can again afford their homes, their bills, their food and a secure retirement. I will be that prime minister,” the new Tory leader vowed, to loud cheers.
But while the “national” media fawned over Poilievre’s speech and captured the excitement of his Conservative coronation (which, of course, ran “late”, as usual (to prolong the nationwide TV coverage and enhance the programmed excitement?) I noticed a few Poilievre vulnerabilities I have no doubt the Liberals will too … and try to exploit.
On the environment/climate change:
“We will repeal anti-energy laws, replacing them with a law that protects the environment, consults with First Nations, and gets things built.”
“Anti-energy laws”? Hmm! Like what? Those that require the currently highly restrictive controls, environmental studies, restrictions?
Poilievre also railed against what he said was a Liberal “plan to triple the carbon tax on gas, heat and everything else”.
A Conservative government plan, he said, would include “axing” new taxes on ALL those things.
“It means fighting climate change with technology and not with (carbon)taxes,” Poilievre said.
Not with carbon taxes?
Really? Given the rapid rate of climate deterioration, much more massive-sized storms, more widespread destructive fires, escalating rising temperatures, rapidly increasing ice melt and record world-wide flooding, would “technology” alone sufficiently and quickly enough adequately curb growing carbon energy use?
That’s NOT what the overwhelming world-wide consensus of scientists says.
Speaking in French, Poilievre noted his own Francophone origins, his wife’s Venezuelan and Montreal background and noted his own children’s first language is French, their second language is Spanish, with English being their third tongue.
“We will give hope back to Quebeckers so that they can take back control of their decisions and their lives, instead of being controlled by a centralizing woke government in Ottawa,” Poilievre said in a part of his speech he did NOT repeat in English.
“I will go even further talking about Quebec,” he added, en francais.
“I’d say Conservatives right across the country have a lot to learn from Quebeckers.
“Quebeckers defend their culture and their language and they do not apologize for that. My government will not stick its nose in everything.”
I suspect English-speaking minorities … especially ethnic and religious minorities subject to Quebec’s latest oppressive, racist laws and language restrictions … will feel betrayed by those remarks, sacrificed in Poilievre’s bid to win Francophone votes in Quebec.
No wonder he did not repeat those remarks in English!
There goes 50 years of Conservative attempts to convince Canadian ethnic, racial and religious minorities that the Tory party, just like the Liberals historically, really does welcome them and will advance, support and defend minority rights.
Now thrown under the Poilievre campaign bus for Quebec votes in the next federal election.
Also missing from Poilievre’s victory speech: previous promises he has made to fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada; advance Bitcoin as transactional currency in Canada; disparaging comments about the World Economic Forum; defunding the CBC; or, his support for the truckers’ protests that blockaded Ottawa’s downtown for weeks.
But I’m sure the Liberals already have lots of footage/clips of those events set aside for future use.
Nevertheless, Poilievre will no doubt be a much more formidable opponent for Trudeau/Liberals than any of his Tory predecessors.
His well-developed speaking ability, his focus on close-to-home issues impacting ordinary Canadians and his proficient bilingualism will make the next election much more interesting than the previous one.
And no doubt give Trudeau more than a few sleepless nights as he ponders his own political future and chances for re-election.