by Marshall Auerback
Tuesday, 13
September 2022
Profile
10:00

Pierre Poilievre: Canada’s new Conservative star

Canada's new Tory leader offers a different type of libertarian populism
by Marshall Auerback
Pierre Poilievre is Canada’s new Conservative Party leader. Credit: Gett

The contours are now set for the next Canadian general election: an electoral duel between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the newly-elected Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, who won his party’s nomination this past weekend with a record-setting margin. Given the way in which Canadians punished Trudeau for his opportunistic election call a year ago, the Liberal Prime Minister is unlikely to pull the stunt again, even though he appears chomping at the bit to go after the new Tory leader, whom he will no doubt smear as a racist extremist.

Is this caricature, or is there more to Poilievre that meets the eye?

Canada has had populist leaders before, but historically this populism has been driven by the persistent feeling of “western alienation” — the continued impression that Canada’s western provinces have lacked control over the federal political agenda (which has been has been largely dominated by the most populated provinces — Ontario and Quebec — in central Canada).

By contrast, Pierre Poilievre is a different sort: his ideology has its roots in a very un-Canadian like libertarianism. A talented, media-friendly politician, who has professed his desire to make Canada “the freest nation on earth”, embracing cryptocurrencies as a way to “take control of money from bankers and politicians”.

His political success has come in part as a result of harnessing and exploiting the anger of millions of Canadians suffering from the rising cost of living, out-of-reach housing prices. Like in the US or UK, Canada’s middle class has shrunk as a percentage of the population between the 1980s and mid-2010s, and research shows that real incomes of the middle slice of Canadian households have stagnated for decades. Poilievre speaks to these “deplorables”, much as Donald Trump addressed the losers of globalisation in his 2016 election campaign.

Most controversially, this past winter, Poilievre embraced the self-styled “freedom convoy” truckers protest that emerged in the wake of the Trudeau government’s increasingly aggressive approach to pandemic mitigation; specifically, Poilievre went against much expert opinion in opposing vaccine mandates and mask mandates. His approach on climate change also runs contrary to much of the prevailing conventional wisdom.

While perceived as outside the political mainstream, it is worth noting that Poilievre is the first party leader, since former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to win his party’s leadership by a decisive margin on the first ballot: of the 417,987 votes cast for Saturday’s leadership election — more than any party election in Canadian history — 68%, or nearly 285,000, were for Poilievre.

If he ultimately is able to become the country’s next PM, Poilievre will do much to change the popular perception of Canada as a mildly centre-Left North American version of Scandinavian style social democracy, which the Trudeau government has assiduously promoted (along with its quasi-coalition partner, the social democratic New Democratic Party).

Trudeau has already signalled his desire to lead his government into the next election and aggressively confront Poilievre’s alternative vision for the country. The risk is that instead of addressing the genuine economic precarity now being experienced by millions of voters who are excited by Poilievre’s vision, the PM risks losing the election, if he simply dismisses the Tory Party leaders’ supporters as hateful racists, much as he did with the trucker’s convoy last winter.

Likewise, the Trudeau government’s refusals to exploit its comparative advantage as a major exporter of natural gas is an act of economic self-sabotage that will create shortages in both energy and food (via fertiliser shortages), as well as exacerbating the problems of carbon emissions as countries such as Germany offset the loss of Russian gas via increased coal production. Canadian voters might well find that the growth and employment opportunities offered by a future Poilievre government to be a powerfully persuasive tool in forcing a change of government. And with that change of government, a very different perception of what it means to be a Canadian.

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Jim R
Jim R
11 days ago

It’s going to be very difficult for the media to maintain their smears on Pollievre as a radical right wing populist etc. The contrast between the two men is very telling: Trudeau was the son of a prime minister, blessed with every opportunity he could ever hope for and squandered them all. Snow board instructor, engineering dropout, and his highest achievement: high school drama teacher. One of his darkest legacies is the legalization of marijuana in a manner that falsely declared the drug ‘harmless’ and rendered Canada one of the world’s highest consumers of drugs. We now have ‘dispensaries’ on every corner to meet the surging demand. His government spent and borrowed more money than all Canadian governments in history – combined. His treatment of dissenting voices is appalling. He’s married to a bubble headed yoga teacher. Pollievre was adopted from a teenage mother by two teachers. He clawed his way up through merit and determination. He speaks to the dwindling proportion of Canadians who don’t subsist on government paycheques or handouts or the crony capitalism of the oligarchies that dominate the Canadian economy. He understands that inflation came from money printing and started long before the CPI started to reflect it. He married a feisty hard working Venezuelan immigrant. This is really a watershed moment for Canada – perhaps the last chance to right the ship. Are we a meritocracy or a cleptocracy? I really hope we don’t screw this up.

Last edited 11 days ago by Jim R
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
11 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Hopefully he doesnt go Freeland on us.
I had big hopes for her, but probably just because she went to school about 10 blocks from my house in Edmonton. Now I hope she gets a job with NATO.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 days ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

I think Freeland has realized how badly she overplayed her hand with the convoy protesters. She is going to be heckled everywhere she goes in Canada – probably for the rest of her life. I don’t think people from elsewhere realize how badly people despise Trudeau – and now Freeland. She is almost as unpopular as Trudeau. She is smart to get out of Canada for a while if she can.

harry storm
harry storm
11 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Canadians are happy marijuana was finally legalized. The borrowing was for the same reasons all the industrialized countries borrowed: payments during COVID lockdown in the first months guaranteed people could still support their families.
As for Poilievre, his support for the truckers’ illegal occupation gives him absolutely no chance to win a general election. Not to mention his support for crypto.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 days ago
Reply to  harry storm

Ugh. Woke maskhole. Gross.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 days ago
Reply to  harry storm

Trudeau was running up the debt in record numbers before Covid. What amazes me is we have nothing to show for it. Other than legalize marijuana what has he done?

Aaron James
Aaron James
10 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

I hear Pierre will try to oust some of the many WEF Young Global Leaders who infest the Tredeau government and party. (Trudeau is one himself)

(this is just what I hear, but the below is consistent with that)

”Pierre Poilievre says he and his cabinet would boycott World Economic Forum’
But I hear he may do even more in that direction – so sounds good.

With the WEF Young Global Leaders playing such a large part of Canadian Government I was surprised the writer did not mention this very big thing (unless I missed it)

Last edited 10 days ago by Aaron James
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 days ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Well at the very least the Canadian Bankers Association would be wise to take all the crap on their website about WEF down. A ‘national digital ID as approved by the WEF’. Stuff your ID you authoritarian pricks. I do think that Polievre will do most of the things he promised if he is elected.

Neil Hollingsworth
Neil Hollingsworth
11 days ago

So many of us Canadians will agree with the content and tone of this article. Trudeau has engineered a soft dictatorship in Canada by employing narratives to Canadians that are WHO/UN or WEF inspired and completely bypassing our parliament before declaring these matters as a done deal. He is becoming more tyrannical as time passes and no one in his cabinet or back benches dare speak up. It is very unhealthy. Poilievre offers a way back to what Canadians want and deserve. We want our Canada back.

Chris Warfe
Chris Warfe
10 days ago

Lets hope the country never “belongs” to conspiracy theorists and the delusional.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
11 days ago

“Poilievre went against much expert opinion in opposing vaccine mandates and mask mandates”

Except of course Poilievre was right and the ‘experts’ were wrong. By the time the convoy protests happened vaccine travel mandates had been dropped in much of Europe. The convoy protesters had a legitimate issue to complain about. We still have those mandates – I think we are the last place in the world. Trudeau is spoiled little tyrant and his party and the NDP are humiliating themselves by refusing to get rid of him.

David Simpson
David Simpson
11 days ago

Sounds hopeful. How many millennia away is the next general election?

Marshall Auerback
Marshall Auerback
11 days ago
Reply to  David Simpson

2025

Ian Alexander
Ian Alexander
10 days ago

Canada’s elite have perfected their hegemony: total left-control of all cultural and government institutions, and keeps their populace cowed and guilty with fake narratives like the indigenous mass graves hoax. Any and all dissent is “far-right” and a threat to state security. Goodness knows how a populist can onslaught this beast still at the peak of its powers and far deeper-rooted than blow-wave Trudeau.

JP Martin
JP Martin
10 days ago
Reply to  Ian Alexander

Yes. The country is run by an incestuous club whose members want the populace to vegetate passively in a marijuana induced torpor until they can be euthanised or replaced by a new immigrant.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
11 days ago

Impressively neutral. Thanks for the summary.

d brr
d brr
11 days ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

> self-styled “freedom convoy”
↑ Smacks of not exactly neutral.
.
> His approach on climate change also runs contrary to much of the prevailing conventional wisdom.
↑ There’s nothing remotely approaching wisdom in the prevailing convention.
.
> Scandinavian style social democracy, which the Trudeau government has assiduously promoted
↑ Really? Democracy and Trudeau don’t seem to square up well.
.
> exacerbating the problems of carbon emissions
↑ Imaginary problems, conjured out of thin air (pun intended).
.
You may call it nitpicking alright—I see internalised msm talking points ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But hey, let’s not make perfect the enemy of good 😉

Last edited 11 days ago by d brr
Chris Warfe
Chris Warfe
11 days ago

What the article missed noting was the final death note of the Tory party and Tory Conservatism in Canada. Jean Charest’s leadership bid was the last hope of traditional conservatives in Canada. For most of my 70 years the Progressive Conservative Party was the other middle of the road Party ( apart from the Liberals) that Canadians could comfortably go to and be assured that Peace, Order and Good Government would be upheld. With Pee Pee’s support of the Convoy.( an illegal occupation, not a protest), attack on national institutions like the Bank of Canada and promotion of conspiracy theories, Canadians now no longer have the illusion that option exists for them. America’s culture war has now irreversibly become Canada’s.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
11 days ago
Reply to  Chris Warfe

PP is in the middle, if he seems right wing to you, that is only your perspective.
Why do you think the convey was illegal? Hard to be illegal when the government doesn’t even talk to you.

harry storm
harry storm
11 days ago

The Canadians who are responding below are giving a false impression of how most Canadians think.
The plain truth is that Poilievre’s support for the truckers will doom any chance he has of becoming prime minister. Their disruptive actions were extremely unpopular in most of Canada, especially those in Ontario and Quebec, but also throughout the country. Although Trudeau’s popularity is waning, all he has to do is show Poilievre’s support for the truckers and he’s done for. You may not like it, but that’s how it is. I’ve never seen Canadians more united about anything than how despised the truckers were. His support for crypto won’t do him any favours either.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
11 days ago
Reply to  harry storm

I agree, it seems a split is in order.

Jim R
Jim R
11 days ago
Reply to  harry storm

This is demonstrably false. Ipsos polling in February showed a split of about 46-54% sympathy for the truckers. And keep in mind that in Canada you can get a majority government with significantly less than a majority of the votes – the last conservative majority represented 39% of the popular vote. Justin Trudeau is currently the prime minister with the lowest popular vote in history at 32%. If you’ve never seen Canadians “more united” then I humbly suggest you are watching too much CBC.