By Charlie Senack
As Conservative Party leader, Pierre Poilevre is focusing his priorities around the rising cost of living, saying as Prime Minister, he’d form a “small government” with “big citizens.”
In his first speech after being elected to head the party, the Carleton MP said people are feeling like they have lost control of their pocketbooks and lives under the Trudeau-led Liberal government.
“The cost of government is driving up the cost of living. This liberal government doubled our international debt, adding more debt than all previous governments combined,” Poilievre Is said to a booing crowd. “That means another half trillion dollars bidding up the costs of the goods we buy and the interest we pay. Inflationary taxes increase those costs further. Now they plan to triple the carbon tax on gas, heat, and everything else.”
Justin Trudeau is leading the most expensive government in Canada’s history, said Poilievre, who said the more they spend, the more the cost of living increases.
If a single mom with three kids earning $55,000 a year goes out and earns another dollar, she loses 80 cents of it to taxes and clawbacks,” he said. “She can’t get ahead. I will reform programs and cut taxes so when that single mother and people like her earn more they keep more,”
Poilievre said Canadians need a government which would make life affordable for young individuals again, allowing them to buy houses, pay their bills, save for retirement, and purchase healthy foods.
A Conservative government would cap spending, reverse waste, and axe new gas taxes. Poilievre also said that would mean fighting climate change with modern technology instead of additional taxes.
He also believes Canada needs to rely on its own country for essentials.
“Let’s remove the government gatekeepers to build more homes, grow more food, and produce more energy right here in Canada,” said Poilevre. “Right now youth and newcomers can’t get a home because government gatekeepers block housing with heavy fees and long delays for building permits, leaving us with the fewest houses per capita in any country in the G7, even though we have the most land to build on.”
Similar to the platform he ran on in the last federal election, Poilievre wants to sell off 15 per cent of the underutilized 37,000 federal office buildings and turn them into affordable housing. The proceeds of the sales would go towards reducing Canada’s deficit.
Poilievre shied away from talking about freedom in his speech, but did call for an end to the “disastrous” AriveCan app, which was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic for anyone entering the country. He also called for an end to remaining COVID-19 mandates.
Throughout the last two years, the Carleton MP has been vocal about freedom of choice when it came to vaccination status and other pandemic protocols. Poilievre was against people losing their jobs or being barred from entering Canada because they weren’t vaccinated for COVID-19.
During this winter’s trucker convoy in downtown Ottawa, Poilievre showed support for the movement, and joined in delivering coffee at some rallies on highway overpasses. Shortly before Canada Day, he helped lead a Freedom March through parts of Ottawa.
His involvement with the cause led to increased support from one demographic, but controversy from another. Marjory LeBreton, former Government Leader of the Senate, resigned from Poilevre’s local Carleton Conservative riding board as a result. The Manotick resident said it brought her no joy to speak out against a party she’s been a part of for decades.
In Manotick after Poilievre’s big leadership win, reaction was mixed with some residents saying he lost support because of his stance on the convoy.
“As the partner of a Police Officer working throughout the occupation, seeing him pose for pictures (with convoy members) was insulting,” said Shelley Power on Facebook. “He has no ideas of his own; Just criticizing the other parties.”
Others felt Poilievre was their only hope at beating the current Liberal government.
“Under the current government life has become completely unaffordable and our rights and freedoms are abused for political gain,” said Jamie James, also on Facebook. “Pierre has always stood for the middle class and will restore personal freedoms and give Canadians back control over their lives.”
Conservative MP Leaves Party
On the Monday after being elected new Conservative party leader, Poilievre met with his party’s caucus to start planning a new way forward.
Poilievre entered the room to a standing ovation with his wife Anaida by his side. The caucus sang happy birthday for the Carleton MP’s son Cruz, who was also in attendance and turned one that day.
While there was a strong sense of unity in the party, one Conservative Quebec MP chose to now sit as an Independent following Poilievre’s victory.
Richmond—Arthabaska MP Alain Rayes said in a statement: “Some of my political ideals, values, and convictions are not compatible with the new path. I leave without bitterness and I remain driven by the deep desire to continue to serve the population on the political scene.”
Rayes, who was among 24 Conservative MP’s to openly back Jean Charest’s leadership bid, has previously said Poilievre would swing the party too far to the right.
Following Rayes’ announcement, members of Poilievre’s staff sent text messages to party members in the MP’s riding, asking them to encourage him to resign. The party has since apologized for sending the automated text messages.
Out of the 10 Conservative MP’s in Quebec, many supported Charest’s leadership bid. Even so, Poilievre won almost all of that province’s ridings.
Poilievre has wasted no time getting to work, already unveiling his nine-person House of Commons Leadership team. Melissa Lantsman, a member of the LGBTQ community, and Tim Uppal, who is of South Asian descent, will serve as Poilievre’s deputy leaders.
Following his leadership win, Poilievre and his family will move into Stornoway, the residence provided for the head of the Official Opposition. No date has been given for the move.