Canadian Conservatives pick “right-wing populist” to battle Trudeau
Toronto — Canada’s opposition Conservative Party elected its go-to attack dog as its new party leader Saturday. Pierre Poilievre is a firebrand populist who opposes vaccine mandates and blames global inflation on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He won the party leadership on the first ballot, defeating a moderate, centrist candidate with 68% of the votes cast by the party’s members.
The 43-year-old Poilievre is a career politician and was a cabinet minister in then Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. He embraced Canadians who were against vaccine mandates and supported the freedom truck convoy that paralyzed Canada’s capital and blockaded the border with the U.S.
Poilievre won the party base, attracted large crowds and signed up thousands of new members.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said an apt U.S. comparison for Poilievre is Republican Sen. Ted Cruz but without the anti-abortion stance.
Wiseman stated that he is a right-wing populist. “Most Canadians are disgusted at his populism right now, but he’ll moderate his positions and soften the image of himself. I expect the next election will be about the incumbent, a person with increasing political baggage. “
Poilievre, who led his campus conservative club while at university, has been a member of Parliament since age 25.
He called Trudeau his personal ATM machine and urged Canada’s central bank chief to be fired. He has also endorsed crypto currency and said he would defund the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 2005, Poilievre joined other Conservative lawmakers on the losing side of a vote by Parliament to approve same-sex marriage. In 2008, he apologized after questioning whether Canada was “getting value for all of this money” by compensating survivors of the country’s widely criticized Indigenous residential school.
Poilievre is a married father of two who represents a district near Ottawa. Two school teachers adopted him. He claims he was born in Calgary to a teenager who couldn’t raise a child.
Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the Liberal Party icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he first won election as premier in 2015 and has led his party to the top finish in two elections since. His popularity has declined.
However, the Liberals and the opposition New Democratic Party reached an agreement that would see Trudeau’s party keep power until 2025. Trudeau has stated that he will lead his party to the next election.
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