Canada’s Conservatives take populist shift with new leader

·2 min read

The Conservative Party of Canada on Saturday picked populist Pierre Poilievre to lead the party and challenge sitting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Poilievre, a lifelong conservative who first snagged a seat in Canada’s Parliament in 2004, supported the weeks-long “Freedom Convoy” of Canadian truckers protesting vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Up against four other candidates, Poilievre was declared the winner with 68 percent of the vote, according to the CBC.

Canada’s Conservatives have lost three elections to Trudeau, and are now rallying behind Poilievre’s potential to unseat the Liberal leader.

The party voted to oust former leader Erin O’Toole, who assumed the role in 2020, earlier this year after he worked to keep his party close to center on some issues.

“Congratulations to @PierrePoilievre on his decisive victory in the @CPC_HQ leadership. Conservatives need to be united, strong and compassionate as we earn the trust of more Canadians to bring the country together,” O’Toole wrote on Twitter Saturday.

Poilievre has positioned himself in opposition to what he sees as the Canadian establishment and Liberal policies on topics like the economy and the pandemic — and worked to appeal to Canadians frustrated with government “calling the shots and dictating how you should live your life,” according to his campaign site.

“Tonight begins the journey to replace an old government that costs you more and delivers you less with a new government that puts you first—your paycheck, your retirement, your home, your country,” Poilievre said in an address Saturday, in video shared by CPAC.

An election date for a Poilievre-Trudeau matchup hasn’t been set, and could be held off until as late as 2025, according to the Wall Street Journal, due to an agreement between Canada’s New Democrats party and the minority Liberal government.

Trudeau took to Twitter to congratulate Poilievre and note that “as Parliamentarians, we must work together to deliver results for people across the country. Canadians expect – and deserve – nothing less.”

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