Pierre Poilievre overwhelmingly prevailed in this contest. Poilievre, 43, was elected the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada on Saturday night following a protracted and contentious seven-month leadership campaign in which he emerged as the undisputed frontrunner in all metrics, including fundraising and membership sales. With 68.15 percent of the vote, Poilievre won the competition.
Second-place finisher and former premier of Quebec Jean Charest received only 16.07 percent. Leslyn Lewis, an MP, finished third with 9.69% of the vote after finishing third in the party leadership race in 2020. Roman Baber, a former MPP for Ontario expelled from Premier Doug Ford’s caucus last year for opposing Covid-19 lockdowns, received 5.03 percent of the vote. In comparison, MP Scott Aitchison received 1.06 percent.
Although they were careful not to assume anything, Poilievre’s campaign team has privately stated for months that they thought their candidate could easily win on the first preferential ballot. They even went so far as to say they could win in most, if not all, provinces, including Quebec. Their predictions came true on Saturday. With overwhelming majorities, Poilievre won every ride in Canada, except for eight.
Only six ridings in his native Quebec and two in urban areas of Ontario were won by Charest. None of the ridings were defeated by the other candidates. Following three straight losses to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Saturday’s results make Poilievre the third elected leader since former prime minister Stephen Harper’s exit from politics. The Conservatives are hoping Poilievre will help them win the next federal election.
Poilievre’s resounding victory on the first ballot, a feat also accomplished by Harper in 2004, may also give him the moral authority he needs to unify his party following a contentious campaign that stoked talk of division and MP resignations. As he announced his victory, Poilievre entered the stage with thunderous applause and sought to express his gratitude to his family, team, and rivals in the race.
He thanked Baber for opposing vaccine mandates, Lewis for standing up for families, and Aitchison for “running on ideas like simplifying and lowering taxes.” He also had kind words for Charest, thanking him for his service to the nation and for standing up for Canada in the 1995 Quebec referendum “when the nation’s back was against the wall.” “Our party is eternally grateful,” he said. “You stood with courage and passion and defended our country.”
The policy environment also changed to reflect this new tone. In his victory speech, he did not mention ousting the governor of the Bank of Canada, promoting cryptocurrency, or defunding the CBC. Genevieve Tellier, a professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa, observed that despite being the focus of his campaign, he hardly mentioned the word “freedom” in his acceptance speech.
Tellier said, “He talked to Canadians tonight, not just his supporters.” Poilievre concentrated on the simple economics that has become his clear area of focus throughout the campaign. In recent months, he has drawn multitudes of anxious Canadians, particularly young Canadians, to join his campaign.
He discussed how families were changing their diets due to the rapidly rising cost of food, how seniors were delaying retirement and watching their life savings “evaporate with inflation,” and how millennials were still living at home due to their inability to purchase a home. While maintaining his principles, he is attempting to be less divisive, according to Tellier.
Poilievre revised some of his speech in observance of the Queen’s passing. Still, he did not hold back in criticizing the Liberal administration, which he charged with raising living expenses and tripling the national debt. He declared, “This is the most expensive government ever.” “And things cost more the more they spend,” Many Canadians are “hanging by a thread” due to the rising inflation, he continued.
We don’t need a government that mocks, denigrates, or disparages them. They need a government that can manage a passport office, not one that can run their lives, declared Poilievre. According to Tellier, Poilievre demonstrated his attention to the economy, file knowledge, and resolve to make things right if elected prime minister. When Poilievre questions Justin Trudeau, she anticipates that heated exchanges will result. “In terms of the economy, Justin Trudeau will face a tough opponent.”