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Republicans Might Want to Pay Attention to Canada's New Conservative Leader


Canada is due for an election at some point in the relatively near future, and after eight years of Justin Trudeau's 'progressive' leadership, the public appears to be ready for a change.  In the 2021 election, the Conservatives won the so-called popular vote, winning the highest number of raw votes and the largest percentage of the vote -- but under Canada's parliamentary system, it wasn't good enough.  Trudeau's Liberals formed a minority government, based on the outcomes and the resulting coalition.  The Conservatives have since found a new leader for their party.  He's a 44-year-old husband and father, the adopted son of school teachers, fluent in English and French, and married to a Venezuelan immigrant who loathes Communism.  It's a compelling story.  More importantly, he's been an energetic and dynamic leader who communicates very effectively.  Pierre Poilievre has attracted scores of new voters into his party, including a surprising number of young people.  As Politico reports in a new profile piece, he's emerged as the favorite to become our northern neighbor's next Prime Minister:


Canada’s Liberals can no longer deny it. Pierre Poilievre, the fiery Conservative leader set on burning Justin Trudeau’s signature achievements to the ground, is the favorite to win the country’s next election. Poilievre’s party has vaulted ahead in the polls by harnessing post-pandemic anxiety — high inflation, rising interest rates, and the runaway cost of home ownership in Canada. He fills hotel ballrooms and banquet halls with rowdy crowds, even during a summer season when most voters tend to tune out touring politicians. Polls suggest he’s now more personally popular than the third-term Trudeau — and by some measures, it’s not even close. 

Poilievre appears to be building a winning coalition that bridges populists and social conservatives with center-right moderates. An election could come as early as next year, or as late as the fall of 2025, depending on the durability of a governing agreement between the Liberals and the New Democratic Party. But when that time comes, Trudeau’s team shouldn’t be surprised if they’re the betting underdog. Poilievre was the undisputed star this month when more than 2,500 Conservative Party faithful gathered for a policy convention in Quebec City. The Centre des congrès de Québec buzzed at Poilievre’s ability to reunite a party that had splintered since losing power to Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015.

Polling shows Poilievre's Conservatives pushing out to a sizable lead over the Trudeau government.  In one recent survey, "only 27 percent of voters had a positive impression of the prime minister. More than four-fifths say it’s time for a change in government, though one-third don’t see a good governing alternative," the Politico story relays. "The Conservatives hold a commanding lead — 41 percent of votes, compared to 26 percent for the Liberals and 18 percent for the NDP."  How are the Liberals planning to attack Poilievre?  By invoking...Donald Trump, of course:

The way progressive politicians tell it, a Poilievre-led Canada would careen into a Trumpian nightmare in which the federal government abandons commitments to fighting climate change while anti-immigrant, anti-trans, anti-science groups gain substantial influence in the halls of power. The Liberal line is that Poilievre is importing “far-right, American-style politics” north of the border. The governing party has yet to flood the airwaves with that message, but ads in some form will eventually go to air. Poilievre has distanced himself from far-right groups. But he did broadly support a trucker convoy infiltrated by anti-government activists. He regularly disses World Economic Forum elites at rallies where some supporters are certain of a world-government conspiracy.

If Poilievre's party convention speech earlier this month is any indication of his capabilities and over-arching message, good luck with that.  Having seen a few people on social media buzzing about it, I decided to review the address, which lasted just over an hour.  What I saw impressed me enough to publish a Twitter thread about it, urging American conservatives to take the time to watch it.  Republicans don't necessarily need to shift leftward to match their Canadian counterparts' more centrist ideology, but so many of Poilievre's themes are resonant here, too -- and they're presented thoughtfully and plainly, with a heavy emphasis on 'common sense.'  Some of my take-aways:


"There are skewering lines, a devastating riff on Trudeau’s comment about how hard it is to be a politician these days, and a stirring finish—coming full circle to the Home slogan," I wrote, suggesting that Republicans should study both the substance and the framing.  Here's the emotionally-impactful, uplifting conclusion I referenced: 

He paints a picture that people want to envision for themselves and their family.  But the speech wasn't filled with such feel-goodery; he also built a striking case against the incumbent.  He had some strong indictments and zingers across various issues, but this passage may have been the most effective (at the 16:00 mark in the video below):


Justin Trudeau thinks of Canada, is what he thinks of Canadians. He calls them “small” and “angry.” Recently in Charlottetown he said everyone should stop picking on him, because quote, “it is a really tough time … to be a politician.”  Does anybody have a violin?  No, Mr. Trudeau. It is a really tough time to be the 74-year-old retired trucker I met doorknocking in Bowmanville, who had just gotten his eviction notice despite always paying his rent. Finding another place will cost him an extra $700 a month. He doesn’t have an extra $700 a month. So, his options are to ask his full-grown daughter — his little girl — if he can move into her basement or else, he will become homeless for the first time in his life. After 50 years of driving a truck. What is he supposed to do? Go back to work? He’s seventy-four. His back can’t take 70 hours a week in a truck. But you know something? I didn’t see anger in his eyes. That was fear.

Mr. Trudeau, if you think your life is tough for you, you should talk to the carpenter I met at Tim Horton’s in the Soo who lives in a parking lot, because he can’t afford the rent. He wasn’t angry either. But I admit I was angry for him: because an economy where the people who build our homes can’t afford to live in them is fundamentally unjust and wrong...If the Prime Minister thinks he has it tough, then he should talk to our youth — almost all of whom seem to have two jobs these days, not to save up for a home — they’ve long ago given up on that — but to avoid getting evicted after their rent doubled. They would like to have kids and they’re running out of time, but they have nowhere to put them in their tiny $1500-a-month studio suite. Eight years ago, at their high school graduations their eyes beamed with possibility. Now their eyes have big heavy bags under them as they drop off another delivery of UberEats at midnight — which is their third job. The youth aren’t angry. They are too exhausted to be angry.

...If Mr. Trudeau thinks politicians have it tough, he should meet the veterans that asked for help with post-traumatic stress, and they were told to consider medical assistance in dying. Remember, this is the prime minister who famously told veterans they were asking for more than he could give. These soldiers and veterans are not angry either. They are heart-broken that the freedoms they fought for abroad are not respected or repaid at home. Instead of apologizing to these people for the hell he has caused in their lives, Mr. Trudeau calls them names. He wants Canadians to blame each other, and not him. He divides to distract using race, religion, region and sexuality. He thinks that if you are afraid of your neighbour, you will forget you can’t afford groceries...You see Mr. Trudeau and I agree that things are broken. We just disagree on what’s broken and who broke it. He thinks the people are the problem. When Canadians know he is the problem.


The entire speech:


I'll leave you with Trudeau embarrassingly blaming Big Grocery for inflation, followed by one of my favorite conservatives anywhere in the world -- Britain's Daniel Hannan -- endorsing Poilievre as the most impressive center-right leader on earth at the moment, in his estimation:

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