Pierre Poilievre says the timing of the next federal election is uncertain, but that when it comes, his Conservatives will be the best choice for voters intent on putting an end to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
In a keynote speech to more than 2,000 Conservatives attending a national policy convention in Quebec City, Mr. Poilievre touched on familiar points around affordability, inflation, housing and other issues that have been key to his pitch to voters since he won the party leadership last year.
“Canadians are not small or angry,” he said. “They are big and generous people. They deserve better than this. They should no longer have to give up the things we always took for granted – like affordable homes and food – to pay for the incompetence and ego of one man,” he said.
“After eight years, Justin Trudeau is not worth the cost and not worth the country we know and love.”
However, the Ottawa-area MP first elected in 2004, made a particular play for support from voters in Quebec, where the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois dominate in numbers of seats, suggesting that the Bloc has been enabling the Trudeau government with its support.
“If Quebeckers want to get rid of Justin Trudeau for good, only the Conservative Party can replace it for real,” said Mr. Poilievre.
“I will always be an ally for Quebec, for the Acadian people and all francophones across the country,” said Mr. Poilievre, who declared at one point, “Vive le Quebec,” and talked about sending his children to French schools.
“A smaller central government will make way for a greater Quebec and better Quebeckers,” he said.
Earlier, Mr. Poilievre’s wife, Anaida Poilievre, speaking in French and talking about her roots in Quebec, introduced the Conservative Leader. Ms. Poilievre was born in Venezuela, but her family moved to Canada in the 1990s, settling in Montreal.
There are 78 federal seats in Quebec. The Liberals have 35 and the Bloc has 32. The Conservatives have nine, down from the 10 they won in the 2021 election. There is one independent – former Conservative Alain Rayes – and one New Democrat.
Under the terms of a supply and confidence agreement between the Liberals and the NDP, the New Democrats have agreed to keep the minority Liberals in power until 2025 in exchange for policy concessions. However, that deal could unravel at any time.
“But when that election will be, but when it comes, Canadians will have only two options,” said Mr. Poilievre.
On one hand, Mr. Poilievre said there’s the option of “a common-sense Conservative government that frees hardworking people to earn powerful paycheques that buy affordable food, gas and homes – in safe communities.”
And on the other hand, he said there’s “a reckless coalition – of Trudeau and the NDP – that punishes your work, takes your money, taxes your food, doubles your housing bill. And unleashes crime and chaos in your neighbourhood.”
As prime minister, Mr. Poilievre said he would force government to find a dollar of savings for each new dollar of spending it introduces, noting that Mr. Trudeau has broken with a commitment to balanced budgets that was shared by prime ministers since Brian Mulroney.
He also said he would end bonuses for government executives and central bankers “who fail at their jobs,” link the amount of federal dollars for local governments to the number of new homes that get built in their cities, axe the carbon tax and crack down on repeat criminal offenders.
The head of fundraising for the party said a second wave of ads will follow an initial batch launched last month to introduce Mr. Poilievre to voters who may not know of his personal history.
Robert Staley, the chair of the Conservative Fund of Canada, told delegates at the convention that an initial $3-million ad campaign, launched on Aug. 9, has been and will continue to be successful. The ads include footage of the Conservative Leader with his family.
“We have more ads ready to go. We have a lot more to tell Canadians about our leader and about the failures of the Trudeau government, and we’re going to do that,” Mr. Staley said.
He added that the Conservative Fund has amended its budget so that it can spend “substantially more” than planned on advertising, especially in key ridings.
Mr. Staley also said Ms. Poilievre will take on a more prominent role in raising money for the party.
“She has agreed to hit the road and do fundraisers for us, and we are looking forward to her helping us in that area as well,” he said. “We’re going to get her off on her own, maybe get her to some places where, with the legislative calendar, Pierre can’t get to.”
Between April and June, the Tories raised nearly $8-million in donations from almost 47,000 contributors, which was a slight decrease from the $8.3-million the party raised during the first three months of the year.
The Liberals, who held a policy convention in May, brought in nearly $3.2-million from more than 30,000 people between April and June.
Earlier Friday, outside the convention venue, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, a Quebec MP, said the Liberals are resolute in taking on the Conservatives, and united behind the Prime Minister despite the political challenges they are facing.
Mr. Guilbeault, appearing with Tourism Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada, also a Quebec MP, said the government understands that some Canadians are facing tough times, with elevated inflation and rising interest rates. Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, Quebec lieutenant for the Liberals, was scheduled to hold a news conference on the Tories.
“The solution is not to go back on everything we have been doing for Canadians,” said Mr. Guilbeault. “It’s to continue being there for them to make it through these tough times, and we believe that we will.”