Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has announced a list of opposition critics that includes posts for his leadership rivals Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis, but not former party leader Erin O’Toole.
Also missing from the roster of critics are veteran B.C. MP Ed Fast, who supported former Quebec premier Jean Charest in the leadership race that Mr. Poilievre won last month, and Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who supported Brampton, Ont. Mayor Patrick Brown’s unsuccessful bid to lead the party.
In a statement, Mr. O’Toole said on Wednesday that he asked not to have a critic role in order to allow Mr. Poilievre an “unobstructed runway” to put forward his own team, and that he would be available as a “pinch hitter” on issues. “My focus will remain my riding and issues that I think are very important to the country,” said the Ontario MP for Durham.
Asked about his absence from the ranks of critics, Mr. Fast said in an e-mail exchange on Wednesday afternoon that he was going to reserve comment on the matter.
Mr. Fast, a former international trade minister under Stephen Harper, was first elected to Parliament in 2006 as the MP for the B.C. riding of Abbotsford. He stepped down as the Conservative finance critic in May, criticizing Mr. Poilievre’s commitment to fire Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem over the country’s inflation rate. Mr. Fast said the idea hurt the party’s credibility on economic issues.
Ms. Rempel Garner, western economic diversification minister under Mr. Harper with critic assignments in health and natural resources under Mr. O’Toole and Candice Bergen, initially supported Mr. Brown, but stepped away from that role to consider a bid to lead the United Conservative Party in Alberta. Eventually, she declined to proceed with an effort to seek the leadership.
Mr. Aitchison, the MP for the Ontario riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka, is the new critic for housing, diversity and inclusion. Ms. Lewis, who represents Haldimand-Norfolk, also in Ontario, is the critic for infrastructure and communities, according to the list outlining the roles of 71 critics and associate critics. There are 118 Conservative members of the House of Commons.
The party announced that Mr. Poilievre was the new leader on Sept. 10 in Ottawa. Mr. Poilievre, who represents an Ottawa-area riding, becomes the third leader of the party, after Andrew Scheer and Mr. O’Toole, since the Harper-led Conservatives were defeated by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015. Mr. Scheer was leader for three years, from 2017 to 2020; Mr. O’Toole led the party for a year and a half.
Calgary-area MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, first elected to Parliament in 2019, has been named critic for finance and middle-class prosperity. The finance file was previously handled by Mr. Poilievre, who was a key critic of the federal Liberal government on affordability issues.
Nova Scotia MP Stephen Ellis, a veteran family physician, is the new health critic. Former opposition house leader Gérard Deltell, a Quebec MP, is the new environment and climate-change critic. Michael Chong continues to handle foreign affairs for the opposition caucus.
Others named to critic roles include Marilyn Gladu, who will be dealing with civil liberties; Shannon Stubbs, who will be natural resources critic; Mark Strahl, who will be transport critic and Michael Cooper, who will be the critic for democratic reform.
Mr. Poilievre was not initially available for comment on Wednesday on the assignments. The new Conservative leader has not taken questions from members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since agreeing to take two on Sept. 13
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