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Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre and his wife, Anaida, jump to their feet as he is announced as winner of the Conservative Party of Canada leadership vote, in Ottawa, on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

That couldn’t be clearer.

The Conservative Party has decided what it wants to be, and what it wants to be is Pierre Poilievre’s party.

The rank and file, and the hundreds of thousands who joined the rank and file, from convoy supporters to frustrated suburbanites, have decided they want the party to be an unabashed, never-apologize movement, and they wanted someone just like that to lead them. Those folks were always drawing a picture of Mr. Poilievre in their minds and eventually they sketched it onto leadership ballots.

The numbers left no room for argument. Mr. Poilievre didn’t just win on the first ballot. He won with more than 68 per cent of the numbers. In a field of five.

His victory speech was the stuff of his leadership campaign, a call to shrink government to expand freedom, attacking “woke” government – but focusing heavily on the Liberal government’s deficits and debts, on inflation, on 30-year-olds who can’t buy a house, and big government that he called a burden on ordinary folks.

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“They don’t need a government that sneers at them, looks down on them, calls them names. They don’t need a government that runs their lives,” he said. “They need a government that can run a passport office.”

Yes, he offered a nod to all the other candidates, even to Jean Charest – whom he had relentlessly belittled as a Liberal – for his service to Canadian unity. But Mr. Poilievre didn’t turn his victory speech into a call for healing, or party unity. It was more of his campaign. He didn’t have to worry. He won by a mile.

Mr. Charest, the second-place finisher, took only 16 per cent of the points. If there was ever a moment when the former Quebec premier could have won the Conservative Party leadership, it wasn’t in 2022, when he was too moderate and too offside with the sense of grievance. Conservatives – and many who joined – didn’t want a guy tut-tutting about law and order. Even in Quebec, Mr. Charest’s organizers had hustled to sign up members while Mr. Poilievre’s supporters rushed in unbidden, in numbers, from the internet.

Mr. Poilievre wasn’t so much the leader they chose as what they wanted to be. After Erin O’Toole, who tried to balance things so much he sat on fences too long, this party wanted someone who always came down on one side and never apologized to anyone for it. After Andrew Scheer, who seemed uncomfortable explaining his own beliefs, they wanted someone who wore his like a suit.

No one else was in the picture. Scott Aitchison, the likable Parry Sound-Muskoka MP who ran his campaign on bringing a positive, constructive tone to politics, got just over one per cent of the points.

Leslyn Lewis, who won 30 per cent of the points on the second ballot of the 2020 leadership race as the standard bearer of social conservatives, got less than 10 per cent this time. Mr. Poilievre can – and will – claim the party’s social conservatives were on board with him. Just look at that number.

Yes, there was some bitterness in the room. Some of Mr. Charest’s supporters, who knew it was a foregone conclusion before they walked in, still felt a sour taste from a harsh campaign – Mr. Poilievre derided him repeatedly as a Liberal – that left them feeling beaten and unwelcome.

Mr. Poilievre will have to reach out to some of those supporters – nearly all of Quebec Conservative MPs had backed Mr. Charest – but he won’t need to make peace with a “Charest wing” of the party. It was never really there, and what there was has been run over now.

This was the birth of Mr. Poilievre’s party. The event itself had an unavoidably awkward feel for what is usually an occasion to trumpet a new leader with fanfare, because organizers had to graft in a sombre tone with tributes to Queen Elizabeth. What will matter is Mr. Poilievre’s clear takeover.

Now, it is a different Conservative Party. Members didn’t just pick him as leader. Hundreds of thousands joined the party to support him. There’s grievance, and a feeling they’re fighting a government that scorns them, a backlash over pandemic restrictions, angst about inflation and affordability and mistrust of government – and both Mr. Poilievre and the people who rushed into the Conservative Party had those things in common.

The Conservative Party knew what it wanted to be, and it wanted to be like Pierre Poilievre.

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