Pierre Poilievre called on Conservatives to put aside their differences and unite on a mission to secure government as he won the party leadership in a landslide on Saturday night.
The Ottawa-area MP secured the support of 68.15 per cent of voting members, ending a seven-month leadership race.
His closest rival was former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who had 16.07-per-cent support.
“Tonight we begin the journey to replace an old government that costs you more and delivers less with a new government,” Mr. Poilievre told hundreds of cheering Conservatives at a downtown Ottawa convention centre. To supporters of his rivals, he said “I open my arms to you. Now today, we are one party serving one country.”
Mr. Poilievre’s victory sets the stage for him to take on the Liberal government when the House of Commons reconvenes later this month. The party event was held in the shadow of the death of Queen Elizabeth, and Mr. Poilievre paid tribute to her as he began his remarks.
Ontario MP Leslyn Lewis received 9.69 per cent, former Ontario MPP Roman Baber had 5.03 per cent and Ontario MP Scott Aitchison 1.06 per cent.
Mr. Poilievre is the third leader of the party, after Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole, since the Stephen Harper-led Conservatives were defeated by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015. Mr. Scheer was leader for three years, from 2017 to 2020, and Mr. O’Toole led the party for a year and a half.
Congratulations, @PierrePoilievre, on being elected Leader of the Conservative Party tonight. As Parliamentarians, we must work together to deliver results for people across the country. Canadians expect – and deserve – nothing less.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 11, 2022
On Saturday evening, Mr. Trudeau tweeted his congratulations to Mr. Poilievre. “As parliamentarians, we must work together to deliver results for people across the country. Canadians expect – and deserve – nothing less,” he said.
The campaign provided stark choices for the Conservatives, particularly between Mr. Poilievre and Mr. Charest. Mr. Poilievre ran a brash race that included promises to make Canadians the “freest people on Earth,” fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada as part of a bid to deal with inflation, cut funding to the CBC and endorsing cryptocurrencies.
He also challenged what he called “gatekeepers” such as politicians, bureaucrats and agencies that he accused of stifling the potential of Canadians. Late in the campaign, he promised that if he became prime minister, he would enact a “plain-language law” to require government to publish information in straightforward language.
Now in his seventh term as an MP, Mr. Poilievre entered the leadership race with a video statement in which he said “governments have gotten big and bossy,” and that COVID-19 has been a “political opportunity” for the Liberal government to attack small businesses, truckers and other Canadians.
“Trudeau thinks he’s your boss. He’s got it backwards. You’re the boss,” said Mr. Poilievre in the statement. “That’s why I am running for prime minister, to put you back in charge of your life.” He added, “Our destination is a Canada where the government is servant, not master.”
Along with rival Ms. Lewis, he declined to attend a third party-organized debate, saying it was unnecessary, and he would prefer to spend the time engaging with members..
Mr. Poilievre’s challenges ahead include uniting the party after a combative leadership race, necessitated in February after the caucus voted out Mr. O’Toole as leader.
Over many months, Mr. Poilievre particularly targeted the conservative credentials of Mr. Charest, who was Quebec Liberal premier a decade ago. He also challenged a strong campaign from Patrick Brown, before the party disqualified the Brampton mayor from the race over allegations of financial irregularities in his campaign.
Mr. Charest’s bid for support was based on his years of political experience – he was a cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative governments of Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell – and appealed to a broad array of Conservatives.
After the vote, Mr. Charest tweeted his congratulations to Mr. Poilievre. “You deserve a clean slate and the opportunity to unite the membership. We must end the mudslinging,” he wrote, adding that only Liberals benefit from a divided Conservative Party.
1/3 Congratulations to @PierrePoilievre and his team. You deserve a clean slate and the opportunity to unite the membership. We must end the internal mudslinging. Only Liberals benefit from a divided @CPC_HQ. #cdnpoli— Jean Charest (@JeanCharest_) September 11, 2022
He said that his supporters have a critical role to play in shaping a “forward-looking” policy agenda and attracting new voters to the Conservative Party and he would have more to say about the issue on Sunday.
Other leadership candidates offered their support, with Mr. Aitchison saying Mr. Poilievre will be a great prime minister, Mr. Baber saluting the new leader for running a great race, and Ms. Lewis declaring, “Congratulations Pierre!”
During the campaign, Mr. Poilievre was endorsed by Mr. Harper – the first such endorsement the former prime minister has given in a leadership race since his government was defeated in 2015.
Mr. Poilievre, 43, was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004. Under Mr. Harper, he served in cabinet as democratic reform minister and employment and social-development minister.
More recently, the member for the riding of Carleton was the finance critic for the Conservatives, pressing the Liberal government on inflation – an issue that was also central to his campaign for leader.
Mr. Poilievre’s campaign featured rallies with large crowds held across Canada, and his team said, midway through, that it had signed up about 311,000 members – a figure that came as the party said that overall membership had grown to 678,702 from about 160,000, when the race began.
A total of 417,987 ballots for the race have been accepted and were processed. The election was conducted through a single-ballot preferential vote in which party members ranked their choices, as well as a points system that gives electoral districts equal weight. As the Tuesday voting deadline arrived, the party had received 437,854 ballots, but about 3 per cent were rejected because of issues such as missing ID.
The Liberals have 158 of 337 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives 119, the Bloc Québécois 32 and the NDP 25. The Green Party of Canada has two and there is one Independent.
The Liberals and New Democrats have struck an agreement under which the NDP will support the Liberal minority government in Parliament in return for action on NDP priorities. The agreement is set to run until late 2025.
The House of Commons, which had been set to resume on Sept. 19, is sitting next Thursday to honour the Queen. The Government House Leader’s office has proposed that the resumption of regular House sitting days should be delayed by one day, to Sept. 20, in light of the Queen’s funeral a day earlier.
For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.