Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre called for a freeze on tax hikes affecting workers and seniors in his first speech to the party’s national caucus after winning the leadership.
Mr. Poilievre made the pitch Monday as members of the caucus, a mix of MPs and senators, met in Ottawa, touching on familiar themes of affordability in the months-long campaign that ended in his landslide victory over the weekend.
“I am issuing a challenge to Justin Trudeau today. If you really understand the suffering of Canadians, Mr. Prime Minister. If you understand that people can’t gas their cars, feed their families or afford homes for themselves; if you really care, commit today that there will be no new tax increases on workers and on seniors. None,” he told caucus members.
The Ottawa-area MP said the Conservatives will work with any party on advancing the interests of Canadians, but said the Official Opposition would not support any new tax increases.
“And we will fight tooth and nail to stop the coalition from introducing any,” he said, referring to the NDP and Liberals.
The Ottawa-area MP recounted the challenges covering their living costs that Canadians told him about during his campaign.
“Canadians are hurting and it is our job to transform that hurt into hope, and that is my mission,” he said.
Mr. Poilievre, 43, a seven-term Ottawa-area MP and former cabinet minister under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, won the Conservative leadership race that began in February when the Conservative caucus voted out Erin O’Toole.
Mr. Poilievre beat four other candidates: fellow Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis, former Quebec premier Jean Charest, and Roman Baber, a former Progressive Conservative member of the Ontario legislature.
He is the first party leader since Mr. Harper to win the leadership by a decisive margin on the first ballot, with 68-per-cent support. The closest of his four rivals was former Quebec premier Jean Charest, at 16 per cent.
On Monday, ahead of the national caucus meeting, he met with members of the party’s Quebec caucus. To the larger group, he appealed for party unity.
“No matter the candidates you have supported throughout the leadership race; no matter if you stayed neutral. I am grateful for your contributions. We are all together. We are part of the great Conservative family.”
Alberta Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner said the leadership race had ended in a manner that will be helpful to the Conservatives.
“Our war of succession is over,” she told reporters as she headed into the caucus meeting, declaring that Mr. Poilievre has won a “crushing mandate” that would provide helpful stability for caucus.