Manitoba Tories post wide margin of support for Poilievre
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Newly-elected Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre easily won every federal riding in Manitoba.
The Alberta-born Ontario MP finished with at least 59 per cent of party member mail-in ballots cast across the province in results announced Saturday. Social conservative leadership hopeful Leslyn Lewis placed second across the province — except for in two Winnipeg ridings. In Winnipeg South Centre and Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, moderate Jean Charest placed second.
One political watcher in Manitoba was surprised — not that the firebrand Poilievre won, but by the margin of victory.
“I was surprised that Charest did so poorly in Manitoba,” said University of Manitoba political studies Prof. Christopher Adams. “The Conservative party in Manitoba is a moderate party compared to the Conservatives in Alberta.”
He expected to see more support for a “red Tory” like Charest. The former Liberal premier of Quebec did do better than Lewis in the affluent Winnipeg ridings of Charleswood and Winnipeg South Centre, Adams noted.
Poilievre took 59 per cent of the votes in Winnipeg South Centre, where Charest placed second with 22 per cent and Lewis finished third with 12 per cent.
In the affluent west Winnipeg riding, which also includes the Rural Municipality of Headingley, Poilievre took 72 per cent of the votes, where Charest received 12 per cent and Lewis took 10 per cent.
Lewis’s second-place finish in every other Manitoba riding was no surprise, Adams said. She performed well in the last CPC leadership race with strong support from evangelical Christians and social conservatives, he noted.
Poilievre, who backed the so-called “freedom convoy,” opponents of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and crypto currency, while threatening to fire the Bank of Canada governor, claimed all but eight ridings across the country.
“I’m proud that in Manitoba he won as handily as he did,” Manitoba Tory Sen. Don Plett said Monday. Poilievre’s strong support in Manitoba reflects what’s happening across the country, said Plett, who’s been involved in conservative politics in the province for decades.
Poilievre is a “voice of hope” and “a breath of fresh air,” said Plett. His message about “freedom” and “people taking back their country” resonated following COVID-19 lockdowns and pandemic-driven issues, said the leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
“He spoke to something that people have been yearning to hear.”
Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley MP Marty Morantz said, with a majority of members supporting Poilievre, it is clear the party will move forward united under new leadership.
“The enthusiasm for Pierre’s candidacy in the riding was very strong,” said Morantz.
“The enthusiasm for Pierre’s candidacy in the riding was very strong.”–MP Marty Morantz
The Tory MP declined Monday to speculate on a possible role within Poilievre’s leadership team or shadow cabinet, but said he is an enthusiastic supporter of the Carleton MP and would be happy to help bring the party into government in any role.
He also challenged criticisms the new leader’s tendency to tap into right-wing populism and his embrace of the anti-lockdown and “freedom convoy” movements.
“I view his leadership as one of a message that resonates with Canadians across the entire political spectrum,” Morantz said, citing Poilievre’s emphasis on affordability, taxes and opportunity. “He’s not pigeon-holing the party into any one particular position.
“I know what the message is; I think the message is correct… If by populist, you mean ideas that are popular, that’s a good thing.”
Kildonan—St. Paul MP Raquel Dancho agreed the party will be fully united behind Poilievre, and lawmakers are eager to get to work to address affordability concerns.
“To have a leader who is really laser focused on addressing that is so important,” the Conservative public safety critic said.
Adams said party members likely picked Poilievre as the candidate most aligned with the former Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance movement.
His overwhelming support in Manitoba is another signal some conservatives are moving further to the right, he added.
“We’ve seen the People’s Party of Canada do well in some of our rural areas in the last federal election, and we’ve seen anti-vaccination protests… Shelly Glover’s very strong (provincial Tory party leadership) challenge to (Premier) Heather Stefanson was much stronger than many people expected.”
NDP MP Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona) said the new Conservative leader is skilled at tapping into people’s anger but has yet to see him offer policy solutions to problems facing Manitobans and Canadians. Conservative party members in Elmwood—Transcona overwhelmingly backed Poilievre with 73 per cent of the vote (highest in Winnipeg).
“When it comes to actually talking about the kinds of things that we can do to solve the problems, I think that’s where Pierre Poilievre is really wanting,” Blaikie said. “People need to be careful and interrogate him when he’s talking about what’s wrong with what’s going on. They also have to ask what he would do differently.”
“When it comes to actually talking about the kinds of things that we can do to solve the problems, I think that’s where Pierre Poilievre is really wanting.”–NDP MP Daniel Blaikie
Blaikie said he is concerned Parliament Hill may become further polarized when the House resumes with Poilievre at the helm of the Conservatives.
“He’s somebody who is obstructionist,” the MP said. “If Poilievre’s leadership is going to mean that Conservatives are less willing to work with people in other parties to find solutions to common problems, I don’t think Canadians are going to be better off.”
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.
Updated on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 12:04 PM CDT: Fixes cutline attribution
Updated on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 1:56 PM CDT: Corrects spelling of Shelly Glover