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Posted: September 18, 2022

Is there a dream federal election contest looming?

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Well, Canadian conservatives have finally got their dream candidate for prime minister. The only question now is will Pierre Poilievre be a dream candidate for the rest of Canadian voters or a nightmare?

Going by Poilievre’s performance last weekend in the Conservative Party leadership race his blowout victory augers well for Canada’s now only pure right-wing party. But is Canada ready for a “pure” right-wing government? Time will tell. And time may well be on Justin Trudeau’s side because he has up to three years to call an election and as prime minister he gets to choose when that election takes place, surely a big advantage.

But it would be a fatal mistake for the Great Apologizer to underestimate the King of Wildrose Country even if he does represent an Ontario riding. Alberta conservatives are gaga about Poilievre and it appears conservatives right across the country feel the same if his leadership landslide victory is any indication. But do a majority of Canadians feel the same? Not likely, especially such a hard-line conservatism.

It’s easy to look good when you’re performing in front of your hometown fans. And Poilievre did look good giving a bravo performance to his adoring fans, who loved his message of tax cuts, reducing big government, fighting Ottawa elites, doing away with health mandates – and most of all – freedom.

Freedom, freedom! It’s a siren song Poilievre is singing and it no doubt will appeal to a lot of Canadians. But there are a few discordant notes in the music too, and Poilievre sooner or later is going to have to deal with them.

Cutting taxes, for instance, is a throw-away line that almost every politician says when they’re trying to get elected. But in Poilievre’s case he says he’s also going to cut the carbon tax too. Extreme conservatives may be on-side with him nuking the carbon tax but I doubt if the general public is.

And what does it say about Poilievre’s political cred on climate change? He obviously has none. Does he really think the heat and storms we’ve been experiencing world-wide the past few years are going to go away if we don’t do something to combat them? Perhaps would-be PM Poilievre should visit some forest fire-fighting lines this year. He might learn something. e might learn something.

And then there’s inflation, another world-wide phenomenon. Will firing the Bank of Canada president bring a halt to that? Not many Canadians, including some conservatives, believe that.

And Poilievre may not have noticed that COVID-19 is still around killing Canadians and others around the world and spawning new variants almost every week. Getting rid of public health mandates isn’t going to help that

And then there’s Poilievre’s freedom schtick. Joining the Convoy Conservatives and marching with them as they disrupted Ottawa and other parts of the country was an out-and-out dumb move no matter how you cut it. After 18 years of being an elected MP, you’d think the MP from Carleton would know better than that. But apparently he doesn’t. And then there’s Poilievre’s favourable rumination about Bitcoin. Need I say more?

But it also can’t be denied that Poilievre is a genuinely smart guy. Articulate, eloquent and incredibly energetic. He’s the energizer bunny of Canadian politics and clearly a formidable foe for a fast-fading Justin Trudeau, who despite his fall from grace, is gearing up to fight freedom-loving Poilievre in the next election because in his heart of hearts he thinks he can beat him and he knows the NDP will always support him.

This should make for some interesting politics the next three years.

And quite possibly an exciting and electrifying federal election cliff hanger for a change, something I think all Canadian voters would appreciate regardless of their partisanship. Trudeau vs Poilievre. A match made in heaven!

– Gerry Warner is a long-time retired journalist, who’s seen too many federal elections to count.

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