Populist lawmaker announces run for Canadian Conservatives

Feb 5, 2022, 3:45 AM | Updated: 11:01 pm

TORONTO (AP) — A populist lawmaker declared his intention to head the Conservative party of Canada on Saturday just days after the party ousted its leader.

Pierre Poilievre tweeted a video in which he said “governments have gotten big and bossy” and wants to make “Canadians the freest people on Earth.´´

“Trudeau thinks he’s your boss. He’s got it backwards. You are the boss. That’s why I am running for prime minister,” he said in the video, referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Poilievre, a career politician, is the first to announce his intention to run and he is perhaps the leading candidate to become the next leader of the opposition Conservative party. Poilievre met with protesters who have been demonstrating against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa for the last week.

Ontario’s premier has called it an occupation and many Canadians are outraged after some protesters urinated and parked on the National War Memorial. One danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A number carried signs and flags with swastikas and compared vaccine mandates to fascism.

In the fall election, Trudeau bet Canadians didn’t want a Conservative government during a pandemic and voiced the concerns of Canadians who were upset with those who refuse to get vaccinated. Trudeau won.

Conservative lawmakers ousted Erin O’Toole in a vote on Wednesday. He is the third main political rival Trudeau has helped bring down.

O’Toole angered many within his party by trying to move the party more toward the center. His removal has big implications for the conservative movement in Canada. With him gone, the party could swing back further right and in a more populist direction.

O’Toole said Monday that lawmakers in his party had a choice between extremism or inclusion that better reflects the Canada of 2022.

“Poilievre has been angling for a leadership run for some time. His reputation as a bulldog in Parliament has helped him with many Conservatives but he has turned off many voters,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. “Back-slapping with the protesting truckers will be used by the Liberals to attack him because their protest is quite unpopular.”

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Populist lawmaker announces run for Canadian Conservatives