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Polling shows Poilievre has the edge in early stages of Conservative leadership campaign

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The number of participants in the Conservative leadership race grew to double digits this week as the first deadline for candidates to submit a hefty security deposit looms less than a month away.

Although the field is growing crowded, new polling this week shows a clear division between the handful of candidates who will likely be commanding first-ballot votes and the rest of the field.

In our first weekly roundup of the battle to lead Canada’s Conservative Party, we’ll sort through the polling, look at some high-profile endorsements and get a sense of the landscape of the race.

Polling battles

A new Angus Reid Institute pollPoilievre rallies Conservative, PPC base, Charest has more room to grow across the centre. https://angusreid.org/cpc-leadership-charest-poilievre/ helped illuminate the race this week, with Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre continuing to enjoy the support of current Conservatives and Charest showing some cross-party appeal.

Poilievre is the most appealing candidate to the general public, with 25 percent support compared to Charest’s 20 percent support. Poilievre is also the most appealing candidate to past Conservative voters, with 54 percent support compared to Charest’s 15 percent support.

Poilievre’s team took the media coverage of the poll as proof that the Canadian media has lazily fixed a false narrative to the race. Most stories paint Poilievre as the “spiritual leader” of the conservative movement and Jean Charest as the candidate who can attract swing voters.

It’s true that the media likes a simple and tidy narrative, but it also shows the sheer number of potential headlines that can come out of a single poll. Here’s a sampling:

CTV: Poilievre most liked among CPC, PPC voters, Charest drawing support from centre: survey

CBC: Charest has the edge in Ontario over Conservative leadership rival Poilievre, poll suggests

Western Standard: Poll shows CPC leadership race lies between Poilievre and Charest

It’s clear from the poll that Charest’s path to victory lies in signing up new members who describe themselves as “moderate.” Among past Liberal voters, Charest is dominant with 32 percent support compared to Poilievre’s four percent support. CBC also managed to find good newsCharest has the edge in Ontario over Conservative leadership rival Poilievre, poll suggests. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/angus-reid-poll-conservative-leadership-race-1.6392674 in the polling data for Charest in Ontario, where 46 percent of respondents would consider voting for him, compared to 41 percent for Poilievre.

The Angus Reid Institute poll suggests an uphill climb for Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who are polling at 15 percent and six percent respectively. The poll was conducted between March 10 and 15, which likely gave an advantage to early entrants into the race.

It’s endorsement season

Brown’s campaign likely won’t be too concerned about the Angus Reid Institute poll that went into the field before he’d officially announced his candidacy and they’ll be pointing to a high-profile new supporter as evidence of the candidate’s momentum.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner announced her position as Brown’s national campaign co-chair on Saturday, describing him as “someone who can win a general election.”

Poilievre spent a portion of the week campaigning in Quebec, attracting the endorsement of Yves Lévesque, the former mayor of Trois-Rivières. It’s not the most high-profile endorsement, but it was accompanied by a Trois-Rivières event that drew 200 supporters and raised some eyebrows. Lévesque will serve as Poilievre’s campaign co-chair in Quebec, along with Senator Claude Carignan.

In his column for CTV News, former NDP leader Tom Mulcair speculated that Charest will be hoping for the endorsement of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, although he writes that the relationship has “not always been an easy one.” Mulcair identified the other big endorsements yet to happen as former prime minister Stephen Harper and former cabinet minister and leadership candidate Peter MacKay.Mulcair also wrote that the race “is shaping up to be a lot more fun than the previous races that produced Scheer and O’Toole as cannon fodder for Trudeau’s Liberals.” https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/tom-mulcair-why-pierre-poilievre-has-a-double-advantage-1.5832687

How the race stands

A few more candidates joined the race this week, so it’s worth taking a step back and surveying the landscape.

We have front-runners in Poilievre, Charest, Lewis, and Brown. The remaining candidates are rural Ontario MP Scott Aitchison, B.C. MP Marc Dalton, Ontario MPP Roman Baber, former Conservative candidate Bobby Singh, and a Saskatchewan businessman named Joseph Bourgault.

And the race may be up to ten candidates. Global News spotted on Thursday that former Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MP Leona Alleslev has launched a website touting her candidacy for leader, although she hasn’t officially joined the race.

It’s likely that some of these candidates will fall out of the race, as the party imposes strict requirements for participation. Each candidate has to provide a $50,000 deposit by April 19 to continue in the race and, by April 29, they have to provide 500 signatures from party members The signatures must span at least 30 Electoral Districts in 7 provinces. and pay the remaining $150,000 registration and a $100,000 security deposit. Eight candidates failed to qualify at some point in the 2020 Conservative leadership race that saw Erin O’Toole become leader of the party.

Former Liberal leader says trucker protests are sign that hard-working Canadians feel alienated

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The trucker protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates that gridlocked Ottawa and closed key Canada-U.S. border crossings is a sign of the complete breakdown of our political conversation,“As the trucker protest continues in downtown Ottawa, nearly half of Canadians say they agree with the frustration of the protesters but disagree with their behaviour, according to an opinion poll conducted over the weekend for The Hub. Fifteen percent of Canadians strongly agree and 33 percent somewhat agree that they don’t like the protesters’ behaviour but understand their grievances, according to the survey designed by Public Square Research and Maru/Blue. Canadians are also getting frustrated with the public discourse on the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixty-five percent of Canadians agree that ‘it’s been hard to have a conversation about COVID-19 without people getting mad.'” https://thehub.ca/2022-02-08/half-of-canadians-think-the-trucker-protest-is-behaving-badly-but-understand-their-frustration-poll/ said former Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff.

“Why the hell did we get to a situation in which hard working men and women in Canada felt so alienated that they had to shut down the capital of our country for three weeks? How do we get here?” said Ignatieff, speaking to The Hub‘s editor-at-large Sean Speer on an upcoming episode of the Hub Dialogues podcast.

“It doesn’t excuse what they did, I felt that police action had to be taken to clear the thing but, boy, it’s an indictment of the failure of liberal democracy,” said Ignatieff.

Ignatieff is an internationally renowned intellectual who was leader of the Liberal Party from 2008 to 2011,“Ignatieff tried to orient the party in a more fiscally conservative direction while preserving social programs that had been the hallmark of the Liberal tenure in the majority. As Canada was largely spared the hardships of the global financial crisis, however, Conservatives retained the momentum on economic issues. In March 2011 a parliamentary committee found the Conservatives in contempt for failing to release budgetary information, and Ignatieff sponsored a no-confidence vote that brought down the Harper government.” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michael-Ignatieff before resigning and sparking the leadership race that put Justin Trudeau at the helm of the party. Until last year, he was president and rector of the Central European University in Budapest.

Ignatieff argued that Canadians are sometimes too conflict-averse to hash out the usual tensions and endure the difficult conversations required in a liberal society, allowing grievances to fester.

“We are very, very highly segmented by race and ethnicity, and by region, and liberalism welcomes pluralism. But it’s not clear that we are communicating to each other very well,” said Ignatieff. “The Canadian problem is that we’ve decided the solution to this problem is to be very, very nice and avoid saying anything that stirs anybody up.”

Whether it’s First Nations blockades about pipeline infrastructure“The 2020 Canadian pipeline and railway protests were a series of civil disobedience protests held in Canada. The main issue behind the protests was the construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline (CGL) through 190 kilometres (120 mi) of Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation territory in British Columbia (BC), land that is unceded. Other concerns of the protesters were indigenous land rights, the actions of police, land conservation, and the environmental impact of energy projects.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Canadian_pipeline_and_railway_protests or the trucker protests, Ignatieff argued that these protests demand a response from governments and Canadians whether they like it or not.

“A lot of people don’t like that about liberal democracy, they want a quiet life, they wonder ‘why can’t we all get on?’ Well, the core of a democratic society is contention, argument, debate. And our job is just to keep it from being violent,” said Ignatieff.

Ignatieff also argued that a liberal society should insist on treating people as individuals, rather than relegating them to identity groups.

“A liberal thinks the world is made up not of races, genders, classes, it’s made up of individuals, and human beings matter. They matter one by one,” said Ignatieff. “A liberal puts freedom first, puts freedom ahead of equality, puts freedom ahead of solidarity.”

This differentiates liberals from socialists and social democrats, he argued, and it also differentiates liberal from conservatives because “freedom means changes,” which puts less emphasis on tradition and the past.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine reaching nearly a month of bloody fighting, Ignatieff said it should refocus our thinking on how valuable liberal democratic freedoms and institutions are to the West. The world’s liberal democracies are now facing “world historical competition” from countries like China and Russia, which should remind people how fragile the current order is, argued Ignatieff.

“If you’ve need a little refresher on how non-boring liberal democracy is just listen to Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” said Ignatieff. “We better know what the hell we believe and what the hell we’re prepared to defend.”

His new book On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times contains a series of essays about how great figures in history searched for solace while facing tragedies. Arguing that “the language of consolation has largely vanished from our modern vocabulary” in a secular world, the book tries to help people console themselves and each other in an increasingly less religious age.

“The worst and the hardest thing about suffering and loss and grief is that you feel you’re going through it alone. And I’ve written this book, just to show people that there are so many resources, partly religious, partly secular, that you can turn to when you go through these experiences,” said Ignatieff.