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Bitcoin takes a beating in the markets and the Conservative leadership debate


Candidates lined up to attack Pierre Poilievre for his advocacy for cryptocurrencies as the Ontario-area MP got his first taste of frontrunner attention in the first official debate in the Conservative Party leadership race Wednesday night.

Poilievre has touted the digital currencies as an emblem of freedom and said he wants Canada to be the “blockchain capital of the world.”“At a campaign stop in London, Ont. on Monday, Poilievre said Canadians need more financial freedom, which cryptocurrencies including bitcoin can offer. ‘Government is ruining the Canadian dollar, so Canadians should have the freedom to use other money, such as bitcoin,’ Poilievre said. ‘Canada needs less financial control for politicians and bankers and more financial freedom for the people.'”

“Everyone just finds it totally bizarre what Mr. Poilievre is suggesting,” said Jean Charest. “Bitcoin has lost 60 percent of its value since November of last year and 20 percent in the last month. Anyone following his advice that he saw on Youtube would have lost 20 percent of their earnings.”

Both Leslyn Lewis and Patrick Brown also mentioned the recent swoon in digital currency values as an indictment of Poilievre’s judgment.

“I disagree with Mr. Poilievre’s approach that you can opt-out of inflation with cryptocurrency,” said Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown. “Magic internet money fluctuates vastly.”

Poilievre said the other candidates were misleading voters about his position on the digital currencies.

“I clearly stated that people should have the freedom” to invest in cryptocurrency, said Poilievre.

“The reason people have chosen to exercise that freedom is because central banks have been attacking the value of our national currency by printing $400 billion here in Canada,” said Poilievre.

“I can’t believe you have a bunch of careers politicians up here giving people investment advice,” said Roman Baber, a former Ontario MLA, to laughs from the crowd.

Last night’s debate didn’t reach the same heights of fiery confrontation as the previous week’s event, which saw sparks fly between Poilievre and Charest on the trucker protests that swept across Canada earlier this year.Handshake snubs and a defence of the truckers in an ill-tempered CPC debate

In response to a question on the protests, Poilievre said he had supported peaceful protesters who were fighting for their liberties and disapproved of any criminal activity.

Brown skirmished with Poilievre on the issue and said he was opposed to any kind of illegal blockade, whether it was truckers or people protesting pipelines.

“Blockades have a massive cost on the country,” said Brown. “Full stop: no illegal blockades.”

The debate was a frenetic affair, with the candidates initially expected to reel off responses in 30 seconds while navigating a strict ban on mentioning other candidates or politicians in the first round. The moderator, former television journalist Tom Clark, frequently interrupted the candidates and lectured the crowd about cheering for a candidate’s response.

The debate also featured a lightning round that asked the candidates about their favourite books, musicians, TV shows, and their political heroes. The final question in that round asked candidates what the biggest threat to Canada is and allowed 15 seconds for responses.

The most notable development compared to last week’s debate at the Canada Strong and Free Network conferenceCanada’s conservatives gather in a moment of ideological turmoil was the appearance of Patrick Brown, who had declined to attend that event.

Brown wasted no time ripping into Poilievre in his opening statement. Although the candidates weren’t allowed to mention each other by name, Brown clearly referenced his rival as a divisive and polarizing candidate who “has walked into every trap” the Liberals have sprung for him.

In his opening statement, Poilievre stuck to the themes that have been drawing massive crowds throughout the campaign, including cost of living issues and inflation. Poilievre also promised to replace the governor of the Bank of Canada if he were to become prime minister, capping off a series of attacks on the Bank which were met with a furious response from a former governor.

In response to a Poilievre comment that the bank officials are “financially illiterate,” former Bank governor David Dodge fired back this week.

“That’s bullshit. I’m very insulted by that,” said Dodge during an interview on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. “They made a judgment call, which I think was 100 percent right.”

Later in the debate, Charest took aim at Poilievre’s pledge to replace Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem.

“It’s irresponsible. It creates doubt. If you’re an investor looking to come to Canada and you hear that kind of statement coming from a member of the House of Commons, you’d think you were in a third-world country,” said Charest.

In the first round of questions, with a maximum of 30 seconds for responses, the candidates also tackled a question on whether they would legislate on abortion.

Poilievre said a government under his leadership would not propose or pass any legislation restricting abortion in Canada. Leslyn Lewis decried the current state of the law in Canada, pointing out that an abortion at nine months would currently be legal, although she was cut off by the moderator before she could say if she would propose legislation on this.

In a follow-up question, Charest took the chance to attack Poilievre for not being clear about his personal opinion on the issue.

“Every candidate in this race needs to tell the women of Canada where they stand, whether they’re pro or against. Mr. Polievre’s answer does not meet that test,” said Charest.

On Indigenous issues, Clark asked all the candidates if they would implement all 94 recommendations of the truth and reconciliation commission and both Poilievre and Charest turned the issue toward the resource economy.

“They should be part of our resource economy. They should own equity. I would put together a Crown corporation that would allow them to own equity,” said Charest.

Handshake snubs and a defence of the truckers in an ill-tempered CPC debate


Conservative members planning to vote in the party’s upcoming leadership election got their first chance to see the candidates in action on Thursday night.

The first debate of the campaign was an ill-tempered affair that saw the two front-runners battle it out while other candidates called for unity.

In this week’s roundup of the Conservative leadership race, we’re starting with Thursday night’s debate and we’re taking a look at how U.S. politics is once again creeping across the border.

Poilievre v. Charest, round one

The tone was set in Thursday night’s Conservative leadership debate when Ontario-area MP Pierre Poilievre strode onto the stage and, instead of a warm handshake from rival Jean Charest, he got the cold shoulder.

All the other candidates happily shook each other’s hands.

Charest might have sensed what was coming, because it took about 15 minutes before Poilievre launched his first assault on Charest, criticizing the former Quebec premier for his government’s fiscal record. Later in the debate, Poilievre raised questions about Charest’s recent employment by Chinese telecommunications Huawei.

“Mr. Charest needs to come clean with how much money he got from Huawei. We need to know the truth here. The Liberals are going to ask that. He’s never told us how much he got paid,” said Poilievre.

“This is a company whose software and hardware has been banned from the 5G networks of four of the Five Eye countries because of allegations, and many cases proven, that they have used it for espionage,” he said.

In his defence, Charest said that Huawei was welcomed into Canada by Stephen Harper’s government and that he was working from within the company to bring Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig home from China.

The debate took place at Ottawa’s Shaw Conference Centre to mark the beginning of the Canada Strong and Free Network’s conference that brings Canadian conservatives together to network and attend workshops and speeches. The conference runs until Saturday.

Ontario MLA Roman Baber and Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison and Leslyn Lewis were the other participants, while Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown chose not to attend.

Baber frequently pointed to his record criticizing COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates, which got him kicked out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party caucus, and said he would bring political courage to the federal party. Aitchison made several pleas for unity and complained that the tenor of the debate was hurting the party’s image, while Lewis touted her pro-life credentials.

The candidates agreed on a few things, such as their collective rejection of a consumer carbon tax and the shoddiness of the mainstream media, but the main event was the hour-long skirmish between Charest and Poilievre.

At one point Lewis knocked Poilievre off track by accusing him of not sufficiently supporting the “freedom convoy” that closed downtown Ottawa for several weeks and blocked two border crossings in the country. When Charest interjected to accuse the trucker protesters of criminal activity he was met with loud boos from the audience.

When the debate drew to a close, once again all the candidates shook hands while Charest and Poilievre conspicuously avoided each other. The next debate takes place on May 11 in Edmonton.

Roe v. Wade causes ripples in Canada

A draft decision overturning a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion leaked to the press this week and has predictably caused some ripples in Canadian politics.

In the Conservative leadership race, some politicians pro-actively released statements while others ducked for cover on the controversial issue.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown issued a statement about the importance of “protecting women’s rights” and urged others to join him.

“Abortion in Canada should be safe, legal, and, in my personal opinion, rare. That’s why my government will support women and families with policies that encourage other options, such as adoption and increased parental supports,” Brown said. “This is why it’s important for us to be clear where we stand. A Conservative Party led by me will not change Canada’s abortion laws. Period.”

On Tuesday, Jean Charest tweeted that he is pro-choice and that a government with him at the helm “will not support legislation restricting reproductive rights.” Charest said that he would allow MPs to bring forward private member’s bills on “matters of conscience,” but that he would not vote to support them.

Roman Baber also pledged to allow MPs to bring forward legislation on the issue.

Although Leslyn Lewis refused to comment on the draft before it was officially unveiled by the court, she has released a number of anti-abortion policies, including a ban on sex-selective abortion.

Lewis, Scott Aitchison, and Pierre Poilievre are all sitting MPs and have been urged not to comment on the decision by interim leader Candice Bergen.