The problem ? Canada is broken.
The guilty ? “Justin.” »
The solution ? Common sense.
Pierre Poilievre repeated this diagnosis on Tuesday at the port of Montreal to express concern about car thefts, which have jumped 50% in Quebec since 2022. Barely five agents inspect the containers, and they only have one X-ray scanner. The Conservative leader would like to make these agents more numerous and better equipped.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, a trio of ministers, as is often the case, led a less shaky press conference. They attempted a memorable success – if the Canada Border Services Agency lacks resources, it is in particular because of cuts from Stephen Harper. Other measures could be announced following the summit on vehicle theft this Thursday.
In this issue as in others, the Liberal government has found a response to common conservative sense. “Complex problems require complex solutions,” said Treasury Board President Anita Anand.
Voters are more likely to retain this implicit message: things will not change quickly. And the more they are dissatisfied with the current state of things, the more this slowness will encourage them to look elsewhere.
The Liberals therefore hasten to add that Mr. Poilievre would not have a detailed plan. No wonder: he is in opposition. Sooner or later the next election campaign will come and he will unveil a platform.
In 2015, the Liberals were banking on optimism. Now in their third term, this card is worn out. That of realism doesn’t look like it’s going to be a big seller either. They also risk falling back on another proven strategy: fear.
This is precisely what Mr. Poilievre’s slogan is for. He avoids as much as possible topics that divide the conservative family and put off moderate voters. “Common sense” is a synonym for pragmatism. His message: I am not an ideologue.
Stephen Harper used the same strategy in 2006, with five down-to-earth priorities, to take power despite negative Liberal advertisements.
Mr. Poilievre also saw how abortion derailed Andrew Scheer’s campaign in 2019. He wants to stick to economic issues like the housing crisis. And he seeks to transform vehicle theft into a political issue, when it is more a matter of police operations.
It is in this context that a very useful enemy for the Liberals arrives in Ottawa: Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta. On Monday, she inaugurated an office to defend the interests of her province in the federal capital.
The liberal strategy looks like this: record what Mme Smith says, make a little video edit and add Mr. Poilievre’s face…
Mme Smith wants to limit access to transition medical interventions for minors and allow parents to refuse to allow their child to change pronouns or take a sex education class. The details of the bill are not yet known, but the Liberals jumped at the opportunity to make it a symbolic fight and involve Pierre Poilievre.
In recent months, Mr. Poilievre kept his distance. It’s up to the provinces to manage health and education, he said. He finally affirmed on Wednesday that he was opposed to hormonal blockers for minors.
For other issues, Mme Smith gives liberals better ammunition.
Two weeks ago, she was a guest at the conference of American polemicist Tucker Carlson in Calgary. The former Fox News host said that Canadian immigration policy was “a destruction of you, your culture, your beliefs and your children and your future.” The Prime Minister then took the stage for an interview in friendly territory. She suggested to Mr. Carlson to put Steven Guilbeault, “zealot” Minister of the Environment, “in his crosshairs” (“ in your crosshairs »).
Mme Smith didn’t make this request to just anyone. Mr. Carlson has previously suggested that the United States should invade Canada and was an enthusiastic propagator of the anti-Donald Trump election fraud lie, which led to the attack on the Capitol.
After his event with Mme Smith, he flew to interview Vladimir Putin. Mr. Carlson supported the invasion of Ukraine and called Volodymyr Zelensky a “rat.”
Without going that far, Republicans are increasingly dissociating themselves from Ukraine, and this trend has crossed the border. According to a new Angus Reid poll, 10% of Liberals and 12% of New Democrats now think Canada is doing too much for Ukraine. Among the conservatives, 43% believe it1.
Mr. Poilievre wants to please them. He is waging an astonishing crusade against the Canada-Ukraine free trade treaty, under the pretext that it would price carbon – in fact, the Ukrainian people had already freely chosen to do so.
Historically, however, the Blues have been Russia’s fiercest adversaries. But that’s the nature of ideology: we arrange the facts to arrive at the desired conclusion.
This anti-ecological obsession and this flirtation with the Canadian emulators of this new right do not go unnoticed by the liberals.
They also note that Mr. Poilievre let his MP Leslyn Lewis sponsor a petition calling for nothing less than the abolition of the UN, an idea popular among Tucker Carlson supporters. When they lack inspiration, they will turn to these errors. This will sell more for them than repeating that the real solutions are “complicated”.
1. Check out the Angus Reid poll