CANADA POLITICS While Poilivre taunts, his rivals in the Conservative leadership...

While Poilivre taunts, his rivals in the Conservative leadership give a few pep talks


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Given one last opportunity to publicly address all members of the Conservative Party, Jean Charet wanted to make it clear that he was at least physically present.

“You must come. You have to actually show up,” he said as he sat at a small table with two of his fellow candidates at the Conservative leader’s third official debate Wednesday in Ottawa. “You have to talk to the members. You can’t treat them with contempt.”

He later added that “leadership is all about showing up … under any circumstance.”

Charest did not use the name Pierre Poilliev, but there was no need to because Poilliev (along with Leslyn Lewis) was clearly not around.

Without a presumed leader – and all available metrics suggest that Poilivre could have an overwhelming advantage – there wouldn’t be much debate. So Wednesday night’s event seemed to be mostly a chance for the other candidates to say a few pep talks before the party apparatus was likely handed over to Poilievre.

Whatever Charest’s protests, Poilliev’s absence seems to be a logical extension of his anti-establishment policies. Poilivre is hardly the first candidate who doesn’t want to put himself at unnecessary risk in a confrontational debate.

But he didn’t just miss the debate – his campaign criticized the party even for trying to hold a third official debate and publicly criticized party organizers for the way one of the previous debates was staged.

Then, last night, Poilivre showed up at his own event at the Regina and mocked the candidates who took part in the debate.

Pierre Poilivre, the presumptive leader in the Conservative leadership race, did not attend the third leadership debate in Ottawa on Wednesday. In fact, he made fun of it on Regina’s part. (Ryan Remiors/Canadian Press)

Many conservatives have no doubt enjoyed watching Poillèvre hurl rhetorical bombs in other directions over the past few months (and years), but Poillèvre comes from an internal logic that you are either with or against him and others conservatives clearly shouldn’t do that. suppose they are immune to being placed in the last group.

Anxiety about anger and separation

Scott Aitchison, the conservative quarterback who has positioned himself as a level-headed and reasonable candidate in the race for the lead, made another fuss about the party’s tone and direction on Wednesday night.

“Our response to Justin Trudeau’s divisive policies cannot be more divisive. We must lead with respect,” he said. “We must offer real solutions to the problems that Canadians face every day and create a government that really delivers results. We can’t be the party that just opposes the government – we have to be the party that offers the best government that really respects tax dollars and delivers results.”

Aitchison later said, “This leadership campaign has been divisive and in some cases embarrassing.”

Whether it was addressed to anyone in particular, Aitchison did not say. But as a result of this, the conservatives simply had to “get together.”

“Whoever the leader of 9/11 is, each of us needs to come together,” Aitchison said.

Should the Conservatives continue to unite if the party does not live up to the ideals proclaimed by Aitchison? Perhaps that is a question for another day.

When it was his turn to make a closing statement, Charest displayed the energy that had made him an influential voice in Canadian politics for more than 30 years, and stumbled upon what could be the centerpiece of an argument against Poilivere’s candidacy.

“A lot of Canadians… are tired, they are frustrated, some of them are angry. But anger is not a political agenda,” Charest said. “The challenge for the real leaders that are emerging is to take that and turn it into something positive for the future of the country.”

A similar flicker was from Charest in widely lamented leadership debate in May.

Nothing is over until all the votes have been counted. But if Charest had run a stronger and smarter campaign up to this point, he might have been in a better position to achieve such a closing argument. It is unlikely that simply attending the third debate will be enough to turn the tide.

As it stands now, Charest will likely have to be content to say “I told you so” if the leadership of the Poillivre Conservative Party ends badly.

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