Strong debate between Poilievre and Charest

The aspiring Conservative leaders eagerly awaited this first debate and did not hold back the blows of their opponents. Pierre Poilievre was the target of all his rivals, but Jean Charest was not left out, with particularly scathing attacks from the race leader.

Five of the six candidates for Conservative Party leadership had gathered for Thursday night’s debate hosted by the Canada Strong and Free Network (formerly the Manning Centre). For Jean Charest, it was an opportunity to make himself known to the conservatives, who for many do not remember his past as a progressive conservative, spanning from 1984 to 1998.

The former Quebec prime minister resumed his sales pitch: recalling his experience, promising to reunite Canada and the party, and warning conservatives about Pierre Poilievre’s “American” policies. However, each time he repeated these messages, the crowd seemed unresponsive. The applause was timid. His rivals’ tirades about freedom, against the media and against the Trudeau government sparked more enthusiasm.

The rift between Jean Charest and the members gathered at the annual high mass of the Conservatives was confirmed when, in order to attack his main opponent, Pierre Poilievre, he accused him of supporting “an illegal roadblock”, referring to the convoy of truck drivers. He was immediately booed. “You can’t both pass and break laws,” he tried to continue.

Jean Charest has already expressed this criticism in the past. Pierre Poilievre had used it just a few minutes earlier to send him a volley of attacks. “You talk about law and order, it’s a bit strong [étant donné] that your liberal party [du Québec] took half a million dollars in illegal donations when you were in charge. The average truck driver has more integrity in his little finger than you have in your entire scandal-ridden Liberal cabinet,” he said. Mr Charest’s work for the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei was discussed. Just like his ‘liberal’ past, which Mr Poilievre denounced all evening. Accusing him of raising taxes, introducing a “carbon tax” through the carbon market, and creating a Quebec registry of long guns. “It wasn’t the name of your party that was liberal, it was your record,” Poilievre sent.

At war against the law 21

In defending his vision of the future of the Conservative Party, Jean Charest criticized certain parts of his past. Which was also not well received. “If you would take a moment to stop attacking the Harper administration – the party we should all be a part of – you might recognize all the good this man has done for this country,” said Pierre. . once again warmly applauded.

In an effort to finally score points against him, Mr. Charest criticized him for not being ready to challenge Bill 21 on Quebec’s secularism in the Supreme Court, a case in which he promised before hand that he would intervene. “This idea of ​​freedom, is it real or is it a slogan? waved Mr. Charest. The attack raised eyebrows among conservative observers on the ground as nearly the entire Quebec caucus supports Mr Charest but demands that the party not interfere with this Quebec law.

The leader attacked from all sides

Mr Poilievre came into the debate as a good leader. From the eleventh minute, Jean Charest put him on the defensive by pulling out the telephone line to denounce the barbaric cultural practices promised by the conservatives in 2015. “The candidates who were part of this campaign [électorale] and whoever does not oppose this idea must answer for it,” Mr Charest launched to Mr Poilievre, who on the podium was the only member of Stephen Harper’s government (Patrick Brown did not present Thursday evening).

Leslyn Lewis threw himself into the fray and only later accused Mr Poilievre of supporting truck convoys. “You haven’t even been to the demonstration. You went to your neighborhood and had your picture taken with them at a stop along the road,” she joked. Which Mr Poilièvre denied.

mme Lewis, who is against abortion and can count on the votes of conservatives on the social fringe of the party, further criticized Mr Poilievre for failing to comment on the US Supreme Court’s draft decision on the shutdown. Roe v. waden† “Mr Poilievre has shunned the media in recent days because he doesn’t want to say that he is pro-life or pro-choice,” she said. Poilievre’s team finally said Tuesday that he would not enact or pass a law tightening abortion rights.

The party’s social fringe brings together thousands of conservatives, who continue to influence the outcome of leadership races. Mr. Charest himself contacted them. “They are part of our family and always will be,” he told them.

The aspiring chefs will face each other again next Wednesday in Edmonton and then in Laval on May 25. Patrick Brown should then be in the game as attendance at these two official debates hosted by the party is mandatory.

To be seen in video

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