Conservative leadership candidates squabble over COVID-19 pandemic, truck drivers caravan

Conservative leadership candidates squabble over COVID-19 pandemic, truck drivers caravan

Ottawa –

Conservative leadership candidates competed with each other over COVID-19 mandates and a truck driver convoy in downtown Ottawa in the first informal debate of the race Thursday.

Representative Leslyn Lewis, the MP who finished third in the 2020 driving race, has challenged Ottawa MP Pierre Poiliver over his record of defending Canadians’ freedoms throughout the pandemic. Many governors have opposed health measures such as vaccine and mask mandates due to concerns that they violate personal choice.

While Poilievre—who campaigned on a promise to grant more freedoms to Canadians and was drawing crowds of thousands at rallies across the country—tried to argue that he was one of the loudest, Lewis charged that he wasn’t.

“You didn’t speak until it was convenient for you to speak,” she said. “You didn’t even go to the truck driver’s protest.”

“I actually went and took a picture in your neighborhood at a local station.”

Lewis, who promises to ban so-called sex-selective abortions, also challenged Poelivry for his stance on conservative social issues. She accused him of avoiding media questions about abortion in recent days after a draft US Supreme Court ruling was leaked to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“As a leader, he has to announce it,” she said. “He cannot be finance minister only if he wants to become prime minister. He will have to deal with social conservative issues, which he has been running from this entire campaign.”

Polifri said earlier this week that the government he leads will not enact or pass laws restricting abortion.

Former Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest, who touts himself as a seasoned national leader who believes in the unity of Canada, has earned the boos of hundreds of conservative believers assembled in a downtown Ottawa conference room by saying that Boilivre supports the illegal blockade.

Charest learned about the trucker’s convoy on CBC like other liberals, and he misrepresented them,” Poilievre responded by saying, adding that he persisted in the culture of cancellation for saying in previous interviews that Poilievre’s support for the protest meant he should be disqualified.

Poilievre attacked Charest for his track record in Quebec and criticized him for being a liberal because he led the Quebec Liberal Party. He has also repeatedly pressed Charest about how much money he makes working for telecom giant Huawei.

“We need to find out the truth here,” Poelivri said.

“The liberals would demand it. He never told us how much he got. This is a company whose software and hardware has been blocked from 5G networks in four of the Five Eye countries due to allegations, in many cases proven, that they used it for spying.”

Speaking to reporters afterward, Charest dismissed any suggestion that his previous work with Huawei was a possibility for him in the race.

“All we do is yell and yell at each other,” said Ontario MP Scott Aitchison, as Conservative, and said that’s a problem if the party wants to be competitive with more Canadians in the upcoming elections. However, there were heated exchanges during the entire discussion.

“We’re here calling on each other,” Aitchison said. “What Canadian would be so confident? We have to do better.”

He also added, “Every time I hear a conservative talk about some conspiracy theory, there’s another batch of GTA swing voters who won’t come our way.”

This comment sparked opposition from Lewis and Roman Papier, an independent MPP from Ontario who was expelled from Doug Ford’s conservative Progressive Party in 2021 due to opposition to the COVID-19 lockdown that was in place at the time.

Baber says many Canadians are still unable to board a plane in the country due to the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Canadians are witnessing a constant erosion of our democracy and we should heed this talk rather than mocking them as the prime minister does,” Buber said.

After the discussion, Baber told reporters he was concerned about the contentious tone.

While the contestants sparred for leadership on stage, most of them seemed collective once the questions ended. However, Poilievre and Charest seriously avoided shaking hands with each other on stage.

The debate, hosted by the Powerful and Free Canada Network, began by asking five of the six candidates attending the event why they thought the Conservative Party had lost the last few elections.

During Thursday’s debate, Aitchison blamed the party’s recent election losses on an inconsistent message.

Baber targeted former party leader Erin O’Toole’s policy changes between his leadership campaign and the general election later that same year.

“We lost the last election because many Canadians weren’t sure where we stand,” he said. “We shouldn’t run to the right while driving and run to the left while the general.”

Charest noted a shortage of seats in Quebec, the Greater Toronto Area, as well as mainland British Columbia.

The former prime minister says one of the problems the party has in trying to hack the GTA is the backlash to the 2015 Conservative campaign, when the Conservative Party pledged to create an information line for so-called barbaric cultural practices.

“The message you sent to new Canadians is that you are not welcome in the Conservative Party of Canada,” Charest said.

Poilifri told the Chamber that he has never lost an election, has a large following on social media, and also attracts many new party members through rallies he organizes.

Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, Ont., did not participate. His campaign said he was focused on selling memberships to his supporters before the June 3 deadline required to vote in the Conservative leadership race.

Coordinator Jamil Jivani, the incoming head of the Strong and Free Canada Network, targeted Brown’s campaign tactics in his absence.

“Some Canadians are concerned that Mayor Brown is sowing division in our country. He has been criticized for manipulating diaspora politics to bolster his campaign,” Givani said before inviting candidates on stage to compare their approach with Canadians of diverse backgrounds.

“The bottom line is Patrick Brown is saying one thing in one room and the exact opposite in another. And that’s what he’s done throughout this campaign,” Poliver said in response, noting a fluctuation in Brown’s support for a carbon tax as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario.

A Brown campaign official told the Canadian Press that his efforts to get new Canadians into the party should be celebrated and not ridiculed.

Brown will be on stage next week when all six candidates take part in the first official debate in Edmonton.

The party is scheduled to choose a new leader on the tenth of September.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on May 5, 2022.

2022-05-06 01:04:24

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