In his first policy convention as the leader of the Conservatives, Pierre Poilievre reaffirmed to Canadians that he remains unbound by the policy suggestions put forward by the party’s grassroots membership.
The convention, set to commence in Quebec City, brings together Conservatives to map out strategies for victory in the next federal elections and to deliberate on a plethora of policy ideas proposed by party members.
Several propositions, brought forward by diverse riding associations, align with Poilievre’s distinct priorities such as amplifying public safety, making housing more affordable and accelerating the recognition of credentials for skilled immigrants.
However, some proposals seem to extend beyond his publicized agenda, including a potentially divisive proposal to withdraw government funding from the Crown corporation overseeing not only the English-language CBC but also Radio-Canada, the French-language broadcaster. This corporation currently receives approximately $1.2 billion in annual parliamentary funding.
Noteworthy within the Conservative base, especially in Western Canada, the idea is approached with caution by fellow party members, predominantly from Quebec.
Poilievre has refrained from commenting on specific policy resolutions until the votes are cast; moreover, he emphasized that a party leader isn’t compelled to adopt or adhere to any resolutions, regardless of their passage.
Acknowledging the vast assortment of resolutions, Poilievre discouraged the premature offering of opinions as he deemed it to be an unnecessary expenditure of time. “Leaders are never bound by convention resolutions, but we do take them into consideration,” he stated.
Such considerations would potentially influence the pledges Poilievre will make to voters in the upcoming federal elections, due before October 2025.
As the Liberals govern with a minority, they must secure support from a minimum of twelve opposition MPs to retain power. The New Democrats currently provide this support, committing to back the Liberals in vital House of Common votes until 2025.
Poilievre has expressed intentions to “defund the CBC” if he becomes prime minister, with possible exceptions for Radio-Canada. He has previously advocated for a role for public broadcasting, particularly for providing programming for francophone minorities.
In relation, Pierre Paul-Hus, a Quebec MP serving on Poilievre’s leadership team, highlighted the vital services Radio-Canada provides to Quebec and to francophone minority communities in other provinces.
The Crown corporation has, however, warned that such a separation between the CBC and Radio-Canada is no straightforward task. Redefining the public broadcaster’s mandate to cater solely to French services could be met with controversy and a possible risk of serving only one language group with public funds.
Accusations have flown from the Bloc Quebecois towards Poilievre, blaming him of plotting an offensive against Quebec’s culture and language through his promises to defund the CBC.
Ahead of the Conservative convention, Poilievre has escalated his criticisms of the Bloc. He accuses them of being too closely aligned with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his climate policies, deemed burdensome for families already contending with rising living costs.
This maelstorm of criticism forms part of an extensive $3 million ad campaign launched by the Conservatives to introduce Poilievre and the party’s redux message to the Canadian populace.