Throughout the summer, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre fervently addressed the issue of housing affordability at gatherings in Quebec City. Party enthusiasts lauded his commitment to this pivotal issue. Yet, curiously, no proposal tackling this concern reached the ultimate plenary vote.
The flawed proposition desired to rewrite the party’s existing policies surrounding housing and homelessness. It proposed that banks consider renting history when evaluating mortgage applications. Nevertheless, this solution never stole the limelight on the main stage.
The topic of housing, however, wasn’t the only hinted policy in alignment with Poilievre’s recent crusades, such as bail reform, international-credential recognition, and CBC defunding, which party members introduced at the convention.
By weekend’s end, delegates decided that these weren’t urgent matters, leaving them unsung on the main stage after private meetings. Policies that triumphed final vote and approval encompassed ideologies such as the right to deny vaccines based on beliefs, tax reductions on maternity necessities, and a realignment of environmental principles.
However, two contentious proposals sparked earnest political debate before and during the convention, posing a stern examination of the party’s concord under Poilievre’s stewardship. Resolutions involved a Conservative government potentially restricting medical therapy for transgender youth, and objecting to transgender women’s inclusion within female spaces.
These disputable topics were met with applause and agreement, symbolising a schism within the party despite surface unity. However, not all party members agreed. One delegate from Montreal urged a ‘no’ vote, warning that any ambiguity could hinder Poilievre’s rise, while sparking infighting within the party.
In particular, the debate about gender-affirming care saw conservatives split on the appropriateness of discussing the issue, contrasting views that regarded dysphoria as a ‘mental disorder’, with other views advocating the need for bodily autonomy.
Hannah Hodson, the Conservative party’s inaugural openly transgender candidate, expressed disappointment at these actions. She feared the potential backlash, anticipating retaliation from the Liberals and NDP, and worried about a “culture war.”
Poilievre now finds himself walking a fine balance, tackling the party’s appetite for debatable social issues while remaining appealing to the broad Canadian populace. The long-standing federal figure will attempt to negotiate these difficult waters without tarnishing his reputation or position with his party or potential voters.
Melissa Lantsman, deputy leader, brushed off concerns, assuring that the Conservative party respects the dignity of every Canadian. However, Poilievre’s uncertainty regarding attending Pride events and reluctance to issue a response as an indication of his exact position on these issues means he may face continued scrutiny from journalists.
Poilievre’s inauguration rally demonstrated his intention to appeal to a broader voter pool while maintaining a strong conservative stance. He painted an optimistic vision of Canada under his leadership, although elements of his speech exaggerated some points for political effect.
Some of Poilievre’s pronouncements stood up to scrutiny, such as the unattainability of housing in Toronto. Conversely, his political rhetoric often simplified complex issues, including blaming the carbon tax for widespread food bank reliance.
A year into his leadership, it remains to be seen how well Poilievre will negotiate this tricky landscape. Political tides can turn unexpectedly, and any single issue could change the momentum or narrative as the next election approaches.