Canada's new Conservative Party leader, Pierre Poilievre, won more than 68 percent of party member votes to take the top job

Canada’s Conservative Party elects new populist leader

The new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poillivre, received more than 68 percent of the party’s vote and took the highest office – Copyright AFP Dave Chan

Nearly a year after losing the parliamentary election, the Canadian Conservatives elected a new leader on Saturday, choosing the right-wing Pierre Poilliev to lead the opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Poilevre won 68 percent of the roughly 400,000 votes cast by party members in the first round, well ahead of his main rival, former Quebec centrist Prime Minister Jean Charet, who polled 16.07 percent.

Poilivre, 43, defeated five Tory hopefuls by speaking out against inflation and Covid-19 vaccine mandates, promoting cryptocurrencies and pipelines, and supporting a trucker-led protest column that occupied the capital city of Ottawa in February.

“Today begins the journey of replacing the old government that costs you more and gives you less with a new government that puts you first,” Poilivre said in a speech in Ottawa following his victory.

“By fighting liberal inflation, we will give you back control of your life and your money,” he said, calling the Trudeau government “the most expensive” in the country’s history.

Trudeau congratulated Poilevre on his victory on Twitter, calling for collaboration “to achieve results for people across the country.”

An accomplished politician, Poilevre served twice as a junior minister before Trudeau took office, and was elected as Ottawa’s suburban representative seven times.

He takes over as party leader from an interim chief who has held the post since Erin O’Toole was ousted in February amid criticism that he brought the party too close to the political center.

In the September 2021 elections, the Conservatives failed to win power, winning 119 seats in the House of Commons compared to 160 for Trudeau’s Liberals. The Liberals were forced to form a new minority government, as they did in 2019.

The next federal election is scheduled for 2025.

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