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“I have been a federal conservative for 20 years,” assures Eric Lefebvre

Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press “Above all, I have been a federal Conservative for 20 years,” Eric Lefebvre immediately said in a press scrum on Sunday at the Victoriaville convention center. Illustrative photo.

Thomas Laberge – The Canadian Press in Victoriaville

Published on April 20 Updated yesterday at 9:38 p.m.

  • Quebec

In his first public appearance since his exclusion from the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) caucus on Tuesday, former government whip Eric Lefebvre defended his decision to join Pierre Poilievre's conservatives by affirming that it was his family politics for two decades. He also assures that his constituents will follow him in the next federal elections.

“Above all, I have been a federal Conservative for 20 years,” Eric Lefebvre immediately said in a press scrum on Sunday at the Victoriaville convention center.

He recalled that he was a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada (PCC) in 2008. Mr. Lefebvre then came second in the riding of Richmond — Arthabaska, nearly 9,000 votes behind the elected candidate, the Bloc. André Bellavance. He then worked for conservative minister Denis Lebel. The latter was also present in Victoriaville to support his friend.

“Eric Lefebvre is someone who meets the world, who hugs everyone, who knows everyone,” said the former conservative minister.

Mr. Lefebvre was first elected with the CAQ in the provincial riding of Arthabaska in 2016 during a by-election. He was then re-elected in the same county in 2018 and 2022.

“Not here to play mother-in-law”

The former CAQ leader who now sits as an independent explained that he had received calls in recent months. “There were Conservative MPs who gave me a call to see if I was interested. […] I had a meeting with Mr. Poilievre,” he said.

“I feel like putting my shoulder to the wheel to change Justin Trudeau’s government which, currently, uses our children’s credit cards endlessly,” added Mr. Lefebvre, who was quick to put on a t-shirt with the name of his new boss on it.

However, until very recently, the former CAQ whip was part of a government that did not mind running deficits. Finance Minister Eric Girard's latest budget forecast a deficit of $11 billion. “There are choices that have been made by the provincial government and I will not be there to play mother-in-law,” he said, refusing to expand on the subject.

Asked how he justified his decision to his voters, Eric Lefebvre cites sidewalk microphones made in recent days.

“People here in the region often vote for the man. So people are ready to follow me,” he assured, adding that he intended to “work very, very hard.”

Two voters from Eric Lefebvre's riding met during the Conservative rally did not see a problem in their MP making the jump to the federal government.

“He used to be conservative. The CAQ is a step aside that he took. Politics is like that,” said Adriano Amaral.

“He saw a door opening to have a better place and to bring good to us Quebecers,” said Jean-Philippe Savard Brunelle, adding that he would support Pierre Poilievre in the next federal elections.

“We have an extraordinary candidate”

A few hundred conservatives gathered Sunday at the Victoriaville convention center. Leader Pierre Poilievre announced that Eric Lefebvre will be a candidate for his party in the riding of Richmond — Arthabaska during the next federal election.

“We have an extraordinary candidate here. […] Thank you Eric for being part of our common sense conservative team! », Launched Mr. Poilievre to his activists.

During his speech, the Conservative leader hammered out his usual themes wearing a t-shirt on which we could read his now famous slogan: “Common sense.” He criticized the Liberals' deficits, promised to cut bureaucracy and fight crime.

“What we needed for Richmond — Arthabaska was someone known and involved in the community and I think we couldn’t have found a better choice than with Mr. Lefebvre,” supported the Conservative MP for Mégantic — L’Érable, Luc Berthold.

It is the independent MP Alain Rayes who is the current MP for the Richmond — Arthabaska riding. Mr. Rayes left the PCC caucus just after the election of Pierre Poilievre as party leader. He had supported Jean Charest in the chiefdom. Alain Rayes has already indicated that he does not intend to run again.

A second departure at the CAQ

Eric Lefebvre is the second CAQ elected official to leave the caucus since the last provincial election in 2022. The member for Jean-Talon, in Quebec, Joëlle Boutin, resigned last July, citing family considerations.

Since Ms. Boutin left her seat vacant, a by-election had to be held. The CAQ lost the riding of Jean-Talon to the Parti Québécois (PQ). As Mr. Lefebvre has become an independent deputy, there will be no complementary election to replace him for the moment.

However, section 17 of the Act respecting the National Assembly of Quebec “provides that the seat of a member becomes de facto vacant if he is appointed to the Canadian Senate or if he is a candidate in a federal election or a provincial election in another province.”

As the federal election will take place before the next provincial elections, there will likely be a partial election to elect a replacement for Mr. Lefebvre in Arthabaska.

While the CAQ has been struggling in the polls for several months, Pierre Poilievre's conservatives are prancing in voting intentions. However, they are lagging behind in Quebec, where they are in third position behind the Bloc Québécois and Justin Trudeau's Liberals, according to the poll aggregator 338Canada.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116