Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre stands during a vote on a motion in the House of Commons in Ottawa on December 8, 2023.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre was not content with insulting the mayors of Quebec's two largest cities, but also took the time Thursday to congratulate the housing record of three cities that are in his party's sights for the next elections.
“Congratulations to Mayor Antoine Tardif of Victoriaville for stimulating a 27% increase in housing starts thanks to common sense policies,” wrote the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada on the social network X. Pierre, for example. Poilievre had just taken to the keyboard to salute the cities of Trois-Rivières and Saguenay “for accelerating construction,” while sharing a screenshot of an article from the newspaper Lesaffaires which reports increases in the number of construction starts in these two cities in 2023.
These praises for Victoriaville, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay are part of a series of messages on the subject of housing broadcast on the Conservative leader's social networks Thursday afternoon. But certain tweets rather attracted attention for having made remarks that upset the mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, as well as the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, both of whom were treated as “incompetent”.
However, the cities which were on the contrary congratulated by Pierre Poilievre also have in common that they are on his campaign trail for the next federal elections, confirms Marc-André Leclerc, who was the head of office of former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
“We called it the “blue arrow”: from Chicoutimi to Victoriaville, via the Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches and Trois-Rivières. These are corners where conservatives want to either keep or conquer constituencies,” explains the man who is now a political commentator.
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Victoriaville is part of the riding of Richmond-Arthabaska, held by independent MP Alain Rayes, who left the Conservative Party after the arrival of Pierre Poilievre as leader. This gesture made him pay the price for a campaign led by his former party aimed at inviting him to resign. The mayor appointed by Mr. Poilievre, Antoine Tardif, was until 2021 a close advisor to Alain Rayes and conservative organizer. He notably recruited conservative candidates during the 2019 general elections.
Trois-Rivières also features in the Conservatives' offensive plan in Quebec. Beaten by barely 83 votes by his rival from the Bloc Québécois, the former mayor of Trois-Rivières Yves Lévesque spoke at the last congress of the Conservative Party of Canada, which was held in Quebec last fall, and was re-elected as candidate shortly after so that he could attempt his revenge in the next election. It is also in his city that Pierre Poilievre chose to celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, on June 24.
Finally, the Conservative leader also has Saguenay in his sights. His party elected a deputy there in 2021, Richard Martel, in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, but arrived behind the Bloc Québécois in the two other Saguenay ridings.
Pierre Poilievre also has the habit of featuring characters from Saguenay to illustrate his point. “It is not the Saguenay hunter who is causing crime in downtown Montreal,” he chanted in front of his activists gathered in Quebec last September. He also blurted out Monday on CHOI Radio /p>
The chief was scheduled to visit this region earlier this week, but his visit was canceled due to a plane problem. During his previous visit, last April, he contrasted the interest of Saguenay forestry workers with the federal government's protection of forest caribou, according to him proof of Justin Trudeau's “extreme and wokist” political program.
“There is no love lost”
Pierre Poilievre, however, attacked the mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, while the Conservatives hold several ridings in this region. This does not surprise Marc-André Leclerc, who recalls that the mayor publicly wished for the electoral defeat of Pierre Poilievre this fall. “Clearly, there’s no love lost. »
According to him, the Conservative Party of Canada calculates that its electorate is not that of Mr. Marchand. He adds, however, that this type of comments made about X could complicate future relations between the federal elected officials of the Quebec capital and the municipality.
Mr. Poilievre's proposed plan involves cutting funding to cities that don't increase residential construction. In Quebec, however, federal funds pass through the provincial government, and cannot be paid directly to municipalities. “There is a lack of information to fully understand what we are experiencing on our side,” laments Jacques Demers, president of the Fédération québécoise de municipalities and mayor of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley.
Pierre Poilievre does not only criticize Quebec cities. He also shoots some arrows at other municipal governments in English Canada, such as the cities of Vancouver or Toronto. The Conservative Party of Canada did not respond to questions from Devoir on this subject on Friday.