Time for Poilievre to Elevate the Political Conversation

Jason Setnyk—Op/Ed
Time for Poilievre to Elevate the Political Conversation

In the latest episode of Question Period on Parliament Hill, Speaker Greg Fergus expelled Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party and the official opposition, from the Commons. His offense? Calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “wacko.” Such language might be dismissed as playground banter among children, but it’s disheartening and inappropriate coming from someone who aspires to be the nation’s next leader.

Disagreements in politics are inevitable and even necessary for a healthy democracy. There are undoubtedly many valid criticisms of PM Trudeau’s policies and decisions. However, resorting to insults does not enrich the political debate but degrades it. This style of communication may energize a certain fringe within the Conservative base, but the broader swath of Canadian voters—those not strictly aligned with any party—expect and deserve better. They want to hear substantive discussions and sensible alternatives, not schoolyard taunts.

The past election results in 2019 and 2021 demonstrate a clear pattern: simply opposing Trudeau is not a winning strategy. The Conservative Party failed to capture the public’s imagination or offer an inspiring vision of the future. Instead, they often mirrored the poisonous, divisive tactics seen in U.S. politics, which have done little more than deepen societal divisions without fostering any real progress. In the U.S., a growing number of Republicans are now distancing themselves from figures like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. These individuals yearn to return to a Republican Party that conducts itself with dignity and can win the popular vote.

It is instructive to recall the approaches of former Conservative leaders like Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney, who demonstrated that pragmatic conservatism, which can also embrace progressive elements,broadens appeal and unites rather than alienates. These leaders understood the importance of rallying a diverse electorate with policies that resonate broadly, not just with the party faithful.

This principle seems lost on the current Ontario P.C. Party as well. A recent post shared (but not authored) by MPP Nolan Quinn claimed that the Ontario Liberals are “working AGAINST” the health of firefighters—a divisive and misleading assertion that simplifies and misrepresents the complexities of public policy debates.

Many Canadians want change, and those who do are eager for leaders who will address their concerns with integrity and thoughtful policies. We all deserve a leader who will put aside petty insults and instead lay out a clear, compelling vision that offers a genuine alternative to the current administration. This involves presenting well-conceived policies and engaging in respectful discourse that resonates with ordinary people.

Mr. Poilievre, if you wish to lead this country, it’s time to elevate the political conversation. Show Canadians that you can be the leader who challenges the status quo and does so with the decorum and respectbefitting the office you seek. Your potential as a leader will be measured not by how loudly you can lambast your opponents but by how convincingly you can articulate your policy positions and unite Canadians around a shared vision for the future.

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