Local ridings select Poilievre in Conservative leadership contest

STRAIT AREA: The Conservative Party of Canada has chosen a new leader and results from local ridings mirror the national result.

On Sept. 10, Napean-Carlton MP and former Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre was voted as new Conservative leader getting 68.15 per cent, or 22,993.42 total points, on the first ballot.

Coming in second was former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and leader Jean Charest with 5,421.62 points, in third place was Leslyn Lewis with 3,269.54 points, Roman Baber finished fourth with 1,696.76 points, and in fifth place was Scott Aitchison with 356.66 total points.

In the Central Nova riding, which includes parts of Antigonish County, as well as the Town of Antigonish, 793 votes were cast with Poilievre getting 538 votes, Charest received 158 votes, Lewis 67, Baber 22, and Aitchison eight votes.

In the riding of Cape Breton-Canso, which includes Inverness and Richmond counties, and parts of Guysborough and Antigonish counties, 630 people voted, with Poilievre getting 410 votes, Charest had 131 votes, Lewis 75, Baber had eight votes, and Aitchison six votes.

“Every riding is based on 100 points, so as long as you have 100 members voting within that riding, that’s the 100 points,” Cape Breton-Canso Conservative Association President James Kerr told The Reporter. “Cape Breton-Canso, as you saw, we did get 100 points.”

Kerr said he was satisfied with the results, for a number of reasons.

“It’s a good showing for Poilievre in the riding and it’s a good showing for the party on a few different levels. A, it was a commanding victory so there’s no discussion the next day about people who aren’t happy with the results,” Kerr noted. “I’ve been involved in politics in this riding for many, many years… I saw a lot of young people coming out which in my history with the party, we were never the party of young people. Poilievre does have an ability to attract that age demographic and speak directly to them, and he’s doing that through the various social media outlets that he has command of. It’s great because of the amount of new members that we have in this riding, and I kind of think that was mirrored throughout the country. It creates a lot of excitement, a lot of new blood, younger blood. All in all, I think it’s very promising for the party.”

Kerr said membership in the local riding association increased by “324 per cent” and he was happy with the voter turn-out in Cape Breton-Canso.

“Some in the Charest camp were always wondering, how will Poilievre supporters actually follow through, and it’s quite evident that they actually did follow through,” he said. “That gives us great hope that these are people that want to be involved in the party and are going to stick around. They didn’t just go to a rally, take out a membership, and that was it. They actually followed through, took a copy of their ID, a few steps, and sent it in. So that, again, speaks well for the future, I believe.”

Within Cape Breton-Canso, Kerr said this level of interest will help in the next federal election.

“The more people you have getting involved in politics, the better it should help your candidate. There are comments and I’m sure people in other parties will say, ‘yes, but this is inward looking, and they’re not outward looking yet,’ and that’s the next step,” he said. “We had a great increase in membership; that membership came out and voted so that shows people are rallying to Poilievre’s message. The next step is for the Conservative Party of Canada, with the leader, to attract other members who didn’t view themselves, perhaps in the past, as Conservative, or haven’t voted Conservative, let’s say, in the last two or three elections. However, the messaging is resonating with people.”

Since winning the leadership, Kerr said Poilievre has stayed on message.

“I’m hearing him over the last few days give answers, and he’s giving very conservative answers to questions,” he stated. “He’s going after the bread and butter conservative values, in the sense of inflation, or money pocket issues, what’s affecting Canadians directly, the housing issues. These are very much conservative principles so I think he’s well set to have a very great chance of winning the next election.”

In addition to inflationary pressure on the economy, Kerr said there are many factors contributing to the Conservative Party’s current poll numbers and healthy chances of forming the next government.

“It is a message that’s being well received. It is young people coming over to the Conservative camp that I haven’t seen. It is people who have been disenfranchised with the political process who are coming out and supporting Poilievre, and it is, by the time the next election comes around, you’re going to have a Prime Minister that’s been in for nine years, I believe. Those of us that have been involved in the game, sometimes it’s just gets to the other person’s turn,” he said. “I think, very strongly, it’s going to be a Poilievre Conservative government in the next election but you can’t take that for granted.”