P.E.I. Conservatives say Poilievre brings fresh voice, accountability to party

·2 min read
Pierre Poilievre won the Conservative Party leadership Saturday with 68 per cent of the vote. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Pierre Poilievre won the Conservative Party leadership Saturday with 68 per cent of the vote. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Many Island Conservatives are applauding Pierre Poilievre's federal leadership win over the weekend.

The Ontario member of Parliament won 68 per cent of the vote, and took a majority of leadership votes cast in all four ridings on P.E.I.

Logan McLellan, vice-president of P.E.I.'s Egmont Conservative Association and a 2019 federal candidate, said he was excited by the leadership results and the party unity they demonstrated.

"He has a real way of connecting with people and he can break down complex issues to the general public very quickly and efficiently," he said of Poilievre. "And I think it's a fresh voice for our party and for our country."

Poilievre visited P.E.I. three times during the federal leadership race, which began after 73 of the party's 119 MPs voted in favour of removing Erin O'Toole as leader on Feb. 2, 2022.

Wayne Phelan, who ran federally under the Conservative Party banner in 2019 and 2021, helped with Poilievre's campaign and sold party memberships to people who were interested in supporting him.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"I'm hoping, I'm really, really hoping that this is a style of politics in Canada that our politicians are going to be accountable to people, not the other way around," he said.

The number of party memberships held on P.E.I. rose to 2,979 from 1,387 during the 2020 Conservative race, party officials said.

"What's driving it is people are struggling and they've been struggling for a long long time," Phelan said.

Mass appeal?

Political commentator Don Dessurud said it's important to not underestimate Poilievre's mass appeal.

The UPEI professor said although some pundits believe Poilievre will need to tone down his rhetoric and become more moderate to gain support, he doubts that will happen.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

"I think it's a different mood in the country. For better or worse, people are more angry than they were before," he said.

"They're more frustrated and they're looking for a leader that at least is able to articulate their anger for them…. They haven't seen that, I don't think, with the other leaders, and I think the party has been very successful in doing that."

'Most decisive victory'

P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative premier, Dennis King, congratulated Poilievre on his "most decisive victory" in a statement emailed to CBC News on Monday

"While I haven't yet had the pleasure to meet Mr. Poilievre personally, I look forward to doing so soon and sharing a conversation about the priorities of Islanders and Canadians," said the statement.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Poilievre takes over from interim leader Candice Bergen, who has said she will not run in the next election.

That election will be held in October 2025 unless Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minority government falls earlier than that, or Canada's Governor General approves a request from Trudeau to call an earlier election.