OTTAWA — Pierre Poilievre faced one of his first tests as federal Conservative leader on Tuesday as a prominent Quebec MP announced he was leaving the Tories to sit as an Independent because he disagreed with the party’s new direction.
Richmond-Arthabaska MP Alain Rayes announced his decision in a statement on Tuesday, in which he described himself as a "proud Progressive Conservative."
"I respect the choice made by members of the Conservative Party of Canada in the last leadership race," he added. "However, some of my political ideals, values and convictions are not compatible with the new path undertaken by our political formation."
Rayes previously served as the Conservatives' Quebec lieutenant before backing former Quebec premier Jean Charest's bid for the federal leadership.
During the campaign, Rayes publicly criticized Poilievre as someone who was sowing division within the party and among Canadians writ large.
Charest ended up placing a distant second to Poilievre, who won a resounding first-ballot victory on Saturday.
Rayes announced his departure on social media shortly after Poilievre unveiled his new leadership team ahead of next week's return of Parliament.
The new team includes Pierre Paul-Hus as Poilievre's new lieutenant in Quebec.
Poilievre also named former party leader Andrew Scheer as his House leader in the Commons.
Longtime Conservative MP Tim Uppal and first-term counterpart Melissa Lantsman will serve as the party's deputy leaders.
Poilievre announced the new leadership team one week before the House of Commons is scheduled to return to its normal sittings following the summer break.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2022.
The Canadian Press