Former Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest says he is returning to the private sector after his unilateral loss to MP Pierre Poilievre in the conservative leadership election.
Charest, who campaigned as a more moderate Tory compared to the right-wing and populist Poilievre, congratulated his opponent on his victory in a video message on Sunday and said he was campaigning “a very energetic campaign”. Charest was not lavish in his praise.
While the two front-runners exchanged jabs over the months-long campaign, Charest said now is the time to unite around the party’s choice to defeat their common enemy: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
Charest, 64, suggested that his time in electoral politics is over and that he will not seek a seat in the House of Commons now that he has lost leadership.
But, Charest said, he will remain a conservative with an interest in the party’s success.
“I will remain a member of the party and I will continue to fight for the ideas that I have put forward during this leadership race,” said Charest.
“Now is the time to prepare for the next election campaign and rally behind the new leader.”
In the end, the Conservative party turns out not to be so divided.
Poilievre rode to an easy win, taking an impressive 68.15 percent of available points on the first ballot. Charest finished a distant second, taking 16.07 percent of the points allocated in these preferential elections.
Under the party’s leadership rules, the election is guided by a points system that weights all rides equally.
Points are awarded proportionally based on the vote in each constituency, with each riding eligible to cast 100 points (provided that at least 100 accepted votes have been cast from that riding).
“It was a landslide victory. I think that will be very disturbing for the Liberals – they were counting on some sort of division, so it’s a great start for Pierre,” said Kory Teneycke, an ex-staff of the former Conservative Prime Minister. Stephen. Harper’s office and former campaign manager for Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford.
Poilièvre won 70 percent of the vote
While the outcome is ultimately determined by the points, the raw popular vote numbers also reveal how much Poilievre was the favored candidate.
His skills as a retail politician and the clarity of his campaign message helped him beat Charest and the other three candidates. Poilievre focused his energies on Trudeau, who is despised by the party base, and his perceived flaws in government.
A former financial critic of the party, Poilievre also criticized the government’s handling of the federal deficit, which he blames for skyrocketing inflation and the resulting Bank of Canada rate hikes.
He also sought the support of millennials and other young people who have been locked out of the Canadian housing market amid dazzling housing prices. Indeed, housing and affordability were central to his campaign message.
In the end, Poilievre won 70.70 percent of the vote – 295,283 of the 417,635 votes cast in this election.
“It is a very decisive victory. It is a victory for all the people who wanted freedom and hope,” said Saskatchewan Sen. Denise Batters, a supporter of Poilievre.
“We’re going to show the Canadians that we’re a united party with a strong mandate and we’re going to show them we’re talking about the kinds of things they care about.”
Charest won 48,651 votes or 11.65 percent of the vote, which was only marginally more than what MP Leslyn Lewis won.
Lewis, the only openly social-conservative candidate in this race, received 46,374 votes, or 11.10 percent of the vote, across the country — just 2,277 less than Charest, who was widely seen as the only contender to support Poilievre’s march to the top job. can stop.
The massive spread suggests that today’s conservative party is very different from the progressive conservative party Charest led in the 1990s.
The merger of the PC and Canadian Alliance parties in 2003 has resulted in a modern conservative party that is decidedly right-wing.
Saturday’s results — and the loss of former cabinet minister Peter MacKay in the 2020 leadership election to Erin O’Toole, who ran as a “true blue” conservative — suggest the party’s moderate and centrist elements are now quite marginal.
Charest also failed to repeat his past success in Quebec to win over party members in that province in this leadership race.
Charest, who led that province for nine years after winning three elections, won just six seats in the province: Brossard-Saint-Lambert, Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, Louis-Hébert, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount, Sherbrooke and Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs.
Poilievre, who leaned on the organizational skills of Quebec Senator Leo Housakos to help lead his campaign in the province, won the other 72 seats — many of them by a wide margin.
His attempts to portray Charest as yesterday’s man out of step with today’s conservative zeitgeist eventually resonated with the party’s base in Quebec and across the country.