By: Olivia Visser, Opinions Editor
Over the years, the world sat and watched in disbelief while those living in the US faced the rise of a far-right president. We experienced firsthand the increasing polarization of the political sphere. Genuine discussion of policy gave way to reactionaries, and it seems like success in politics these days requires nothing more than a “gotcha” moment against the other side. With many Canadians slowly losing their interest in politics, we need to be careful not to sit idly by as dangerous figures rise to prominence. Member of Parliament and newly elected Conservative candidate for Prime Minister, Pierre Poilivere, is a sign of Canada’s rapid descent into right-wing populism — that is, a society which favours the opinions of citizens on the right of the political spectrum. We should all be concerned.
Pierre Poilivere represents everything wrong with politicians. He latches onto anti-Trudeau talking points to avoid policy discussion, and uses anger to garner support. He chanted “truckers, not Trudeau” while heading a convoy rally earlier this year, after being seen shaking hands with the leader of an extremist group. A bill he introduced would ban all future vaccine mandates if approved, even if we end up really needing them again. His right-wing populist approach has led to the validation of anti-vaccine rhetoric. This shifting cultural mentality contributes overwhelmingly to COVID-19 incidence and death rates, but anti-vaccine propaganda also led to multiple North American measles outbreaks in 2019.
If someone hates Justin Trudeau enough, they might overlook deficiencies in Poilivere’s arguments. He frequently argues Canada’s high inflation is due to federal deficits caused by Trudeau. However, inflation is high globally, and there’s no correlation between national deficits and inflation rates. His solution to the ever-pressing inflation fiasco? We don’t really know. He claims he’ll help by reducing deficits and bringing in more tax cuts, but gives no specifics beyond “dubious claims” that cryptocurrency is a way to “opt out” of inflation.
The unfortunate reality of Poilievre’s campaign is he promotes solutions that go against his supporters’ self-interests. Working class Canadians rally behind Conservative leaders and their promises to reduce taxes and bring new jobs. What politicians like Poilievre leave out is that lower taxes and cuts for the rich won’t fix long term problems — investing in quality social programs that benefit everybody will. Poilivere’s “small government” approach won’t relieve systemic class inequalities. He champions the idea of “making Canada the freest country in the world.” Certainly, this should start with free healthcare and education, and economic support for disadvantaged people. However, Poilivere believes our government should do “only the things that people can’t do for themselves,” which is, again, up for interpretation. He talks about defunding public news like CBC while promising to invest in more pipelines. Is our government a business, or a provider and representative for its people?
Justin Trudeau is far from a desirable candidate, but he’s steps ahead of his Conservative opponent. Approval ratings for Trudeau and Poilievre are terrifyingly close right now. The last thing we need is a Prime Minister that participated in the trucker convoy and refuses to take a stance on climate change. Your vote will matter in the 2025 election, so let’s not allow complacency to be what sends our country further down a right wing tunnel.