With Poilievre out, where will his supporters go?

Written By Anthony Daoud, Posted on January 24, 2020

Pierre Poilievre will be annulling his Conservative Party leadership campaign before it ever formally began. The Member of Parliament representing the Carleton constituency has decided to cancel his campaign, leaving his opponents and supporters in shock. 

The trajectory of his political career has landed many laudits, forging his stardom in the party’s establishment while staying popular among the grassroots. This is why the notion of Poilievre dropping out of the race before jumping in seems almost ridiculous. 

In a Facebook and Twitter post, the Poilievre noted the difficulty campaigning for leadership imposed on his family life writing: 

“I knew this would be difficult for my family life. But I didn’t imagine how much. This is even harder because I had just spent the previous 18 months campaigning to return to my seat in the recent federal election, in which I missed most of our baby’s first year. As such, my heart is not fully engaged in this leadership race. Without being all in, I cannot be in at all. So I have decided not to seek the leadership of the party at this time.” 

Importantly, he won’t be endorsing any other candidate, for the time being, adding: 

“I am not currently supporting any other candidate. But I will be looking for a strong fiscal conservative who will unleash free enterprise so people can achieve their dreams through hard work.”

In the aftermath of the CPC’s 2019 election loss, speculations quickly emerged that Poilievre would be Scheer’s successor. Hi’s articulate and positive displays in the House of Commons led to the growing popularity in caucus and amongst Canadians concerned by Trudeau’s spending record. 

Although disheartening for his base of supporters, many of whom were confident he would become Canada’s next Prime Minister, Poilievre’s reasoning requires little justification. The family should always remain the central priority when navigating a political career. 

As Brian Lilley notes, this leaves the Conservative Party with only two competitive contenders for the leadership race; Erin O’Toole and Peter Mackay.

Jean Charest and Rona Ambrose were also heavily encouraged to run. Ambrose was especially favoured by centrists in  Canada’s conservative camp, as they envisioned her to be the one who would finally introduce progressive politics in the party. 

Political ideas

Poilievre, who has continuously championed lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, undoubtedly disturbed his social conservative following when he suddenly changed his pro-life and pro-traditional marriage views. His ideological shift was interpreted by many as a strong indication that he would be running for the leadership. 

Just a few days ago, Poilievre had announced that he would not stop bills concerning abortion from being put before Parliament, but he promised that they would all be defeated. If he had started his campaign based on that statement, he might have quickly lost his social-conservative voting base to other candidates like Richard Decarie or Derek Sloan.

There is no doubt Poilievre was still a solid fiscal conservative, and a lot of the shock created by the cancellation of his candidacy is due in large part to an aversion to the more fiscally and socially liberal Conservative candidates like Erin O’Toole, Peter McKay, and before she too dropped out, Rona Ambrose.

Who will take his place?


Poilievre held 30-34% of the vote in the initial polls for the leadership race. There is little doubt that no one candidate will be able to take on his previous support fully. 

It is probable that declared and potential Conservative leadership candidates will have to cut up his support base because no other candidate possesses Poilievre’s mass appeal. Fiscal conservatives, So-Cons, moderates, and Red Tories are likely to support different candidates. 

With the exit of Poilievre, the Conservative leadership race will be turning into a real horse race among the many candidates left in the race.

Anthony Daoud

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