Pierre Poilievre VS The Sneering Urban Elites

Written By Daniel Bordman, Posted on September 17, 2022

With Pierre Poilievre winning the Conservative party leadership in definitive fashion, 68% on the first ballot, all the questions about internal party unity have pretty much been settled. There might be a few Red Tory holdovers from the O’Toole regime making soaking noises for media attention, but that is all it is.

This brings us to Poilievre’s real challenge over the coming months: the media. There is an inherent left-leaning bias in the mainstream that existed prior to the billions of dollars in “bailout” funding received from Trudeau and the Liberals. The key failing of the Scheer and O’Toole campaigns was not coming to grips with the reality that the media will never support them and that trying to gain their approval will only result in losing control of the narrative. 

(Photo from CTV News)

As a CPC leadership candidate Poilievre seemed to understand this fact, the real test will be standing firm in the general race. Another way to put it is that it is one thing to understand your base, it is another thing to understand the fundamental appeal of your message.

The message Poilievre has had success with runs counter to the conventional (antiquated) pundit wisdom in Canada.

Mainstream political punditry, like most things in Canadian politics, steals a lot from American politics. In this case, it is the old axiom “run to the polls in a primary, and run to the centre in a general” that has fuelled a lot of the ‘Poilievre is a radical’ rhetoric because Poilievre so far is not artificially softening his message that actually seems to resonate with large swaths of Canadians.

The way “centrism” works in the Canadian media is a lot different since there are no mainstream conservative outlets like Fox news to balance out the left-leaning outlets and set some basic conservative principles as a goal post, this gives the media the power to control the Overton window. 

This creates Canada’s go-to brand of fake news, false neutrality. This is when the media represent themselves as the “centre” while painting those who disagree as “far-right”. There is rarely a far-Left as the media themselves are Left-wing. The setup of the Canadian political system in conjunction with a Left-wing media works very well to create the illusion of the moderate Liberal party. You take some wacko socialists from the Green Party or NDP and present them as “The Left” and take a very mild conservative and paint them as “The Right,” that way the Left of Centre host comes off as “neutral”.

I call this the Andrew Coyne Effect. Andrew Coyne, a man with the ability to use 2000 words to say absolutely nothing, is often put on CBC panels to anchor their Right flank. Joining him usually Chantal Hebert, a Toronto Star writer and member of the Trudeau Foundation, Althia Raj, a former Huffington Post columnist who is to the Left of the Liberal party, and this is hosted by Rosemary Barton who no reasonable person could deny is an outright Liberal Party supporter.

(Left: Rosemary Barton, Top Left Clockwise: Chantal Hebert, Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Althia Raj, Andrew Coyne)

The job of the mainstream media conservative is to set the bounds of what are “appropriate” conservative values like not wanting to abolish the monarchy and the tax rate should be a little bit lower than 99%. Everything else can be considered fringe or a rise of the far-Right.

This sets the heuristic that the majority of the Canadian legacy media uses to slander Poilievre, who, by most objective metrics, is as socially Liberal as Jean Chrétien. 

There is good news for all Canadians who are fed up with the way things are in our media, it is dying. The viewership on these programs is abysmal and those who do watch would never vote Conservative anyway. This is why Poilievre has the upper hand, if he can remain unfazed by these attacks, then not only can he run against Justin Trudeau’s unpopularity but also the distrust of the mainstream media that they have fought so vociferously to cultivate. 

What Poilievre will experience over the coming months or years is the death rattles of a once great institution. Whether it is heckling at a press conference or outright non-articles that are framed as attacks the overall strategy seems to be wide-scale pretentious sneering in an attempt to create a negative social cost to associate publicly with Poilievre.

(Photo from Rebel News)

This is a common bullying tactic used by high school girls, when applied to Canadian politics, it goes a little something like this:  “I’m not saying anything bad about Pierre, but people will think there is something wrong with you if you eat lunch with him, you don’t want people to think you are a loser?”

This strategy certainly will affect some voters, likely upper-middle-class urban female voters. However, to what extent is uncertain? Likely it will stop a few accountants from stating their views at a dinner party, but what will that manifest at the polls? 

Again there is good news for Poilievre, with the way social media and alternative media work these days, Poilievre can get his message to Canadians without needing cable news networks. He also has the ability to articulate issues like housing or inflation in a way that can capture the attention of the average Canadian.

So far, Poilievre seems to understand the modern media landscape better than the establishment media, but there still is a long way to go until the next election and anything can happen.

Daniel Bordman

Daniel is the host of political satire show Uninterrupted, runs multiple podcasts and has written for a variety of publications. Daniel is also the communications coordinator of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. You can find him on Twitter here. Uninterrupted on YouTube

One response to “Pierre Poilievre VS The Sneering Urban Elites”

  1. TB says:

    The political landscape is an argument between the smug urbanites and the rural rationalists. The unionized government workers and teachers and news media hacks have done very well for themselves under this arrangement. However, those who actually produce wealth and are taxed accordingly are rising up.