WEYBURN – MP Pierre Poilievre was elected as the new federal Conservative leader with a strong majority on the first ballot on Saturday.
He earned 68.15 per cent of the votes, while Jean Charest came in second with 16.07 per cent, ending the seven-month leadership campaign.
MP Robert Kitchen of Souris-Moose Mountain was a supporter of Poilievre, and helped bring him to Weyburn twice during the campaign, including as a speaker at the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show in June.
Kitchen noted he wasn’t all that surprised the win came on the first ballot, and said the way the voting was set up helped ensure his support was broadly based.
“You couldn’t win with just support from one area,” he said, noting the results were tabulated based on 100 points per riding, with 338 ridings across Canada. Poilievre won 330 of those ridings, and in Souris-Moose Mountain, he garnered over 2,000 votes, or 87.5 per cent.
“His leadership is exemplary, his strategy is very clear and concise, and that bodes well for him,” said Kitchen, adding he is already reaching out to the Conservative caucus members to make sure the party is a united one.
“We’re a big tent, and we need to keep every part of the tent together,” he said, noting the Conservatives need to keep doing what they do best, namely attacking the Liberals and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on their policies and wasteful spending.
“He’s made a disaster of this economy. His solution to fix the economy is to create more taxes,” said MP Kitchen.
The first thing Poilievre will need to do is set his leadership team and begin to establish the party’s platform and strategy for taking on the Liberals.
It’s unknown at this point if or when Trudeau will call an election, said Kitchen, and with the agreement the Liberals have with the NDP, they could last for another three years, or they could go to an election any time before then.
“We’ll be looking at ways to make confidence motions. We don’t have any confidence in this prime minister,” he said. “We have to find any opportunities where we can.”
The House of Commons was originally set to reconvene on Monday, Sept. 19, but with the passing of Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 8, the House will be sitting on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 15-16, and will be closed on Monday for the state funeral. Kitchen said it’s expected most the sitting this week will be devoted to members giving tribute to the memory of the Queen.
As of right now, Kitchen is the chair of the Government Operations and Estimates Commons committee. He didn’t know what if any changes might be made by the new leader, but any changes will come after the funeral is held, in the coming weeks and months.