FIRST READING: Liberal voices starting to warn Pierre Poilievre could be their downfall

Leadership candidate’s messages on affordability resonate with young people, even young Liberals and New Democrats

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As Pierre Poilievre’s star continues to rise in the Conservative leadership race, rumors are circulating in non-Conservative circles across Canada that the only way to stop the 42-year-old’s momentum may be to keep abreast of its “resonant” messages on affordability.

“Without the electoral imagination to understand why people would vote for Poilievre, it will be difficult for the Liberals to convince people why they shouldn’t,” veteran Liberal strategist Andrew Tumilty wrote in a recent column for the Toronto Star. “Rhetoric aside, Poilievre talks about housing, affordability, inflation and freedom,” Tumilty added.

An Abacus poll taken after the launch of Poilievre’s campaign found that his overall message about affordability resonated quite strongly among New Democrat and Liberal voters, especially young people. Notably, 51% of 18-29 year olds polled said they would consider voting for a Conservative party led by Poilievre.

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A recent poll of Conservative students in British Columbia also found Poilievre to be the clear under-40 favorite. Among young curators at the four largest universities in British Columbia, 77.6% supported Poilievre.

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Earlier this month, Poilievre gained widespread attention for a viral video exposing Vancouver’s soaring real estate prices and blaming it on “gatekeepers” such as city governments blocking development and raising housing costs. construction. TVO columnist John Michael McGrath, for his part, reacted to the video, saying progressives could either craft their own “compelling alternative message” or prepare for a “Prime Minister Poilievre.”

That’s probably why Poilievre has been doubling down on the post for the past few weeks. His campaign later rolled out proposals to suspend federal funding to municipalities “that block home construction.”

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Colin Horgan, who has worked on Liberal campaigns, wrote in a Medium post that Poilievre’s ‘populist talk’ on affordability seemed to be working, and even compared it to Justin Trudeau’s 2015 message on elevation. of the “middle class”. “Affordability is the new middle class. And Pierre Poilievre talks about it in a way that makes you want to listen. Watch out,” Horgan wrote.

Poilievre’s housing proposals even won praise among liberal circles in the United States. In a recent column in The Washington Post, center-left writer Matthew Yglesias said the anti-NIMBY sentiments being pushed by Poilievre and others should be a model for American Republicans. “If federal action to discourage municipal overregulation is good enough for the Canadian right, then it should be good enough for the American right, too,” he wrote.

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Poilievre has topped every poll of Tory leadership candidates since the start of the race and garnered a hugely disproportionate share of official support.

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According to an Ipsos poll last week, 37% of Conservative voters expected Poilievre to win their party’s crown. Only 14 percent predicted victory for Poilievre’s closest competitor, former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

All of this is happening as the Conservative Party itself is growing in popularity. A Nanos Research poll last week found the Conservative Party had 35.6% support compared to 30% for the Liberals. It’s not only one of the strongest showings for the Tories since the start of COVID-19, but it’s more than enough to win them the government if the numbers hold up in a general election.

Even Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Trudeau’s staunchly pro-Liberal former adviser, offered oblique praise for the Conservative frontrunner in a Thursday tweet.

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Butts called Poilievre’s cryptocurrency proposals “crazy banana muffins,” but praised his perfect French (Poilievre was raised in a Franco-Albertan family). “Guess which of these two things matters more in a general election,” Butts wrote.

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