Throughout the Conservative Party leadership race, Pierre Poilievre campaigned to fight inflation and the rising cost of living, as well as to stand up for Canadians who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 .
His promises revolved around the central rallying cry of “freedom.”
As the race draws to a close and many expect the veteran Tory MP to be named the party’s next leader, here’s a look at some of the pressing questions Poilievre hasn’t yet answered – and will likely be. face in the next general election.
His campaign declined multiple requests for comment.
1. FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Poilievre did not say whether he would commit to Canada’s legislated goal of achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century. He also did not say how much greenhouse gas pollution he thinks the country should reduce by the end of the decade.
Michael Bernstein, executive director of climate policy organization Clean Prosperity, said private investors around the world and those in the oil and gas industry have pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It’s also an expectation that many Canadians have of their leaders, he said.
What Poilievre has pledged to do is cancel the federal carbon price, which he calls a tax, and scrap environmental impact assessment legislation and a ban on offshore tankers. of the northern shores of British Columbia, which the Liberal government adopted in 2019.
He argues that these measures have hampered the country’s ability to build energy projects, such as pipelines. Poilievre also promised to end the import of oil from “foreign dictatorships”, increase oil production in Newfoundland and Labrador and support an east-west pipeline.
Poilievre suggested he would rely on technology to reduce emissions, but he didn’t elaborate on what that means.
Bernstein says he finds it encouraging that Poilievre didn’t say much about climate change during the campaign trail, as it gives him flexibility, should he win.
“The question for him is how is he going to come up with a credible climate plan if he doesn’t want to use carbon pricing,” Bernstein says, and if he doesn’t want to take steps that could increase costs for consumers.
2. HEALTH CARE FINANCING
Several emergency rooms in Ontario were forced to close for some time this summer due to staffing shortages, underscoring the pressures of the workforce on the country’s health care system after two years of battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premiers have redoubled their efforts to ask Ottawa to increase health transfers to bring the federal share up to 35% from the current 22%.
Poilievre did not say how he would respond to that request or detail what he would do to help reduce the long wait times that impede Canadians’ access to procedures and services.
What he said was that the provinces are best equipped to make decisions about service delivery. He also said that under the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper, health care transfers increased by 6% per year. This amount was negotiated by the former Liberal government of Paul Martin. The Harper government has said the annual increase will be reduced to a minimum of 3% in 2016-17. The Trudeau government kept this formula with the smallest increases.
Poilievre also pledged to ensure that provinces accelerate the approval of professional credentials for immigrants, including trained nurses.
3. NATIONAL DAYCARE PROGRAM
Another big question for the next Conservative leader concerns the child care agreements that Ottawa has signed with the provinces. These agreements are meant to ensure that families will see their childcare costs cut in half by this year, paying an average of just $10 a day by 2026.
When Poilievre was asked what he would do with the national program, he said he planned to wait to see his results.
He also suggested he wanted to cut costs and give parents more choice.
But in the past, Poilievre has voiced opposition to the Liberal child care plan.
“Why should Justin Trudeau force parents to pay through taxes for his government daycare program, instead of letting them choose what’s best for their own children?” he tweeted at the end of 2020.
4. REPEAL OF THE 2020 BAN ON ASSAULT WEAPONS
Rod Giltaca, CEO and executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Gun Rights, said Poilievre’s platform on guns “is pretty vague,” leaving the group unsure if he’s committed. to repeal a 2020 Liberal government executive order that bans some 1,500 models of firearms, including the AR-15.
“He’s committed to treating gun owners fairly and focusing on public safety and to be honest, for our group, that’s good enough,” Giltaca said.
In the last federal election, the Liberals attacked the Conservatives over former leader Erin O’Toole’s promise to gun owners that he would repeal the gun ban.
In May, Poilievre gave a speech to members of the Canadian Shooting Sport Association, where he said his voting record in Parliament showed he was always on the side of legitimate gun owners, while endorsing tougher sentences for gun violence offenders.
Poilievre said he would “simplify the classification rules” using easy-to-understand language and appoint a task force of gun owners to establish the classification criteria.
5. CHINA AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Some conservatives believe the party should take a hawkish stance against the Chinese Communist Party and push the liberals to better respond to the economic, security and human rights threats posed by the regime.
Questions have emerged in the wake of last year’s federal election about whether criticism of China cost several Conservative MPs their seats in constituencies with large ethnic Chinese populations.
A federal research unit within Global Affairs Canada has detected a series of online posts from accounts linked to the Communist Party that may have been a coordinated campaign to discourage people of Chinese descent from voting for the Conservatives.
Poilievre did not specify how he thinks the party should approach China, but criticized fellow leadership candidate Jean Charest for his past work with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
On foreign affairs more broadly, Poilievre said he believes in being tough on Russia and that Canada should send more lethal weapons to Ukrainians fighting Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
During the leadership campaign, Poilievre also spoke of further developing Canada’s natural resources instead of importing oil from countries ruled by dictators.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 8, 2022.