Pierre Poilievre becomes first MP to bid for Conservative Party leadership

Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre has announced he will officially seek the leadership of the federal Conservative Party.

Party's Quebec lieutenant quits role to back unnamed 'progressive' leadership candidate that can 'unite' party

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, shown during question period in Ottawa, is entering the race to become leader of the party. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre has announced he will officially seek the leadership of the federal Conservative Party.

Poilievre made the announcement in a video he shared via Twitter on Saturday evening that also takes aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Trudeau thinks he's your boss. He's got it backwards. You are the boss. That's why I'm running for prime minister," he said in the video.

Poilievre, 42, becomes the first candidate seeking to replace Erin O'Toole, who was voted out as leader earlier this week.

Born in Calgary, Poilievre has been MP for the Ottawa riding of Carleton since 2004, and held a number of cabinet positions under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In his video, Poilievre criticizes the government's spending, saying "they're spending more than any time since World War II, so they control more of what you earn and you control less."

Poilievre, who has served as the party's finance critic, has frequently criticized the Liberals for policies he says have fuelled inflation, which reached a 30-year high in December.

Poilievre also makes a tacit reference to the ongoing protests over vaccine mandates and other public health measures that started in Ottawa last week, but have since spread to other cities, including Toronto and Quebec City.

"The Trudeau government has attacked small businesses, truckers and other hard-working Canadians," Poilievre says in the video.

The protests originally started as a movement against the mandate for cross-border commercial drivers to be vaccinated, but has since grown into a wider protest against public health measures.

Poilievre is one of a number of Conservative politicians who have greeted the protesters in Ottawa in person, an issue that seems to have the party divided.

Already garnering endorsements

Poilievre gained a number of endorsements minutes after announcing his candidacy on Saturday.

In reply to his tweet, former cabinet minister John Baird got behind his onetime caucus colleague, writing that Poilievre "has the brains and the backbone and will make a great Prime Minister. I am beyond thrilled to endorse him!"

A number of MPs have also started to endorse Poilievre, including Ontario's Melissa Lantsman, who was elected in the fall.

"No question — Pierre is the answer to a strong & united Conservative Party," Lantsman said in a tweet.

Alberta MP John Barlow was also quick to back Poilievre.

"He understands the issues facing western Canadians," Barlow said in a video posted on Twitter.

Here's a list of MPs who have so far endorsed Poilievre:

  • Dan Albas.
  • Michael Barrett.
  • John Barlow.
  • James Bezan.
  • Michael Cooper.
  • Todd Doherty.
  • Marilyn Gladu.
  • Michael Kram.
  • Melissa Lantsman.
  • Philip Lawrence.
  • Jamie Schmale.
  • Jake Stewart.
  • Corey Tochor.
  • Ryan Williams.
  • Bob Zimmer.

Alain Rayes steps down as deputy party leader

A Quebec Conservative has quit his post as the party's deputy leader because he says he wants to play a role in shaping who will next lead the party. 

"My dearest wish is that the Conservative Party of Canada appoint (sic) a leader who represents the progressive values, centre-right economic (sic) and that he is able to unite all of our members around a common objective: replace the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau," Alain Rayes said in a statement.

He says he plans to support a candidate, though doesn't mention any by name. 

But by wanting to get involved in the leadership race, Rayes says he has no other choice but to step down from his positions, which included being the party's Quebec lieutenant. 

The race to replace Erin O'Toole as leader, after caucus members dumped him this week, began in earnest on Saturday when Poilievre announced his intention to run.

The shakeup with Rayes led interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen to appoint Quebec MP Luc Berthold as deputy leader and Quebec lieutenant. In a statement Sunday, Bergen called Berthold a well-respected member of caucus and said his experience will be an asset for the Conservatives. 

Bergen also thanked Rayes for his work and said she looked forward to continuing to work with him in the House of Commons to hold the Liberal government to account.

With files from The Canadian Press