Pierre Poilievre mixes sharp criticism with call to inspire ‘hope’ in pre-holiday caucus address

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says Conservative politicians must pair a positive message of hope with their pointed critiques of the government, as they ready themselves to return home to their constituencies this winter.

Addressing Conservative MPs and senators in Ottawa on Wednesday, Poilievre’s caucus address was open to the media and he used the opportunity to deliver a speech that was full of attacks on the government, but that also sketched a series of Conservative policy proposals.

“It’s true that people are hurting, but it’s our job as the official opposition to turn that hurt into hope, to inspire people that a real improvement in their lives is possible,” he said.

Delivering slightly different speeches first in French and then in English, Poilievre denounced in rapid succession Liberal government policies on energy, housing and management of the health-care system.

He said a Conservative government would work with provinces to solve health-care worker staffing shortages by recognizing more foreign training credentials.

“It boils my blood to sit in a waiting room with my daughter, whose caught from time to time a migraine headache, while she waits and waits along with the other little children because of doctor shortages,” Poilievre said.

The Conservative leader lamented the elevated cost of living, noting many Canadians were struggling with food security and would be paying more for Christmas dinners this year.

WATCH | Poilievre discusses health-care wait times:

Poilievre: hospital wait times, ‘boils my blood’

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks to his caucus about the state of Canada’s health-care system.

Caucus members responded enthusiastically to his message on firearms, which became a major point of contention in recent weeks when the government introduced controversial amendments to its gun control legislation.

“Instead of targeting hunters by banning their hunting rifles, we will target real criminals by upping consequences for repeat offenders, reducing crime while maintaining the tradition of hunting in this country,” he said in French.

Parliament likely to start winter break today: government house leader

In a refrain that is becoming increasingly frequent in his speeches, Poilievre compared his own “modest origins” — raised by two teachers after he was given up for adoption by a single mother — to other Canadians hoping to build a good life for themselves in this country through hard work.

“This is the spirit of Canada,” he said.

“Our job is always to stand on the side of the common people, their paycheques, their savings, their homes, their country.”

Parliament is expected to end its sitting soon, and MPs will return to their constituencies likely until the end of January.

“I think today is likely to be the day,” said government House leader Mark Holland before the Liberals’ caucus meeting Wednesday.

It will wrap up the first stage of Poilievre’s tenure as the leader of the Conservative party.

Just over three months since he won a landslide victory in the leadership race, his leadership of the party received its first miniature test earlier this week in a byelection in Missisauga-Lakeshore. The Conservatives roughly maintained their vote share from 2021, while the Liberals retained control of the seat. The NDP vote share was cut roughly in half from the last election.

The result of the single, limited election was hailed by Liberals, but downplayed by both Conservatives and New Democrats.

“One result in one byelection that for three decades has been Liberal is not really going to inform my decision around the future of our movement or our party,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh before question period on Tuesday.

“We knew already that this riding was one strongly in support of the Liberals, so it’s not necessarily negative for us,” Conservative Quebec MP Joël Godin told reporters Wednesday.

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