No basis to suggest Pierre Poilievre’s campaign is racist

He wants to broaden the party’s base – not narrow it

Michael TaubeThe Conservative Party of Canada has formally approved six candidates for its Sept. 10 leadership vote: Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre.

The clear frontrunner is Poilievre – by a country mile in most polls. The 42-year-old longtime member of Parliament and former cabinet minister has captured the attention and imagination of many party supporters.

Poilievre has introduced an array of intelligent conservative ideas – eliminating the carbon tax, opposing the reintroduction of the federal gun registry, defunding the CBC – and a few outside-the-box positions such as normalizing bitcoin/cryptocurrency and making housing fairer and more affordable for working Canadians.

His political rallies have been a sight to behold.

Restaurants, bars, meeting rooms, university halls and other such venues have been packed to the rafters. A thousand people (or more) showed up to events in smaller communities like Lindsay, Ont., and Vernon, B.C., and events in larger cities like Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto attracted several thousand people. Many attendees reportedly waited over an hour to get in – and in some cases, didn’t.

Such an enthusiastic response to a Conservative leadership event is unlike anything most political observers have seen. It certainly caught the attention of Poilievre’s legion of critics – and they’re doing everything in their power to attack him.

Some critics have tried to piggyback a recent Twitter exchange about one large rally. When a retired banker named Martin MacCool tweeted on April 12, “That’s a whole lot of white people,” Canadian journalist Stephen Maher responded, “It is a whole lot of white people. If I was Poilievre, I would be wondering why I am only attracting white people.”

I saw this exchange a day or two after it occurred. I laughed, shook my head and decided not to write about, or give any oxygen to, these ludicrous attacks on Poilievre’s rallies.

I’ve written and discussed this topic related to right-leaning politicians and political parties on more occasions than I care to admit. Many other pundits and commentators have done the same thing.

Here’s the problem: No matter how many times we tackle this argument and easily swat it away, the political left will always go back to the same well. My original thought was to let the well become bone dry for a change.

Plus, Conrad Black’s superb April 30 column in the National Post essentially put the issue to rest. He correctly depicted this faux controversy as “supercilious bunk” and noted, “there is no suggestion that anything in what Poilievre ever said bore any relationship to anyone’s pigmentation or that he personally, or his campaign, are tainted by racism.”

Exactly.

However, even though I’m thoroughly bored with this ludicrous back-and-forth on the issue of race and political parties, it’s probably unwise to remain silent. I endorsed Poilievre in the Post a couple of days before he decided to enter the race, so it only makes sense that I should also swat away this controversy.

I’ve known Poilievre since he was a young political intern. There isn’t, and has never been, a whiff of racism associated with him. He’s always gone out of his way to encourage Canadians from all walks of life to become active in the Conservative Party. He wants to broaden the party’s base – not narrow it.

Poilievre’s leadership campaign is actively supported by Canadians of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, ages and backgrounds. (This includes his wife, Anaida, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela.) It’s a carbon copy of the makeup of the Conservative Party’s membership.

The leadership campaigns of Aitchison, Baber, Brown, Charest and Lewis, much like Poilievre’s, are actively supported by Canadians of all races, religions, ethnicities, genders, ages and other backgrounds.

As well, 72.9 per cent of Canadians are of white/European origin, according to Statistics Canada’s 2016 census. If nearly three-quarters of Canadians are white, what else would you expect the racial makeup to be at political rallies?

There are a “whole lot of white people” at Liberal, NDP, Green, Bloc Quebecois and People’s Party of Canada political rallies, too. Funny how that works.

I’ve seen people of colour at Poilievre’s rallies. The same goes for the other Conservative leadership candidates.

If this is really the best attack that critics can hurl at Poilievre with respect to his political rallies, they’re in serious trouble.

With that supercilious bunk out of the way, we can move on to more intelligent and illuminating discussions.

Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. For interview requests, click here.


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