Local Conservative David Busch, who ran twice for the party in the federal riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, said the first-ballot victory of Pierre Poilievre as the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada shows that the party has never been more united.
Busch said Poilievre’s coast-to-coast victory with 68 per cent of the vote, ahead of second-placed Jean Charest, put to rest any concerns that the party would emerge out of the leadership contest divided.
“In almost every riding he was the number one choice,” said Busch. “We have grown the party by hundreds of thousands and they have come together behind Pierre and his goal to make sure Canada is a country where everybody can get ahead.”
Unlike other federal parties, the Conservatives are united and ready to hold Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accountable, he said.
Busch, who represented the party in 2019 and 2021, said the outcome also pleased him personally. “The ballot is everybody’s private choice,” he said. “I’m very happy with the results. It was a great run. We had five great candidates up there. Our membership grew to a little over 700,000. We had 400,000 votes cast. It was everything you wanted in a leadership campaign.”
Poilievre’s victory came not long after his appearance at Sidney’s Mary Winspear, where he referenced former Progressive Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker. But commentators have noted Poilievre’s previous sympathy for political forces considered fringe, such as the convoy of truckers that spent several weeks in downtown Ottawa, may well put Poilievre outside the tradition he invokes.
“We are a unified party, we are all Conservatives,” said Busch. “Charest is a Conservative, Pierre is a Conservative, Diefenbaker is a Conservative, we are all Conservatives.”
Busch said Poilievre’s victory has already forced the Liberals to signal that they would take inflation more seriously. “We will have to wait to see if they are actually going to do something positive about it.” He later added the Liberal movement has run the country “way out towards the left” in answering why Poilievre often speaks of leading a movement rather than a party.
While the next federal election is not officially scheduled until 2025 – Oct. 20 being the latest possible date of that year – Busch said the current arrangement that sees the New Democrats support the Liberals is not worth the paper on which it is written. “It will survive only as long as Mr. Singh and Mr. Trudeau think it is advantageous to them,” he said.
While Canadians are sick and tired of elections, he said “folks are not happy with the direction we are going.”
When asked if he would run again, Busch said “I love the election campaign … I love the civil exchange of ideas. I would be happy to run again. In fact, I tell people that I will run again somewhere, some-when.”
Ultimately, the final choice of candidate for the riding will be up to the voting members and the party, said Busch. “No matter what, I will remain an active voice for the party.”
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