Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper endorses Pierre Poilievre as party leader
OTTAWA — Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has endorsed Pierre Poilievre as the party’s next leader.
In a rare public throwback to party politics, Harper, who did not wade into the Conservative leadership races in 2017 and 2020, posted a short video on Twitter on Monday discussing his endorsement.
Harper says the contest to lead the party is filled with candidates, but one stands out.
The former prime minister says Poilievre was a strong minister under him when the Conservatives were last in power, before being beaten by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015.
« In recent years, he has been our party’s most vocal and effective critic of the Trudeau Liberals, » said Harper, who pointed to Poilievre’s defense of economic issues like inflation. and debt.
« It offers answers rooted in solid conservative ideas, but adapted to today’s realities. »
Harper’s endorsement comes with less than two months left in the race and party members filling out their mail-in ballots.
The leadership race of Harper’s former party has been characterized as a battle for its very soul and has at times included personal attacks between candidates.
Poilievre has been criticized by former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who is also a candidate for the leadership race, and others for having ideas and a tone that would render the Conservatives unable to win the next general election after three straight losses.
Harper, in her endorsement video, said otherwise.
The former prime minister says Poilievre not only has the strongest support within the party caucus of any candidate in the race, but is popular with existing members and attracting new ones.
« This is how we will win the next federal election, » Harper said.
« In my opinion, Pierre has by far the strongest case that he is the person to do it. »
Charest released a statement following Harper’s video, calling his endorsement of Poilievre a « personal choice. »
« Conservatives only win when we are united. Stephen Harper has succeeded in uniting the Conservative Party of Canada. As leader of the CPC, I pledge to do the same, » Charest’s statement read.
« This race is about the future, right now we have a choice: lose more seats or continue our momentum across Canada to win a majority government. »
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 25, 2022
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press