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My interview with(out) Pierre Poilievre
If the interview had happened, I'd have asked these questions
“Will get back to you soon,” Pierre Poilievre’s press secretary wrote to me on May 12 when I asked for an interview with the Conservative leadership candidate.
That’s perfectly fair. Whether to grant an interview is always a tactical decision. Candidates are busy people. Nobody’s at any reporter’s beck and call.
But neither should I be expected to hold my breath forever. Here are some the questions I would like to ask the perceived front-runner for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership. If he sends me answers I’ll publish them.
1. Disappointing colleagues
After Conservative finance critic Ed Fast said your statements on the Bank of Canada “deeply troubled” him, you said, “Ed Fast and Jean Charest would have no problem firing a waitress or welder for not doing their jobs. But they won’t do the same for a big shot banker whose failures have cost our people a fortune.”
Ed Fast used to play keyboards in his daughters’ Christian rock band. He has been Canada’s minister of trade and minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. You served in Cabinet with him for two years. The two of you ran as candidates for the same party in six consecutive elections under three consecutive leaders over 16 years. When did you decide he’s a class traitor?
2. The media
In a video with the title “They’re trying to stop me,” you say CTV is doing “its character assassination on me” because it’s owned by Bell.
If, as prime minister, you were about to meet another world leader and you read that this person had used titles like “They’re trying to stop me” on their campaign materials, what conclusions would you draw about that person?
You’ve decried “corporate media,” subsidized media, and government-owned media. Your decision to skip a debate organized by largely-conservative “independent” organizations that receive no government subsidy and are not owned by corporations led to that debate’s cancellation. You’re not here to take questions from subscriber-funded media, or at least from subscriber-funded me. Is there any mechanism for funding newsgathering operations that meets your approval?
You’ve said you’ll “ban ministers and other top officials from involvement with the World Economic Forum.”
When Stephen Harper attended the WEF’s Davos summits in 2012 and 2014, what did you do to try to stop him? When Harper called the WEF “an indispensable part of the global conversation among leaders in politics, business, and civil society,” and thanked its founder Klaus Schwab for “your vision and your leadership,” how did you protest?
Will your ban be retroactive? Former cabinet ministers, diplomats and civil servants from Canada have often attended Davos. Should they resign? Nearly every G7 leader attends Davos. Will you boycott the G7? U.S. presidents go all the time. Should we close the border? Ukraine’s president addressed Davos this year. Time to leave him to the Russians?
What about the World Health Organization? Leslyn Lewis, who’s running against you for the Conservative leadership, says the WHO is developing a pandemic treaty that would force Canada to surrender its health-care sovereignty. Do you agree? Donald Trump quit the WHO and Joe Biden rejoined. Which president’s policy is closer to yours? Having sold thousands of party memberships to people who are damned sure they’re with Trump, are you sure you’re free to disagree?
4. The Bank of Canada
The last time Canada had a central-bank governor who was dedicated to doing what it took to hold inflation low, his name was John Crow, bank loans came with 16% interest, housing starts fell by 25% year-on-year and bankruptcies increased 30%. Was John Crow a good Bank of Canada governor? I ask because unlike some colleagues, I don’t get the vapours when a politician wants a new Bank governor. I just wonder who he wants, and which policies, with which effects.
Nearly all the Bank’s quantitative easing (the “printing of $400 billion” you decry) happened when Stephen Poloz was Governor. Why would you fire Tiff Macklem?
5. Science vs. political science
You told Jordan Peterson the vaccine mandates for truckers were “never about medical science, [they were] about political science.”
Name the scientists whose advice you seek to ensure you stay on the right side of that divide.
In early 2021, Ontario premier Doug Ford ejected MPP Roman Baber from the provincial Conservative caucus for opposing COVID-19 lockdowns. Baber is now running for the federal Conservative leadership. Which of the two men, Ford or Baber, was using enough medical science and which was using too much political science?
6. Cowering to a thug
At the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, you said European countries had “cowered” to a “thug” and were merely “asking nicely” for Russia to back out of Ukraine.
You mentioned cutting Russia off from the SWIFT payments system as an example of a solution the Europeans were afraid to contemplate. That happened a week later. When, before March 2022, did you call for Russia to be cut off from SWIFT?
Germany is sending 15 tanks to Ukraine. Would you? When, since your campaign video in the beginning of March, have you given your most complete statement on your wishes for Canadian defence and security policy?
Your real point in the campaign video was that Canada could sell liquified natural gas to Europe, reducing its dependency on Russian energy. The subsidized corporate media reports that no LNG project in Canada will be online before 2025, and that one will get the gas to the wrong ocean if we’re aiming for Europe. You may disagree, of course. Please identify, by name, the existing or planned LNG projects that will produce better results quicker.
Does Ukraine need a Canadian prime minister who boasts about energy he can’t deliver, while insulting the countries doing the heavy lifting?
7. Cancel culture
In a campaign video from April, you complain about the “speech gatekeepers” and the “new cancel culture warriors” who “want to tell us what we can see and say.” The rest of the video is a complaint about Steam Whistle Brewing, a Toronto private company that rented out a hall to your campaign but published a news release stating they didn’t agree with “all of” your policies. You called this stance “gutless” and complained about the quality of the brewer’s product. Of course this was intended as a joke. I’m left with a few questions.
If you can’t stand their beer, why did you use their hall?
Why is it “gutless” for a private company to decline to endorse the entirety of a candidate’s discourse? Should it be compulsory for private companies to agree with how candidates would govern them?
If a private company had said it disagrees with Justin Trudeau’s policies — or indeed, simply that it declines to endorse all of his policies — and he responded by taking less than a day to post a video mocking the private company, what would that tell you about Justin Trudeau’s character?
In 2015, along with cabinet colleagues Michelle Rempel and Jason Kenney, you supported a boycott of Tim Horton’s because a Tim’s franchise in British Columbia gave in to pressure from activists and refused an Enbridge ad.
How much of its time, effort and budget will a Poilievre government devote to shaming and boycotting private companies that don’t hold approved positions on matters of public interest? How will these policies demonstrate your opposition to speech gatekeeping and cancel culture?
I meant what I said: If Poilievre wants to provide specific answers to these specific questions I’ll publish them.
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