Pierre Poilievre, one of 11 who have so far expressed interest in leading the Conservative Party of Canada, spent Friday campaigning across New Brunswick.
In Saint John, he announced plans to ban most non-U.S. foreign oil, should his campaigning take him all the way to the prime minister’s office.
“Buying overseas oil from polluting dictatorships is terrible for our environment,” Poilievre said.
“It exports our jobs, our money and our pollution to countries with poor ecological standards. Instead, let us bring the jobs, money and business to the most environmentally responsible energy sector in the world here in Canada.”
He says within five years of forming government, he’d curb imports from countries like Saudi Arabia while boosting Canadian production to make up the shortfall – and said he believes the province’s residents are behind him.
“New Brunswickers share my vision of making Canada the freest country on earth,” says Poilievre.
‘Broaden his base’
Looking at five years after becoming prime minster — before even being approved for the CPC leadership ballot — might be a little premature, but University of New Brunswick political science professor Don Wright says maybe not.
“Pierre Poilievre has to broaden his base,” Wright says.
“He can’t rely simply on Western Canadian support or Ontario support. It’s a national race so he’s got to find the votes where they are, and if they are in a small province like New Brunswick, so be it.
“He’ll make the trip down.”
Early on, Poilievre aligned himself with fresh New Brunswick MP Jake Stewart, naming him as his New Brunswick campaign chair.
Wright says people shouldn’t be surprised if other hopefuls start making moves like this on the East Coast as well.
“They want to be a big tent party and they can’t be a small tent party,” he said.
“They can’t simply be grievance-based, western Canadian social conservatism. They’ve got to broaden their tent to be a conservative party for all conservatives. And that’s why people like Pierre Poilievre is going to make the trip to small places like New Brunswick,” said Wright.
CPC leadership hopefuls have until April 19 to throw their hat into the ring and until June 3 to sell memberships.
The party will vote on its new leader on September 10.