Jean Charest’s campaign picking up waves of supporters, while Poilievre continues his string of petulant attacks on his character and record as premier
By: Charlotte Hui
Last night, the six Conservative candidates vying to be the party’s next leader squared off in the second debate; Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, and Pierre Poilievre, which took place in Laval, Quebec.
Very early during the debate, Aitchison, Baber, and Brown showed signs of discomfort and struggled with answering the moderator’s questions because the content was in French, and English was their first language. Lewis, and Poilievre, whose fluency and familiarity with the French language appeared pretty comfortable with their responses.
Charest was once again a notable standout when it came time to respond to the moderator’s questions. Charest, a Francophone and former Premier of Quebec, answers were often greeted with loud applause from the audience, especially after responding to questions related to Bills 96 and 21, virtual currency, and public safety. Home crowd advantage was definitely in Charest’s favour.
Quebec was once again in the national spotlight for the passing of yet another controversial piece of legislation, Bill 96. The Bill overhauls the French Charter and strengthens the use of French in Quebec by changing the rules for businesses, CEGEP students, new immigrants, and others.
According to many scholars, the Bill infringed on the rights of Anglophones under the Charter of Rights and Freedom. The Bill dominated the debate as its passage was the cause of dissatisfaction among the English and other language communities. At the same time, Bill 21 was just as much of a lightning rod topic in the debate as it restricts public officials such as teachers and police from wearing religious symbols while on the job.
During the debate, Charest argued that Canada is a bilingual nation, with many of its most senior officials unable to speak French, which should be a priority for the federal government. At the same time, he pointed out that he had made a deal with France when he was Premier to bring in more French-speaking talent and questioned Poilievre’s wavering stance on how both official languages get used.
Charest then went on the offensive finding many flaws with Poilievre’s stance on Bitcoin and virtual currencies. He pointed out that Poilievre had no idea what he was talking about when he suggested the country adapt virtual currencies and condemned his pledge to fire Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem. He inferred that the Conservatives needed a leader who would not be subject to conspiracy theories.
Last but not least, on issues such as public safety, Charest promised more funding for law enforcement, a crackdown on street fighting, and reducing the illegal guns on Canadian streets. Poilievre quickly pointed out his support for the unlawful truck blockage that paralyzed the country’s capital and other cities.
Enamoured by his hubris, Poilievre cannot comprehend the magnitude of damage caused to Canadians by the appalling acts of the Freedom convoy and continues to pledge his unwavering support for them.
In Charest’s conclusion, he made an excellent closing argument why Canada needs a government and leader who will unite the country and serve them equally.
The debate ended with cries of Charest, Charest, Charest!