Justin Trudeau is in deep, deep trouble. Based on recent polling, which continues to push Pierre Poilievre’s Conservative Party of Canada ahead by double digits, Trudeau’s Liberals appear headed for the sort of once-in-a-generation political shellacking that Brian Mulroney handed John Turner in 1984 and Stephen Harper dealt Michael Ignatieff in 2011.

Ironically, there might only be one person who can save the Liberals from this fate: Pierre Poilievre.

I’m sure this sounds delusional to most conservatives, given how high Poilievre is riding in the polls right now. But a recent video of him chatting with fruit growers and a local journalist in British Columbia — released by Poilievre’s own team, no less — serves as a reminder of his weaknesses and why they could make the next election more competitive than it looks right now. The very fact they released it, meanwhile, shows that his team can’t see the danger staring them right in the face.

The video, titled “How do you like them apples?,” is clearly a reference to one of the defining moments in 1997’s Good Will Hunting. But rather than coming off like Matt Damon’s character, Poilievre seems to be channeling the condescending Harvard student that gets humiliated by Damon in the scene. When a local journalist named Don Urquhart asks him about his populist political brand and willingness to borrow from Donald Trump’s political playbook, he gets visibly annoyed. “What are you talking about? What page? Give me a page.”

There are many ways he could have handled this line of questioning, from a gentle pivot to the importance of listening to the average voter to an articulation of what his own playbook actually includes. He doesn’t have to behave like a petulant jackass, in other words. But with Poilievre, it seems, petulance is the point. It’s who he’s been his entire political career, and it’s what still bubbles to the surface almost instinctively, regardless of how much time and money his team spends trying to change it.

His penchant for two-dimensional thinking and deliberate oversimplification is also on full display in his response. He talks about the importance of balancing the budget and cutting spending, but when pressed on the details of where and how he would do that, he produces a grab bag of Conservative hobby horses that wouldn’t amount to a rounding error on the federal budget. “Defund the CBC, save a billion dollars,” he says. “Get rid of the ArriveCan app. Reduce the monstrous contracting out. Stop sending our money to foreign dictators, to terrorists, and to international bureaucracies that waste it on ourselves.”

Oh, about those “dictators and terrorists” to whom Canada is apparently giving money? When asked to clarify, he could only come up with the $257 million given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank, which funds low-carbon projects in China and other parts of Asia — funding the federal government has already announced that it's suspended. Poilievre, though, suggested it’s really about “building pipelines that we don’t allow to be built here” (we do, of course: see TMX and Coastal GasLink) and “designed to re-establish the ancient Silk Road of the Chinese empire. Why would we pay to establish some kind of imperial silk dynasty with Canadian tax dollars for a communist dictatorship? It’s insane.”

This is a childish answer to a serious question, but it’s a telling one as well. It’s emblematic of Poilievre’s approach to politics, one designed to dumb everything (and everyone) down to an elementary school level of analysis. His fondness for simplistic — dare I say, Trumpish? — political formulations and his inability to resist blaming his opponents for everything under the sun might appeal to the conservative base, but it surely sits less comfortably with the general public. Most people, I think — I hope — understand there are no easy solutions to the challenges we face, especially when it comes to things like climate change and other global economic and geopolitical realities.

The Trudeau Liberals have less than two years to remind Canadians of who Poilievre really is and why his fundamentally unserious approach to politics is a threat they should take more seriously. Given their demonstrated lack of competence on a bunch of different files of late, that might be well beyond their abilities at this point. You can only campaign on being the steady hand at the wheel if the car isn’t swerving all over the place, after all.

Pierre Poilievre doesn’t have to behave like a petulant jackass, But with Poilievre, it seems, petulance is the point. @maxfawcett writes for @NatObserver #cdnpoli #poilievre #cpc

But if there’s a path to victory for the Trudeau Liberals in 2025, it has to revolve around Trudeau’s willingness to acknowledge the complexity of the moment we’re in right now.

We live in a world where there are no free lunches, and few easy meals of any sort. Poilievre’s entire value proposition to voters, meanwhile, revolves around serving them an imaginary platter and pretending someone else will pay the bill. It’s long past time the Trudeau Liberals called that out. If they’re going to go down, they might as well do it swinging.

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I cannot see Pierre Poilievre ever being elected as PM despite the fake polls show. I say fake as most pollsters' organizations are run by right-leaning individuals. It is not hard to get any poll to lean one way or another. Pierre's true colours have surfaced more than once to show who he truly is and that the CPC has made it clear they don't recognize climate change as real. Pierre has no solutions; just empty words and he can't seem to grasp how complex some of the issues are in Canada.

On the other hand, with Justin Trudeau, he needs to step aside for a new face with fresh thinking ideas. Trudeau talks the talks, but seems to never accomplish anything fully, while undermining what is being done in the background. The world has lost faith in his abilities to carry out his commitments. The Liberals need to refresh their party and image and Justin Trudeau is not the person to do that. Now is the time for change, waiting until the election will only further tarnish the parties' image domestically and globally.

When it comes to climate change Trudeau has lost touch with reality. You can't on one hand talk the talk about climate targets, while continuing to push more oil & gas, building pipelines, and telling the world we are major oil & gas producers.

If the Liberal party doesn't wake up soon, they will lose the election.

Bravo Max, the clown that Poilievre is needs to be on full display everyday.
He has entrenched his misinformation machine into the feeble minds of far too many Canadians who simply parrot his nonsense on comment pages everywhere.
Any chance that the National Post will find just a few columns of space to pick up this story, and use it to jolt their readers out of their collective stooper. It could be achieved by swapping out a regular columnist there, and mercifully saving us from another mind numbing Lorrie Goldstein article.

I'm not going to read the column but Colby Cosh of the National Post mocking a local print journalist who stumbled while trying to politely phrase genuine questions to a deeply hostile and performative Poilievre is one of the many reasons why I can't wait for that loathsome money-losing rag to finally go under.

Yes, things are terrible for journalists now, but I'm not sure that Postmedia has more than a couple of dozen of those left, from Vancouver to Montreal.

Well said, and their comment page on that story looks a lot like FOX "news" light.
Even if my 20 comments or so sampling appeared more "balanced" than usual, I wonder - could some people be ever so slowly catching on to the P.P. hoodwinking?

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, and wiser people are so full of doubt." Philosopher Bertrand Russell. Seems to be referring to PeePee.