Everything that happens in the United States eventually makes its way to Canada, whether we like it or not. It’s not surprising then, that nearly a decade after Donald Trump’s entry into public life, we now have a Canadian Conservative leader who trades in the same trademark combination of bombast, belligerence, and bullshit. No, Pierre Poilievre isn’t the second coming of Donald Trump, but he keeps hitting some unmistakably Trumpy notes.

His contempt for the mainstream media, of course, is entirely in keeping with Trump’s. So too is his obvious disdain for expertise and the well-educated. And the rallies where he praises the virtues of the “common people”, and talks about all the ways in which they’re getting screwed over by elites? Textbook Trumpism.

Like the former and potential next American president, he’s also turning the party he leads into a projection of his own ego. Case in point: it recently asked members to help pick the new design of its membership cards. Their choices? Three different images of Poilievre. As someone on Twitter said, “if I wanted to be part of a cult of personality, I’d still be a Liberal.”

But perhaps the most striking similarity between Poilievre and Trump is their ability to bend long standing members of their party to their will — and away from their own apparent ideas and ideals. Take Michael Chong, the Member of Parliament for Wellington-Halton Hills and a longtime darling of Canada’s dwindling community of red Tories. First elected to Parliament in his early 30s, Chong stood out from his peers almost immediately both for his decency and keen mind for foreign policy. He served as Stephen Harper’s Minister of Intergovernmental affairs and Minister of Sport. Even after the CPC defeat in 2015 he seemed poised for much bigger things down the road.

There’s an alternate universe out there in which Chong’s 2017 bid for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership (one that included a price on carbon) saw him win rather than placing fifth, and where his comparatively sophisticated approach to politics — one that includes, or at least used to, an embrace of carbon pricing — helped him win the 2019 election.

Instead, we live in one where Chong has been reduced to serving as a glorified cheerleader, parroting talking points about the oil and gas industry he must know are hopelessly oversimplified. Such is the apparent tradeoff that’s needed if you want to serve in Pierre Poilievre’s Conservative Party of Canada.

If it’s any consolation, he’s not alone there. Shuv Majumdar, the recently elected MP for Calgary-Heritage, was billed as a fellow foreign policy superstar who would bring some much needed intellectual ballast to his party. Instead, he’s been following in Chong’s footsteps, trading his policy chops for canned talking points about the carbon tax. His first speech in the House of Commons was, if you can believe it, was about potatoes. Majumdar blamed their rising cost on the carbon tax despite a nearly identical potato cost increase in the U.S., where the carbon tax doesn’t exist.

This sort of ritual prostration before the party’s position on carbon pricing reveals one crucial difference between Poilievre and Trump. While Trump doesn’t seem to consistently believe in anything other than his own right to profit and pleasure, Poilievre has the rigidly defined worldview of a lifelong conservative operative. Nowhere is that more obvious, or more telling, than in Poilievre’s approach to the Trudeau government’s signature policy. Skepticism towards carbon pricing has long been an article of partisan faith among Conservatives, but Poilievre has elevated it to a commandment that appears to override all others.

Take the CPC’s bizarre position on the modernization of a free trade deal with Ukraine, it opposed repeatedly on the basis that it contained language promoting carbon pricing. Never mind that Ukraine already has a modest price on carbon, or that it’s one it will need to significantly strengthen as it prepares to join the European Union. As an official spokesperson for the Ukrainian embassy noted in a statement, the deal “does not include any specific instruments on decreasing carbon footprint, including specific taxation instruments.”

Pierre Poilievre has more in common with Donald Trump than he'd like to admit. Will it matter? @maxfawcett writes for @natobserver #cdnpoli

That hasn’t stopped Poilievre or his MPs from continuing to pretend otherwise. In a letter published on journalist Terry Glavin’s Substack, Majumdar defended the party’s incoherent position on Ukraine by suggesting it was really about the government’s refusal to more vocally champion — you guessed it — Canada’s oil and gas industry. He also rejected the possibility that their no votes had anything in common with the growing anti-Ukrainian sentiment among American conservatives like Tucker Carlson. “Canadian Conservatives are heirs of the British Conservative tradition,” Majumdar wrote, “not the American Republican one.”

Right now, they’re squandering that inheritance. As Majumdar noted, “I met many people in my own campaign, not just in the nomination race but also in the byelection in Calgary, who surveyed the institutions they were supposed to trust - our Parliament, our media, our academic life, our bureaucratic life, our health institutions. And what we have seen happen over these last eight years is a wrecking ball run through the institutions that should be arbiters of public trust.” But he’s standing behind that wrecking ball right now, and its name is Pierre Poilievre.

Conservatives like Majumdar and Chong still have time, theoretically, to steer the party away from a full Trump-style cannibalization of its remaining values. It doesn’t have to become a party that embraces people like Viktor Orban and Vladimir Putin, much less Donald Trump. But as we saw time and time again with Trump, the supposedly moderate (and moderating) conservatives in his midst inevitably shrank from that challenge. It’s hard to see how it will be any different in Canada.

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Trump and P both appeal to the disaffected and they spread dissension and division. Politicians appear to become so desperate to either get into or maintain positions of power they will say they believe in absolutely anything whether they do or not. No wonder the voters are disillusioned with politicians. I am also fed up with PR firms improving politicians image. How do we know what politicians really stand for other than their own benefit?

I must say my instant mental guess on "What Pierre Poilievre and Donald Trump have in common" was "They're both assholes".

It will be absurd for the lamestream media to claim that it will be okay to vote for PP because there will be a balance within the party that will temper PP's views. Not going to happen.

I have always said Pierre is just a Canadian Trump, as well as economically illiterate. Pierre has an answer for everything, but zero backing up his claims or solutions, just like Trump. Canada will be screwed if Pierre is elected PM. Postmedia, who own the bulk of right-wing media in this country, fail to tell the real truth or only part of the story and continue to spread disinformation.

Maybe the most important thing we can do is take action NOW to stop PP. Write letters to your local newspaper (if you still have one), make posts on social media, express your displeasure to your MP's etc. Don't give up too soon...

The thing is that even old school conservative values are, basically, fake, at least at the leadership level. In the end they are tools--ways to shore up oligarchy, which is what conservatism has always stood for in the end. So conservatives with "principles" will always compromise them under pressure as long as the core mission of promoting oligarchy remains intact.

Maybe politics and questions we make should be more about our systems of government, which are not based on agreement, are more at fault than the available leaders. Can you say that Trudeau's behaviour makes a lot of people uncomfortable too.

Here we have a fine representative of the current state of Canadian Conservatives.

you are a paid subscriber?????

The slow-moving coup on the right has really picked up speed thanks to social media enabling yahoo proud boys like this to disrupt, agitate and lay waste to anything or anyone in the realm of authority OR basic "decorum," like any juvenile delinquent on a tear.
Despite braying on about "freedumb" they can still subscribe to whatever, including exemplary, fledgling online publications like CNO that are relatively inexpensive. We HAVE always subscribed to the Globe and Mail for the flagship that it HAS been and because we like a newspaper in hand to read, delivered each morning, and because there are still some good columnists like Ian Brown and Doug Saunders, but it does now cost 89 dollars a MONTH by comparison. But we also support the superior direction of CNO, the Tyee, and the Narwhal.
So the army of proud boys are free to flaunt their entirely predictable illiteracy ("wood" be?) general thuggery and massive ignorance.
But I hope the CNO doesn't feel they have to try and monitor these irritating outliers; the fact that this comment has been allowed indicates that they have NOT and I say, good, attention is what they want so don't give it to them.
Better to remember that on the upcoming anniversary of the Jan. 6th insurrection in the U.S., the adult reality is that the "Proud Boys" have now been declared a terrorist group in Canada and many have been charged accordingly.

Dear F U,
Typical fowl mouthed example of so many conservatives and too chicken sh*t to use you own name.

So Kenney seems to have resurfaced to capitalize on his new role as a relative moderate in the endless, fresh hell that is the "conservative movement," lambasting Trump and his ilk for undermining his/THE true north Canadian version with American style populism.
What I hope for is that the "religious right" element will become harder to ignore as the cons become more emboldened by the scent of victory.
And surprisingly, it may have started with Poilievre.....

Like Trump, Poilievre spreads distrust of government, boards, commissions and other so called gate keepers, but to my knowledge hasn't made a rational attempt at proving solutions to the issues he says are broken. Like Danielle Smith concentrate power in the PM or Premier's office so MPor MLAs don't count. Fixing things only means cutting expenses severely yet Canadian deficits and debt are a reasonable % of GDP. National debt is not a problem. Japan has a debt 3 x its GDP and still has one of the best world economies. Been that way for 30 years. Smoke and mirrors are how Poilievre and Trump work. Populism only divides and reduces freedom and democracy, but we know ,hear and see how Trump wants to be king of the USA and only he can dispense favors or issue vengeance. Poilievre is much like that.

Y'all should read some biography - start with Mussolini by Peter Neville, and then, if Trump and Poilievre's oportunism scare you, you may be too afraid to read about the rise of other Fascists in 1930's Europe and America. And I don't think that is exaggeration or hype or hysteria. The larger social and political trends are too similar.
We need to support and vote for social democratic politicians at all levels of government.