For the first time in recorded memory, Pierre Poilievre is holding his tongue. Despite being roundly mocked for his embrace of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin when it crashed in spectacular fashion in 2022, Poilievre has been conspicuously silent in the face of an equally spectacular rally that briefly pushed its price to a record high. It raises an interesting question: Why is a politician who delights in dunking on his opponents passing up such a golden opportunity?

It might be because Poilievre’s cryptocurrency advocacy predated his image makeover, one that has helped push him past — way, way past — Justin Trudeau in the polls. It might be because he’s already gotten burned here once before and understands that any attempt to gloat about Bitcoin’s price spike could easily backfire. Heck, it might even be because he understands the rally actually undermines his argument that people can use cryptocurrencies to “opt out of inflation,” since the price bottomed a few weeks after inflation peaked in June 2022 and has been moving in opposite directions ever since.

Or, in an interesting twist, Poilievre’s silence might be a function of mere personal embarrassment. While his February 2023 disclosure to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner included holdings of the Purpose Bitcoin ETF (MPs must identify the nature and value of assets and liabilities that exceed $10,000), his most recent disclosure statement from September showed no such investment. That isn’t because its value declined, either, as the price of the exchange-traded fund in question rose by approximately 11 per cent over those six months. The most logical explanation is that he sold some — or maybe even all — of his much-ballyhooed Bitcoin assets right before they went on a tear.

Poilievre, then, might have unwittingly opted out of Bitcoin’s biggest rally in years. But that’s far from the only irony at work here. While Bitcoin enthusiasts like to talk about how they’re distancing their financial lives from the traditional “fiat” system, the recent rally has been powered almost entirely by that same fiat-oriented system and the on-ramps it’s building into the crypto world. The creation of new exchange-traded funds in the United States that allow people to buy Bitcoin through their existing financial institutions (rather than any number of cryptocurrency exchanges that have gone bust due to overt fraud or mere incompetence) has sent huge volumes of money into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that were never willing to go there before.

If you get the sense that I enjoy pointing out these ironies, well, you’d be right. I’ve long been a skeptic of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and the latest price surge doesn’t change that. Are they useful vehicles for financial speculation? Obviously. Is there a use case for them in developing economies where people need to guard against unstable and unpredictable governments and their impact on the value of assets and national currencies? Absolutely.

To true crypto believers, though, they’re much more than just a useful tool. Instead, they represent a libertarian revolution in how wealth is generated and protected, one that has profound economic and democratic implications. Indeed, if you listen closely enough, it almost starts to sound like a form of religious belief — one that includes cult-like rituals, a sacred founding text and even a Christ-like prophet.

Like most religions, theirs relies on an inherently fatalistic view of the future and the promise of judgment for those who don’t convert. That view, by the way, is eerily similar to the one long prophesied by so-called “gold bugs,” that community of preppers and doomers who have long believed that only the shiny metal can protect them against society’s imminent (but somehow always postponed) collapse.

As Philip Pilkington wrote in a 2013 piece, “Their mantra is that ‘fiat money’ is condemning us to a hyperinflationary apocalypse. Paper currency will soon become worthless. Society will then decompose. Only those clever enough to buy gold will come out on top — Kings of the Wasteland, laughing at the naïve fools who had faith in banknotes.”

This spiel will sound familiar to anyone who's spent more than five minutes in the company of a Bitcoin evangelist. People are free to worship whoever they want, of course, whether it’s Jesus Christ or Satoshi Nakamoto. My issue with the crypto faithful is they tend to be the same people who don’t believe in things like governments, shared responsibilities or even the idea of civil society — all while taking full advantage of them. As Bloomberg’s Matt Levine wrote in his massive 2022 essay on the subject, “Crypto is in a way about rejecting the institutions of society, about being trustless and censorship-resistant. But it quietly free-rides on people’s deep reservoir of trust in those institutions.”

Pierre Poilievre has been oddly quiet about Bitcoin's recent rally, one that's taken it (briefly) to new all-time highs. Is it because he's trying to avoid reminding people of his position on cryptocurrencies — or because he sold his stake in them?

All of this helps explain, I think, why Poilievre has been quiet about Bitcoin’s latest case of speculative fever. His avowed fondness for cryptocurrency was useful in a Conservative leadership race, where libertarians tend to punch above their usual political weight. But in a general election campaign when millions of Canadians are more concerned about things like health care and the cost of living than participating in a quasi-religious revolution, it’s a potential political albatross he doesn’t need. All the better, then, not to remind people about the fact that it's still hanging around his neck.

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One of the many things that is deeply disturbing about Mr. Poilievre is his hypocrisy. There he is arriving at work in a chauffeur driven limo paid for by the Cdn. taxpayer all the while screaming that he will kick the elites out of Ottawa. It appears that his libertarian, no government is best government values are applicable to other people but not himself. Poilivere is a fine example of why we should consider term limits for politicians. He and many others are happy to be supported by Canadians to be expensive bobble heads in nice suits.

The other disturbing thing is the shocking thinness of his resume. Maybe I am an elitist, but I think contenders for the top job in the land should have educational and experiential credentials more impressive than my own. Prior to Stephen Harper, almost every PM had postgraduate degrees in law, as well as impressive accomplishments inside and outside of politics. With only a B.A. and no experience outside politics, Poilievre would be lucky to be shortlisted if he applied for a middle management position in the private sector. He does, however, have an impressive ability to disseminate disinformation for the purposes of rage farming. The context of his ridiculous claim that cryptocurrency would be a good “hedge against inflation” was to curry favour with the anti-government “truckers convoy” during the CPC leadership campaign.

Couldn't agree more. And worth repeating, as your example is a fine one.
ie. "One of the many things that is deeply disturbing about Mr. Poilievre is his hypocrisy."
I keep wondering, why he is so adverse to sharing with the Canadian public any details whatsoever about his vacations? (he can sure dish it out to J.T.) I presume it is because words like "vacation" (who me? poor Pierre? I would never leave the country I serve, I am too busy uncovering corruption to holiday. /s) Also Poilievre is afraid of the words "carbon tax rebate" and now it seems "bitcoin" because to have folks actually think might chip away at his donor paid for carefully crafted multi-million dollar makeover that has bamboozled so many of the uninformed.
I cannot help but keep thinking about the many similarities to Trump whenever I see Poilievre spewing his never ending grievances and misinformation.

Anyone know if his new plumper face is part of his "new look" ... I wonder if he shouldn't consider jogging to work.

Jack Layton cycled to work. I miss him.

Asking Poilievre to smarten up about Econ. 101 issues is like asking him to try working at a real job for a day. Poor boy, those dainty, uncalloused manicured hands wouldn't survive.

As for his education, I wouldn't knock him for holding "only" a BA post secondary degree. A number of people have gone on to do great things with that level of education or less. Lech Walesa became the leader of Poland after his Solidarity labour movement crushed the holdover Soviet rulers of the day and brought in democracy. Poland will never go back. Walesa had only a vocational ticket from a tech school before becoming a mechanic in the Gdansk shipyards. And this lowly mechanic won the Nobel Peace Prize.

But I would knock Poilievre for choosing only political science, then moving directly into the arms of the Conservative Party. It's the only life he's known, and therein his personal sphere of awareness and world experience is small. His world view is not helped by proving that acting like a loudmouth asshole gets votes from those who live in the same small world.

I can understand the libertarian case for cryptocurrency, and even have a bit of sympathy for it--sure, governments can be untrustworthy, and even supposedly democratic governments have a pretty crappy record in terms of either following the will of the people or doing things for the majority's benefit as opposed to the benefit of wealthy elite groups. Libertarianism is a stupid and counterproductive response to that, but the basic impulse for some money that the mistrusted government somehow wouldn't control . . . as I say, I have some sympathy.

But cryptocurrency advocates decrying the unreliability of fiat money . . . that is maniacally moronic. Cryptocurrency is the fiat-est of fiat money. Normal fiat currency has value because a massive entity with a ton of assets and resources and soldiers with weapons says so, and has a very big stake on making sure it continues to be the case. Cryptocurrency has value because . . . some people click their shoes together three times and really believe. Sure, what with climate change and the unraveling of neoliberalism combined with the refusal of our wealthiest to allow any other kind of politics, civilization could fall. But your crypto ain't gonna be worth a fart in hell if that happens. Gold might be worth something if society falls apart, fiat money in cash might be worthless pieces of paper with some minimal nostalgia value, but crypto will not just be worthless, it will cease to EXIST if there aren't any sophisticated international networks of computers.

True. Like every other "product" of the "virtual" world (what we could also call our minds btw), cryptocurrency just another siren-song-like idea, like religion, hence the "crypto-evangelists" who have deemed it not only a worthy upstart idea (like QAnon, formerly Scientology and before that Mormonism, etc. etc.) but also a rare "winning" idea, albeit one that needed shoring up with "non-fungible tokens." Which is also why monstrous, disgraced Alex Jones of "Infowars" sold supplements, but big tech is the only real winner in the hierarchy of this virtual world because they literally own the equipment that disseminates and sells it all, including the ACTUAL, real world products.
But just as cryptocurrency unavoidably riffs off that virtual system, the virtual system in turn riffs off our long-established monetary system that has evolved through history to be based on the tangible, aggregate "wealth" of each country's "real world" economy, and so essentially unassailable.
Speaking of hierarchy though, unassailable invites upstarts, again unavoidable owing to men's strong, competitive nature coupled in rather too many with a truly irrational and fanatical desire to win and/or rule the world, regardless of cost. But in its everyday ameliorated sense, such striving is the valid basis for our capitalist system, which has become sacrosanct over time owing to its wildly native success, embodied in America, making it the most powerful country in the world. Along with the sacrosanct though comes the inevitable heretic/enemy, which in this context was communism. Equally powerful in the same way the devil is, it enabled neoliberalism to become entrenched, AND fuelled the right wing's rampant, trademark paranoia, along with their dumbest conspiracy theories.
But end-stage capitalism was also predictable when not sufficiently mitigated by socialism, so winners in that rarefied American air are now winning so big that they've come close to gaming the system, hence Trump AND big tech's extremely, obviously destructive algorithms still being given a pass.
But bottom line, Mother Nature is about to mitigate big-time, making everything "non-fungible tokens," proving who's been on top all along, and that "we're all indebted for the very tongue with which we speak."

Excellent article Max.
You've exposed this whole right-wing ruse for what it is, classic libertarian and adolescent rebellion against the system (tellingly, also called sticking it to "the man.")
And although it's true that people are free to "worship" who they want, isn't it past time to call out this behaviour for what it is, a juvenile "dare" looking for limits?

Pierre is a career politician for 20 years and has accomplished nothing for the Canadian people. In fact, Pierre was slapped on the wrist for introducing a bill that would have undermined Canadian democracy and rigged future elections. As the finance critic, Pierre was economically illiterate in this role as an MP.

Up to this point, he does a lot of talking and when asked for details, offers nothing in the way of a plan or solution. When asked about women's rights, abortion, climate change, his religious connections with a questionable group and other modern-day issues, Pierre abruptly changes the subject, avoids an answer or attacks the media.

Pierre has moved the conservative party further right and seems to support the Canadian MAGA nutbar equivalents here in Canada. But I suspect that it is more to get the votes, than really caring about the people and just seems to be just another Trumpian leader.

I find it laughable that younger voters are concerned about climate change and other things, but the conservatives are in denial on climate change, nor have a policy on climate change beyond denial. Yet, they are supporting the conservative party that ignores one of their main concerns. Pierre is a snake oil salesperson, conman and the yonger generation seem incapable of thinking things through when it comes to Pierre's empty words or willing to challenge anything he says that would back up his claims or solutions.

There will be a rude wakening by the same younger voters, when they find out that Pierre as a PM, will not resolve any of their concerns or pull a magic rabbit out of his hat. Some of what Pierre blames Trudeau for goes back to the Harper years and many of the issues are nothing new. It seems with conservatives, they won't work for Canadians in the House of Commons, just spend their days criticizing and blaming Trudeau for everything under the sun, even if it has nothing to do with Trudeau. At least the NDP are trying to work with the Liberals for the betterment of Canadians, but even that, the conservatives are criticizing Trudeau, with the help of their conservative premier counterparts to ensure everything fails.