Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A WELL-RECEIVED ADDRESS – Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks to the large crowd at Friday evening’s rally. It was the 44-year-old MP’s first visit to the Yukon since he became the Conservative Party leader in 2022.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SPEAKING FROM UP HIGH – Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre visited Pelly Construction Ltd. in Whitehorse on Friday afternoon. From left to right are Pelly owners Jennifer and Keith Byram, Poilievre and Conservative MPs Lianne Rood and Bob Zimmer.

Poilievre: ‘have you ever seen the country this bad?’

A raucous crowd greeted Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre on Friday night, with about 450 people showing up for his “Axe the Tax” rally.

By Mark Page on September 18, 2023

A raucous crowd greeted Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre on Friday night, with about 450 people showing up for his “Axe the Tax” rally.

“Have you ever seen the country this bad?” Poilievre asked in his opening remarks as he assailed the job being done by the federal Liberal government, to the sound of cheers.

He went on to define his stance on issues set against that of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cracking jokes at Trudeau’s expense that were well-received by the friendly crowd.

When one heckler began yelling while Poilievre delivered his standard stump speech on hunting rifles, Poilievre kept repeating the words “common sense” until the interloper quieted down.

Sitting front and centre behind Poilievre was ex-MP Ryan Leef, who represented the Yukon in Parliament for the Conservative Party between 2011 and 2015.

Poilievre told a story in which Leef sat him down to provide some advice on how to get through difficult times and be successful in politics.

He said Leef pointed to a fish up on his wall, saying, “My advice to you on a successful political career is as follows. You see that fish up there? If he kept his mouth shut, he’d still be alive.”

“I never followed the advice, but it’s good advice,” Poilievre added.

It is still unknown who would run in the Yukon for the Conservative Party in the next federal election, but Poilievre took the opportunity to take some shots at current Liberal MP Brendan Hanley.

“He’s right there alongside Trudeau voting to raise the carbon tax on you,” Poilievre said. “He’s working for Justin Trudeau and he’s making you pay the price for it.”

The main focus of Poilievre’s trip was to talk about the carbon tax, which was introduced in 2019 and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to fight climate change.

Poilievre also mentions the new Clean Fuel Regulations, which he called an added carbon tax.

These are a set of regulations requiring producers of fossil fuels to provide cleaner fuels or offset their greenhouse gas contribution by buying carbon credits from other producers.

Poilievre localized the issue by highlighting the case of Dawson City General Store owner Mark Mather, who has seen his transport costs almost double due to fuel prices.

Mather was in the crowd, and was asked by Poilievre what his fuel surcharge is for the groceries he brings in from Edmonton.

“We paid a 94.2-per-cent fuel surcharge on top or the regular load,” Mather told the crowd.

Mather later explained to the Star that because he sources all the groceries he sells in his store from Edmonton, he is forced to pay extra when gas prices go up.

At the height of gas prices last summer, the surcharge was over 94 per cent, though it has now come down to 65 per cent.

“We feel that we want to provide our community with a fair pricing structure,” Mather said. “And we have no control over that.”

With the fuel surcharge, he said, it costs more for a 10-pound bag of potatoes to be transported to Dawson City than it costs for them to buy the potatoes wholesale in the first place.

“How am I going to be able to provide a service in our community that’s affordable?” Mather asked.

He also attended a speech Poilievre gave earlier in the day during a visit to Pelly Construction Ltd. (see photo, p. 3).

Poilievre showed up at the site with an entourage that included Conservative MPs Bob Zimmer of Prince George, B.C. and Lianne Rood from southern Ontario.

“It’s a complete honour for the leader of the Opposition to want to come and meet us,” said Jennifer Byram, co-owner of Pelly.

She said Poilievre had taken a tour of the facilities as they discussed issues of concern for the family-run business, including the length of time projects get stuck in permitting processes.

“And he listened,” Byram said. “That’s really important.”

After meeting with Byram and her father, Keith, who is the president of the company, Poilievre gave a speech standing next to some heavy equipment, beginning with a focus on permitting issues for mining.

“When I’m prime minister, we will have a process that protects public safety and the environment but gets decisions within two or three years, rather than two decades,” he said.

Poilievre also took the opportunity while in the construction yard to talk about embracing trades education, advocating for getting trades curriculum into schools based on the Red Seal Program.

After the facility tour and speech, Poilievre climbed up onto some large construction equipment with Pelly’s owners for a photo-op.

In a telephone interview with the Star between this event and the rally, Poilievre elaborated on how some of his policies would affect the Yukon, such as transfer payments that provide about 80 per cent of the money spent by the Yukon government.

“I’m open to models that would enrich the Yukon by allowing the territory to keep more of its own-source revenues,” he said.

“We’ll protect the federal transfer amounts, but at the same time allow Yukon to generate more revenues in the territory by unleashing more mines, more resource projects that generate tax-paying paycheques for people and the local governments.”

He also reiterated his stance on gun rights, accusing the Trudeau government of trying to ban hunting rifles.

“I don’t know how people in the in the Yukon will feed themselves when Trudeau bans hunting rifles. I don’t know how they’re gonna eat,” he said.

“I’m the only party leader who will defend your hunting rifle against Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party.”

The Liberal Party’s platform does advocate for tougher gun laws – especially for assault-type rifles – but it does not seek an outright ban on hunting rifles. Some types of rifles used for hunting would be captured under the ban, though the latest plans focus on guns that have yet-to-be manufactured.

Poilievre was asked about his stance regarding the motion passed during the Conservatives’ recent convention in Quebec City earlier this month that opposed allowing gender-affirming “medicinal and surgical interventions” for minors.

He wouldn’t elaborate, except to say he thought surgical intervention for minors was “inappropriate.”

“I think that it’s common sense that someone who’s not old enough to consent to having a beer, it’s inappropriate for the government to carry out a sex change ­– on a child,” he said.

NDP Leader Kate White, a vocal trans rights advocate, called Poilievre’s statement a “dog-whistle” during an interview this morning.

“To make a statement like that is an over-simplification,” White said. “And it is just targeting people with fear.”

According to the World Health Organization, gender-affirming care is treatment to “support and affirm an individual’s gender identity.”

These interventions range from counselling to hormone therapy to gender-reassignment surgery.

“Trans rights are human rights,” White said. “And it’s clear that him and his party do not agree.”

Poilievre said he couldn’t comment on the motion from the party conference because he didn’t have the actual wording in front of him for reference. He would only answer when the question was narrowed to focus only on surgical interventions.

“Because that’s the polarizing one,” White said.

At Friday’s rally, Poilievre steered clear of the issue.

On health, he did get in a reference to COVID-19 pandemic-era vaccine mandates.

“I am for a personal medical choice,” he said. “And by the way, while we’re at it, we should get rid of these crazy mandates.”

He ended the rally by finally striking a positive note, calling Canada the “freest nation in the world” guided by “common sense.”

It remains to be seen if his attacks on the Trudeau administration will land with Yukon voters more broadly.

The next election will likely not be until 2025, so there could be two full years to get through before the results will be known.

Comments (9)

Up 3 Down 0

Heathen on Sep 24, 2023 at 1:06 pm

Pierre has provided a breath of fresh air and frankness into the canadian political scene. I can only hope our local conservative candidate will be an improvement from previous offerings and real representative of Yukon interests.

Up 23 Down 52

David on Sep 20, 2023 at 8:52 am

Pierre Poilievre is just Trudeau lite. We need a new party that will not just make things bad but 10% less bad, we need a party that will actually fix things.

Up 31 Down 99

Arlo on Sep 19, 2023 at 2:48 pm

Axe Poiliever unless he says what he's going to do about climate change mitigation and associated costs. He won't touch this pertinent question.

Up 37 Down 16

Resident on Sep 19, 2023 at 2:25 pm

It's a shame that the only conservative party is also the party of not minding your own business.

Let your personal beliefs dictate your own life. Do not make your personal beliefs dictate everyone else's life. If you feel the need to comment on something that only affects the individual making the decision, shut your mouth. You don't have to like the decision, support the decision, or approve of the decision. You do need to accept that a person has the same right to mess up their life as you do, stay out of it.

Don't be a hypocrite. Either support everyone's freedom or admit you only care about your own.

Up 105 Down 24

George on Sep 19, 2023 at 12:45 pm

haha , I love thatsnoright liberal statement " not a large crowd" haha it was packed wall to wall and mostly young crowd. Call an elections, the majority is so done with this coalition and all the damage being done.

Up 35 Down 10

Anonymous on Sep 19, 2023 at 12:31 pm

Nice picture of the Whitehorse Star comment section meetup

Up 30 Down 79

Thatsnotright on Sep 19, 2023 at 12:01 pm

Even by Yukon standards that is not a large crowd, a lot of plaid and grey though.

Up 90 Down 31

Juniper1 Jackson on Sep 19, 2023 at 6:10 am

Poilievre is the best we've have going for us. Going to give him the chance anyway..he can hardly do worse than the Liberals.

Up 84 Down 18

Josey Wales on Sep 18, 2023 at 3:14 pm

‘have you ever seen the country this bad?’
...no, no I have not!

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