by Shannon Proudfoot
He’s smart, savvy and he’s steering a new brand of Canadian conservatism. How Pierre Poilievre became the champion of the anti-Trudeau mob.
The bellowing honks of freedom nearly drowned out Pierre Poilievre’s voice as he stood on a frigid overpass in late January, cheering the truck convoy on its way to lay siege to downtown Ottawa. Wearing a Canada Goose parka and aviator sunglasses, with his normally shellacked side-part blustered into an unrecognizable tuft by the wind, he grinned into a video camera. Poilievre rhymed off an expansive array of grievances he said the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protesters were battling, in addition to vaccine mandates: high grocery prices, small businesses in peril, depressed and isolated teenagers, a political and media elite that ignores anyone they don’t like. Poilievre, a long-time Conservative MP, wore a pair of puffy, red-and-white maple leaf mittens that gave him a soft cartoon quality weirdly at odds with his hard-edged talking points. It was like watching Mickey Mouse shout angry populist slogans.
Nearly every one of the affronts to freedom that Poilievre listed came from pandemic restrictions enacted by the provinces and not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal government, but that was very much beside the point. “Freedom, not fear. Truckers, not Trudeau,” he hollered over the horns that would soon torment Ottawa residents for days and sleepless nights.