During an interview in July — sometime after it became clear that he was more than likely to win the leadership race — Pierre Poilievre buried any notion that he would change his ways once he became leader of the Conservative Party.
“People know what to expect from me,” he said. “There is no grand pivot. I am who I am.”
Poilievre has never been a shrinking violet. He first ran for office when he was 24 years old and he was a central character in some of the biggest political battles of the Stephen Harper era.
But he has declared himself even more loudly over the past seven months. Notwithstanding any adjustments he makes to his message now that the Conservative leadership race is over (his speech on Saturday night before national television cameras was notably more genteel than he showed himself to be previously), he has been crystal clear about how he is willing to approach politics.
He is a talented politician, an ideologically motivated conservative and an aggressive populist. Canada has had populists before — from William Aberhart to John Diefenbaker to Rob Ford. But Poilievre’s ascent to the leadership of the Conservative Party marks the arrival of 21st century populism in Canada — the Internet-fuelled, resentment-driven wave that already has flooded American and British politics.
Capturing the Conservative id
In a different time and place, Conservatives might have been expected to turn to Jean Charest. But after being out of politics for nearly a decade, the former Quebec premier was rusty and slow.
Charest’s campaign was also aimed at the wrong part of the Conservative Party’s brain. His candidacy represented the most rational and conventional argument — that the party needed to make a broader appeal to those outside its partisan tent in order to win power again.
But Poilievre captured the Conservative id. After three consecutive losses to Justin Trudeau, after Erin O’Toole’s clumsy attempts to moderate some of the party’s positions and expand the party’s tent, Poilievre offered Conservatives an emotionally satisfying cri du coeur (“freedom!”) and an unabashed, combative leader to get behind.
WATCH | Why supporters believe Pierre Poilievre will be the next PM:
Poilievre’s stated goal is to make Canada the “freest” country in the world (a title currently held by either Singapore or Switzerland, depending on who’s counting) and “give Canadians back control of their lives.” His message is that “gatekeepers” are denying Canadians the prosperity, freedom and security that should be theirs.
He is most clear about what and whom he is against.
He embraced the self-styled “freedom convoy” protest and he opposes vaccine mandates and mask mandates. He would repeal the carbon tax and the clean fuel standard, and would change federal regulations to make it easier to approve oil and gas projects and pipelines.
He would reverse the Liberal government’s attempts to regulate major Internet platforms, which he says is akin to censorship. He would defund the CBC.
He has vowed to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada — Poilievre blames the governor for the high inflation afflicting countries around the world. He insists that sharply reducing government spending would solve the problem of inflation in Canada.
He promoted cryptocurrencies as a way to “take control of money from bankers and politicians” and “opt out of inflation” (though he seems to have put less emphasis on bitcoin and the like since the crypto market crashed this summer).
He also falsely accused the government of “spying” on Canadians during the pandemic after the Public Health Agency used aggregated mobile data to measure the effectiveness of public health restrictions. And he has promoted the erroneous idea that the government is pursuing a “fertilizer ban.”
Either with him or against him
Unlike some of the figures who have defined populism in recent years, Poilievre has not campaigned against immigration or attempted to divide voters along racial or ethnic lines. But he has embraced the language of populism and the fundamental idea that there are only friends and foes. If you are not with Poilievre, you must be against him.
He directs his ire at “elites” — the “elites in Ottawa,” the “wealthy elites,” the “ruling elite” — and “woke culture.” In an email to supporters in May, he claimed “the media, the pundits [and] the professors” say he shouldn’t attack Justin Trudeau as “strongly” as he does because a “cozy club of insiders” wants to maintain the status quo.
In August, he tweeted that “Liberal gatekeepers and corporate oligarchs” will shed “leftist tears” once he is in charge. (In the accompanying video, a supporter stood beside Poilievre drinking out of a mug with the words “leftist tears” written on it.)
Poilievre also has vowed that no minister in a government led by him would attend the annual conference of the World Economic Forum, an organization that is the subject of various conspiracy theories. (John Baird, one of the co-chairs of Poilievre’s campaign, attended the conference multiple times as a minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet.)
In addition to promising to defund the CBC, Poilievre has claimed that journalists with the other two major television networks — CTV and Global — are incapable of covering him objectively. When Global News published a story he disagreed with, Poilievre accused the network of being a “Liberal mouthpiece.”
Party leadership races traditionally are rather genteel affairs, but Poilievre ran scorched-earth campaigns against his two nearest rivals, Charest and Patrick Brown. When he chose to decline the invitation to participate in a third official leadership debate, his campaign manager publicly blasted his own party for choosing a “Laurentian elite liberal media personality” to moderate a previous debate.
If there are any federal Conservatives who have misgivings about the style or substance of Poilievre’s politics, they have been relatively silent over the last seven months.
Charest’s worries and Sheila Fraser’s warning
In the waning moments of that last debate, Charest warned that “anger is not a political program.” But the nearest Charest ever got to making a fully developed argument against Poilievre was in May, when he said Poilievre’s comments about the Bank of Canada were “irresponsible.”
“We cannot afford to have any leader who goes out there and deliberately undermines the confidence in institutions,” Charest said.
He probably didn’t mean to, but Charest was echoing something said the last time Poilievre was centre-stage in Canadian politics.
In 2014, Poilievre was the sponsor of the Fair Elections Act, the Conservative government’s controversial rewrite of federal election laws. Numerous experts and critics came forward to take issue with elements of the bill and warn that it would — without justification — make it harder for some Canadians to vote. One of those critics was Marc Mayrand, the chief electoral officer at the time.
In response, Poilievre publicly questioned Mayrand’s motivations, alleging before a Senate committee that Mayrand wanted “more power, a bigger budget and less accountability.”
Sheila Fraser, the widely respected former auditor general, appeared before the same committee a few hours later and expressed deep concern over what Poilievre had done.
“It troubles me greatly — I would say disturbs me greatly — to see comments that are made, and I will be quite blunt, by the minister … attacking personally the chief electoral officer,” she said.
“This serves none of us well. It undermines the credibility of these institutions. And at the end of the day, if this continues, we will all pay, because no one will have faith in government or in chief electoral officers or our democratic system.”
Eight years later, those same concerns are being raised by a wave of populism that thrives on conflict and opposition.
Opposite Fraser’s warning is Poilievre’s bet that this moment is primed for him, his message and his politics.
It’s been a traumatic two and a half years. Inflation is up and interest rates are rising. Housing is hard to afford. Things don’t seem to be working — from airports to passport offices to emergency rooms. The Liberals have been in government for nearly seven years. And the future is full of uncertainty.
Poilievre says he feels people’s pain and that voters can find hope in his promises of dramatic change.
Whatever happens next, it will not happen quietly.
Politics Podcast: Is Social Media Turning Us Into Political Extremists? – FiveThirtyEight
What effect is social media having on our politics and society more broadly? According to critics, we’re living through an unregulated era of social media that will one day look as outdated as tobacco did in its pre-regulation era.
In his new book, “The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World” New York Times reporter Max Fisher explores how social media impacts the psychology of its users and changes how people think, behave and communicate.
In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Galen Druke talks to Fisher about his book and why he believes this is leading to social and political crises in the U.S. and around the world.
You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.
The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.
Equilibrium/Sustainability — Oil’s diversity push crashes into abortion politics – The Hill
Texas’s restrictive position on abortion is thwarting attempts by the state’s oil industry to draw younger and more diverse talent.
“It has always been difficult to attract women into oil and gas,” Sherry Richard, a human resources professional with 40 years in the oil industry, told Reuters.
“When you create an environment that is unfriendly to women, it just makes it harder,” Richards added.
More than half of women between the ages of 18 and 44 said they would not apply for jobs in a state that banned abortion, Reuters reported, citing a PerryUndem poll.
Divisive state politics around abortion and religion in public schools caused attorney Hayley Hollands to leave the state for Colorado with her husband — a former oil worker, she told Reuters.
“It is kind of the first time I’ve reckoned with the idea that I don’t think I’m going to live in my home state ever again,” Hollands said.
Oil companies themselves have attempted to split the difference — quietly offering employees support to travel for health care without specifically mentioning abortion, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, they continue to donate largely to conservative candidates, employees complained.
“Companies say they value employee’s rights and yet finance politicians who violate my rights and wellbeing,” one engineer at oilfield service firm Halliburton told Reuters.
Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We’re Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Send us tips and feedback. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.
Today we’ll start in Puerto Rico, where residents are in danger of serious shortages. Then we’ll see why President Biden may be considering ousting the World Bank chief. Plus: A look at how aerosol pollution is worsening the effects of climate change.
“This is hypocrisy,” she added.
Puerto Ricans fear shortages as stores close
Businesses in Puerto Rico are shutting their doors as power outages caused by Hurricane Fiona persist across the island, The Associated Press reported.
Meeting basic needs: These closures have triggered fears about the availability of fuel and other necessities, according to the AP.
- About 62 percent of 1.47 million customers still do not have power more than four days after the storm occurred.
- Hand-written signs indicating closures are increasingly popping up on storefronts, eliciting frustration.
“There are a lot of people with a lot of needs,” one retiree told the AP. “If there is no diesel, we’re going to be very much in harm’s way.”
Some of those needs are life-or-death: Luis De Jesús Ramos, who has throat cancer and a tracheostomy, relies on electricity for survival, NBC News reported.
- De Jesús Ramos needs a blender for liquid meals, a refrigerator, an adjustable bed for safe sleeping and various medical supplies.
- “He really needs these things. It’s an emergency,” his daughter told NBC.
Health depends on electricity: After hearing about De Jesús Ramos’s condition, a team from Direct Relief Puerto Rico — an NGO that donates medical supplies — brought a generator to his home, according to NBC.
“Without electricity, there is no health,” Ivonne Rodríguez-Wiewall, executive adviser of Direct Relief Puerto Rico, told NBC.
Federal funding efforts: As Puerto Rico’s residents were still coping with the fallout from Fiona, President Biden on Thursday said that the federal government is “laser-focused” on the situation, our colleague Brett Samuels reported for The Hill.
The day before, he had signed an expedited major disaster declaration, to authorize federal funding for debris removal, rescue efforts and power and water restoration.
Biden pledges to stand by Puerto Rico: “To the people of Puerto Rico who are still hurting from Hurricane Maria five years later, they should know: We are with you,” Biden said.
“We’re not going to walk away,” the president added.
Biden considers removing head of World Bank
The Biden administration is considering ousting World Bank President David Malpass — a Trump appointee whose wavering this week on climate change angered many in the financial and environmental communities alike, Axios reported.
What did he say? Asked at New York’s climate week if he accepted the scientific consensus on climate change, Malpass hedged, according to CNN.
- “I don’t even know – I’m not a scientist and that is not a question,” Malpass said.
- He later told CNN “I’m not a denier” and circulated a note to staff blaming climate change on particular fossil fuels.
Leaving out oil and gas: Malpass added in his note that “coal, diesel and heavy fuel oil in both advanced economies and developing countries is creating another wave of the climate crisis,” Reuters reported.
Why it matters: Malpass’s message was poorly received due to an ongoing debate “about how all the capital sitting in the bank can be deployed more quickly and assertively,” Rachel Kyte of Tuft University’s Fletcher School told The New York Times.
- Kyte added that this is particularly urgent “given the situation the world is in.”
- She noted that Malpass’s original statement had come in the context of a subject that is “an open wound.”
Aerosols may worsen the effects of climate change
Aerosol pollution is exacerbating the impact of climate change — with dramatically different effects depending on where these contaminants are emitted, a new study in Science Advances has found.
What are aerosols? They’re tiny solid particles and liquid droplets emitted by industrial factories, power plants and tailpipes, the study authors explained.
- Aerosols contribute to smog, and unlike carbon dioxide, they hang close to their emission source.
- Some examples of aerosols include fine particulate matter — common in dust or wildfire ash — as well as sulfates, nitrates and sea salts.
Different contaminants, different behaviors: Although carbon dioxide and aerosols are often emitted simultaneously during fuel combustion, these substances behave differently in the Earth’s atmosphere, according to co-lead author Geeta Persad.
- “Carbon dioxide has the same impact on climate no matter who emits it,” Persad, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement.
- Astay concentrated near where they’re emitted — meaning that their effects on the climate system is location-dependent, Persad added.
Dramatic social costs: Depending on where they are emitted, aerosols can worsen the social costs of carbon — a measure for the economic toll greenhouse gasses take on society — by as much as 66 percent, according to the study.
Aerosols vs. carbon: The scientists drew their conclusions by probing the influence of aerosols in eight regions of the world: Brazil, China, East Africa, Western Europe, India, Indonesia, United States and South Africa.
- They ran simulations with identical aerosol emissions in each region — mapping the effects on temperature, precipitation and surface air quality.
- Then they connected this data with known links between climate and infant mortality, crop productivity and domestic economies.
- Lastly, they calculated the societal costs of aerosol-driven effects and those of co-emitted CO2, as well as their combined effects.
What did they find? The scientists observed that emissions from some regions generate climate and air quality effects that range from two to more than 10 times as strong as others.
Yet despite these discrepancies, they stressed that aerosol emissions are always bad for the emitter and the planet.
Thinking beyond carbon dioxide: “The harmful effects of our emissions are generally underestimated,” co-lead author Jennifer Burney, a chair of global climate policy and research at the University of California San Diego, said in a statement.
“CO2 is making the planet warmer, but it also gets emitted with a bunch of other compounds that impact people and plants directly and cause climate changes in their own right,” Burney added.
A global push for carbon capture
A flurry of new carbon capture and storage proposals are arising around the world, as part of a global attempt to counter the impacts of fossil fuel dependence.
- The specific reasons for these projects are as diverse as their locations, which range from Appalachia to China
- They are being built in an attempt to slow global warming, produce new fuels, prolong the lifespan of fossil fuel assets or create credits to sell on international exchanges.
Carbon capture refers to a broad set of processes by which the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is trapped for long-term storage or reuse in other industrial processes.
Drawing down: The U.S. government is scouting possible sites for a test facility that would aim to cut the cost of pulling down carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
- The facility would be located on a Department of Energy campus in either Morgantown, W.Va., or Pittsburgh.
- It would seek to drop the cost of capturing a ton of carbon dioxide below $100 — down from its current range of $400 to $1,000.
Worldwide focus: “It is technically feasible to suck CO2 out of the air. The issue is cost, and the issue is scale,” National Energy Technology Laboratory director Brian Anderson told the Gazette.
The laboratory wants to create methodologies for direct air capture that could be transferable to facilities around the world.
- Direct air capture specifically involves pulling carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.
- That’s distinct from carbon capture in general, which also includes siphoning the greenhouse gas from smokestacks.
“We want to be able to simulate conditions that go from Antarctica to equatorial Africa,” Anderson said.
OIL COMPANIES BUYING IN
With direct air capture still an expensive frontier technology, the principal drivers behind carbon capture are the firms that are a major source of current carbon emissions: oil companies.
Recycling Waste: Sinopec, China’s state-owned oil company, spun off a specialized subsidiary on Friday to invest in carbon capture technology, Reuters reported.
- The company aims to capture and store 3 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2025 — two-thirds of which it plans to reuse.
- China aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, which has driven companies like Sinopec to make big investments in carbon capture.
Making more oil: To pay for developing that technology, China is focusing in part on current usages for carbon dioxide, many of which do little to slow climate change.
- Sinopec didn’t specify how its captured carbon dioxide would be used.
- But the company currently plans to inject over 10 million tons of carbon dioxide into oilfields over the next decade — enabling it to produce an additional 3 million tons of oil, Reuters reported.
Last week, California outlawed this form of oil extraction, as we reported.
Looking south: Across the South China Sea, Indonesia’s state-owned energy company — Pertamina — plans to begin testing methods to permanently store carbon dioxide underground by the end of the year, Reuters reported.
- If conditions are right, the greenhouse gas can be locked down as stone, as we previously reported.
- The initiative is part of Pertamina’s attempt to cut its emissions by 30 percent by 2030 — a goal the company aims to achieve in part by capturing emissions from smokestacks and injecting them underground.
British bonanza: On the other side of the world, 19 companies applied for the U.K.’s first ever round of licenses to develop carbon capture and storage sites, according to Reuters.
Britain aims to store up to 30 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030, Reuters reported.
- Such sites would be in caverns beneath the porous seafloor of the North Sea, between Britain and Norway.
- British Petroleum, Norway’s state energy firm Equinor and Italy’s Eni all applied.
- One firm, London-based Neptune Energy, aims to store more carbon than it emits by 2030.
Revisiting issues we’ve covered over the past week.
Thirty whales survive mass beaching crisis in Tasmania
- We reported on the tragic mass beaching in Tasmania of 230 pilot whales. Rescuers successfully saved just 32 — two of which died after running aground again, The Associated Press reported. The hundreds of remaining corpses will be “basically longlined or tied together, ready for disposal at sea,” an incident commander Brendon Clark said told the AP.
North Carolinians angry about proposed expansion of PFAS-producing plant
- Scientists detected high levels of toxic “forever chemicals” — also known as PFAS — in school uniforms we covered earlier this week. Some North Carolinians expressed outrage on Friday about the proposed expansion of a Chemours factory that has leached PFAS into the nearby Cape Fear River, North Carolina Public Radio reported.
Malfunctioning water tank may have caused NYC arsenic crisis
Please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. We’ll see you Monday.
Is Beacon Hill a political 'safe space'? – GBH News
The MBTA’s Orange Line is back up and running after a disruptive 30-day shutdown — and if the past is any indication, Gov. Charlie Baker won’t pay any political price whatsoever. That’s despite the fact the meltdown that brought the system to the brink of a federal takeover occurred on his watch.
So what is it about Baker that yields consistently high approval numbers from Massachusetts voters, even when big things go really wrong? Talking Politics host Adam Reilly is joined by Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe and Yawu Miller of the Bay State Banner to unpack Baker’s untouchability — and the similar dynamic that’s developed with the Massachusetts Legislature, whose members tend to coast to reelection despite the body’s proclivity for procrastination and unfinished to-do lists.
Steph Solis of Axios Boston and Peter Kadzis of GBH News also weigh in on some of the major political news of the week, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl’s dalliance with election denialism, Baker’s delicate dance on immigration and the efficacy of the climate protests that shut down multiple locations in Boston.
Watch tonight’s episode of Talking Politics live at 7 p.m. below on our website and across all of GBH News’ platforms, including GBH 2, the GBH News YouTube Channel and Facebook page. Subscribe to the GBH News’ YouTube channel to get alerted to future episodes.
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