A social conservative group is pushing to rein in Pierre Poilievre’s power as the Conservative Party meets in Quebec this weekend.
The Conservatives are leading in national polls and head into this weekend’s policy convention — the party’s first in-person convention since 2018 — with a sense of cautious optimism after eight years on the opposition benches.
But it wouldn’t be a conservative gathering without some good old power struggles within the party.
Alissa Golob, executive director of the anti-abortion group Right Now, said her organization is pushing for more transparency around party nominations and for more power to be given to local constituency a*sociations — rather than Poilievre and his team in Ottawa.
The group’s goal is to nominate and elect more anti-abortion politicians to the House of Commons, with the goal of pa*sing legislation to restrict access to abortion in Canada.
However, unlike previous conventions, Golob said social conservatives focus less attention on policy debates and more on the power dynamic between the party “establishment” and local volunteers. Right Now has published a guide for its members on the party rule changes the organization supports and recommends voting against.
“This convention, we’re focusing more on transparency, especially in the nominating process…and giving more power to (district a*sociations) and less to the establishment, basically, especially when it comes to selection candidates,” Golob told PKBNEWS in a statement. interview.
This is a change in tactics for social conservative groups, which have significant organizational capacity within the conservative movement as a whole and have played a key role in recent party leadership races.
And Golob said it was directly linked to the recent messy nomination battle in the Ontario riding of Oxford, where Poilievre’s preferred candidate – Arpan Khanna – prevailed and a social conservative candidate was disqualified by leaders party.
David McKenzie, the former Conservative MP for the constituency whose daughter also ran for the nomination, said the campaign was “dividing” the community and supporting Khanna’s Liberal challenger.
Khanna ended up winning the Oxford by-election in June, albeit by a narrow margin in what is considered a traditionally safe seat for the Conservatives.
Poilievre will enter the Quebec convention with the Conservative Party behind him after his decisive victory in the first round of voting last September — especially when compared to his predecessor, Erin O’Toole, whose about-face on carbon pricing led to organized resistance from its own caucus.
The party’s 2018 convention opened with Maxime Bernier, who narrowly lost the party leadership in 2017 to Andrew Scheer, leaving the Conservatives to form the People’s Party of Canada.
Poilievre does not face this level of criticism – either publicly or privately – from conservative ranks.
“The base of the conservative movement is as enthusiastic, positive and united as it has ever been…And now why are they excited? Well, for the first time in a long time, we have an authentic conservative leader who acts and behaves like a conservative, which appeals to gra*sroots members,” Reagan Watts, a former conservative aide, said in an interview with PKBNEWS.
“We have experienced a change in leadership within the party apparatus, which has brought back a professional political operation that is bearing fruit, as we have seen in the fundraising, record numbers and performance at the by-elections which were very good. »
Although issues related to abortion access are not part of the policy debate at this convention, conservative delegates are expected to debate other “social” policies, including restricting gender-affirming care for children.
A policy proposal would ban “life-altering medical or surgical interventions” for minors suffering from gender “confusion or dysphoria.” The proposal is under debate after Saskatchewan’s Conservative government announced it would force gender-diverse students to use their birth name in school – a policy that now faces a legal challenge .
New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government also implemented new rules requiring children to obtain consent from their parents before changing their name or preferred pronouns – a policy that the child and youth advocate said of the province, violates the rights guaranteed by the Charter.
Asked Wednesday about a different policy resolution, Poilievre said he would not comment on individual resolutions until they are debated in Congress.
“I prefer to let members review the motions and propose the policy they want me to consider. And when they do, I will think about it,” Poilievre told reporters.
“Leaders are never bound by congressional resolutions. But we take them into consideration.
Poilievre is scheduled to address the Conservative faithful Friday evening.
— with files from David Akin.
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