Andrea Mandel-Campbell wonders if Pierre Poilievre will be devoured by the tiger he has unleashed:
Like the dwarves who dug too deep for riches in the mines of Moria, Poilievre has plumbed the depths of social media for conspiracy theories and grievance rhetoric, coming up with campaign gold by embracing the freedom convoy and anti-vaxxers. It has earned him a ton cash for party coffers and a record number of new memberships.
The question now is whether Poilievre can contain the populist beast he has unleashed by channelling his inner Stephen Harper, or whether he’d rather hop on its back, ring firmly embedded, and burn the place down.
Poilievre is the political offspring of former prime minister Harper and has copped shamelessly from his playbook, demanding the ouster of the Bank of Canada governor — much like Harper launched an all-out assault on the Parliamentary Budget Officer and canned the head of Statistics Canada.
But Harper, while keen to anti-establishment grievance, was surprisingly moderate. He leaned into the bread and butter Conservative brand of lower taxes and balanced budgets. He had no big, bold endeavour or signature achievement, so much as he avoided the pitfalls of national unity crises or political scandal.
Indeed, there was no so-called “secret agenda,” just the skewering of the odd sacred cow. He went to Davos and partnered with the Gates Foundation to vaccinate children in developing countries — all QAnon code words now.
It appears, though, that the word "moderate" is not in Poilievre's dictionary:
Poilievre will need to decide who his constituents are; that is, if he still has a choice. As one long-time Conservative MP recently told me, “he’s caught a tiger by the tail and he may not be able to control what he has created.”
If he can’t, Canada will be the worse for it. While we are far from perfect, we have managed to retain a degree of common courtesy, civility and respect in our public discourse that is in increasingly short supply these days.
Most certainly, Poilievre is testing our sense of common courtesy.