Capital persuasion

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The Article

Taking a stand wins Calgary boy respect in Ottawa

I’m over at East Side Mario’s at Sunridge Mall chatting with Pierre Poilievre, a former Henry Wisewood high school student in Calgary who stunned politically correct Ottawa by winning a seat for the Conservatives in the riding of Nepean-Carleton in 2004.

In 2006, he stunned that city again by chalking up the largest majority outside Alberta.

So how did Poilievre, 27, break through the elite ranks, become parliamentary secretary to Treasury Board president John Baird and win the job of shepherding the Federal Accountability Act through the Commons?

“I’ve got a very strong work ethic,” he says,” and I like to win at everything I do.”

What he does can be diverse. He’s won medals in wrestling and debating.

“People are often surprised at that, but wrestling, while physical, and debating, while psychological, aren’t far apart. They demand brainpower. You have to think one step ahead of your opponent in both disciplines.”

Poilievre studied international relations at the University of Calgary, then took a job with Stockwell Day when Day was the Reform party’s foreign affairs critic. He also helped the onetime Canadian Alliance leader mount the campaign to ban the terrorist organized Hezbollah from Canada.

“You don’t come to Ottawa to sit around and do nothing. You come here to make changes,” Poilievre says.

Nepean-Carleton had been a strong Liberal riding since 1988 and was represented by defence minister David Pratt when Poilievre decided to take him on.

Coincidentally, Pratt was considered on the right of the Liberal party and a defence minister who actually believed in a strong military.

That said, the Jean Chretien-Paul Martin clique wasn’t listening, so Poilievre felt no qualms about taking Pratt on in 2004.

“I looked around at various ridings in the area and decided Nepean-Carleton was really pretty conservative. Its residents have strong family values, are self-reliant, wanted safe streets, and wanted someone to represent those values.”

He toppled Pratt by 4,000 votes.

Soon, he was known as a very pugnacious MP, heckling Martin’s Liberals at every touch and turn and getting very much under their skin.

“I didn’t want them to get away with anything, and that’s what they didn’t like about me.”

You might say he was anathema to Liberal MPs.

“I’m not someone who straddles the fence,” Poilievre says.

“I represent real Conservative values. I’m big on defence, and tough on crime. People don’t want wishy-washy politicians, they are sick of them, and if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s wishy-washy.”

Despite somewhat stagnant polls, he’s convinced, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is headed for a majority come the next federal election.

“Stephen’s decisive, and people like that. He knows what he wants to do, and knows how to do it. People are increasingly recognizing that, too. Voters have had enough of politicians who haven’t the courage to take stands. In Stephen, our country has finally found a leader who stands his ground.”

So there we have it, a homegrown boy who made good in our nation’s capital—and representing an Ottawa riding at that.


Paul Jackson
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