The NDP put out an attack-style video this week attempting to portray the new leader of the Conservatives as someone who is ‘not in it for you’
Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, September 22, 2022. Photo by Blair Gable/Reuters
OTTAWA — Pierre Poilievre’s former campaign co-chair, John Baird, thinks the NDP is lashing out against the new Tory leader because he is eating their “lunch” among working-class voters and could pose a threat for New Democrats in the next federal election in Ontario and B.C.
Baird also predicted the Tories could make gains in the NDP-rich Vancouver Island area, even though he admittedly said his party wasn’t “even competitive” in previous elections. In 2021, for instance, Conservative results varied between a close second and third place.
The NDP had not offered a comment to the National Post about Baird’s claims by deadline.
Poilievre has managed to sign up hundreds of new members in those ridings during the leadership race and won all of them by a wide margin over his competitors. He visited Northern Ontario and Vancouver Island on several occasions, boasting about his big rallies there.
Even if a leadership race is no general election, the NDP has no intention of letting Poilievre spread his message without a fight.
Jagmeet Singh’s party put out an attack-style video on social media earlier this week responding to Poilievre’s claims that he is fighting for the people and instead attempting to portray the new leader of the Conservatives as someone who is “not in it for you.” As of Friday afternoon, the video had been viewed 95,000 times on Twitter and “liked” more than 2,100 times.
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If social media engagement is any indicator, a video on Twitter posted by Poilievre on Thursday evening to talk about the imminent loosening of travel restrictions generated no less than 388,800 views and 24,900 likes as of Friday – less than 24 hours after it was posted.
Manitoba NDP MP Daniel Blaikie also put out a petition Friday accusing the new Conservative leader of wanting to “weaken the retirement security for millions of working Canadians” in opposing the planned hikes for the Canada Pension Plan next year.
Blaikie put out the petition after Tory MP Eric Duncan told him in the House of Commons that Canadians in NDP ridings had sent their MPs a “little message” this summer that they do not like the “relationship” they’re entertaining with the Liberals. The NDP signed a confidence-and-supply agreement to back the minority government until June 2025.
“I think that if you notice the attacks that the NDP are making on Pierre they see he’s beginning to eat their lunch among working-class voters,” said Baird.
Baird said he likes Singh and thinks he is a “good guy,” but added he thinks the deal they made with the Liberals was “unnecessary” and “unwise.”
“He’ll get little credit,” he predicted.
Conservatives, on the other hand, will be on the offensive to try to make gains all across the country. Data collected by the National Post suggest that electoral battles between the Tories and the NDP have tightened up between the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
In 2019, 10 NDP ridings saw the Conservatives in second place; in 2021, that number went up to 15 ridings. On the flip side, in 2019, 33 ridings won by Tories saw the NDP in second place; that number went up to 45 ridings in 2021.
Philippe J. Fournier, founder of the 338Canada poll aggregator, said that it was still too early to speculate on the Conservatives’ chances of actually eating the NDP’s lunch but confirmed that many ridings in the country are battles between the NDP and the Tories where the Liberals are simply not a factor.
He added that Poilievre’s team could be following Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s footsteps in courting unions and the working-class vote, something Ford did during the past provincial election and which won him NDP ridings in Ontario.
“The NDP does not want to lose their labour vote to Poilievre,” said Fournier.
An NDP official, speaking on background, said that Baird is no expert on the working class and that the recent Ontario election demonstrated that the path to success “is not to exploit the hard right, anti-vaccine population.”
“The path to success for Premier Ford was to appeal to everyday families with tangible commitments focused on fighting the rising cost of living and creating good jobs — the opposite of Pierre Poilievre’s approach,” said the official.
Baird said that Poilievre has not only been attracting working-class voters, but younger and more diverse voters as well.
He pointed to the rallies and events in the Greater Toronto Area, which attracted a number of cultural communities — Persian Canadians in Don Valley East, Indo-Canadians in Brampton or Chinese Canadians in Markham — and suggested the next federal election would be a whole different game now that Poilievre is at the helm of the party.
“There’s no doubt that the election will be in a big way about the 905 belt around Toronto,” he said.
“That will be the big enchilada, so to speak.”