It’s hunting season. Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre started off his rally in Whitehorse by asking a Yukon hunter if he brought any moose meat. That Yukoner invited Poilievre to come by his home later.
“Do we have any hunters here?” Poilievre asked the crowd on Sept. 15.
“We took the day off for you,” the hunter called back.
Protect hunters. Common sense. Axe Trudeau’s tax. Those were some of the messages on the signs people waved around while circled around Poilievre for the election campaign-style speech that Friday evening that comes as part of a tour and on the heels of his party’s national convention last weekend.
Polls are suggesting the Conservatives have a major chance in the next elections. The contest for the sole Yukon seat could be considered a swing riding.
The previous federal election saw Yukon MP Brendan Hanley of the Liberal Party of Canada take the seat with 6,471 votes. Conservative Barbara Dunlop came in next with 5,096 votes. Lisa Vollans-Leduc of the NDP got 4,354 votes. Independent Jonas Smith, who was booted as the Conservative candidate for his vaccine stance, followed up with 2,639 votes. Lenore Morris of the Green Party received 846 votes, and 142 ballots were rejected.
Poilievre repeated several recent talking points that night. He wore, and promoted for sale, a new T-shirt shirt that read “protect hunters” while talking big game about Bill C-21, gun rights and sustenance hunting.
While the populist federal party leader hasn’t been exactly clear about who is and isn’t allowed in his tent, he hyped up hundreds of supporters during his “axe the tax” rally at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.
A party staffer said organizers estimated about 500 people turned out. The venue was packed with supporters, mostly on foot. It can fit up to 160 people banquet-style seating.
A few Yukon Party MLAs were spotted by the News at the event. The territorial party has denied it has any “formal” ties to the federal party. The Yukon Party’s chief of staff has been officially acclaimed by the Conservative’s national council.
The News also witnessed one heckler quickly getting booed and escorted away. Their comments came after Poilievre asserted that Trudeau could use a cabinet order to arbitrarily ban all rifles.
“Until your Liberal MP leaves the Liberal caucus and withdraws his support from [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau, he is supporting Trudeau’s ban on your hunting rifles,” Poilievre said, in one of a several shots taken at Hanley, before being interrupted.
“So, there’s one person in all of Yukon that wants to ban hunting rifles.”
Poilievre jokingly suggested the heckler was a CBC reporter, which garnered cheers from the crowd. At another point, his pledge to sell off federal buildings to convert into housing also got a response.
“Just think of the wonderful family pulling up in their U-Haul to move into their new home in the former headquarters of the CBC,” he said.
Despite his typical anti-CBC rhetoric, Poilievre gave interviews to the local CBC as well as other reporters, including the News, while in Whitehorse.
During the rally, Poilievre noted he has put forward “motion after motion” on the floor of the House of Commons to “axe the tax.”
“Every time your local Liberal MP has stood up and voted against you and in favor of this carbon tax,” he said.
The tax, along with national debt, he argues, has consequences like people skipping meals and getting scurvy due to malnutrition. Poilievre shouted out to a grocer in Dawson City who complained about the tax on food transportation.
“Budgets don’t balance themselves and food doesn’t transport itself,” Poilievre said, leading to cheers.
Mentions of “jail not bail”, investing in the Canadian Armed Forces, getting rid of the ArriveCan app and suing big pharmaceutical companies also riled people up.
“I’m for personal medical choice. And by the way, while we’re at it, we should get rid of these crazy mandates and let people work and do their job,” he said.
Poilievre had four final words: “Let’s bring it home.”
— With files from Matthew Bossons
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org