Poilievre’s values are more in line with contemporary feminists than Trudeau’s
Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives have a huge lead over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. There are various reasons why this has happened, including one that most Canadians would never have assumed would be part of the equation.
The Conservatives have led in most polls since Poilieve became party leader in Sept. 2022. Every opinion poll since last September has them ahead by double digits. The most recent survey, conducted by Angus Reid between Jan. 16-17, showed the Conservatives in front of the Liberals by 41 to 24 percent.
How was Poilievre able to take the wind out of Trudeau’s sails – and, more importantly, maintain it for so long?
His ideas, policies and messaging have clearly resonated with Conservatives. You can’t win a federal election in Canada by limiting yourself to capturing the Conservative vote, however. Poilievre knew this, and worked with senior advisers to come up with a unique political strategy that’s paid off in dividends.
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The Conservative leader has largely focused on political and economic issues that matter to average Canadians. This includes high taxes, cost of living, rising food prices, housing concerns and the affordability crisis. Poll after poll has shown that many Canadians believe Poilievre, and not Trudeau, has a more concrete plan and realistic solutions to help resolve these – and other – important matters.
Poilievre has also benefited from the fact that many Canadians are fed up with Trudeau’s leadership. When it comes to understanding the priorities of Canada’s middle class, small business owners, Millennials, and blue-collar workers, the PM is out of touch. Canadians don’t have faith in him, and their faith in Poilievre continues to grow.
There’s another factor that’s also worked to Poilievre’s advantage. He’s winning over female voters.
Abacus Data’s Jan. 11 poll revealed the Conservatives have 37 percent of the female vote. The Liberals are at 25 percent, which is just ahead of the NDP’s 24 percent. This is an astonishing development. Women have been solidly in the Liberal/progressive camp for decades. Conservative parties have always historically been able to capture female votes, but this tally could ultimately turn out to be historic in its own right.
Why has this happened?
The Conservatives have wisely concentrated on issues that fall under the general umbrella of motherhood and families. When a political leader like Poilievre discusses rising costs in food staples like milk, bread, eggs, butter and bacon, as well as clothing, diapers and other household items, it appeals directly to many female voters. They feel he’s speaking their language – and actually hears and understands their thoughts and concerns.
A long-time politico, Melanie Paradis, recently came up with a thought-provoking analysis that brilliantly captures this surprising shift in public opinion.
Paradis is president of Texture Communications and was a director of communications for former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. She wrote in The Line on Jan. 17 that, “I have come to believe we are gearing up for an existential debate in society and culture about women conforming or not – and to which feminist standard. It’s going to rock our politics. It already is.”
This seismic change is related to homesteading. It includes tasks like making bread, canning food and other DIY (do it yourself) projects. These became popular during COVID-19, when Canadians were mostly isolated and had little to do.
“For the past 50 years,” she wrote, “women have been increasingly working outside the home, advancing our rights in the courts, getting paid more, etc. By a lot of metrics, things got better for women. But for decades, we were also told feminism meant we were heavily discouraged from staying home, as if it betrayed the sisterhood. Then weird things started to happen. Society told us to further and further delay when we’d have kids so we could spend those all-important years building our careers. But now it’s harder to get pregnant because we’re older. It’s also harder to find a childcare spot, and harder to afford a home.”
Paradis noted that women have always been encouraged to get a “side hustle,” such as selling Tupperware or becoming social media influencers. Not everyone succeeds at these ventures and makes money. Hence, many women had to “make the money you have stretch further.” She points to “home DIYers, couponers and thrifters” and “low-budget meal preppers and the backyard homesteaders.” She suggests, “There is a tremendous amount of overlap among those social media topics and the stay-at-home, a segment of the population society has ruthlessly dismissed for the last 20 years.”
How does this connect to the political right?
There are “libertarian values at play,” in Paradis’s view. “It’s the belief in doing for oneself and the government staying out of your business. It’s the freedom to choose how you live. How you raise your children. And it’s a deep skepticism in the government’s ability or motivation to do things like secure children’s medicine supplies or deliver effective education.”
Contrast this to the political left, which “has been alienating moms for years.” Paradis believes “there remains immense cultural pressure on parents, specifically mothers and primarily by the left, to get back to work after having a baby by deeming this necessary for economic productivity.” It’s exactly what many women in our post-COVID world don’t want to hear. They believe feminism now means “you can do whatever you damn please, including staying home and raising your kids.”
Hence, a political leader who promises, “We’ll make it easier, and stay out of your way,” is going to have more popular appeal. That’s what Polievre has been saying and doing – and that’s why more Canadian women are relating to his ideas rather than Trudeau’s.
Paradis has hit the nail on the head like no one before her. If this pattern continues, Poilieve’s march to becoming Canada’s next Prime Minister will almost be unstoppable.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.
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