A recent media tour in Winnipeg saw Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre hint at some of the themes his party may be addressing during the next Parliamentary session. These included taking firm stances on the opioid crisis, the energy file and targeting the controversial Indian Act as “racist.” 

In a Global News interview, Poilievre called the Indian Act a “disaster” and a “racist, colonial hangover” while promising reforms.

Poilievre criticized the centuries-old Act – which codifies the status of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, lands, and local governments – for usurping the power of First Nations people and giving it to the federal government.

“The Indian Act is a disaster. It is a racist, colonial hangover that gives all the control to self-serving, incompetent politicians and bureaucrats and lobbyists in Ottawa and takes away control from the First Nations themselves,” Poilievre told Global. 

When asked if a Conservative government would take a different direction than the Liberal government on reconciliation and First Nations relations, Poilievre made clear he would abandon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approach, which he described as symbolic and dramatic and said it has produced “no results.”

Listing new policy proposals, Poilievre said that the government would supply every First Nations reserve and community with clean drinking water via payment to infrastructure companies responsible for the system contingent on the system’s continued function.  

“They [infrastructure companies] can’t build a faulty system, get paid and buzz off. They have to get the job done because our First Nations people deserve clean drinking water,” said Poilievre. 

In 2015, Trudeau promised to deliver clean drinking water to First Nations, a commitment he has been unable to deliver after seven years in office.

In addition to a heavy focus on Indigenous issues, Poilievre also called for a different approach to dealing with the Canadian opioid epidemic. 

“What I support is recovery and treatment. That does include medications that help people with the pain and suffering of withdrawal, that revive people who have overdosed. But that also means detox, in-patient care for 90 days with a counsellor to help remove the toxins from people’s bodies, get them into good habits and onto a better life,” Poilievre said in an interview with CTV News.

Poilievre placed part of the blame for the addiction crisis at the feet of pharmaceutical corporations, telling media about a woman who had become addicted to opioids in the first place because she was told by professionals that the drugs were safe. 

“A waitress who had been a nurse got addicted to opioids because the lying, dirtbag pharmaceutical companies told her that it was safe,” the Conservative leader said in the Global News interview. 

Poilievre also used the media tour to highlight his support for alternative forms of energy, criticizing Trudeau for failing to get these projects built in addition to traditional oil and gas sector initiatives.

“Justin Trudeau has brought in so much red tape that we can’t get anything built in this country,” said Poilievre.

He championed the idea of producing the necessary minerals for electric vehicle production in Canada, building more dams for hydroelectric energy, and placed great importance on the need for nuclear energy.

“This is something we have to be very clear about. There is no carbon-free future without nuclear power,” said Poilievre. 

“Instead of importing our resources from dirty dictatorships, I’ll remove Justin Trudeau’s anti-development laws so that we can produce more energy, more agriculture, and more minerals for electric cars in this country,” said Poilievre in a City News interview. 

Poilievre also proposed that First Nations who would like to develop resources and commerce within their communities will be able to keep the money instead of sending it back and forth to the federal government.