Liberal Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez said a keynote address by Pierre Poilievre at the Conservative convention was “Republican” and “far right.”

Rodriguez spoke to reporters in Quebec City outside the venue where nearly 3,000 Conservatives are convening.

“It was a very long speech with not much new,” Rodriguez said. “Quite a traditional, I would say Republican, far right speech, where he confirmed that he’s going to cut.”

Poilievre spoke for more than an hour Friday evening, speaking about housing, affordability, and freedom – touting the “extraordinary” nature of the “common people.”

“My common sense plan cuts waste and caps spending to bring down inflationary deficits and interest rates, so Canadians can keep their homes,” Poilievre said.

The Conservative leader said politicians should have to “root out waste in (the) bureaucracy” to fund any new spending, though Rodriguez took this as an admission by Poilievre of impending cuts to social services under a Conservative government.

“We know that he’s going to cut a lot. We don’t know where,” Rodriguez said. “Is it going to be the seniors? Dental care? We don’t know. We had hoped that he had the courage to say where he was going to cut, but at least we know that he’s going to cut.”

Poilievre had harsh words for the current Liberal government’s approach to budgeting, praising the balanced budget delivered under Stephen Harper.

“Balancing the budget to keep inflation and interest rates low was the unanimous policy goal of every major party at every level of government right up until the radical departure from reality under Mr. Budgets Balance Themselves,” Poilievre said, referencing comments made by Justin Trudeau in 2014.

Rodriguez, who served as heritage minister before he was shuffled into his current role, also defended the Liberal government’s Online News Act, which forces tech giants like Facebook and Google to pay media outlets for content shared.

Rodriguez was asked to respond to projections from Canadian broadcast experts that CBC, which already receives a generous $1.2 million subsidy from the Canadian government, will receive the bulk of any money given to media outlets by Big Tech.

“We based our bill on what we saw in Australia, and we tweaked it and I think we made it better,” Rodriguez said. “But if you look at Australia, proportionally, it’s all the small media that got more than the rest.”

When pressed by the fact that Canadian experts were the ones making these projections, he said Australian experts told parliamentary committees that “proportionally, all the small media got more.”

The Conservative convention concludes Saturday September 9.


  • Andrew Lawton

    Andrew Lawton is the managing editor of True North and host of The Andrew Lawton Show. He is the author of two bestselling books, including his most recent work, "Pierre Poilievre: A Political Life."