BARRHEAD/WESTLOCK – Peace River - Westlock Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MP Arnold Viersen is excited to get back to work and hold the governing Liberals to account under the direction of newly-elected leader Pierre Poilievre when Parliament resumes this week.
CPC members elected Poilievre in a landslide first-ballot victory last week. It will mark the fourth party leader (not including interim leaders) for Viersen, first elected in 2015.
Viersen publicly announced his support for third-place finisher Leslyn Lewis in her second bid to become CPC leader. She finished behind Poilievre and Jean Charest.
The leadership was determined via a point system with points being allotted proportionally according to the vote in each electoral district, with each riding eligible to cast 100 points (provided there are at least 100 accepted votes cast from that riding).
Poilievre clinched victory with 68.15 per cent of the points, while second-place finisher Jean Charet received 16.07 per cent of the total points in the preferential ballot system. Lewis received 9.69 per cent of available points while fourth and fifth place finishers, former Ontario MPP Roman Baber and Parry Sound - Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison, received roughly five and one per cent of available points.
"I knew it was going to be an uphill battle," Viersen said, regarding Lewis's attempt at winning the leadership. "But I am super excited about Pierre winning the Canadian Conservative Party leadership. He ran a great campaign and attracted a lot of new support to the conservative movement and the party."
Viersen noted that at the time of the leadership vote, the CPC had a membership list exceeding 670,000, much of those coming as a direct result of Poilievre.
"Those are unseen numbers in any party," he said. "In the history of the Conservative Party, there has not been such excitement. There is a real fervour and passion for Pierre Poilievre."
Asked if he is concerned about the perception from those outside the CPC that the party has moved to further to the right, which could impact the conservative's chances of forming government, Viersen said he has never put much stock in the argument.
Viersen also said the party stands united behind Poilievre, and they are ready to support him as the party holds the government accountable.
On Sept. 12, Viersen and the rest of the CPC caucus had a chance to meet and listen to Poilievre for the first time since winning the leadership.
During the meeting, the new leader outlined his plans for what the party will focus on during the fall parliamentary session, which started on Sept. 20.
"It was good to get together as a caucus and strategize on our priorities of getting inflation under control and ensuring there are no new taxes," he said.
Shannon Stubbs, CPC MP for Lakeland, echoed Viersen's comments about the excitement Poilievre brings to the party in a tweet following Sept. 12's caucus meeting.
"Pierre Poilievre was inspiring and invigorating," she said. "We are excited to fight for all Canadians and to work relentlessly to turn their hurt to hope under Pierre's leadership."