, 12.26.2023 05:13 PM

My latest: 2023’s political winner

Picking the big winner of 2023 is easy. It’s Pierre Poilievre.

At year’s end, the fledgling Conservative leader is a winner not simply because he is leading in the polls. At various times, Erin O’Toole and Andrew Scheer – along with the likes of Robert Stanfield and Kim Campbell – all led in the polls, too.

Polling leads come and go. They’re transitory. Illusions.

What matters most is the polls that show why one is losing, not winning. And then making the the necessary changes to yourself.

Back when he was posing for selfies with the anti-vax convoy types who had occupied Ottawa – back when when he was enthusing about cryptocurrencies, playing footsie with anti-abortion forces, and raging about conspiracies at the World Economic Forum – Poilievre was behind in the polls. That’s when, and why, he was losing.

To Justin Trudeau, no less. To the worst Prime Minister in generations.

And then Poilievre, and/or some of the smart people around him, took a long and hard look at his vulnerabilities. And they made changes.

He stopped fulminating about vaccinations. He went silent on bitcoin and the WEF. He stopped talking about the stuff that had been holding him back, in effect.

And then he started talking about the things Canadians really cared about. How to make the rent or pay mortgage. How to deal with a utility bill. How to put bread on the table.

He ditched the glasses and the prep school ties, which had made him look like an angry physics lab nerd. He started working out. He was seen laughing and smiling more, in front of the cameras. He shared the spotlight with his lovely immigrant wife.

And – voila – things started to change. Around May or so, Polievre started to move ahead in the polls, and he hasn’t looked back.

He is who he is, however. Flashes of the old, angry Pierre Poilievre still occasionally reveal themselves. The same pollsters who say Poilievre is way ahead say that people find him arrogant and insincere, too.

He lets reporters get under his skin – reporters who ask dumb questions, because it is our job to ask dumb questions – and lashes out. It makes him look like a bully. Someone who enjoys punching down.

He’s stubborn, too. He voted against a trade deal with Ukraine – which Volodymyr Zelenskyy personally wanted and travelled here to get – supposedly because it contain provisions calling for a carbon tax.

When Ukraine already has a carbon tax. When he, you know, seemed to forget that leading Canada doesn’t entitle you to lead Ukraine at the same time.

And he still occasionally uses a rhetorical sledgehammer to kill a housefly. Insisting that Canada is “broken,” when it isn’t. Our politics are broken. Not the people.

Those exceptions notwithstanding, credit where credit is due: unlike Justin Trudeau – who is genetically incapable of accepting responsibility for his own mistakes and making changes to himself – Pierre Poilievre isn’t exactly who he was a couple years ago.

He’s changed. Not every aspect of his being, no. But he’s changed enough to dramatically improve his standing in the polls.

Justin Trudeau has helped, of course. (And we will be dealing with Trudeau in a separate column about the big political loser of 2023.)

But Pierre Poilievre truly seems to have learned from his mistakes.

And, given the sad state of our national politics these days, that’s about all we can ask for.

Happy new year.


  1. Gilbert says:

    Let’s be logical. If people take an injection with unknown long-term effects, and then people without the injection are a threat, how effective is the injection? Thd EU has dumped lots of boosters. Many don’t want them.

    • Jason says:

      Let’s be more logical. 98% of licensed physicians in this country support vaccination, and they are most definitely more knowledgeable than malcontents with YouTube access.

      • Jason,

        A lot of people are citing Kennedy’s book as if it was Gospel. I view RFK Jr. more as a crank or kook than anything else so I will ignore the drive-by smears of Fauci and others that are commonplace these days.

        • Douglas W says:

          Someone in Bobby’s camp gets social media: specifically YouTube.

          Party strategist here in Canada will do well to study how team RFK Jr. is getting its salient points directly to every day people without relying on corporate media or big money donors.

          It would be a very compelling case study.

          Regardless of how one feels about the guy, his communications team is remarkably good, and they’re connecting with a meaningful audience: swing voters and independents.

      • Gilbert says:

        98%? Where did you get that number from? Many doctors said DDT was safe, but it wasn’t.

    • Gilbert,

      We all make our own beds healthwise. In my case with three boosters in late 2023 and in other cases without.

    • Sean says:

      Got all my shots + boosters. Had precisely zero side effects. 2 + years COVID free. Because it works and it is safe. Completely all on my own free will. I think doctors (whose education I paid for as a taxpayer) know exactly what they are doing. The vulnerable people I care about are safer. How’s that for “logical”?

      • Martin Dixon says:

        So did I but it was more of a probability bet than anything approaching 100% certainty. Since when did we start to put complete faith in big government and big pharma? Everything has flipped. I miss the sixties.

  2. Peter Williams says:

    If Ukraine already has a carbon tax, why do we need to include a carbon tax requirement in a trade agreement?

    Remember the Liberals assured us there was NO PLAN to increase the carbon tax above $50/tonne.

    And Justin Trudeau is probably the biggest carbon ‘polluter’ in Canada.

    • Jason says:

      What’s more ridiculous: a non-binding proposal to collaborate on carbon tax models, or telling millions of people they aren’t worthy of being saved from war because someone in a foreign government even mentioned the word “carbon” in their presence?

      If Poilievre learned his lesson from this, good. If not, shit like this is going to get us another term of Trudeau.

      • Doug says:

        Free trade is more about rebuilding the post-war economy than saving Ukraine.

      • Martin Dixon says:

        Doubtful, at least over this issue. May even be a net plus. I maintain it will have negligible impact for a whole bunch of reasons). It is just math.
        1. there are a bunch of people that don’t support the war and the subtlety that this agreement doesn’t mean P doesn’t support the war will be lost on them.
        2. Lots of people cheer the carbon tax clause even though it is meaningless-again the subtlety will be lost on them
        3. the biggest Ukrainian diaspora is out west-anyone who thinks this will have more than a minimal impact on the polls out there is not paying attention. Liberals are running ads out there against some Ukrainian Tory MPs. That is quite funny actually but they should not be discouraged from wasting their money.
        4. There are some bunch of people that are saying that the fact that they will not let this agreement pass quickly is some sort of existentialist threat to the survival of Ukraine. Not true, of course, but the Tories did give the Liberals the opportunity to pass this before they took there 6 week vacay. Goold told them no, they needed to reflect on their behavior over Christmas(classic scold). Is it an existential threat or just politics as usual? To ask the question is to answer it.
        5. I don’t know this fact for 100% but I suspect that Ukraine is not top of mind for the 2 million people that visited food banks lately nor is it to the 30 year old who needs to face the fact that he or she will not ever own a house.

      • Peter Williams says:

        If it’s non binding, why include it in the agreement? It’s time to stop putting non-binding proposals in agreements.

        As for so called collaborating on carbon tax models? Really? Justin has already shown you cannot trust him on tax issues. Remember no plans to increase carbon tax above $50/tonne?

        “Telling millions of people they aren’t worthy of being saved from war.” How will a trade agreement save them from war?

        • Martin Dixon says:

          And if that is literally true then shouldn’t Jason have encouraged his peeps in the Liberal caucus to allow the vote to pass before their 45 day vacay? THEY PREVENTED THAT. These people need to get their stories straight. They really do.

      • Jason,

        This was a spectacular fumble and a totally unforced error by the OLO. In the end, all it did was make Poilièvre look stupid and/or inadequately briefed. Lesson learned, I hope…

        • Martin Dixon says:

          Ronald, a fumble, maybe. A spectacular one, I don’t think so.

          • Martin,

            Anytime you come off looking stupid entirely of your own making that’s spectacular. So far, Pierre is no Truman on this PR disaster.

          • Martin Dixon says:

            Ronald, I have yet had someone who thinks that it is so critical that this thing gets passed explain to me why they are not upset at the Liberals when they did not take the opportunity that the Cons gave them to pass it before their vacay. I think it is just more inside baseball nothing burger stuff that won’t hurt him.

        • Douglas W says:

          Poilièvre was on quite a roll, then he got full of himself.

          Quite certain there were those in his inner circle who said: Boss, this is not a great idea.

          Spectacular fumble, hardly.
          Lesson learned? Nope.
          Because he doesn’t know modesty.

          • Martin Dixon says:

            It won’t hurt him.

          • Douglas,

            In my case, I think I have ALL the answers and the correct ones at that! Damned good thing I’m not Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition. I get humbled far more regularly than I and my ego would like. LOL.

            The key in politics that leads to success is not to take positions on your own that will almost inevitably give you a collective political thumping. I think Pierre gets that.

      • Curious V says:

        He’s tethered to the peoples party so expect more of the same.

  3. Peter Williams says:

    Canada, the country is broken.

    Just to illustrate: Trudeau’s summer house at Harrington Lake, even after $5.7 million spent on renovations, apparently needs a new roof.


    Why were the Liberals relying on SNC-Lavalin roof experts, who said the cedar shingles should last till 2025 (in The Star article)?

    Apparently the 6 official residences in the Ottawa area need $175 million in remedial work.

    $175/6 = $29 million per residence.

    Surely we could just demolish the six residences and build nice houses for less than $29 million each?

    But then poor Justin would have to do without an indoor swimming pool.

    When more Canadians are using food banks than ever before, people have a right to be angry.

    Justin and Mr Versace couldn’t be reached for comments.

  4. Douglas W says:

    Bonehead Liberal blunders made life easier for Poilievre and the Conservatives in 2023.

    Good fortune for the Conservatives, two years in a row, seems unlikely but … if Justin Trudeau decides to stick around then … well … riding 40 points in the polls, or higher, may just happen in 2024.

    But don’t bet on it.

  5. Arron Banks says:

    I think the big wild card (and Trudeau knows this as well, which is probably why he entered into that pact with the NDP until 2025) is Trump. With a Biden-Trump rematch an all but guarentee (plus the various trials and attempts to get number 45 off the ballot) Pierre is going to have to decide if he’s going to distance himself from what’s going on south of the border or if he feels opportunistic and thinks that importing some of that stuff up here will be effective.

    I think as Warren rightfully alludes to, a lot of the American-style rhetoric doesn’t work up here (the binary that sees non-supporters or media as the enemy) as Canadians (thankfully not yet) don’t viscerally hate each other as the political climate has primed many south of the 49 to do (on Twitter and social media maybe, but how many regular Canadians are 1) on social media and 2) engage in partisan political talk if they are. It’s also a bonus our election seasons are usually short.

    • Curious V says:

      Well said

    • Aaron,

      In short, we go 1% Trump and we lose spectacularly. No one has any time for that American POS up here. And thank God for that.

      • The Doctor says:

        I’m biased because I absolutely loathe Trump and think he’s a total menace. With that full disclosure out of the way, I fail to see any upside for PP in going Trumpy. Those Canadians who actually like Trump (and there are a not insignificant number of them) are already in the bag for the Tories. So there’s no voter retention or attraction issue there that I can see for those voters.

  6. Peter Williams says:

    Why isn’t Justin Trudeau riding around in an electric vehicle?

    Has he scraped his gas guzzling Mercedes?

  7. Doug says:

    Politicians still haven’t focused on the biggest threats to Canadian and global quality of life: stagnant productivity and high debt levels. I’d be impressed if Poilievre can build cases for government austerity and productivity enhancements such as opening up dairy, poultry, air travel, telecom, media and financial services to competition. Laurentian capitalism, i.e. protecting oligopolies who are largely connected to old money families, has failed.

  8. Robert White says:

    Poilievre may have changed slightly given his new
    family and increased popularity in the face of Trudeau’s
    tragic loss of popularity, but personality remains stable
    over the life span and it may be that he has modified
    his persona to suit his leadership campaign rather than
    undergone any sort of wholesale qualitative change.

    In addition, he’s still “Mr. Angry” of the disgruntled
    middle aged & fat white guy Con Party of Canada.
    Moreover, he still has no plan whatsoever to lead the country with any sort of distinction.

    I trust Freeland & Trudeau enough to move back to the LPC just to ensure Mr. Angry doesn’t actually get elected no matter how many Canadians dislike PM Socks.

    • Robert,

      Wouldn’t vote Liberal if my life actually depended on it. To each his own, I suppose.

    • AndrewT says:

      ‘Trudeau’s tragic loss of popularity’

      Yeah….how dare the little people grow weary of the sun king and all his radiance!

      As Trudeau’s children we must all bask in his love!

      And who doesn’t think the Liberal Party isn’t a cult these days?

      • Curious V says:

        Cult best describes Poilievre and his following

        • Martin Dixon says:

          So silly and ridiculous. Are you saying that when his support hit over 40% that they were all members of some cult? I am not going to disavow you of that, actually. Ignore and discount his support at your peril.

          • Robert White says:

            Martin, we could easily dismiss his polling numbers
            as a reflection of Trump’s polling numbers in the face
            of a 90 count felony indictment and an MSM that refuses
            to give him air time as the world’s most proliferate
            narcissist ever. Skippy P. is taking all his campaigning
            to Social Media, too. Just like Orange SOB he’s the cult
            in Canada for anyone pro-Conservative.

            They are so bad they can’t play nice with Canadian media on any one-to-one journalism. They are a fringe
            right-wing cult capitalizing on the cult of personality.

            P.S. Gotta agree with you on ‘missing the 60s’ for the opposition & demonstrations.

          • Robert,

            A lot of the media are quite deliberately biased against the CPC. Not ever acceptable. However, any CPC leader needs to have thicker skin than most. It goes with that job. Harper failed at that. With Pierre, time will tell after he becomes PM.

    • The Doctor says:

      You seriously think that the only people who vote for or belong to the CPC are middle aged fat white people? Seriously?

      I think that amounts to a case of grossly misunderstanding the party you oppose.

      • Martin Dixon says:

        Shhhhh. Don’t let them know.

      • Robert White says:

        Take a gander at a Conservative convention sometime, Doc. All raging over 50 angry white guys with very few
        women in attendence. Mostly white dudes, too. Little
        in the way of diversity as well. And they don’t look
        edifying in their mass hysteria.

        • Martin Dixon says:

          Your point being? I for one wouldn’t be caught dead at one of those things. And their votes on policy don’t matter. You are another one like Curious that is missing what is going on. And I sure don’t want to disavow you of that.

          • Martin,

            I liked it the last time I went. We knew ahead of time that Harper would ignore a lot of the resolutions. People got to have their say which was nice.

            The only crap occurred in hospitality suites or bars: you know, quite a few insecure people doing cock walks acting as if their shit came out in gold bars. Tiresome at best.

        • The Doctor says:

          If only angry old white people supported the CPC, they would have a tiny fraction of the support they have in the polls.

  9. Doug says:

    Warren, what do you think of:


    It is bold and self indulgent but also full of content (ex. PET bobble head, JT in front of WEF background, quotes from Greek philosophy). Can’t wait to see the next episode.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      It will get another several million views. What is so self-indulgent about it?

      “Rates are at historic lows Glen.”

      “This time it’s different”.

      Lot’s of content as in math and math is the only thing that will get us out of this mess. Running around saying “Sunny ways” and “Canada’s back” sure won’t.


      I explained to a Tru-anon former education administrator how admin staff have increased 10 fold in Ontario since they merged the school boards in 1969. TEN FOLD. Certainly a few were likely important and necessary but surely one or two could be retired off without some sort societal collapse that the Tru-anons are predicting will happen if Pierre takes over. No response as of yet.

  10. Peter Williams says:

    Justice Hogue, “there is a distinction between the government of the day, and the political party that controls the House of Commons.”

    Wow. Does Trudeau know this?

  11. Curious V says:

    Poilievre gained when he focused on key pocket book issues, but with Trumps ascension our focus will change. Warren’s right to point out Poilievre’s winning season, also right that he’s peaked too soon. The coming year will see interest rates dropping, the economy humming, a deluge of housing starts – I would say Poilievre still has the upper hand, but times are a changin.

    • The Doctor says:

      I highly recommend this past weekend’s Bulwark Beg to Differ podcast, where they discuss precisely these same phenomena in a US context. The economic situation is very complex, and while I agree with some of the facts you cite, there are others cutting the other way. I recommend in particular Damon Linker and Bill Galston’s observations in that podcast, when they discuss the “why isn’t Biden getting more credit for the improved economy?” question.

      • Curious V says:

        I listened to the look back on 2023 on Youtube. Thanks a lot, it was very interesting, a great listen and terrific insight into American Politics.

      • Curious V says:

        Conspiracy theory isn’t new, but it has amplified like a giant wave, theories around the pandemic, and antisemitism that are resonating with the conservative base – not new, but new in that the volume of this stuff has amplified so much. We’ve seen lately that every party suffers from antisemitism to an extent, but the wave in the states that joins with conspiracy theory around the pandemic and immigration – it’s amplifying what was once a small problem. Same thing is happening to the conservative base in Canada – siding with Russia, all the conspiracy theory about the WEF, Immigration, the Pandemic a lot of antisemitic stuff (on this one every party has to do something about antisemitism).

        • Martin Dixon says:

          What are you talking about? The biggest source of antisemitism is currently on the INSTITUTIONAL left. Honestly, keep convincing yourself that is what you are dealing with on the right and keep telling your friends. It’s helpful.

        • Curious,

          None of my CPC entourage support Demon Seed Putin. A few are dimwitted enough to support the other fascist demon seed con man. What’s his name again?

          A faker and a pussy. She got it right on the first try and may her memory be a blessing as they say.

        • Peter Williams says:


          I never realized university Marxists were conservatives!

    • Martin Dixon says:

      “Our focus”? How very queens English of you but totally on brand.

  12. Robert Bernier says:

    There is still an unanswered question: Is PP Pierre Poutine?

  13. Peter Williams says:

    “Grandma,” he said, “I want to ask you a question.”
    “Honey,” she said, “you can ask me anything”
    “Grandma, how did Mom die?”


    Warning very graphic content. But worth a read.

    NY Times article Dec 28, 2023: ‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct 7.

    • Peter,

      I guess The New York Times has low memory recall. See the Nazis in Russia, the Soviets in Germany, the Japanese in China and elsewhere in Asia. War crimes across the board.

      • Peter Williams says:


        Yeah, I was stunned to see this in the NYT.

        Justin Trudeau and Melanie Joly must be going apoplectic. But Hamas still thanks them for their support.

  14. Peter Williams says:

    After getting caught awarding lucrative government contracts to close friends and family members, why are Mary Ng and Ahmed Hussen still in cabinet?

    a) Because if Trudeau kicked them out, they might tattle on others?
    b) It’s standard Liberal practice to award contracts to fiends and family?
    c) They we’re just following the example of our illustriou Dear Leader?
    d) The Liberals don’t understand what a conflict of interest is?
    e) Sunny Ways. Accountability is for accountants.

  15. Peter,

    a) Nothing stays private much less party secret in Ottawa for long.

    b) Of course it is. They are doing it now and we did it before them. The laughable point is when any government tries to claim that all appointments are solely based only on qualifications and merit. Total bullshit, no matter who’s in power.

    c) No comment since the answer is already obvious.

    d) They understand. They just don’t give a shit.

    e) They are phoney baloney POS for all to see. People finally get it now. So long, Liberal government!

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