Pierre Poilievre is the man who could beat Trudeau

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Canadaโ€™s Liberals can no longer deny it. Pierre Poilievre, the fiery Conservative leader set on burning Justin Trudeauโ€™s signature achievements to the ground, is the favorite to win the countryโ€™s next election.

Poilievreโ€™s party has vaulted ahead in the polls by harnessing post-pandemic anxiety โ€” high inflation, rising interest rates, and the runaway cost of home ownership in Canada. He fills hotel ballrooms and banquet halls with rowdy crowds, even during a summer season when most voters tend to tune out touring politicians.

Polls suggest heโ€™s now more personally popular than the third-term Trudeau โ€” and by some measures, itโ€™s not even close.

The 44-year-old Poilievre is not as unpredictable as Donald Trump, and heโ€™s not fighting culture wars with the vigor of Ron DeSantis. Instead, Poilievre is refashioning his own brand of conservatism.

He occasionally nods to world-government conspiracy theorists by mocking the โ€œglobalist Davos elitesโ€ who run the World Economic Forum. He is open to Conservative MPs introducing anti-abortion bills, but promises they wonโ€™t become law if heโ€™s prime minister.

He espouses traditional conservative disdain for government spending and regulation, and woos moderates with one-liner policies. For every dollar of new federal spending, Poilievre would require equivalent cuts somewhere else. He favors drug treatment programs over decriminalization. He wants to export more fossil fuels, but also embraces renewable energy.

Poilievre appears to be building a winning coalition that bridges populists and social conservatives with center-right moderates. An election could come as early as next year, or as late as the fall of 2025, depending on the durability of a governing agreement between the Liberals and the New Democratic Party. But when that time comes, Trudeauโ€™s team shouldnโ€™t be surprised if theyโ€™re the betting underdog.

Poilievre was the undisputed star this month when more than 2,500 Conservative Party faithful gathered for a policy convention in Quebec City. The Centre des congrรจs de Quรฉbec buzzed at Poilievreโ€™s ability to reunite a party that had splintered since losing power to Trudeauโ€™s Liberals in 2015.

Delegates scooped up merch with Poilievreโ€™s name on it. They waited for hours in the convention hall to hear him speak. His remarks topped the 60-minute mark, and still hundreds lined up for one-on-one photos with their leader in a makeshift receiving line.