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Pierre Poilievre: People in Canada angry because ‘they’re hurting’

While arguing for more civility in politics, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also called on elected officials Friday to explore the reasons why Canadians feel so angry in today’s political climate.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Poilievre addressed a recent piece by Erin O’Toole posted to the publishing website Substack, in which the former Conservative leader called the “F*** Trudeau” flags “the very antithesis of what it means to be conservative.”

Poilievre responded to the blog post saying he does not like the flags.

“But I think we have to ask ourselves, why are people so angry? Like, why are people so angry? And the answer is that they’re hurting,” he said.

“You know, it’s easy for the political establishment to say, ‘Stop all your complaining.’ But when you’re one of the 1.5 million people that went to a food bank in the month of March, it’s not so easy.”

Poilievre went on to reference a case at the Mississauga Food Bank in Ontario, where a client asked about medical assistance in dying because of the poverty they were living through.

He also pointed to the cost of home ownership and opioid addiction as other examples of how Canadians are struggling, adding that in his nearly two decades in politics he has “never seen so much hurt and so much pain and suffering in our population.”

“So sure, let’s tell people to be more civil. But let’s as political leaders, let’s actually try to solve the problems that have upset and angered and hurt people so badly,” Poilievre said. “It is our job to turn that hurt into hope, to transform it into something better.”

In the piece, which he posted on Thursday, O’Toole called the “proliferation” of political displays such as the “F*** Trudeau” flags “a sign that we are slowly becoming desensitized to political stunts and aggressive rhetoric whether it comes from the left or right.”

“In fact, the extremes appear to be playing off one another as they frame the debate around the motivations of political leaders. The extreme left claimed (former prime minister) Stephen Harper was destroying Canada and the extreme right claims (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau is a traitor,” O’Toole says.

“These radical positions may seem outlandish to the majority of Canadians, but unfortunately, extreme views get more amplification and often drown out more moderate views.”

O’Toole, the MP for Durham, Ont., resigned as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada in February after a majority of his caucus voted to remove him.

Under O’Toole, the Conservatives earned the most votes in the 2021 federal election but failed to win a majority of seats, with a net loss of two ridings. The Liberals would go on to form a minority government.

O’Toole’s removal as leader came amid the trucker convoy rally in Ottawa that saw weeks of protests against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

CTV News reported a couple of days after O’Toole’s resignation that interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen had previously pushed him to support the protests. O’Toole met with some truckers heading to Ottawa in late January.

Poilievre won the Conservative leadership in September.

With files from Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello, former Producer Sarah Turnbull and CTV National News Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor

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