Corporate lobbyists, Trudeau jokes and fairytale endings: 5 things we learned from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s event with Pierre Poilievre

The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada visited the Hotel Vancouver on Friday

Pierre Poilievre had a message for Vancouver corporate leaders at a Friday event held by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade: “the corporate lobbyists in Ottawa are focused on getting lunch with ministers at the Rideau Club and expecting politicians to do things for them… when I’m prime minister, if you want any of your policy agenda pushed forward, you’re going to have to convince the people of Canada that it’s good for them.”

It was, according to Poilievre, his first appearance in front of a board of trade or chamber of commerce (something he called intentional given his disdain for those crowds). And while he did repeatedly say that the Vancouver business set was nothing like Ottawa’s, the Conservative leader was clearly intentional about appealing to the working class.

Still, there were plenty of cheers from those in attendance as Poilievre rallied against the carbon tax, the state of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the high price of housing. Here are five things we learned from the event.

1. Poilievre isn’t afraid of going after premier David Eby

After recently saying that Eby had “probably the worst housing record of any politician on Earth,” the Conservative leader specifically called on the B.C. premier to refuse the planned carbon tax rate increase on April 1 after noting that some of the other premiers are against the tax, but Eby is for it.

“The NDP has enthusiastically embraced the goal of raising energy prices on working class families and has committed to going ahead with the hike this April 1. A 23-percent carbon tax hike that will make life more expensive for Canadians who are already unable to eat.”

2. He’s got some jokes

At one point, when talking about how British Columbians don’t know much about how cold it is in the rest of the country, Poilievre went into a stand-up routine. “You don’t know how cold it is in Ottawa,” he said. “Last December, it was so cold that Justin Trudeau was seen with his hands in his own pockets.”

Based on the LOLs, the packed house at the Hotel Vancouver loved it.

3. The Conservative housing platform has some similarities to… the BC NDP’s!

In a recent BCBusiness interview with David Eby, we asked the premier if his party and the federal Conservatives actually had some similarities in housing policies, even as Poilievre trashed Eby’s housing work. Eby said there were, and we couldn’t help but notice that Poilievre’s rally against municipal housing “gatekeepers” has some parallels to the work Eby is currently doing.

“My question for homebuilders is, What have you done to defeat gatekeeping politicians—these mayors and councillors who stand in the way of homebuilding?” asked Poilievre. “If these politicians keep getting elected to block home building, they will.” Eby has famously put a bit of a scare into some B.C. mayors and councillors with his approach to pushing development. Maybe the two, if both elected, will find some common ground.

4. The tough-on-crime talk was resonating with the Vancouver crowd

It’s become clear that Poilievre is going to try and sell a tough-on-crime message and rally against “repeat offenders.” That message isn’t dissimilar to the one Ken Sim used to great effect in the most recent municipal election. (Still waiting on those 100 mental health nurses, Ken!)

So it shouldn’t be a shock that the crowd at the hotel loved Poilievre’s shots at the Downtown Eastside and what he called the “Liberal/NDP catch and release policy.” An oft-repeated talking point from the opposition leader, even when he isn’t in Vancouver, is that 40 violent offenders were arrested in the city 6,000 times in one year. Even if it’s not actually true, the crowd was eating it up alongside the catered breakfast.

5. His vision of Canada has a fairytale ending

We didn’t necessarily take Poilievre for a romantic, but he left attendees with an ending that even Hallmark executives might call too cheesy.

When talking about the future he envisions for Canada, Poilievre said the following.

 “A young couple sits on the stairs of their brand-new home with a Canadian flag on the porch, admiring their pay cheques and looking into each other’s eyes in a way that can only mean, We did it, the promise has been kept, it was worth the sacrifice. Finally, we’re home.”

Roll the credits.