Quick Quotes: What the leaders said during the first Conservative leadership debate

OTTAWA – Conservative leadership contenders faced each other in debate for the first time at the Shaw Conference Centre in Ottawa as part of the Canada Strong and Free Network conference. Patrick Brown was the only candidate to miss the debate. Here are some key quotes from Jean Charest, Roman Baber, Scott Aitchison, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre.

“The consistency of our message is absolutely crucial. We need to put together a principled Conservative platform that resonates with all Canadians in all parts of the country, and then we need to be consistent with that. We have to work together as a team. And until we can work together as a team Canadians are not going to trust us.” — Scott Aitchison on why Conservatives lost the last few elections

“We lost the last two elections because many Canadians weren’t sure where we stand. We should not be running to the right during leadership and running to the left during the general.” — Roman Baber on why Conservatives lost the last few elections

“The results and the outcomes speaks for itself. One thing that we have to be clear on, in the next campaign and the next leader, is that we welcome new Canadians. They are part of the family. They are welcome and they are Canadians, period. But those who were part of that campaign and proposed this idea need to account for that.” — Jean Charest on the Conservatives 2015 barbaric hotline campaign promise

“Mr. Pierre Poilievre has ran from the media the last few days because he doesn’t want to declare whether he’s pro-life or pro-choice. As a leader he is going to have to declare that. He cannot just be a minister of finance if he wants to be a prime minister. He is going to have to deal with social Conservative issues, which he has been running from this entire campaign.” — Leslyn Lewis on her stance on abortion.

“I did go to the trucker protests, both on Parliament Hill and in my community. I was on the street. I was supporting those who were fighting for their freedoms. In fact, I opposed the vaccine mandates as soon as they were announced.” — Pierre Poilievre on his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

“I come from the former Soviet Union. I know what democracy is all about and I know how precious our democracy is. And the fact that the Conservative movement failed to stand up for democracy is something that is going to remain with us for a generation.” — Baber on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

“Every time I hear a Conservative talking about some conspiracy theory, I realize that there’s another group of swing voters in the GTA that just are not going to come our way. Because all we do is yell and scream at each other. We’re witnessing it now. I actually like all these people in this table, around this dais as well, they’re good folks. And here we are calling each other names. What Canadian is going to trust this lot? We’ve got to do better.” — Aitchison on winning votes in Ontario.

“We have a weather advantage because liquefied natural gas is a process of cooling it down. What do we have in Canada? Cold weather. It is our most abundant natural resource. So Let’s cool it down, turn it into liquid, send it overseas, sell it and turn dollars for dictators into paychecks for our people.” — Poilievre on his plan for natural gas production.

“I stand with a record as a Conservative all my life. I’ll give you an example. I believe in fiscal conservatism, the Liberal government that succeeded me, Mr. Couillard that followed, left an $8-billion surplus after 15 years to Mr. Legault. $8 billion. You’re not going to see that in your lifetime again.” — Charest on allegations that he is a Liberal.

“Our charter needs to be defended. Parents have a right to raise their children in accordance with their values, and I will introduce a parental rights bill to stop government encroachment on parental rights.” — Leslyn Lewis in her closing arguments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2022


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