Buffalo Project updates its grades for CPC leadership candidates

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidates

The Buffalo Project has updated its running report card on the six candidates campaigning for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

The grades for each candidate are based on how they will "stand up for Western Canada" and include marks for their public statements on certain policies, but also on their likelihood to keep their promises, taking into consideration their past actions, voting history and their record of keeping commitments.

Pierre Poilievre remains ahead of the pack with an A grade. 

"Poilievre was born and raised in Calgary and holds a close affinity to Western Canadians. His public statements on western issues check all the boxes," said the Buffalo Project in its updated report card

Poilievre said he supports giving more freedom to provinces in general and in addition to abolishing the carbon tax, he would "build pipelines in all directions." 

His position on "taking back control of your life" and "making Canada the freest nation on earth" resonate with Western Canadians, according to the Buffalo Project.

"The only area of concern is a lack of detail around how he would reform equalization. Additionally, some worry about his electability in other parts of Canada because of his strong Western Canadian positions," said the report. 

Initially, Scott Aitchison, Joseph Bourgault and Roman Baber were graded with an F, but the updated report card has removed Bourgault as he did not qualify to run by the deadline, and Baber has since moved up to a C grade. 

"Baber is starting to come out with policies important to Westerners," said the Buffalo Project in a Thursday update to its report card. 

"He has spoken out against the carbon tax but hasn’t said whether provinces would be allowed to manage their own emissions plans."

"Baber is pro-resource development but hasn’t been clear about how he would build pipelines and what legislation would be changed."

The report mentioned Baber's statement during Wednesday's leadership debate in Edmonton where he said he would abolish equalization and reduce income taxes. 

"While his statement is exciting for some, it appears to lack an understanding of Canadian federalism," said the update. 

"The federal government can reform equalization but could only abolish it with a constitutional amendment requiring agreement from seven provinces representing 50% of the population. That is considered impossible in Canada today, especially regarding equalization."

The Buffalo Project concluded Baber "either lacks understanding on Western fairness or is simply providing [hollow] statements for votes." 

"Baber's strong stances are welcomed but his policies don’t feel ready for prime time. His grade now sits at a respectable C."

Jean Charest has also climbed from a D- to a C- after his announcements he would bring in more private healthcare options and would repeal Bills C-69 and C-48. He also said he would exclude non-renewable resources from the equalization formula and cancel the consumer carbon tax. 

"Mr. Charest is a smart politician and by making these statements, he is checking all the boxes to receive support in the West," said the report. 

"But many Westerners would contend that even if Charest promised to support pro-western policies, the likelihood of him keeping his promises is low."

As a Liberal premier of Quebec, Charest implemented a carbon tax in the province and raised consumption taxes while premier, along with supporting the Liberal long-gun registry. 

"While Charest may indeed be a friend of Western Canada, most still view him as a 'go with the flow' politician who is more interested in political expedience than fighting for principled change."

Unchanged on the report card are Scott Aitchison, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre. 

Lewis still sits at a B. 

"Lewis appears to be committed to western Canada. She is pro energy, would repeal bills C-69 and C-48 and is against a carbon tax," said the Buffalo Project.

"Many would like to hear more from Lewis if and how she would reform equalization and handle private health care within Canada. She has been consistent on her policy statements and seems unlikely to break promises due to public pressure."

Patrick Brown — unchanged with a C- grade — released "A Plan for Western Canada" when he visited Calgary earlier in his campaign. 

"In the statement, he committed to only appointing elected Alberta Senators, greater equality of regional representation on parliamentary and cabinet committees, fixing 'the unjust equalization program,' repealing Bills C-69 and C-48 and working hard to increase investment in our energy sector," said the Buffalo Project. 

"His policy statements are strong and welcomed. However, many remain skeptical of Brown as he has a history of going back on his commitments after public pressure from media and political opponents."

Brown has flip-flopped on the carbon tax and was "found guilty on two occasions of breaking Ontario's Integrity Act." 

"Thus, there is great concern Mr. Brown may say one thing during a leadership race and do another for political expediency later – much like what happened with the last Conservative Leader with disastrous results," said the report card. 

Aitchison still tails the other candidates with a lingering F-grade from the Buffalo Project. 

"Aitchison has spoken out against a carbon tax but hasn’t been clear on if he would allow provinces to manage their own emission reduction plans," said the report. 

Concerned he has not mentioned western issues after a month of campaigning, the report said, "messaging from Aitchison so far have been mostly generic."

"We may be able to upgrade his grade as the campaign progresses, but currently it’s a fail."  

Created in 2018, The Buffalo Project was formed by a small number of western Canadians concerned for the future of Canada and, specifically, how Western provinces are being impacted.

Reporter (Alberta)

Melanie Risdon is an Alberta Reporter for the Western Standard and Alberta Report based in the Calgary Headquarters. She has over 20 years’ experience in media at Global News, Rogers and Corus.

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(3) comments

Free Canada

Most federal and provincial leaders and big city mayors are controlled by someone or something. It’s either WEF, China, Saudi Arabia or Russia or some Elite group. The question is, will anyone actually work for the people??? My vote is P Poilievre. I hope I am right.

Left Coast

Mars . . . if you think lack of experience, no connection to Western Canada is an asset . . . you could be right. But PP is saying all the right things and has the momentum to win. I believe Lewis would be a great Health Minister & a + asset in a Conservative Govt.

Mars Hill

I don't want anything close to more of the same, LL trumps PP on this from every angle.

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