Call it the Pierre Poilievre conundrum.
How can a man who is so personally popular within his own party base still be looked on with such wariness by moderates and centrists within the broader national political sphere, particularly within large urban population centres like Vancouver or Toronto?
According to a recent Leger poll, if an election were held today, the Conservative Party of Canada under Poilievre's leadership would have 28 per cent support in Canada compared to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals at 33 per cent support.
Poilievre won CPC leadership after expressing sympathy for those who believed in the virtues of last January's Freedom Convoy movement, which was seen by many Canadians, (particularly those in Canada's aforementioned large urban population centres), as disruptive and potentially dangerous to civil society.
Now the conservatives' leader, can Poilievre make a more statesmanlike turn and show Canadians he can govern for all, and still bring those who want radical change along with him? His campaign rhetoric was full of libertarian ideology, criticisms of what he deemed overreach in the governments' COVID-19 response, and a belief in restoring "Canadian values."
So what are Poilievre’s virtues? And can he turn them into a winning hand to eventually gain the keys of the much-dilapidated 24 Sussex Drive, as he has now done at Stornoway?
Virtue number one: He’s not Trudeau. The current prime minister’s personal popularity is nowhere near what it once was, and Poilievre should be able to capitalize on that.
Virtue number two: He has managed to fully unite the conservative rank-and-file behind his leadership. The CPC has been its own worst enemy in recent years, but that infighting may now be at an end, with Poilievre securing 68 per cent of the leadership vote.
Those are Poilievre’s high cards. They are pretty strong on the surface, but they won’t be enough to win on their own.
Does Poilievre have the charm, the management skills, or the luck he needs to persuade a growingly urban Canadian population that he’s their man? Time will tell.