A severe defeat for Jean Charest

A severe defeat for Jean Charest


Jean Charest lost his bet after garnering a fraction of the votes of his main rival, Pierre Poilievre, who was elected the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) by an overwhelming margin in the first round . 

The long months of merciless battle against a much more popular adversary never allowed the former Premier of Quebec to gain the upper hand in the polls or on the land.

Mr. Poilievre received 68.15% of the points, against a meager 16% for Jean Charest, followed by 9.6% for Leslyn Lewis and dust for the last two candidates, Roman Baber and Scott Aitchison.

The new leader marked a change in tone after having long highlighted the work of Jean Charest in the 1995 referendum campaign. “Thank you for having saved the country”, launched Mr. Poilievre during his victorious speech.

From day one of the campaign, the momentum was in the Poilievre camp, which already had the support of a significant portion of the membership and the Conservative caucus.

With nearly 7 millions of dollars in his pocket, Mr. Poilievre's campaign raised more than twice the funds of Mr. Charest's. In terms of the number of individual donors, the social conservative candidate Leslyn Lewis has overtaken Mr. Charest, who finds himself third.

An unsuccessful campaign

Jean Charest entered the arena on March 10, eight months ago to the day.

For his first event, he went to the heart of the conservative beast, in Calgary , in Alberta, to send a message of unity: a former premier of Quebec, a Liberal to boot, can bring Alberta back to the “decisions table” in Ottawa.

The outstretched hand has finally been postponed.

Mr. Charest lost a key ally when Progressive Conservative running mate Patrick Brown was pushed out by CCP officials in July over an allegation of illegal funding.

Became Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party from 1993 to 1998, Jean Charest had left federal politics to join the Liberal Party of Quebec. He led Quebec from 2003 to 2012.

It was therefore ten years later that Mr. Charest returned to active politics. This time away contributed significantly to his defeat, according to former Stephen Harper government strategists.