OTTAWA — You could say Pierre Poilievre grew up on Parliament Hill. Elected MP at just 25 years old, he quickly acquired the reputation of being a political pit bull with his ideological and combative performances in debates. He is deeply popular among the Conservative base and over the years has amassed one of the largest social media followings of any Canadian politician.
Birth: Poilievre was born June 3, 1979. He was adopted by his parents Marlene and Don Poilievre, teachers from Saskatchewan who married two years earlier and moved to Calgary. Poilievre says he was born in Calgary to a 16-year-old girl who couldn’t raise a child and whose own mother had recently died. He has a brother named Patrick.
Early Years: Poilievre says he had a normal middle-class childhood. His parents divorced when he was a teenager, and he spent his youth playing competitive sports like football, hockey, and wrestling. He says when tendonitis in his shoulder left him recovering at home, he asked his mother if he could join her at a Progressive Conservative meeting. Thus was born his love for politics.
Before politics: After graduating from high school, he went to the University of Calgary, where he earned an undergraduate degree in international relations. But politics were never far away – the young Poilievre served as president of his campus Conservative club. He went to Ottawa in 2002 to work on the political staff of Stockwell Day, then a member of the Canadian Alliance. Poilievre also briefly ran a political consulting firm with friend and former Alberta cabinet minister Jonathan Denis in his early 20s.
Political record: As a newly elected MP in the newly formed Conservative Party of Canada, Poilievre championed local issues, such as trying to keep Ottawa’s Queensway Carleton Hospital from being paid rent by the Capital Commission national. He spoke out against the Liberal government’s proposal to establish a national child care centre. In 2005, he voted with the rest of the party caucus against expanding the traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex unions. After the Conservatives came to power in 2006, he was appointed parliamentary secretary, first to the President of the Treasury Board and then to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He is often called upon to defend government decisions. He was tapped for a cabinet post after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, becoming minister for democratic reform, tasked with making controversial changes to federal election laws. He became employment minister in 2015, just before the Conservatives lost power. As an opposition MP, Poilievre served as the party’s finance critic except for a brief period in 2021 under Erin O’Toole.
Family: Poilievre and his wife, Anaida, married in Portugal in 2018. They met in Ottawa, where she worked as a political attaché. Together they have two children, Valentina and Cruz.
Quote: Poilievre’s advice to young conservatives at a 2009 conference on the value of learning to communicate: “Voters have no responsibility to spend their time deciphering your Latin.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 5, 2022
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press