Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre unveiled his leadership team in the House of Commons in a social media post on Tuesday – a nine-member group that includes two LGBT MPs and one of the few people of color in the Conservative caucus.
Ontario MP Melissa Lantsman, a lesbian, and Alberta MP Tim Uppal, who is South Asian, will serve as Poilievre’s deputy leaders. Both supported Poilievre in his successful bid to lead the party.
The team also includes representatives from across the country, including Atlantic Canada and Quebec, where the party has struggled in recent elections.
Poilievre said these new faces are part of his “anti-inflationary” leadership team. “Job 1: Stop Trudeau’s tax hikes and end #JustinFlation so workers and seniors can prosper,” he said, using his gag name for inflation rates under the Liberal government.
My anti-inflationary management team.
Since her election last year, Lantsman, a former political staffer, lobbyist and CBC commentator, has been a fierce critic of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 file.
As the party’s “shadow minister” for transport, Lantsman called for an end to vaccination warrants and for the ArriveCAN app, which is used to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination at the border. She was an early supporter of some anti-vaccine warrant truckers who eventually joined the Freedom Convoy.
Lantsman, 38, is younger than many of his caucus colleagues. She is also one of only two Conservative MPs from the Greater Toronto Area.
Like Poilievre on the finance file, Lantsman was active in Question Period, with incisive questions for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
Uppal, who represents Edmonton in the Commons, served as Minister of State for Democratic Reform and later Minister of State for Multiculturalism in the government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Under former leader Erin O’Toole, Uppal led the party’s ethnic outreach efforts.
Uppal has apologized for his past support for the former Conservative government’s proposal to introduce a ‘niqab ban’ at citizenship ceremonies and a hotline to report ‘barbaric cultural practices’ such as slavery or “honour” killings.
Last year, Uppal told the Toronto Star that those two policies still weigh on the party’s attempts to rebuild relationships with certain racialized communities.
Only seven of the 119 Conservative MPs are black, indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC).
Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, a staunch Poilievre supporter in this race, will serve as House leader, a top job that includes negotiating with the government on legislation and votes.
Scheer, a former president, previously held the position under former interim leader Rona Ambrose. Quebec MP Luc Berthold will be his deputy.
MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who represents a riding in suburban Vancouver, is the other woman on Poilievre’s leadership team. Findlay will serve as party whip — an important post in any parliamentary democracy.
A party whip acts as chief enforcer, ensuring that there are enough party members in the chamber for debates and votes. The whip also decides which committees a member will sit on and assigns offices and seats in the House.
Saskatchewan MP Chris Warkentin will serve as Deputy Party Whip and Question Period Coordinator – the point person for the day’s Question Period debates.
Ontario MP Eric Duncan, a gay man, will serve as the party’s liaison to Poilievre’s caucus, a position he also held when O’Toole was party leader.
It will be Duncan’s job to act as a go-between, linking MPs and senators to party headquarters.
Duncan, who represents the riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry in eastern Ontario, was a popular surrogate in the last election, regularly swooping in for future Conservative MPs in other parts of the province.
Pierre Paul-Hus will serve as Quebec’s lieutenant, a sort of reward for backing Poilievre’s candidacy when a number of other prominent conservatives in the province backed former Quebec premier Jean Charest.
New Brunswick MP Jake Stewart, one of the few Conservative MPs from Atlantic Canada, will serve as the new “Caucus Committee Coordinator”.