Pro-Bitcoin politician wins Canadian Conservative leadership race

Pierre Poilievre outlines desire to make Canada ‘the blockchain capital of the world‘≠

Toronto Skyline                                 
Pierre Poilievre, the new Canadian Conservative leader, is a fierce opponent of central bank digital currencies — Photo: Shutterstock

The most pro-Bitcoin candidate in the race to become leader of Canada’s Conservative party has won by a landslide. 

Pierre Poilievre secured victory on the first ballot, winning 68.1% of the vote. He won almost every district in the nation, while his closest rival, Jean Charest, won only 16% of the vote

Poilievre ran on a “populist” platform of fighting inflation by reducing carbon taxes, tackling the perceived “political correctness” of state-funded media and boosting Canada’s energy independence by focussing on the oil-rich province of Alberta.

Given the prominence of such matters in the campaign and the minor importance of Bitcoin, the result cannot be said to represent a full-throated popular embrace of pro-Bitcoin politics. 

Despite this, Poilievre’s success does demonstrate the extent to which attitudes among politicians towards cryptocurrencies have become less universally hostile in recent years. He has pledged to “make Canada the blockchain capital of the world.”

Speaking on the campaign trail, Poiliere said: “We need to give people the freedom to choose other money. If the government is going to abuse our cash, we should have the right to opt to use other, higher-quality cash.”

Crypto bans and CBDCs

When challenged in a leadership debate on his cryptocurrency stance, Poilievre said he believed that people should be free in their investment decisions, saying

“I don’t want to be like communist China and ban Bitcoin or other technologies because in a free market people should have the opportunity to make those decisions for themselves. The reason why many people have chosen to exercise that freedom because central banks have been attacking the value of our national currencies by printing C$400bn ($308bn) here in Canada, leading to 30-year highs in inflation, doubling the house prices, leading to massive volatility in other sectors of our economy.” 

Throughout the campaign, critics pointed to the fact that since Poilievre promoted Bitcoin as a way for Canadians to take back control of their money “from politicians and bankers” on 28 March, the value of the cryptocurrency has sunk by more than 50%.  

Poilievre has also been vocal in his opposition to the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in Canada. In April he said: “The Bank of Canada has zero business developing its own digital currency. As PM, I would scrap that and instead allow the Auditor General to audit their C$400 billion money-printing fiasco.”

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