Since Quebec MP Alain Rayes declared he would resign first from the Conservative party to become an independent MP, Rayes claims he & his staff have been the victim of “intimidation” techniques from Pierre Poilievre‘s leadership team.
On Wednesday, Rayes told the National Post that he believes Poilievre’s staff is responsible for the alleged blitz of text messages aimed to pressure him to leave his position. He also claimed that Isabelle Deschamps, president of the Richmond-Arthabaska, Quebec riding association, had been compelled to publicly denounce him and had even frozen the riding’s bank account.
Anthony Koch, Poilievre’s spokesperson, also said Poilievre and his lieutenant in Quebec, Pierre Paul-Hus, met with Deschamps about an event planned in the riding but disputed any claims that she was coerced into speaking opposing the MP or freezing the riding’s assets.
When questioned whether Poilievre’s group was responsible for the text messages, Koch remained silent as well.
However, Rayes continues to insist on his account. It’s intimidation, he stated in a French interview. “They’re sending a message to my former coworkers that this is the price you pay for disobeying the rules. Get in line, walk with your head down, and start thinking the same way we do.
It’s no surprise, he continued, that voters are jaded: politics is a dirty business.
About midday on Wednesday, a French text message was sent to the members of the Richmond-Arthabaska riding. Rayes and his wife also got copies of the message. It claims that the Conservative Party member “decided not to battle (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau’s inflation with Pierre Poilievre’s unified team,” which is why he left the party on Tuesday.
The contact information for Rayes’s office is given, along with a recommendation that the receiver call and ask the MP to resign.
Since the release of the text message, Rayes says, his three staff members have been swamped with calls from residents expressing horror at the contents of the message. Rayes expressed frustration that his organization’s hotlines had been clogged when they might be assisting his people.
The now-independent lawmaker said that he had no regrets about leaving the party and that recent events have only served to reassure him.
“Today, I can tell you categorically that I am pleased to be the independent MP of Richmond-Arthabaska,” he stated.
When ex-Quebec premier Jean Charest ran for the premiership, Rayes was one of the first members of parliament to officially back him. After losing most of the ridings in his native province, Charest came in a distant second behind Poilievre in the election.
Rayes’ Richmond-Arthabaska riding, which Charest had previously held, was won by Poilievre, who ended with 54% of the vote to Charest’s 46%.
The lawmaker released a statement on Tuesday announcing his resignation. The vote that the Conservative Party of Canada members cast in the recent leadership election is one that I fully support and uphold. But parts of my political beliefs, principles, and convictions are incompatible,” he added.
I’m not leaving with any ill will, and I’m still quite motivated by a desire to keep serving the public.
Poilievre’s first address to the press on Tuesday included questions concerning Rayes’ resignation from his caucus, and this statement was issued just before he took the podium to answer those questions.
The new leader said in French that Rayes “chosen not to oppose Justin Trudeau’s inflation” and that the leadership battle proved he had the backing of Rayes’ supporters.
Rayes, who has been a member of parliament for seven years and the lieutenant governor of Quebec under the Liberal Party’s previous two leaders, said on Wednesday he would not be afraid to criticize the party’s actions, particularly those pertaining to the economy.
But he also said he could no longer serve his ideals inside the party governed by Poilievre and resigned.
It’s been seven years since I first met Pierre Poilievre. The last half a year has seemed like a sprint to the finish line for me. I watched as he walked away. I am aware of the kind of tactics he has practiced, of the individuals he has surrounded himself with, and of the ideas, he has put out. I was there for his caucus address and his victory speech (on Monday). According to my morals and beliefs, such as upholding the law and safeguarding society’s institutions, there was no indication that anything was amiss.
Rayes claims that members of parliament from both parties on both sides have sent him notes of support and that one of them even offered to sell him a member card from their party.
Attacks on him just confirm his fears about Poilievre engaging in the “American-style politics” that Charest accused him of engaging in during the campaign.
We are not protected from it. And I believe that evidence exists here and now.”
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