Conservatives close convention voting on policy changes, stance on gender issues

Conservatives close convention voting on policy changes, stance on gender issues
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks to delegates at the Conservative Party Convention, Friday, September 8, 2023 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Conservatives gathered in Quebec City are spending the final day of their convention voting on a series of changes to the party’s policy handbook, including whether to adopt stances on issues around gender identity.

More than 200 submissions were made ahead of the three-day convention, which is a chance for members across different riding associations to advance the changes they want to make to the party’s internal policies.

Like leaders before him, Pierre Poilievre has said he is not bound to include the policy ideas of its grassroots into an eventual election platform.

However, Poilievre told reporters heading into the convention that he will consider them.

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An internal voting process staged before the convention whittled the initial 200 submissions for policy changes down to about 60.

Delegates gathered behind closed doors on Friday to cut those down to a final 30.

Voting on those final submission got underway Saturday, through a process moderated by House Leader Andrew Scheer. Party members voted in favour of adopting a tougher stance against China and to compensate Indigenous veterans who lost their Indian status following service.

Many of the changes advanced by party members fall within Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s priorities to tackle the cost of living crisis and crime. But others brushed up against his agenda.

Among those was a suggested pledge for Conservatives to pull federal funding from both the English and French programming wings of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which would have run counter to the desire among Quebec MPs not to touch its French-language wing.

Others sought to have any future Conservative government prohibit “life-altering medicinal or surgical interventions” related to gender for anyone under 18 years old.

The suggestion comes as Conservative premiers in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick usher in their own changes to education policies that would require schools to seek parental consent if a child under 16 wanted to be referred to by a different name or pronoun.

Conservative party members will also vote Saturday on a motion asking the party to say it believes that women deserve “single-sex spaces” in places like sports and washrooms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2023.

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