Quebec MP Alain Rayes is leaving the federal Conservative Party, citing its new leader Pierre Poilievre as the reason for his departure.
Rayes will continue to represent his riding of Richmond–Arthabaska in the Eastern Townships as an Independent.
Rayes had supported Jean Charest as a candidate for the Conservative leadership, but Poilievre was elected by the party Saturday, gathering a sweeping majority with 68 per cent of votes on the first ballot.
Rayes made the announcement in a YouTube video in French posted to his Twitter account, saying he didn’t want to compromise on his values and convictions.
He cited concerns about law and order, environmental issues, as well as the importance of respect between elected officials.
Poilievre didn’t hold back when asked about Rayes’s departure during a brief news conference in which the new Conservative leader accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of not doing enough to help Canadians struggling with record inflation rates.
“He’s decided not to fight Justin Trudeau’s inflation,” Poilievre said of Rayes in French. “We are working to fight the inflationary deficits and taxes imposed by Justin Trudeau. The citizens in Mr. Rayes’s riding agree: They voted for me in the leadership race. And I believe that all Conservatives that remain in the caucus agree.”
Fifty-three per cent of the 663 leadership ballots cast by Conservative members in Richmond–Arthabaska were for Poilievre, according to the party’s official results, as compared to 42 per cent for Charest.
Monday, Poilievre had made a surprise visit to the Conservative Quebec caucus and said in a speech that he was “very grateful” for the contributions of all members of the national caucus, regardless of which candidate they had supported.
Rayes was the Conservatives’ lieutenant for Quebec until September 2020, after which Richard Martel, the MP for Chicoutimi–Le Fjord, took over the role until February, when he resigned in order to run as a candidate in the party’s leadership race.
Hours before Rayes said he would become an Independent MP Tuesday, Poilievre announced Charlesbourg–Haute-Saint-Charles MP Pierre Paul-Hus would be the new Quebec lieutenant.
Paul-Hus was the only Quebec MP to support Poilievre as leader for the party.