Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest says he has the qualities that win elections


Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest says he is the only person in the race with the track record and disposition to become prime minister after the next federal election.

Jean Charest during the launch of his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada at Wildrose Brewery in Calgary on March 10, 2022.(Oseremen Irete/CBC)

Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest says he is the only person in the race with the track record and disposition to become prime minister after the next federal election.

"I have a record," Charest said Friday on CBC's . "And I don't think any of my adversaries have a record."

The former Quebec premier touted what he described as his progressive and responsible style of politics as the key to defeating the Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"This Conservative Party has to get its act together. Canadians expect the party to be united and to present a national vision, and it is our responsibility to do so. And I will make that happen," he said.

Charest flatly denied a recent Toronto Star report that claimed he and fellow candidate Patrick Brown have reached a backroom deal to ensure that one of them becomes the next Conservative leader.

"I'm going to establish a relationship with all the candidates, if possible, during the campaign, because we're all of the same party," he said.

Party infighting 'off-putting,' says Peter MacKay

While Charest stressed the need for party unity during his interview, he has positioned himself in opposition to perceived frontrunner Pierre Poilievre in the early days of the race.

Poilievre, meanwhile, has compared Charest to Trudeau because of their shared support for a federal carbon tax. Poilievre also called Brown a liar earlier this week after the Brampton mayor accused Poilievre of supporting a niqab ban.

In an interview with CBC Radio's The House, former Conservative leadership candidate and longtime cabinet minister Peter MacKay said the fighting within his party has damaged its election chances.

"I think increasingly this is off-putting for people," said MacKay, who is not running in the current race. "People really want to hear more thoughtful, forward-looking statements from candidates."

Conservative leadership candidates (left to right) Pierre Poilievre, Leslyn Lewis, Jean Charest, Roman Baber and Patrick Brown.(Blair Gable/Reuters, Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press, Justin Tang/The Canadian Press, The Canadian Press, Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Charest says he'd keep Liberal child care deals

Charest said that as prime minister, he would focus on responsible spending that protects important programs and services on which Canadians depend, including health and child care.

"My record has been one of doing that job while also maintaining the basic services to which people have a right," Charest said.

He said the federal child care deals agreed to by most provinces are "important" and praised Quebec's public child care system.

Charest said he was initially skeptical of the province's public child care system, which was established by an earlier Parti Québécois government. He said his acceptance of a political rival's idea shows he's able to rise above political gamesmanship.

"You have to be able to look at the larger picture as opposed to just going out there and sloganeering and practicing American-style politics," he said.

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