Former Conservative financial critic Ed Fast says he left office earlier this week to “speak freely” after some of his fellow MPs tried to “nibble” on his criticism of leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre.
In an email sent through Jean Charest’s leadership campaign, which Fast co-chairs, the longtime Abbotsford MP said Poilievre’s supporters in the Conservative caucus told Fast to “just shut up” after criticize Poilievre’s promise to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada. inflation.
“Some of the MPs who tried to bully me don’t even agree with Pierre’s policies,” Fast wrote in the email. “But still, they wanted me to keep my mouth shut. I refused.”
Conservative financial critic Ed Fast resigns after criticizing Poilievre’s attacks on the central bank
He said he then asked interim leader Candice Bergen to release him from his shadow office as finance minister “so that he can speak freely about the risky and wrong policies that Poilievre is promoting.”
“That wasn’t my first choice,” Fast wrote. “But I can’t do my job and defend Canada if Pierre and his team don’t allow me to exercise my right to free speech.”
In an interview with Global News on Friday afternoon, Fast made sure to emphasize that Bergen did not pressure him to resign and was not part of any effort to silence him.
“This issue has been preparing for a long time,” he said. “We talked about the difficulty of the role I was in, and the unsustainable nature of that role as a replacement for Pierre Poilievre put more and more pressure on me to keep my mouth shut.
“Finally, she and I came to the same conclusion and she accepted my request to be released from my responsibilities.”
He added that he had tried to present his resignation as a financial critic weeks ago, but had been urged to continue.
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Poilievre, the leader expected to become the party’s next leader, did not respond directly to Fast’s accusations on Friday. Instead, he shared his statement Wednesday, dismissing criticism of his proposal to oust the bank’s governor as mere political elites attacking his message.
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“Ed Fast and Jean Charest would have no problem firing a waitress or a welder for not doing their job. But they won’t do the same with a great banker whose failures have cost our people a fortune,” Poilievre said. in the statement.
Fast criticized journalists for Poilievre’s attacks on the Bank of Canada as he addressed a Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday, saying interfering with central bank independence undermines the party’s credibility in economic matters.
Within hours, the party issued a statement from Bergen announcing that Fast was stepping down as a financial critic. The statement said Fast “would like to be able to offer more dedicated support” to the Charest campaign.
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Fast said Friday he would not discuss what was said behind closed doors at that meeting, nor how the support of several lawmakers in Poilievre is affecting the caucus.
But he described what he saw as a desire by Poilievre’s camp to “suppress the views of anyone other than his candidate.”
“I think they might have originally thought this would be a coronation, and it looks like it definitely won’t be that,” he said.
Fast backed Charest for the Conservative leadership in late March, but remained the party’s top critic on the economy. He replaced Poilievre in the role after Carleton’s deputy decided to run for office in February.
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Fast insists on his criticism of Poilievre’s attacks on the Bank of Canada and the promotion of cryptocurrencies is rooted in politics, not the desire to influence the leadership career.
“I had been relatively calm because I respect all my teammates who are in the race and those who are not yet,” he said.
“But I couldn’t keep quiet when I heard it (Poilievre’s comments). “It’s a political difference that we as conservatives should talk about.”
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Conservative Party sources who spoke to Global News on Wednesday lamented Fast’s resignation as “once again for fiscal and moderate Conservatives navigating an increasingly polarized and divided party”.
Other prominent Conservative MPs have expressed support for other leadership candidates.
Michelle Rempel Garner, a former critic of natural resources and health, has backed Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and is working on his campaign, which has recently pressured Poilievre to denounce white racists and supremacists as a result. of racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo. NY, last weekend.
– with files by Alex Boutilier of Global News and The Canadian Press
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