ontario news watch

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to skip Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has declined an invitation to attend the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner on Saturday night, an event that was on a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

It’s tradition for political party leaders of all stripes to attend the event and deliver a speech, often filling it with jokes at their own expense and getting a few digs in at their critics too.

A spokesman for Poilievre simply says he’s “not coming” to the gala that will take place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., and did not give a reason why.

His former boss and Canada’s last Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, would also skip the event when he was in power but did attend when he was Opposition leader.

Rona Ambrose, who served as the party’s interim leader after Harper, revived the tradition of Tory leaders attending, and Andrew Scheer, who led the party from 2017 to 2019 also took part.

Ontario MP Erin O’Toole did not get a chance to take participate when he was elected leader in 2020 because the event wasn’t staged due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Poilievre’s decision to skip likely won’t come as much of a surprise, given his vocal opposition to mainstream media and choice to avoid reporters on Parliament Hill since being elected leader.

Since he became leader on Sept. 10, Poilievre has held only one news conference, where he got into a heated exchange with a reporter after his staff said he would make only a statement and take no questions. He ultimately took two.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2022.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press