Prominent Quebec MP Alain Rayes says he is leaving the Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent following the leadership victory of Pierre Poilievre on the weekend, citing values he says are “not compatible” with the new direction of the party.
In a statement released on social media on Tuesday, Rayes says he will continue to represent the constituents of his riding of Richmond-Arthabaska but said he is a proud “Progressive Conservative.”
“I respect the choice made by members of the Conservative Party of Canada in the last leadership race,” Rayes said in the statement.
“However, some of my political ideals, values and convictions are not compatible with the new path undertaken by our political formation.”
Rayes served as former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s Quebec lieutenant between 2017 and the 2019 general election. In the lead up to that election, the Conservatives had high hopes they would improve their seat count in Quebec – an elusive goal for the party, despite considerable efforts.
Rayes, a former mayor of Victoriaville, is viewed within the party as a gifted organizer.
He has also served as a frequent Conservative voice in Quebec media.
On Saturday, the Poilievre campaign nearly swept Quebec – despite the majority of Quebec Conservative MPs endorsing his nearest rival, Jean Charest.
The fact that Conservative members in their ridings voted for Poilievre despite their campaigning for Charest presented an interesting choice for the Quebec MPs: embrace Poilievre’s leadership or risk the ire of their own constituents.
Facing that choice, Rayes will now sit as an Independent.
Pierre Paul-Hus, the only Quebec Conservative MP to endorse Poilievre, was named the new leader’s Quebec lieutenant – a position held by Rayes for Scheer, who is now Poilievre’s House leader as that chamber is set to return from summer break next week.
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