Quebec MP Alain Rayes says he’s leaving the Conservative caucus and will sit as an independent MP in the House of Commons, after Pierre Poilievre was named the party’s new leader.
In a statement, Rayes—who backed Jean Charest in the leadership race— says that while he respects the decision of members, “some of my political ideals, values, and convictions are not compatible with the new path.”
“I leave without bitterness and I remain driven by the deep desire to continue to serve the population on the political scene,” he wrote.
Rayes said he wrote to the House of Commons Speaker on Tuesday to inform him of his choice to sit as an independent, a move that will prompt a new seating arrangement in the chamber.
“I remain a proud Progressive Conservative and I will continue to serve my constituents of the riding of Richmond-Arthabaska with determination,” said the MP first elected in 2015.
Rayes had been the party’s deputy leader and Quebec lieutenant until February, when he stepped down from that role, indicating he wanted to focus on the leadership race.
Throughout the seven-month campaign, Rayes was among the two dozen Conservative caucus members who were behind Charest, who came a distant second to Poilievre on Saturday.
The decisive victory prompted Conservatives to widely suggest that the party would unify around the new leader, after the divisive race—largely a fight over whether progressives still had a place under the Conservative tent—generated speculation that the party was headed for a split.
Reacting to his first caucus defection just days into the new job, Poilievre claimed that Rayes has opted to not fight Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his economic policies. He said all of the Conservatives who remain behind him agree that countering inflation should be the party’s focus.
Poilievre also suggested that the Conservatives in Rayes’ riding are behind him as the new Conservative leader, as Poilievre received the most votes of any leadership candidate in that constituency, a statistic true in nearly all of the 338 ridings.
— Alain Rayes (@AlainRayes) September 13, 2022
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