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Huge crowd greets Pierre Poilievre at last-minute Penticton rally

Federal Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre brought his "Axe the Tax" message to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Wednesday night, and the reception was rather impressive.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

According to Opposition Leader's Office director of media relations Sebastian Skamski, on-site during the event, Poilievre's appearance attracted a standing-room-only crowd of 1500 to Ballroom 2 of the T&CC.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who> PIerre and Anaida Poilievre on stage

PentictonNow can verify that Skamski's figure wasn't off by much. The place was absolutely jammed -- a notable accomplishment given the rally was not widely advertised to the public 'til the day prior.

The mood was excitable long before Poilievre took the stage, set in the centre of the room like a boxing ring.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who> Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray warms up the crowd

Guests chatted loudly amongst themselves, placards (some homemade but most supplied by the organizers) were eagerly waved about, and more than one spontaneous chant of "Axe the tax" (it is officially known as the "Axe the Tax Tour" after all) filled the air.

Ringside were local political types like Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, Penticton city councilor Helena Konanz and Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray.

Indeed it was the latter who got the ball rolling by introducing Poilievre's wife Anaida, who came to the stage several minutes before her husband, through a human tunnel, smacking palms and smiling brightly the whole way.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who> Anaida Poilievre headed to the stage

The mood hit a crescendo when Gray and Poilievre hugged it out on stage. And then the latter, a Venezuelan immigrant and online womens' magazine founder and clearly someone who can command a crowd, took over.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

A few minutes later and Anaida's hubby was on his way to the stage.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who> Pierre Poilievre in the "tunnel"

And the crowd went even crazier.

Poilievre kept it simple. He stuck to his message throughout and he commiserated with attendees that life in Canada wasn't as good as it should be. And he reinforced that less taxes is the answer.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

He spoke of his "modest" background, how he was adoptively raised by "two schoolteachers" after his teenage mom couldn’t do the job, and that he was always told that it "didn't matter where you came from, it mattered where you're going."

And he used that last sentiment to springboard into his main thrust, effectively telling the crowd that in Canada there's not a lot of hope unless you come from a wealthy background.

"Life costs more," he said at one point, summing up his thoughts, "and work doesn't pay. Housing costs have doubled. Crime, chaos, drugs and disorder are common in our streets. And Trudeau and the NDP, who caused all this, devise to distract from their record.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

"But the good news is this. It wasn't like this before Justin Trudeau and the NDP and it won’t be like this after they’re gone."

The audience reaction was deafening.

He was quick on the uptake too. A small child in the crowd began crying, and Poilievre was immediate.

"That’s a little baby over there crying because of the national debt she's going to inherit."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

The rich get rich, the poor get poorer. Run the finances of the country the way you run the finances of your household. Both got big reactions.

As did his call for a "dollar for dollar law," that would "require politicians to find a dollar of savings for each new dollar of spending."

And when Poilievre brought up carbon pricing/carbon tax, the boos were long and loud. So he seized on that by starting an "Axe the tax" chant.

Three friends from Kelowna, all young guys who "dropped everything" to make the trip, felt strongly enough about Poilievre to grab signs from organizers and stand for much of the rally on a makeshift stage in front of a wall-size Canadian flag.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

"From what I've seen, with the way the world is going right now, we need a conservative prime minister," said 20-year-old Noel, a UBC student.

"I'm young. I wasn't really into this much before. But he definitely makes me think about the things he'd do differently than Trudeau. Like axing carbon tax, axing the tax on groceries.

"The government wastes so much money on programs I don't think are worth it. I'm a student. I work at $25 an hour all summer and I'm paying $400 a paycheque every two weeks sometimes. It's ridiculous."

Noel's friend Mac had similar sentiments.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

"He has lots of my ideologies," he said. "I'm a young guy. I'm trying to get out there. Trying to get in the home market. And it's tough.

"I feel like the government is so top-heavy, sticking their hand in the pot too much. Too many government jobs forcing taxpayers to take a larger burden. You have to have someone help you get ahead."

Karl from Vernon, who runs a boat detailing business, called the evening a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

"Politically our views line up," he said. "I've listened to him all over social media. What he says is really empowering, it gives me hope for Canada's future, to be honest.

"More and more nowadays with taxes and extreme expenses due to over-expenditures in the government, it seems like there are so many barriers of entry to start a businesses and to get ahead.

"And housing process. And food and gas. And this carbon tax is just going to be ridiculous for us to travel to work, travel anywhere, see anyone."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia</who>

The next federal election will occur during or before October, 2025.

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