Kenora MP Eric Melillo says he’s confident in the strength of the Progressive Conservatives' new leader, Pierre Poilievre, to bring Canada together – as well as to tackle a number of longstanding issues in the north.

Pierre Poilievre was elected as leader of the federal Conservative party on Saturday night, beating out ex-Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, Scott Aitchison and Roman Baber with nearly 69 per cent of members’ support. It was a record-breaking night for the PCs, as over 400,000 members cast their ballots.

“I’m very excited about Pierre’s decisive victory,” said Melillo, in an interview on the Q Morning Show. “He ran a strong campaign. He brought more members into our party – than any party has ever had in Canadian history. And I think he’s speaking to the issues that really matter.”

While Melillo had previously thrown his support behind Aitchison for the leadership, Kenora’s MP says he’s had the opportunity to speak with Poilievre and the new PC leader ‘gets’ the issues that Melillo is fighting to fix in the north.

“I really think that he gets it,” adds Melillo. “He knows the issues, from affordability and a lack of government resources we have in the region, and he has the solutions. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. I’m confident that our caucus will come together to make sure he’s the next Prime Minister of Canada.”

Poilievre, the Calgary-born 43-year-old, is now the Progressive Conservative’s fourth party leader and third since 2017. He follows Stephen Harper, Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole in the role. Candice Bergen had been serving as the party’s interim leader during the leadership race.

In his first caucus speech as leader on September 12, Polievre challenged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the government’s handling of the affordability and inflation crisis affecting Canadians across the country.

“Canadians are out of money and this Prime Minister is out of touch,” said Polievre, in his speech. “Conservatives will not support any new tax increases and we will fight tooth-and-nail to stop the coalition from introducing any. Canadians are hurting.”

Poilievre has been serving as a Member of Parliament since 2004, first representing a riding near Ottawa. He would go on to serve as the Minister of Employment and Social Development under Prime Minister Stephen Harper before the PCs were defeated in 2015. Harper later endorsed Polievre for leadership.

Former PC leader in the previous election, Erin O’Toole, lost the vote to remain the party’s leader in February 2022, after another Conservative loss at the federal level. The vote was triggered after a leadership review.

The House of Commons is set to resume on September 19.