Conservatives: Divide and conquer

Bernier confident with less than a year left

BY JESSICA SWIETONIOWSKI

MP Maxime Bernier, left, and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. (Justin Tang/CP; Darren Calabrese/CP)

Going into this election year, there is a different feeling in the air than usual.

When Maxime Bernier narrowly lost the Conservative Party of Canada leadership election, in May 2017 to Andrew Scheer, a ripple ran through the party. And in August 2018 when Bernier left the Conservatives to start his own right-wing People’s Party of Canada, the impact was definitely felt.

Conservatives now need to make a choice. Will they take a chance and vote for a brand-new party? Or, will they stick to the Conservative name?

“Don’t blame me if Andrew Scheer cannot win.”

When Scheer spoke with the Toronto Sun last November he explained that his conservative party is now a centrist and pragmatic political party.

Bernier believes that shift is a flaw.

Screenshot of Bernier’s Twitter page

“Real conservative people believe in individual freedom, personal responsibility, a real limited government. And I think they have an option now, they can come with us because we are a real small government and limited government political party. So, they are very welcome to our party. But not only them, people who maybe voted for Jean Chretien or Paul Martin for a balanced budget at that time and lower taxes. These liberals are also welcome in our party and we have some of them because they don’t find themselves in a socialist political party in Canada right now,” says Bernier.

Only a week after the new People’s Party of Canada officially registered with Elections Canada they have already reached $1 million in donations and created 338 riding associations across Canada.

Bernier PC: People’s Party of Canada

This surge of support might be making Scheer and his team nervous. While Scheer wants to make everyone happy, Bernier describes Scheer as “a weak leader” and says, “don’t blame me if Andrew Scheer cannot win.”

“We can make a huge surprise in a couple of months from now”

“I’m telling people who want a real change in this country they have to come with us. We have the momentum, we are strong… we like individual freedom, personal responsibility, respect and fairness. Those are our principles and all our policies are based on that,” says Bernier.

Bernier on December 7th 2018. PC: Radio.Canada

Bernier says he is not interested in pandering and his party is not trying to please everyone.

Bernier has clear positions such as:

  • Not imposing a federal carbon tax
  • Pro-pipelines
  • Lower taxes on all corporations
  • Lower the average of immigrants per year back to 260,000
  • Less refugees
  • Secure southern boarder of Quebec
  • Wants to increase the ratio of economic immigrants
  • Believes “the UN is a dysfunctional organization” and will not sign any global compact if it submits Canadian sovereignty.
  • Won’t sign the Paris Accord
  • Abolish the capital gains tax
  • Independent media from the government– no government subsidies

“For me, there is no taboo subject if a member wants to debate,” says Bernier.

Bernier, left, congratulating Scheer, right, after being elected the new leader of the federal Conservative party in Toronto on May 27, 2017.Frank Gunn / Canadian Press

This election year Conservatives don’t only need to worry about the Liberals and NDPs but Conservatives now need to worry about losing votes to an alternative right-wing party with a solid base. There is also the possibility of the next government being a minority one. With the possibility of the Liberals and NDPs creating a coalition or the Conservatives and the People’s Party joining together.

If the right creates a coalition government, the question that remains is if Scheer and Bernier can find common ground and work together, again.

Clearly, in the past that has not worked for these two politicians.

Conservatives in Canada are divided but Bernier believes this divide happened before he left the party. Bernier believes that Scheer split the party by trying to please everyone. With Scheer leaning to the centre on issues the party is no longer recognizable as a conservative party.

“What I am saying to real conservatives is that people who believe in free market, you have a home with us at the People’s Party… we can make a huge surprise in a couple of months from now,” says Bernier.

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