OTTAWA – People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier paid a visit to Elections Canada's headquarters Wednesday morning, to submit his application to register a new political party.
After handing over a dossier of paperwork to an Elections Canada official, Bernier said this is “a big day for us. It’s another step towards the formation and the accreditation of our new party.”
Should Elections Canada approve his application, Bernier plans to start running candidates in future byelections, while building a full roster of 338 candidates in time for the next federal election.
According to Elections Canada, the application Bernier filed to register his party would have to include: The full and abbreviated name of the political party; a logo if they have one; the name and address of the party's leader; the address of the party’s main office; information about other party officials, such as the auditor; as well as the names, addresses, and signatures of 250 electors that are members of the party.
Once the federal elections agency deems the People's Party eligible to be registered as a federal party, it becomes official once the party endorses a confirmed candidate for either a by-election or general election.
To date, Bernier has not named anyone other than himself who intends to run under the People’s Party banner.
"That will come from the grassroots," Bernier said, adding that he's eyeing January to start focusing on confirming candidates.
Bernier launched his new party in September, unveiling the name and announcing he’d be setting up headquarters in Gatineau, Que. This followed a late-August defection from the Conservative Party of Canada.
Since then, Bernier says he’s raised more than $350,000 and has amassed 22,000 "founding members." "It's going very well," he said, adding that he has a goal of raising more than $3.5 million before the next election.
In announcing he'd be leaving the Conservative caucus, he criticized his former party leadership rival Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as being a "more moderate" version of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said that the "old parties" are not speaking for Canadians, and decried political correctness.
He has not since spoken with any of his former Conservative colleagues, though he said he'd consider it should any approach him wanting to join his team, as long as they share his vision.
On Wednesday, Bernier restated what his party will practice a "small populism" based on four pillars: individual freedom; personal responsibility; respect; and fairness.
He’s kept his Beauce, Que. seat in the House of Commons, though he now sits on the very back bench on the opposition side, directly beside fellow party-of-one MP, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Bernier has been using social media to reach out to his "Mad Max" supporters across the country, asking them to share what riding they are in and communicate with each other to organize teams in ridings throughout Canada.
So far, Bernier says his supporters have held meetings to form electoral district associations (EDAs) in 43 ridings across the country, with another 27 upcoming.
Bernier has said that he'd like a spot on stage during the 2019 leaders’ debates. While having a registered party will help his case, it’s not a guarantee he’ll be invited. It’s something May has had to fight for in the past.
The Liberal government has been consulting on its promise to set up an independent commissioner to organize the debates during federal elections. During the 2015 campaign Trudeau promised to do so to "bring an end to partisan gamesmanship."
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