Maxime Bernier launches People's Party of Canada
OTTAWA -- Maxime Bernier has debuted the People's Party of Canada, the federal political party the former Tory MP is leading, with a promise to put "Canadian people first."
Bernier—who is keeping his seat in the House of Commons— launched his new party, party logo, and headquarters in Gatineau, Que. In French the party is called "Parti Populaire," and the acronym is PPC.
"Why this name? Because it is time that the government put Canadian people first when they make decisions and policies. It is time to put the power back into people's hands," Bernier told reporters at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa Friday morning.
In August, the once-Conservative Party leadership hopeful defected from the party to form his own more populist, libertarian version. Since then, Bernier said he’s not spoken with any of his longtime caucus members, saying he’s been too busy reaching out to the grassroots.
Among his political positions: supply management should go; "more diversity" is bad for Canada; and that the case for spending on foreign aid is "extremely weak."
On Friday, Bernier said his party’s values will include pushing for a smaller and less meddling government; championing individual freedoms; and denounced the corporate and lobby interests that he says hold too much power in federal politics.
He said that the "old parties" are not speaking for Canadians, and decried political correctness.
Bernier said he wants to have a debate about current immigration levels and making sure that newcomers share Canadian values, which he said including respecting diversity, the rule of law, and the equality of men and women.
"The people's party will respect the taxpayers, will respect our constitution… and respect our traditions, our history, and what makes Canada a unique place in the world."
His decision to form his own party came after ongoing tension between him and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who Bernier has slammed as a "more moderate" version of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Leading up to the announcement, 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 about building up and organizing teams in ridings throughout Canada.
Bernier said he's received thousands of messages from supporters who want "a real choice in October 2019" and said that he’s been in touch with hundreds of people who want to volunteer or run as candidates. He said his party intends to have 338 candidates running in October 2019.
While it will take weeks more before the party is registered with Elections Canada, Bernier said he's already received $140,000 in donations. He currently has two people on the payroll: Martin Masse, a long-time friend and adviser to Bernier who was collaborating with him on the now-stalled Bernier book about doing politics differently; and Maxime Hupe, who was at the helm of Bernier’s communications during the Tory leadership race.
Bernier said his challenge in the next few months is to prove that his party is a real alternative to Trudeau, and to continue to build on his policy planks, some of which are already posted on his new website.
The website includes a disclaimer that while the platform is still being finalized, the site is showcasing his policies from the leadership, and that "the PPC's platform will be mostly based on the same policies."
For example, in the foreign policy section the text reads: "As leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Prime Minister, I will ensure our country’s foreign policy will be refocused on the security and prosperity of Canadians."
Bernier also wants to be invited to participate in the 2019 leaders’ debates.
"The politicians, they try to please everybody, and when you want to please everybody, you don’t please everybody, that’s not my way of doing politics. You like the ideas, you like the principles that we are fighting for? That’s OK. You don’t like it? That’s OK, don’t vote for me."