By Brennan Dube | Canada
As summer came to a close, Canada’s Conservative Party was in the midst of some very large divisions. Party leader Andrew Scheer was having a tough time bringing together Maxime Bernier’s wing of the party. This division began in Spring of 2017 when Scheer ended up beating Bernier for the Conservative Party’s leadership by a slim margin of 50.95% to 49.05% on the 13thround of voting (Bernier had led the first twelve rounds, but 50% is needed for outright victory). Maxime Bernier has been touted in the past as a libertarian-leaning conservative who very openly voices his opinion against the party’s elites and takes stands that sometimes contradict what the rest of the party advocates for.
In the year following the leadership election, Scheer and Bernier still had not seen eye to eye. Scheer even bumped Bernier out of the shadow cabinet in the Canadian Parliament, something Bernier did not take very lightly to. The two have very opposing views when it comes to conservatism and a vision for Canada. Scheers more center-right approach sometimes has people branding him as a moderate. In contrast, Bernier’s libertarian roots are so prominent that when he lost the leadership race, the Canadian Libertarian party adopted his leadership platform and invited him to take over the party, to which he declined. Maxime Bernier has a grassroots following and is very principled in the way he goes about his politics.
Now, let us fast forward to August 23rd, 2018. Maxime Bernier formally resigns from the Conservative Party and announces that he will be forming his own party. On September the 14th, the party name was revealed to be the People’s Party of Canada. Bernier’s following and grassroots supporters base have given the party a booming start, and in six short weeks, the party has seen immense growth. As of October 10th, the party reported 22,500 members had already joined. This number is incredibly significant as it is approximately the size of 10% of the Conservative Party’s membership total and, at the time of the report, the party hadn’t even been established for an entire month. Tim Moen, the leader of Canada’s Libertarian party has offered Bernier a party merger. This would give the People’s Party a much quicker start considering the Libertarians have established infrastructure since the party has been around since 1973. A merger would also benefit Bernier because the process of being able to file tax receipts for a new party takes several months, but a merge with the Libertarians would make this problem disappear in an instant. While Moen is still open to the idea and many Libertarians have switched parties in favor of the People’s Party, Maxime Bernier has said no merger will take place. Bernier has stated that this is the party he wishes to move forward with, and he invites new joiners but no merger will be happening with the Libertarians or with anyone else.
Many Conservatives have said that this will only help Trudeau’s chances of winning re-election in 2019, while others have written off the party as merely fringe. Bernier denies this party will help Trudeau, as he has previously stated that the party will attract a broad coalition of Canadians who are “disenchanted with traditional politics.” He believes the party will also be able to attract Liberals of the 1990’s who supported strict balanced budgets and some NDP’s who oppose supply management. While the party isn’t as pure as many Canadian libertarians would like it to be, it definitely does have the opportunity of winning seats next election and that is evident with the booming party membership early on. Bernier has said this party will not “appease special interest groups” and it will be solely based on ideas and not focus groups. One downside is that no elected official at any level of provincial or federal government has openly supported Bernier’s efforts, but with strong grassroots backing, this party should still see strong growth and overall support heading into 2019.
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