Maxime Bernier prides himself as someone who does politics differently, decrying “political correctness,” unwaveringly standing by his principles and policies no matter the audience.
So it may not have come as a surprise to the 35-or-so People’s Party of Canada (PPC) supporters who attended a fundraiser in Chilliwack on Saturday, that the former Conservative Party leadership candidate slammed the “cartel” that is Canadian dairy farmers.
“Supply management… people know it is a bad system,” Bernier told the crownd of approximately 35 who attended his event at the Coast Hotel on Feb. 23. “It is a socialist system started by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, started more than 45 years ago, and the Conservatives and the NDP and the Liberals they want to keep that system.
“We need to abolish that and every Canadian family would save around $800 a year.”
Bernier used his harsh criticism of supply management – maybe intentionally spoken in a community where dairy farming is dominant – as an example of how the PPC does politics differently.
“We have a vision,” he said. “For me, if only 10 per cent of the population agrees with some of our ideas, I will speak about it because we know we have the right ideas. It is based on western civilization ideas of freedom and personal responsibility.”
Bernier said despite the youth of the PPC, created as it was just five months ago after his failed bid for the Conservative leadership, they have 36,000 member and plans to run candidates in all 338 ridings in Canada in the federal election this October.
His talk in the Fraser Valley came just two days before Monday’s federal byelection in three ridings, Burnaby South, Outremont and York-Simcoe, where candidates finished fourth (with 10.6 per cent), sixth (2.1 per cent), and sixth (1.9 per cent) respectively.
At the meeting, Bernier suggested anything more than one per cent would be a big success given how young the party is.
“We are creating a political movement and people are coming and hearing our vision, our ideas,” he said.
He encouraged those in attendance to help out raising money, and also to speak to colleagues about finding candidates, which he hopes will be in place across the country by May.
The main focus of Bernier’s talk to the group of supporters was about how the PPC is differentiated from the three main federal parties. He focused on a populist approach, decrying the others, mainly his former party the Conservatives, as pandering to special interests and telling the public what they want to hear.
He said that in an editorial board interview with the Toronto Sun, Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leader Andrew Scheer told the newspaper that the CPC leader is a “centrist, pragmatic political party with lots of ideas for lots of people.”
“So if you translate that for me: no principles. A political party that tries to please everybody that will tell you what you want to hear to have your vote.”
Bernier spoke about the SNC Lavalin affair, claiming that the company is “too big to fail” for all the three main parties in Ottawa.
“I’m tired of that,” he said, to great applause. “Nobody is above the law, big small, medium-sized corporations.”
He also criticized foreign aid and spending money to combat climate change. He criticized equalization payments and he promoted pipeline construction.
On immigration, Bernier said 49 per cent of Canadians want fewer immigrants and the PPC proposes going back to the average immigration rates under Stephen Harper’s tenure.
“I’m a proud Canadian and I don’t want the challenges that some countries in Europe are having with integration of the immigrants with their population.”
Over and over he emphasized how the major political parties are too much alike, and how the PPC is different.
“On immigration they are the same,” he said. “Climate change, they are the same. On the equalization formula, they don’t want to discuss about that.”
Bernier told the small crowd that the PPC is growing, but they need to raise more money, the need to get their message out to be a real alternative in the October election.
“We are building something great. We are making history right now.”