The leader of the People’s Party of Canada is touring B.C., hoping to stir up interest, even though there’s no timeline for when the next federal election will happen.
Maxime Bernier visited Armstrong in the North Okanagan on Wednesday, and is slated to visit Summerland and Kelowna on Thursday. He previously had stops in White Rock, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.
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Global News interviewed Bernier in Armstrong, where temperatures reached the mid-to-high 30s as a mini heat wave bakes the region.
“It’s a great place,” Bernier told Global News. “We have a lot of support (here), so I’m very pleased to be here.”
According to Elections Canada, the PPC drew 4.9 per cent of the national vote, placing it fifth among all national parties. However, the PPC won zero seats.
- Liberal Party: 32.6 per cent, 160 seats
- Conservative Party: 33.7 per cent, 119 seats
- NDP, 17.8 per cent, 25 seats
- Bloc Quebecois, 7.6 per cent, 32 seats
- PPC, 4.9 per cent, 0 seats
- Green Party, 2.3 per cent, 2 seats
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Bernier said while PPC candidates drew around five per cent of the popular vote, the local North Okanagan-Shuswap candidate drew 10 per cent, or double the national average.
Other regional PPC candidates were around five to seven per cent.
“That’s why I’m here, to build the organization,” said Bernier. “My goal is to be on the ground, travelling and building our party, speaking about our values.”
Giving stump speeches is daily life for politicians during election years. However, it’s only been 11 months since last year’s federal election, which the Liberals won.
So why is Bernier touring now?
“We need to be ready for the next election,” he said matter-of-factly. “It can be in a year, two years. I don’t know, but we have people who are ready to be candidates.”
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Asked if proportional representation would benefit the PPC, Bernier said he likes the current system, “but we can improve it with more proportionality.”
“With five per cent of the vote, we have no candidates in Parliament,” he said. “I believe that if you had more proportionality in our system, it would be fair for everybody.”
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Bernier also said the party is based on principles, “and the more we are speaking about our values — individual freedom, personal responsibility, respect and fairness — the more support we’ll have.”
Bernier discussed how the party is engaging in a “cultural fight,” calling it a “common-sense revolution. That is taking time, but we’ll do that and I believe that we’ll be able to win that battle.”
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He also took aim at the Conservatives and Pierre Poilievre, the frontrunner in the party’s leadership race.
“Pierre is copying us because we did a good job to promote freedom ideas,” said Bernier. “And now it’s popular, so he’s an opportunist politician.
“I believe that when the time comes, people will vote for the original, people will vote for the PPC.”
Earlier this month, former BC Liberal Party leader Christy Clark endorsed Jean Charest — not Poilievre — to be the next leader of the federal Conservatives.
“Now we’re watching the Conservative Party of Canada make its race for the extremes to play to the very edges of the political divide,” she said.
“I think some days their rhetoric is just as bad or even worse.”
People’s Party voters came from both right and left
Meanwhile, Bernier says he doesn’t want the PPC to be pigeonholed as a party with only right-wing ideals.
“We are not doing politics like the Conservatives,” said Bernier, adding the party’s goal is to appeal to the intelligence of Canadians, not emotions. “I call ourselves a smart, populist party with common-sense policies.
“That’s why we are able to attract people who voted NDP, who voted Green, people that voted Conservative.”
For the next federal election, Bernier was asked if the PPC would support the Conservatives’ bid to lead the nation.
“We’ll support every political party that will put policies in line with our values,” he said, adding the PPC “can be a kind of be an insurance policy” for the Conservatives.
“But we won’t do any compromise with our principles. And I believe that people understand that.”
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