We need to talk about Maxime

With the federal election looking like a tie Between liberals and conservatives, the second of the debates of two federal leaders tonight will undoubtedly play a decisive role in its outcome. But as the five federal leaders with representation in the House of Commons gather at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa, whoever isn’t there may end up having the biggest impact. Several polls place the Popular Party of Maxime Bernier ahead of the Green Party, and Some estimate your support as high as nine percent. It’s officially time to get serious and start asking some questions about what his promotion means for the other five games.

The venue for tonight’s debate is appropriate, given the Conservative Party of Canada history looming over any conversation about the PPC and Bernier. For nearly a decade, Stephen Harper managed to hold together a national conservative coalition that included free-market enthusiasts, petty government fans, gun rights advocates, and Western populists.

It won him three elections, including a majority government, and it seemed to position the party he had forged with the scrap of progressive conservatives and the Canadian Alliance for long-term success. Bernier served as chief minister in the Harper administration and came close to becoming party leader in 2017, winning the first 12 rounds of voting before succumbing to the relentless mediocrity of Andrew Scheer on the 13th. But now, he has remodeled himself as the pied piper of paranoid populism in Canada, and seems set to blow up that conservative coalition, and with it, perhaps, Canadian politics as we have come to understand it.

His party politicsAs they are, they seem drawn from the comment threads of a conservative Facebook group. The PPC would “impose pipelines” in the provinces, withdraw from the Paris Agreement, reduce immigration by more than 50 percent, reform equalization and remove capital gains taxes.

But it’s Bernier’s pro-freedom approach to the pandemic that is driving his poll numbers and popularity, and has put Erin O’Toole in an obvious bind. Weather four in five Canadians support vaccine mandates and other pandemic public safety measures, the 20 percent who don’t are attracted to Bernier and the PPC, and they happen to be conservative voters. According to an August 31 survey by Abacus Data presentedO’Toole’s Conservatives have 44 percent of the support among those who reject the vaccine, putting them 34 points ahead of the Liberals and 19 points ahead of the PPC.

Bernier is not about to back down here. In a Leni Riefenstahl-style video filmed at a September 5 rally in Kelowna, Bernier cited the words of John F. Kennedy to justify his crusade against common sense. “In the long history of the world,” he said, “only a few generations have been given the role of defending freedom in its hour of greatest danger. You are that generation. This is your role. And now is the time. “When Bernier shared the video on Twitter raised the rhetorical stakes even higher. “When tyranny becomes law,” he tweeted, “revolution becomes our duty.”

That kind of language is positively tame compared to what some members of the PPC, including Bernier, have said about liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Bernier referred to him as a “fascist psycho”Last week, while PPC candidate Marc Emery (the former “marijuana prince”) He suggested: “He deserves a much worse fate. I’m thinking of Mussolini. “

This is exactly what former Privy Council secretary Michael Wernick warned in 2019 when he said he was “deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it is going.” It was “just” gravel thrown at Trudeau and the journalists around him by a PPC supporter, but it’s not hard to imagine it turning into something much more dangerous or deadly.

Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh can do nothing to stop Bernier, given how unpopular they are with his followers. But O’Toole, his former cabinet and caucus colleague, is almost certainly so. After all, his “true blue” leadership campaign was clearly aimed at winning the support of far-right conservatives, and his party has been winking and flirting with such elements within his coalition for years. They have openly exchanged the kind of rhetoric and language about Trudeau that Bernier now wields as a weapon, and they have empowered groups like the Yellow Vests movement who now flock to his rallies.

Now O’Toole and the Conservative Party of Canada face a choice: face the monster they have helped create and risk losing some seats, or heed their beliefs in the name of political power. We may find out tonight which way they will go.


Leave a Comment