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People's Party of Canada

The People's Party of Canada (PPC; French: Parti populaire du Canada or simply People's Party) is a federal political party in Canada. The party was formed by Maxime Bernier in September 2018, shortly after his resignation from the Conservative Party of Canada. Bernier, the Member of Parliament for Beauce and a former cabinet minister, was the party's only MP from its founding in 2018 to his defeat in the 2019 Canadian federal election. Bernier had represented the Quebec riding in Parliament from 2006, when he was elected as a Conservative. The party has been referred to as conservative, libertarian, populist,, and classical liberal, while being seen on the right-wing to far-right of the traditional left-right political spectrum. The PPC formed electoral district associations (EDAs) in all of Canada's 338 ridings and ran a full slate of candidates in the 2019 federal election, but no candidate was elected under its banner and Bernier lost his bid for personal re-election in Beauce.

political party populist ppc

1. History

1.1. Formation

Other logo of the PPC, used in some places on the website and in some party-branded apparel.

The People's Party of Canada was formed a few weeks after the resignation of Maxime Bernier, a former Conservative Party leadership candidate and cabinet minister, from the Conservative Party of Canada. In his resignation speech, Bernier stated that he was leaving because "I've come to realize ... this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed." Bernier also stated that the Conservative party under opposition leader Andrew Scheer (to whom Bernier finished runner-up in the 2017 Conservative Party leadership election) had abandoned its principles on issues including political correctness, corporate welfare, equalization reform and supply management.[1] In a National Post op-ed, Bernier stated that his motive for forming the party was to reverse the public choice dynamic in the Canadian political system resulting in vote-buying and pandering by political parties. He reiterated his belief that the Conservative Party could not be reformed to end this practice, and that a new political party was required.[2]

Bernier was accused by prominent Conservative politicians such as former Prime Ministers Stephen Harper[3] and Brian Mulroney[4] of trying to divide the political right. He responded on the CBC television show Power & Politics that he wanted to focus on disaffected voters, and cited the political rise of French President Emmanuel Macron as an example.[5][6][7] Bernier later cited the breakthrough of the People's Alliance of New Brunswick in the 2018 New Brunswick election and the Coalition Avenir Québec win in 2018 Quebec elections as examples of voters' disdain for traditional political parties and expressing a desire for change by voting for new parties.[6][8]

Prior to his resignation from the Conservative Party, Bernier had begun reestablishing contact with individuals who had supported his 2017 Conservative leadership bid; they believed he had the necessary support to register a party with Elections Canada.[9] Le Devoir reported that members of seven Conservative constituency associations defected to the party.[10] A few days after announcing the party name, Libertarian Party leader Tim Moen, who had previously offered the leadership of that party to Bernier, stated that he was open to the idea of a merger with the People's Party.[11] When asked by Global News, Bernier indicated he had no interest in a merger.[12] When asked about organizing by the party, he mentioned that he would use tools that did not exist in the past, such as the use of social media.[13][14][15]

Bernier planned to run candidates in all of Canada's 338 federal ridings in the 2019 federal elections.[16] The party's registration documents were officially submitted to Elections Canada on October 10, 2018.[17] In addition, he stated that electoral district associations (EDA) would be in place by December 31, 2018, and that the EDAs would start focusing on finding candidates starting in January 2019.[15] On November 1, 2018 the party revealed that it had over 30,000 "founding members".[18] News sites later revealed that one of the PPC's founding members was a former American white nationalist, and that two others had ties to anti-immigration groups.[19][20] The former white nationalist was removed from the party on August 29, 2019 after his past came to light. A spokesperson for the party stated that his past didn't come up during the vetting process since he came from the United States.[21] The two other members denied having racist views and the party later told Le Devoir that they did not have enough resources to vet them at the beginning of the PPC's formation. [22]

In November 2018, Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould said that Maxime Bernier would qualify for debates hosted by the Leaders' Debates Commission if the party nominated candidates in 90% of ridings.[23][24]

The party held rallies in Vancouver , Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa–Gatineau,[25] Winnipeg,[26] Saskatoon,[27] and Quebec City.[28] In 2019 it held rallies in Saint John and Halifax.[29] On December 21, 2018, the party established EDAs in all 338 electoral districts.[30]

1.2. Registration

The party received its eligibility status on November 11, 2018, and was registered by Elections Canada on January 19, 2019, after nominating candidates for by-elections in Outremont, York-Simcoe, Burnaby South which were called for February 25, 2019, and Nanaimo—Ladysmith.[31][32][33] In the February 25 by-elections, the party received 10.9% of the vote in Burnaby South and 1.5% in each of York—Simcoe and Outremont.[34]

1.3. Candidate Selections, 2019 Election

Bernier told the National Post that the party would start candidate nominations for the October general election after the by-elections.[35] On March 25, 2019, Bernier announced in a press conference that the party has opened an online search for candidates until April 23, with candidate selection meetings to follow between May 7 and 13.[36][37] In an interview on the CTV television show Power Play, he said that the party planned to have their first convention on June 1 to 2.[38] The party held their conference from August 18 to 19, where "roughly 500 party officials took part in door knocking workshops, traditional media and social media training, debate training and mock debate."[39]

In April 2019, the Vancouver Quadra district association president resigned, stating the party was an "utter free-for-all" and had been "hijacked by egomaniacs". Resignations have also occurred over accusations that the party has been infiltrated by "racist, xenophobic, homophobic and downright hateful people".[40] In July 2019, the entire People's Party of Canada board in Elmwood—Transcona publicly sent a resignation letter, claiming that "racists", "anti-Semites" and "conspiracy theorists" had taken over and were promoting "the closure of Canada's "physical and economic borders" and had "spread misinformation through personal and official channels".[41] They cited disillusionment towards the party's increasingly xenophobic nature and lack of focus towards economic discussion as their core reasons for resigning.[42] Steven Fletcher, PPC candidate for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, rejected the accusation, claiming the action is rooted in vindictiveness against Bernier.[43] The manager of the Elmwood—Transcona Facebook page responded to the criticism by stating "Our problem is not necessarily with Max [Bernier] himself, but the entire organization has deep-rooted problems." The Winnipeg South Centre EDA argued that it was normal for a party to have "people with crazy ideas and racists" and wanted to know how the party reacted to it.[44] Fletcher disputed their statement, stating that "they'd be kicked out pretty fast" if they held any such viewpoints, and touted the diversity of the PPC's candidates. Fletcher claimed that "some elements of the NDP and the Green Party" have "anti-Semitic viewpoints" and that there was an "anti-Quebec vibe" in online forums from "people supporting [Conservative Party leader] Andrew Scheer.[45] The PPC later told Global News that the removal of the white nationalist was an example of the party taking a stand against racism. [46]

In the 2019 Canadian federal election, Bernier lost his own seat to a Conservative, and no People's Party candidates were elected.[47] Bernier was the only People's Party candidate to come even close to winning; he won 28.4 percent of the vote (a 20 point drop from 2015), and no other candidate won more than four percent of the vote.

The party received approximately 1.6 percent of the popular vote nationwide. According to the Canadian Press, the PPC may have cost the Conservatives some ridings, but didn't garner enough votes to affect the overall result.[48]

2. Principles and Policies

French logo for the PPC.

Bernier stated that his party is "a coalition of people who are disenchanted with traditional politicians who say one thing one day, and another the next".[13] He mentioned that his platform would be based around the principles of freedom, responsibility, fairness, and respect.[49][50] Bernier has stated that these principles are non-negotiable,[51] but that members would have input on policies as they are refined,[52] and that a candidate questionnaire asks potential candidates about which policies they want in the platform.[53]

In addition to these principles, the party would advocate for "smart populism", which Bernier defines as "populism without emotions", speaking for "all Canadians", and not appeasing "special interest groups".[54][55] Bernier has described the party as a "grassroots party".[56] He has also stated that the party is neither left-wing or right-wing, but the difference between being free and not free.[57] Bernier told Vassy Kapelos that the party will debate discussions that "the leadership and the caucus" did not want to have while he was a Conservative Party member,[58] also stating that people who espouse racist, antisemitic, or xenophobic positions "are not welcome" in the party.[59] A spokesperson has stated that the party does not debate the science of climate change.[60] The party has been referred to as conservative,[61] libertarian,[62] populist,[63], and classical liberal,[64] while being seen on the right [62][65] to far-right[66][67][68][69][70][71] of the political spectrum.

At the time of its formation the party indicated that its formal platform would be gradually unveiled, but it would generally follow the platform that Bernier ran on during his 2017 Conservative leadership campaign.[72] Bernier stated that the platform "will be built on facts".[73] Prominent platform planks include ending corporate welfare and phasing out supply management over a number of years to allow farmers to adapt through compensation yet "save Canadians billions of dollars annually" through lower prices. Following the launch of the party, Bernier stated in a TV interview with BNN Bloomberg that the telecom industry deregulation, increasing airline competition, reducing tax brackets and having a discussion about the privatization of Canada Post, which were key components of his original 2017 Conservative leadership platform, are all areas that he has an interest in.[74] He said that socially conservative policies such as abortion and gender identity would not be part of the party platform.[75]

2.1. Health Care

The party's platform argues that "it is up to the provinces to implement reforms in line with the more efficient and less costly mixed universal systems of other developed countries. Throwing more federal money at the problem is not the right approach."[76] They plan to replace the Canada Health Transfer with "transfer of tax points of equivalent value to the provinces and territories" by giving up the GST revenue collected by the federal government while creating a temporary program "to compensate poorer provinces" disadvantage from the replacement.[77] The party claims this would create the conditions for provincial and territorial governments to innovate[78] while maintaining the Canada Health Act.[79]

2.2. Foreign Affairs

The party platform argues that foreign policies should be "focused on the security and prosperity of Canadians, not an ideological approach that compromises our interests". It supports multilateralism, non-interventionism, free trade and humanitarianism. However, it plans to not get involved in foreign conflicts "unless we have a compelling strategic interest in doing so", to reduce Canada's United Nations presence "to a minimum", withdraw from UN commitments the party sees as threatening "our sovereignty", to accept free trade agreements that protect Canada's economy "from the threat of potentially hostile foreign investors", and phase out development aid.[80][81]

2.3. Environment

The party's platform states that "it is an undisputed fact that the world's climate has always changed and will continue to change"[82] but rejects what it calls "climate change alarmism".[83][84] The party plans to withdraw from the global warming fight, abolish subsidies for green technology and scrap "the Liberal government's carbon tax", but allow the private sector and the provinces to address climate issues, and "invest [in] mitigation strategies" if negative effects result from climate change.[84][85] The party's main focus would be on "implementing practical solutions to make Canada's air, water and soil cleaner".[84][86]

2.4. Immigration

The party plans immigration reform, such as limiting immigration to no more than 150,000 people per year, by removing the parents and grandparents class from the family reunification program, focusing on economic immigration through the reform of the immigration point system, making temporary foreign workers noncompetitive with "Canadian workers", and banning birth tourism.[87][88][89] They intend that all immigrants would undergo in-person interviews with immigration officials to determine whether their values and ideas accord with Canadian "societal norms".[90][91] The party would declare the entire border a port of entry to make deportation easier, since new arrivals can be refused at ports of entry. They would build border fences at popular ports of entry crossings for migrants, rely on private sponsorship instead of government support for funding new refugees, but prioritize those "belonging to persecuted groups barred from neighbouring countries" and sexual minorities.[92]

2.5. Multiculturalism

The party platform advocates for the cultural integration of immigrants, stating that it "enriches" Canadian society, criticizing that the government "has pursued a policy of official multiculturalism that encourages immigrants to keep the values and culture they left behind instead of integrating into Canadian society and adopting Canadian values and culture." Some of the examples that they have listed as "distinct values of a contemporary Western civilization" are "equality between men and women", "separation of state and religion", "toleration and pluralism". The party classified Justin Trudeau's comments referring to Canada as "the first post-national state, with no core identity" as a "cult of diversity". It opposes the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, remarking that Canada's government should not help immigrants preserve their cultural heritage. The party intends to "repeal the Multiculturalism Act and eliminate all funding to promote multiculturalism."[93][94]

2.6. Veterans

The party platform argues that "The government of Canada has an obligation to honour the nation's sacred commitment to our military men and women and make sure our veterans receive the support they deserve". They plan to "enshrine in legislation the country's obligations to our veterans in a Military Covenant", reinstate fair military disability pensions and reemphasize the legislative guarantee of the "Benefit of doubt" standard in the Pension Act, review the New Veterans Charter to determine which policies and programs should be retained, simplify the system and make it easier to navigate.[39][95]

3. Electoral Results

Electoral results
Election Leader Votes % Seats +/− Position Government
2019 Maxime Bernier 291,743 1.6
0 / 338
1 6th No seats


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  2. "Maxime Bernier: Why my new political movement? Because Canada has been hijacked". National Post. August 31, 2018. 
  3. "Stephen Harper Calls Out Maxime Bernier As A Sore Loser". HuffPost Canada. August 23, 2018. 
  4. "Bernier's departure from Tories will make it harder to beat Trudeau: former PM – iPolitics". iPolitics. September 11, 2018. 
  5. "Maxime Bernier: "J'aimerais bien être le Macron canadien" | Mylène Crête | Politique canadienne" (in fr-CA). La Presse. August 24, 2018. 
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  9. Rabson, Janice Dickson and Mia (August 24, 2018). "Bernier has enough support to go forward with new party, source says". CTVNews. 
  10. "Maxime Bernier débauche des organisateurs conservateurs au Québec" (in fr). 
  11. "Libertarian Party considering a merger with Bernier's People's Party | CBC News". CBC. "Libertarian leader Tim Moen had offered to step aside for Bernier following the results of the 2017 Conservative leadership race and adopted Bernier's platform." 
  12. "‘I am not a communist’: Maxime Bernier doubles down on People's Party name amid criticism". Global News. 
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  20. QMI, Agence. "Trois membres connus de l’extrême droite ont endossé la création du parti de Maxime Bernier" (in French). 
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  26. Thorpe, Ryan (November 28, 2018). "Fledgling party gains traction in province". Winnipeg Free Press. 
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  28., Zone Politique-. "" Le consensus, il n'y a rien de pire que ça " – Maxime Bernier" (in fr-ca). 
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  31. Times, The Hill (November 21, 2018). "Trudeau to call remaining byelections in January, to take place in February: feds – The Hill Times". The Hill Times. "For the February 25 by-elections, they announced candidates Laura-Lynn Tyler-Thompson for Burnaby South In subsequent weeks the party ran Robert Geurts for York-Simcoe on January 15 and Jamie Seale for Outremont Jennifer M. Clarke, the party candidate for Nanaimo—Ladysmith by-election was called for May 6, 2019" 
  32. Pinkerton, Charlie (January 28, 2019). "Bernier officially into the fold of future candidate count, Conservatives still tops". 
  33., Zone Politique-. "Maxime Bernier obtient le feu vert d'Élections Canada" (in fr-ca). 
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  47. null
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  50. "Bernier faces a challenge keeping racists out of his new party, says Stockwell Day | CBC News". CBC. 
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  66. "Canada leaders' debate: tarnished Trudeau puts climate crisis at heart of election". The Guardian =8 October 2019. "  • The wildcard coming into the evening was Maxime Bernier, leader of the far-right populist party the People’s party of Canada.  • Formed amid a feud between Bernier and the Conservative party, its platform is defined by restrictive immigration politics and climate change denial." 
  67. Meyer, Carl (October 7, 2019). "Jagmeet Singh accuses Maxime Bernier of inciting hatred". Retrieved October 14, 2019. "... Canada’s first racialized federal party leader repeatedly squared off against the boss of the country’s newest far-right party at the English-language election debate." 
  68. Tubb, Ed (October 9, 2019). "Missed the French-language leaders’ debate? Replay it here". The Toronto Star. Retrieved October 14, 2019. "He [Trudeau] continued attacking Scheer on the economy in an at-times chaotic three-way debate segment with the Conservative leader and far-right People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier." 
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  76. "Health Care: Giving Provinces the Incentives to Deal with Wait Times and Rising Costs". 
  77. "Health Care: Giving Provinces the Incentives to Deal with Wait Times and Rising Costs". 
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  79. "Health Care: Giving Provinces the Incentives to Deal with Wait Times and Rising Costs". 
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  81. "Foreign Policy: Focusing on the Security and Prosperity of Canadians". 
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  84. "Global Warming and Environment: Rejecting Alarmism and Focusing on Concrete Improvements". 
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  88. Lum, Zi-Ann (July 24, 2019). "Bernier Proposes Building Fences To Block 'Irregular' Border Crossers". HuffPost. Retrieved July 25, 2019. 
  89. "Immigration: Reducing Overall Levels and Prioritizing Skilled Immigrants". 
  90. Shivji, Salimah· (July 24, 2019). "Maxime Bernier says his party would cap immigration levels at 150K". CBC News. Retrieved July 24, 2019. 
  91. Potter, Mitch (July 24, 2019). "Maxime Bernier vows to slash immigration and impose a values test on newcomers". Toronto Star. Retrieved July 25, 2019. 
  92. Dib, Lina (July 24, 2019). "Bernier promises to build border fences if elected PM". CTV News. Retrieved July 24, 2019. 
  93. "Canadian Identity: Ending Official Multiculturalism and Preserving Canadian Values and Culture". 
  94. "People’s Party wants to axe Multiculturalism Act, eliminate funding" (in en). 
  95. "Veterans: Standing behind the men and women who sacrificed for our country". 
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