Maxime Bernier and shitty political blogs: Name a match more tailor-made, I’ll wait.
Not one month after I expressed doubts that he would ever actually leave the Conservative caucus, Beauce MP Maxime Bernier announced the creation of his new political party, the People’s Party of Canada, at a press conference in Ottawa last Friday morning. The PPC, from which Bernier is currently the only MP, was formed with the hope of challenging both Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives in the next federal election.
Bernier’s new pet project emerges more or less as a direct result of his second-place photo finish in the Conservative Party’s 2017 leadership election, which itself led to Bernier’s overt criticism of Scheer, the party’s new leader, culminating in Bernier’s expulsion from Scheer’s Shadow Cabinet, Bernier’s denouncing of the Conservatives as being “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed” (a stopped clock is right twice a day, etc.), Bernier’s resignation from the Conservative caucus, and the formation of the PPC.
As for the PPC’s actual ideology, it will closely follow the voraciously pro-market, libertarian platform proposed by Bernier in the Conservative leadership contest, with policies such as scrapping supply management, ending corporate welfare, ceding control of health care to the provinces, and reducing immigration from 300,000 to 250,000 people, restricting it mostly to economic immigrants. Bernier has also expressed interest in wholesale deregulation and privatization of a vast number of services, including healthcare, the telecom industry, transportation, and Canada Post, among a list that I’m sure includes just about every public service that the Canadian government currently provides.
Bernier has also recently made appeals to nationalist, quasi-fascist, anti-immigrant sentiments, and you would have to be a moron not to think that these dog whistles would weasel their way into the PPC’s platform. Upon launching the party, Bernier courted support from two minor parties, the perpetually ineffectual Libertarian Party of Canada (whose leader, Tim Moen, is a huge Bernier stan who has stated a desire to merge his party with the PPC) and, more worryingly, having a phone call with the leader of the currently unregistered Canadian Nationalist Party, Travis Patron, who unironically dresses like an Afrikaaner white nationalist:
I think the true hate crime is the fact that those panels don’t line up symmetrically.
Bernier has claimed that he was unaware of Patron and the CNP’s platform (which includes such gems as “banning the burqa,” discontinuing water fluoridisation, and reinstating the Immigration Act of 1952) before making the phone call, while Patron has stated that Bernier mentioned that he knew of the CNP beforehand. So either Patron is lying and Bernier’s a fucking idiot who doesn’t know how to do his goddamn homework, or Bernier is lying and Patron has delusions of grandeur. You tell me which is more likely.
Bernier was sure to insist that the PPC is a party of inclusion and that he does not share immigration policy with Patron, who insisted that the PPC’s proposed acceptance of 250,000 immigrants is still too much. While the PPC’s immigration platform is similar to the Conservative Party’s and is certainly at least moderately less comically stupid than the CNP’s major platform plank of “accept wealthy White South African farmers as refugees,” it still boils down to “we’re fine with foreigners as long as they’re rich.”
Now, what are the PPC’s chances in a federal election? I mean, it’s kind of an exercise in hackery to try to predict election results more than a year away, but I am a noted hack, so I’ll give it a shot.
At this point, there isn’t much that distinguishes the PPC platform from the Conservative platform aside from a more overt commitment to privatization and anti-immigrant rhetoric. So the main voting blocs that I predict that Bernier would attract are libertarians and nationalists who don’t believe the Conservatives are vocal enough in advocating for those ideologies, AND who aren’t worried about splitting the right-wing vote. And probably Nazis with anime-based social media avatars and/or fursonas.
The closest historical comparison we can examine is the hard-right Reform Party, founded in 1987 by Preston Manning, son of former Alberta premier Ernest Manning. The Reform Party was, similarly to the PPC, a libertarian and socially conservative party formed to capitalize on Western Canada’s disaffection with Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government and, later, Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government, both of whom were seen as elitist and out-of-touch (a stopped clock is right twice a day, etc.). The Reformers contended the 1988 federal election and received 15% of the vote in Alberta, but it only garnered 2% of the national vote and failed to win a seat.
It wasn’t until the 1993 election that the Reform Party broke through, increasing their national vote share to 18.7%, largely due to the party winning 52.3% of the vote in Alberta and 52 seats in the House of Commons. This, along with the emergence of Lucien Bouchard’s Bloc Québecois (defectors from the PC party, no less) contributed to the decimation of the PCs and aided in the formation of Chrétien’s majority government. The Reformers would increase their vote share and seat totals in the 1997 and 2000 elections, changing their name to the “Canadian Alliance” along the way, and eventually forcing a merger with the PCs to form the modern Conservative Party of Canada, which is basically just the Reform Party with a veneer of moderation.
The People’s Party’s situation is different in a couple respects. Firstly, Bernier already has a seat in Parliament so the PPC will, barring a resignation for some reason, have a presence in Parliament for at least a year or more, if Bernier manages to hold on to his home seat of Beauce, regardless of results elsewhere. This could give the PPC more of an initial advantage than Manning and the Reform Party initially had. Also, the internet is a nightmarish hellscape where Bernier’s likely supporters are able to proselytize at an elevated rate that Manning and his base of elderly Western grouches could have only dreamed about.
On the other hand, if Bernier hopes to present 338 PPC candidates to contest elections in November 2019, he better get on it, because he doesn’t exactly have a huge amount of time to be dicking around on Twitter when he should be not only evaluating and selecting candidates, but also making sure that they don’t do something too overtly problematic (unless he decides he doesn’t care about that last part, which isn’t exactly impossible).
Perhaps even more worrisome for Bernier is the fact that right-wing voters and politicians are extremely ready and willing to bend the knee so long as it strengthens their grip on power. As of this writing, no sitting Conservative MPs have defected to the PPC, and I would bet on that remaining the case, assuming that Scheer is anywhere near as good at making his lackeys fall in line as his predecessor, Stephen Harper. As for the Conservative voter base, if they perceive the PPC as being the weaker option come election time, they won’t hesitate to vote for more of the same, even if they may personally align more with the newcomers.
An August poll from Abacus Data estimates Bernier’s potential national vote percentage as 13%, drawing mainly from the Conservatives (28%), and less so from the Liberals (34%) and NDP (16%). This hypothetical result would place them in fourth place in the vote share behind the three major parties, but ahead of both the Bloc Québecois (3%) and the Green Party (6%). However, I think that this could be read as a pretty optimistic result, as I doubt that they would take much vote share from the Liberals or NDP. Even if they DO attain that many votes, the lack of a regional power base (unlike the Western stronghold that Reform enjoyed) mean that the
inexcusably shitty “quirky” Canadian electoral system may not allow him to win any seats anyways, aside from maybe holding onto Beauce.
But then again, the election’s over a year away and I’m a moron, so whatever. I don’t have any actual values that I stand for, I’m just excited about the prospect of seeing Lauren Southern inevitably run in the election as a PPC candidate and immediately accusing Julie Payette of advocating white genocide before subsequently calling Andrew Scheer a beta cuck.
Anyways, this has been my way of saying that Maxime Bernier will definitely be Prime Minister within eight years, and it will be a really stable, normal, good time.