Bernier taps into im­mi­gra­tion con­tro­versy as he launches Peo­ple’s Party of Canada

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - NEWS - DANIEL LEBLANC With a re­port from Laura Stone

For­mer Con­ser­va­tive MP Maxime Bernier has of­fi­cially launched the Peo­ple’s Party of Canada, say­ing the nascent po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tion will fight for new rules to de­ter­mine which im­mi­grants are al­lowed into Canada and a smaller an­nual in­take of refugees.

A for­mer Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship can­di­date, Mr. Bernier said he wants his new party to be known for its “in­tel­li­gent pop­ulism.”

His goal, he said, will be to con­tinue to pro­mote free-mar­ket val­ues, such as in­creased com­pe­ti­tion in the coun­try’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor and re­duced equal­iza­tion trans­fers to havenot prov­inces. In ad­di­tion, Mr. Bernier said he wants to spark a de­bate on proper im­mi­gra­tion lev­els to Canada. Un­veil­ing the name and logo of his new party on Fri­day, he at­tacked “ex­treme mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism” and the “cult of diver­sity at all cost.”

“Forty-nine per cent of Cana­di­ans are say­ing that there is too much im­mi­gra­tion in Canada … Some econ­o­mists are say­ing some­thing, the pop­u­la­tion is say­ing some­thing. So let’s open the de­bate. What will be our coun­try 20 years from now?” he said.

Mr. Bernier said he wants to make sure that fu­ture im­mi­grants ad­here to Cana­dian val­ues, such as sup­port for LGBTQ rights and the equal­ity of men and women. How­ever, he said he did not have spe­cific pro­pos­als to fil­ter im­mi­grants who do not share the coun­try’s val­ues.

“What I want is more eco­nomic im­mi­gra­tion, less re­uni­fi­ca­tion of fam­i­lies and a bit less of refugees,” he said.

Say­ing the party’s con­sti­tu­tion will be un­veiled in the com­ing weeks, Mr. Bernier said peo­ple who es­pouse racist, an­tisemitic or xeno­pho­bic po­si­tions “are not wel­come” in his party.

Called the “Parti pop­u­laire du Canada” in French, the PPC will be head­quar­tered in Gatineau, Que. The of­fi­cial regis­tra­tion with Elec­tions Canada is still a num­ber of weeks away, which means the party can­not yet is­sue tax re­ceipts.

Still, Mr. Bernier said he has raised $140,000 since he quit the Con­ser­va­tive Party, while re­spect­ing ex­ist­ing lim­its on in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions of $1,575 a year. He added that he plans to run can­di­dates in all 338 fed­eral rid­ings in next year’s gen­eral elec­tion, and hopes to be in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in tele­vised lead­ers’ de­bates.

He said he has had no con­tacts with for­mer col­leagues in the Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus, and made no ef­fort to woo any of them to the new party.

“I want to at­tract the base, the peo­ple,” he said. “I don’t need Con­ser­va­tives who are hyp­ocrites. A lot of them say pri­vately that they are against the [milk] car­tel, but they can’t or don’t want to speak out.”

Mr. Bernier said he does not agree that the new party will split right-wing votes and ul­ti­mately help the Lib­eral re­elec­tion ef­forts, stat­ing he wants to at­tract sup­port­ers from var­i­ous par­ties but also those who don’t tend to vote.

Ear­lier this week, for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter Brian Mulroney said any party that splits the vote is “doom­ing that party to de­feat.”

“At least in my time, I needed ev­ery vote that I could get, and I scur­ried for ev­ery vote that I could con­vince. And un­less it’s changed, it’s prob­a­bly still the same way. And so I’m not big on th­ese splits,” Mr. Mulroney told an au­di­ence in Ottawa. “What I see hap­pen­ing with Maxime Bernier is not a good idea, I don’t think, in terms of the Con­ser­va­tives get­ting elected again.”

He added that Stephen Harper and Preston Man­ning’s in­volve­ment in the Re­form Party in the 1990s was “all it took to elect the Lib­er­als for 13 years.”

What I want is more eco­nomic im­mi­gra­tion, less re­uni­fi­ca­tion of fam­i­lies and a bit less of refugees. MAXIME BERNIER PEO­PLE’S PARTY OF CANADA

ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Maxime Bernier, speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Ottawa on Fri­day, said he plans to field can­di­dates in ev­ery rid­ing across Canada in the next elec­tion.

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