Bernier: Racists have no place in new party

Mav­er­ick MP pledges he will screen po­ten­tial can­di­dates

Waterloo Region Record - - Canada & World - JAN­ICE DICK­SON

OT­TAWA — Que­bec MP Maxime Bernier says those who hold racist views to­ward im­mi­gra­tion do not have a place in his new party.

Bernier held a news con­fer­ence Fri­day to un­veil the name and logo of his new po­lit­i­cal ven­ture — the People’s Party of Canada. But one of his first or­ders of busi­ness was to de­fend his new party in the wake of sup­port from a fringe po­lit­i­cal group.

“They don’t have a place in our party. I don’t share these val­ues,” said Bernier.

He also said he would screen po­ten­tial can­di­dates in­ter­ested in run­ning for his party and that xeno­pho­bic in­di­vid­u­als will not be al­lowed to run.

Bernier him­self was heav­ily crit­i­cized in Au­gust for a series of tweets that ar­gued “too much di­ver­sity” erodes Canada’s iden­tity and de­stroys what makes it great and that im­mi­gra­tion shouldn’t be open to those who don’t share Cana­dian val­ues of free­dom and equal­ity.

Ear­lier this week, Bernier tweeted in re­sponse to a story about the surge in asy­lum seek­ers at the U.S.-Canada bor­der, “If you can buy a plane ticket from Nige­ria to N.Y., you’re not a real refugee. How long will this costly farce con­tinue to desta­bi­lize our refugee sys­tem? The so­lu­tion is to close the loop­hole in the treaty and im­me­di­ately re­turn these false refugees to the U.S.”

He said Fri­day he’s very open to im­mi­gra­tion, but wants to look at the lev­els and wants people who come to Canada to be able to have a job and “share our Cana­dian val­ues.”

“So let’s have a real de­bate about that.”

Bernier’s cham­pi­oning of the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate seems to be ral­ly­ing the very people he says he does not want in his party.

Ear­lier this week Bernier con­firmed he took a phone call from Travis Pa­tron, the leader of the Cana­dian Na­tion­al­ist Party, who pro­poses ban­ning burkas, de­port­ing asy­lum seek­ers and low­er­ing im­mi­gra­tion lev­els to 20,000 – 100,000 new­com­ers an­nu­ally.

Bernier re­port­edly told Pa­tron that those num­bers were too low, but he would like to see im­mi­gra­tion lev­els de­crease to 250,000 per year. He said to “stay tuned” for his party’s con­crete pro­posal.

Pa­tron told The Cana­dian Press he was at­tracted to Bernier’s lead­er­ship be­cause he is will­ing to de­bate mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism but Bernier’s of­fi­cial said there will be no more con­tact with Pa­tron.

Im­mi­gra­tion is also a po­lit­i­cally hot is­sue in the Que­bec elec­tion. At last night’s de­bate, Coali­tion Avenir Québec Leader François Legault de­fended his pro­posal to expel im­mi­grants who fail a French test after three years in the prov­ince.

Bernier, who has spent much of the last year fight­ing with his for­mer col­leagues in the Con­ser­va­tive Party over supply man­age­ment, made the bomb­shell an­nounce­ment in Au­gust that he’s ditch­ing the Con­ser­va­tive party to form his own.

He called his for­mer col­leagues “in­tel­lec­tu­ally and morally cor­rupt.”

He said Fri­day he has raised $140,000 so far and that thou­sands of people have reached out to him to get in­volved, but he is not quite ready to reg­is­ter his party with Elec­tions Canada.

That step will hap­pen over the next sev­eral weeks, he said, adding he will be ready with 338 can­di­dates on the bal­lot in the Oc­to­ber 2019 fed­eral elec­tion.

Bernier con­firmed there are only two em­ploy­ees on the party’s pay­roll — Martin Masse, one of his key or­ga­niz­ers, and Maxime Hupe, who worked pre­vi­ously for Bernier as a spokesper­son for his un­suc­cess­ful lead­er­ship bid.

He said his party will re­spect tax­pay­ers, the Con­sti­tu­tion, re­spect re­gions, provinces and ter­ri­to­ries equally, and re­spect Canada’s tra­di­tions, “with­out try­ing to forcibly change it like the cur­rent Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is do­ing.”

And if people don’t like his ideas, he says, “that’s OK, don’t vote for me.”

“The politi­cians, they try to please ev­ery­body and when you want to please ev­ery­body, you won’t please ev­ery­body. That’s not my way of do­ing pol­i­tics.”

ADRIAN WYLD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Maxime Bernier speaks about his new po­lit­i­cal party dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Ot­tawa on Fri­day.

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