People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier delivers an address at the PPC National Conference in Gatineau, Que. on Sunday, Aug.18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Maxime Bernier tells party faithful he will make it into the leaders’ debates

The People’s Party of Canada does not meet the current requirements

Maxime Bernier argued to a crowd of flag-waving, cheering candidates and supporters that not inviting him to take part in the official election debates means excluding the only political party leader who has anything different to say.

“It won’t be a real debate if I’m not there,” Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, said in his closing speech to his first national convention in Gatineau, Que., on Sunday, where candidates and campaign teams spent three days learning how to attract and motivate voters.

“It will be a phoney discussion where they attack each other on their superficial differences.”

The Quebec MP, who represented the Conservatives for a dozen years and placed second in its 2017 leadership race, said the Liberals, NDP, Greens, Bloc Quebecois and his former party all share similar views on things like immigration, climate change and supply management in the dairy sector.

He also dismissed those political rivals as espousing varying degrees of left-leaning views.

“While the other parties look at polls and focus groups to decide what they stand for, and pander to every special interest group, we follow our principles,” said Bernier, adding that his party does not do any polling.

Those other parties have all qualified for the debates, to be held Oct. 7 and Oct. 10, under criteria established by the federal government.

Any party wishing to participate had to meet two of three conditions, which include having one sitting MP elected under the party banner, as well as candidates running in 90 per cent of the 338 federal ridings in the Oct. 21 election.

The PPC plans to run a full slate, but Bernier was elected as a Conservative.

The third condition requires a party to have earned either 4 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election, or have candidates with a “legitimate chance” of being elected this fall.

David Johnston, the former governor general who is now heading up the Leaders’ Debates Commission, said the PPC did not, at that time, meet the threshold, but would give the party until Sept. 9 to argue its case.

Bernier said he is confident Johnston will change his mind and allow him to join the others onstage.

He also said he plans to win the election and form government, but suggested he would be satisfied with having enough seats to give him leverage over whichever party forms the government.

“I think if we are not winning, and that is the goal, the worst-case scenario is to have the balance of power,” said Bernier, who ruled out a merger with the Conservative party but otherwise said he did not want to talk about what would happen to his party if he does not win.

Benjamin Dichter, who ran for the Conservatives in downtown Toronto in 2015, pumped up the crowd earlier on Sunday by arguing that Canada is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to how it is dealing with Islamic extremism.

“Canada is ill and suffering and it is suffering from the stench of cultural relativism and political Islam,” said Dichter, a founding member of the group LGBTory.ca, the Rainbow Conservatives of Canada.

He went on to accuse both the Conservatives and Liberals of getting too close to those elements.

When asked whether he agrees with that assessment, Bernier said he is glad Dichter was raising the question.

“I think it’s important to have this debate and have this question,” Bernier told reporters.

He said it connects to his policy on immigration, which would require everyone wishing to immigrate to Canada to undergo an in-person interview about whether their views align with Canadian “societal norms.”

The convention also saw the party unveil another portion of its campaign platform, this time aimed at veterans.

The policy proposal, which was announced with 44 veterans associated with the party on stage, would include reinstating the long-standing disability pension that was replaced with the current system in 2006.

READ MORE: Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Union says mediated negotiation with WFP has been ‘disappointing’

Striking forestry workers have been on picket lines since Canada Day

North Island Midget Eagles get their feet wet against Alberni Valley Bulldogs

The North Island Midget Eagles travelled down island to face off against the Bulldogs.

Council agrees to purchase emergency generator for Civic Centre

The loan will have to be repaid within five years, with no rights of renewal.

Candidates illuminate different visions of Port Alice’s future

The candidates were asked if they believed the pulp mill could run again.

VIDEO: Terry Fox Run returns to Port Hardy for the first time since 2016

All told, Port Hardy’s Terry Fox Run raised $2,200.30 with more still coming in.

Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

Another instance of Trudeau using makeup to darken his face has emerged, within 24 hours of the first

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of top managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

Arrest made after fourth threat closes a Kamloops high school in nine days

Mounties have been chasing down a series of threats made to schools across Kamloops

Nelson man accused of swimming naked at Toronto aquarium expected to plead guilty

David Weaver, of Nelson, was arrested and charged in October of last year

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized, BC SPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

Most Read