OTTAWA (Reuters) – Maxime “Mad Max” Bernier, one of the right-wing figures ever seen in Canadian federal politics, has a rating to settle and nothing to lose – a potent combine that would form the result of subsequent month’s nationwide election.
FILE PHOTO: Chief of the Individuals’s Get together of Canada Maxime Bernier campaigns in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Hawkins/File Photograph
The 56-year-old Bernier – a former minister of overseas affairs and business – based the populist Individuals’s Get together of Canada (PPC) a yr in the past after narrowly shedding his bid for the management of the primary opposition Conservative Get together to Andrew Scheer.
In his parting speech, Bernier, who’s from the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec, repeatedly attacked Scheer and deemed the get together “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.”
Bernier has since stolen a web page from U.S. President Donald Trump’s playbook – and that of European populists like Italy’s Matteo Salvini – proposing measures extraordinary in modern Canadian mainstream politics.
They embrace pledging to construct a fence on the U.S. border to crack down on asylum seekers, slashing immigration ranges, rejecting the concept that local weather change is brought on by people and defunding the general public broadcaster.
He even discovered time to assault 16-year-old Swedish local weather advocate Greta Thunberg, calling her mentally unstable.
Bernier’s contempt for political correctness and his rejection of multiculturalism as a “cult of variety” might pose an actual downside for the extra reasonable Scheer, who’s in a good race with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau forward of the Oct. 21 nationwide vote.
The PPC is polling between 1% and three% nationally and Bernier dangers shedding even his personal seat south of Quebec Metropolis. But when he grows extra fashionable, it might break up the right-of-center vote and hand events on the left, together with the Liberals, seats they might not have in any other case received.
“Eight to 10 Conservative seats are in play … as a result of the Individuals’s Get together is siphoning off 5% or 6% of the help” in these districts, pollster Nik Nanos of Nanos Analysis stated. “If Bernier climbs to five% or 10%, it’s a Liberal win.”
In speeches throughout the nation and on social media, Bernier targets Scheer as a “pretend Conservative” whose insurance policies are nearly the identical as Trudeau’s.
Scheer “has no clear rules or program,” Bernier stated in his first get together convention, held in a on line casino lodge in Quebec final month. “He’s pandering to each curiosity group within the nation.”
Bernier was initially shut out of two official leaders’ debates set for subsequent month, however organizers later stated he might participate. That can put him on the nationwide stage alongside Scheer and Trudeau.
“I sit up for holding him to account publicly for his illiberal views,” Trudeau stated.
Scheer has largely shrugged off Bernier’s criticism, saying he’s centered on defeating Trudeau. A Conservative official stated the PPC “is a celebration that’s simply going nowhere.”
Rick Anderson, a former Conservative marketing campaign director, stated the debates would enable Bernier to forged himself as the one chief in contact with what many citizens are actually considering, a person ready to say issues nobody else dares say on matters resembling immigration and Canadian id.
“The debates … will in all probability greater than double Bernier’s help,” he stated. “The Liberals know that and so they’re relying on that being at Scheer’s expense.”
Greater than 20% of Canada’s inhabitants was born overseas, the very best proportion among the many Group of Seven industrialized nations, and the nation’s multiculturalism has lengthy been touted as a supply of pleasure.
So there may be additionally a threat that Bernier will make Scheer appear like “the voice of cause” amongst moderates who’ve been drifting forwards and backwards between Liberals and Conservatives, Frank Graves of EKOS Analysis polling firm stated.
Bernier’s well-known “Mad Max” nickname – after the Mel Gibson film character – dates again to his shedding effort for the Conservative management. In a Fb publish together with his head photoshopped onto Gibson’s physique, Bernier stated he was “mad about authorities waste” and “politics as traditional,” amongst different issues.
Whereas nonetheless a Conservative, Bernier more and more changed into a sq. peg who stood out. Now he’s embracing his internal maverick and the type of id politics in trend south of the border.
When requested by Reuters on the PPC convention if he thought-about himself Canada’s Trump, he stated no.
“I’m myself. I’m genuine,” he stated.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Extra reporting by Kelsey Johnson; Enhancing by Peter Cooney