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A new right-wing populist party in Canada faced its first electoral challenge this week, performing exactly how populist parties should: by drawing to the polls disaffected conservatives who otherwise would have stayed at home. Although the election was a one-off byelection for one of Canada’s 338 parliamentary seats and the party didn’t win, it’s a promising sign for the new party and for many Canadian conservatives who fear they will split, rather than add to, the broader conservative vote.
Centered around its charismatic French-Canadian leader, Maxime “Mad Max” Bernier, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) was founded as an alternative to the country’s establishment-friendly Conservative Party. That party, Canada’s second-largest and the main opposition to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in parliament, has become “intellectually corrupt,” says Bernier, and won’t be able to mount a serious ideological challenge to Trudeau in the country’s broader election later this year.
Bernier and the PPC are taking up issues largely ignored by the Conservatives; issues such as mass immigration, crony capitalism, Third-World multiculturalism, and the increasingly oppressive atmosphere fostered by Trudeau and Canada’s media elite.
The strategy appears to be working. Although the party only managed to become registered officially at the beginning of this year, they already have tens of thousands of members and they’ve established organizing committees in each of Canada’s 300-plus districts in order to field candidates in the upcoming general election. Meanwhile, coverage of Bernier’s rallies has included testimonials from Canadians previously disengaged with what they see as a wholly uninspiring political sphere.
In this week’s byelection, which took place in a district just outside the ultra-liberal west coast city of Vancouver, the PPC took more than 10 percent of the vote; a strong showing given the incredible level of hostility from local media (some outlets banned the PPC candidate from debating). If the Conservatives, who drew 23 percent, had actively sought out PPC supporters and won their votes, they could have built up a real challenge to the far-Left New Democratic Party, which took in 38 percent. The center-Left Liberals took in 26 percent.
Predictably, the outspoken Bernier is broadly derided in Canada’s media and political classes. Highly adept at social media, Bernier regularly evokes hysteria from liberal politicians and commentators, tweeting things like, “people who can afford plane tickets aren’t refugees” and “religious fanatics who want to behead you” don’t belong in Canada. He’s also been leading a media campaign against Trudeau’s recent decision to enter Canada into the UN’s Global Compact on Migration (something President Trump’s already rejected); an official commitment of principles between most Western countries regarding the treatment of “irregular” third-world migrants.
Most alarming for Canada’s political and media elite has been Bernier’s criticism of Canada’s unofficial twin doctrines of diversity and Third-World multiculturalism; areas of discussion considered at least as sacrosanct for the elite in Canada as they are in the United States. Reflecting how extreme globalist attitudes are among the elite, Trudeau has proudly declared that Canada is the world’s first “post-national” country. Bernier lays into such sentiments wherever he can. Last summer, he tweeted: “Trudeau keeps pushing his ‘diversity is our strength’ slogan . . . Yes, Canada is a huge and diverse country . . . But where do we draw the line?”
In one of his first speeches as PPC leader, Bernier told supporters: “We must start pushing back against this politically correct nonsense that’s destroying our society and culture . . . Our immigration policy should not aim to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada, as radical proponents of multiculturalism want.”
For many regular Canadians across the country, especially those in the long-ignored western provinces, such frank talk is a godsend. Ever since the late sixties, when Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre, took power (similar to his son, he once stated “the hope of mankind lies in multinationalism”), Canadians have been forced to forgo their British and, more broadly, European identity in exchange for unchecked multiculturalism (above and beyond mere French bilingualism) and mass immigration. Because of the latter, nearly one-in-four residents of Canada are now foreign-born.
Meanwhile, simply criticizing third-world multiculturalism in Canada can lead to crippling fines levied by the country’s notorious “human rights” commissions and even criminal charges under its “hate speech” laws—from which Bernier, being an elected official, is immune.
Unsurprisingly, critics, including from the conservative side, say Bernier is playing on “fears about immigration” and “pandering to racists.” One top PPC organizer disagrees that it’s Bernier doing the pandering, telling reporters recently: “the main issue of our times right now is that you have a political class that’s pandering systematically to politically correct interests, and that makes them unable to address serious issues that concern people a lot, and they feel they’re disenfranchised.” Canadians certainly have much about which to feel disenfranchised. One half of Canadians, for instance, want immigration reduced. The PPC is the only party calling for immigration restrictions.
As this week’s results show, the Conservatives are leaving votes on the table by not picking on up issues the PPC is pushing. Staying too close to Trudeau’s Liberal Party has done nothing but alienate conservatives and independents who want real change, but haven’t got a party to get behind. The PPC is that party.
Photo Credit: Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images