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Canada Nothing but a ‘vanity project’: People’s Party of Canada is likely dead, experts say

07:00  23 october  2019
07:00  23 october  2019 Source:   nationalpost.com

Kinsella consulting firm worked to 'seek and destroy' Bernier's PPC party: documents

  Kinsella consulting firm worked to 'seek and destroy' Bernier's PPC party: documents Warren Kinsella’s Daisy Group consulting firm was behind a social media campaign to put the People’s Party of Canada on the defensive and keep leader Maxime Bernier out of the federal leaders’ debates, according to documents provided to CBC News. The documents outline the work done by several employees of Daisy on behalf of an unnamed client. A source with knowledge of the project told CBC News that client was the Conservative Party of Canada.The plan was first reported Friday night by the Globe and Mail.

People ’ s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier prepares to cast his ballot in Beauce, Quebec, Oct. 21, 2019. Jacques Boissinot/Pool via Reuters. Asked what message the defeat of the PPC now sends to the Conservative Party as it rebuilds after failing to topple the Liberals, Small said there is nothing

The People ' s Party of Canada (PPC; French: Parti populaire du Canada or simply People ' s Party ) is a federal political party in Canada . The party was formed by Maxime Bernier in September 2018

Maxime Bernier wearing a suit and tie: People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier speaks after the announcement of federal election results in Beauceville, Quebec, on Oct. 21, 2019.© Mathieu Belanger/Reuters People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier speaks after the announcement of federal election results in Beauceville, Quebec, on Oct. 21, 2019.

In the lead-up to this week’s federal election, media outlets around the world wondered whether right-wing fringe candidate Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party represented an expansion of the populist, nationalist and anti-establishment sentiment sweeping the United States and Europe.

“A ‘Mad Max’ candidate offers a far-right jolt to the Canadian election,” read a headline in the New York Times. “Can populism become popular in Canada?” asked the BBC.

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“It was unprecedented,” said Christopher Cochrane, a political professor at the University of Toronto. “To my knowledge, that has never happened before … at the provincial or federal level.” WatchNothing but a ‘ vanity project ’: People ’ s Party of Canada is likely dead , experts say .

People ' s Party of Canada . Join our team of supporters and help us bring freedom and prosperity to Canada !

Judging from Monday night’s results, the answer appears to be a resounding no. The dismal outcome — the People’s Party clinched zero seats and less than 2 per cent of the popular vote — did not come as a surprise to political watchers, who said Tuesday our first-past-the-post system “inoculates” us from fringe parties. Plus, they said, Bernier’s brand of populism was just too extreme, particularly when it came to his views on immigration.

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While Bernier, who lost in his own riding of Beauce, Que., insisted in a concession speech that the movement was “only getting started,” experts said the People’s Party likely would not survive.

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WatchNothing but a ‘ vanity project ’: People ’ s Party of Canada is likely dead , experts say . But nothing cohered into a specific ballot question. WatchHere's what you need to know about Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, May, Bernier and Blanchet.

“ People want to be represented by people who understand them, who represent their values.” WatchNothing but a ‘ vanity project ’: People ’ s Party of Canada is likely dead , experts say . But nothing cohered into a specific ballot question. WatchHere's what you need to know about Trudeau

“The PPC is rather easily seen now as a vanity project of Bernier’s, and as a very ineffectual attempt to come up with a latter-day Reform Party challenge to more moderate conservatism,” said David Laycock, a political science professor at Simon Fraser University.

Bernier, who held the Beauce riding since 2006, had served under the Conservative banner until last year when he narrowly lost the leadership contest to Andrew Scheer and then formed his own party. On Monday night, he garnered 28 per cent of the vote and placed second to Conservative Richard Lehoux.

Some of the party’s other higher-profile candidates, such as Renata Ford, widow of the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, and Lee Harding, former Saskatchewan director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, barely made a dent — coming in fourth in their respective ridings of Etobicoke North and Cypress Hills-Grasslands and capturing only 2.8 per cent of the vote.

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"Most Canadian voters voted for parties that said they were ready to step up and take climate change seriously," Elizabeth May told Justin Trudeau.  Nothing but a ‘ vanity project ’: People ’ s Party of Canada is likely dead , experts say .

“If Canadian elections are volatile it means that people who had been previously safe will not be.” WatchNothing but a ‘ vanity project ’: People ’ s Party of Canada is likely dead , experts say . But nothing cohered into a specific ballot question. WatchHere's what you need to know about Trudeau

Bernier blamed “nasty and shameless attacks” from opponents for the PPC’s poor showing. (Late last week, The Globe and Mail reported that strategist Warren Kinsella and his firm Daisy Group had been hired by the Conservatives to “seek and destroy” Bernier’s party and portray its supporters as racist. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer refused to confirm or deny the allegation. Bernier filed a complaint with Elections Canada over the affair).

But experts suggested it was the party’s policies that did them in. While certain aspects of the PPC platform — support for libertarian principles, small government and a repeal of the carbon tax — dovetailed with the Conservatives, the party’s stances on immigration were controversial.

Bernier vowed to repeal the Multiculturalism Act and severely curtail immigration levels. Stealing from Donald Trump’s playbook, he even suggested building a fence along parts of the Canada-U.S. border to thwart irregular migration. Critics accused the party of providing a home to people peddling hate.

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"The primary aim of Canada ’ s immigration policy should be to economically benefit Canadians and Canada as a whole. It should not aim to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric The result is that all the other parties have the same position. They are all in favour of mass immigration.

“Canadian voters don’t and won’t soon support the kind of overt racism that Bernier courted,” Laycock said. “Comparative public opinion data on immigration and multiculturalism show that while Canada isn’t the multicultural utopia that some commentators contend, Canadians don’t feel comfortable with explicit attacks on minority groups, and value ethnic diversity far more than most Europeans do.”

If Bernier had discussed multiculturalism in a more nuanced way with specific policy proposals, his messaging may have resonated more, said Tamara Small, a political science professor at the University of Guelph.

“The idea of multiculturalism is very important to people — definitely in English Canada,” she said.

Bernier had initially not been invited to take part in televised leaders’ debates, but that decision was reversed by former governor general David Johnston, head of the Leaders’ Debate Commission, who cited the party’s  “organizational capacity,” legitimate chance of electing more than one candidate and the media attention the party had received.

But Laycock and Small said the party received more news coverage than it deserved.

“I can’t think of a party in recent history that has polled at less than 3 per cent that got the amount of attention that he got, frankly,” Small said.

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As leader of the upstart People ’ s Party of Canada , an anti-immigration, anti-deficit and anti-corporate welfare party , he could play spoiler to All come with a list of conditions that will make it difficult for the governing party to accomplish much, and the result would likely be gridlock, inter-regional tensions

But if the media had ignored the PPC during the campaign, they would have been accused of not giving attention to the broad spectrum of political parties, said Bessma Momani, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo.

“Frankly, populists would have used the absence of coverage … as a way to suggest that the media is overtaken by liberal interests.”

Maxime Bernier wearing a suit and tie:  People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier prepares to cast his ballot in Beauce, Quebec, Oct. 21, 2019. © Jacques Boissinot/Pool via Reuters People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier prepares to cast his ballot in Beauce, Quebec, Oct. 21, 2019.

Asked what message the defeat of the PPC now sends to the Conservative Party as it rebuilds after failing to topple the Liberals, Small said there is nothing to be gained by pushing further to the right.

“There’s no more people there. There’s none,” she said.

“If there’s going to be a leadership race, a Kellie Leitch type of candidate probably doesn’t dominate,” Small added, referring to the one-time Conservative leadership hopeful who had controversially proposed screening immigrants for “Canadian values” and setting up an RCMP tip line so people could report “barbaric cultural practices.”

However, there is a chance, Momani said, that backers of right-wing populism may still want to work with the Conservative Party, in the same way the Tea Party movement in the U.S. worked with the Republican Party to elect Donald Trump.

The People’s Party itself though is “probably” dead, Laycock said. Bernier’s poor showing in Quebec indicates there isn’t a regional base for his conservative alternative.

Furthermore, “it is very hard to attract media attention without any MPs, especially when your leader can’t win his own seat.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

• Email: [email protected] | Twitter: dougquan

Jonathan Kay: Canadians are racist xenophobes? The election proved otherwise .
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