Canada Maxime Bernier's PPC picks up tens of thousands of votes, but no seats
‘We’re a big tent party’: Erin O’Toole says he’s not worried about PPC splitting votes
"The Conservative Party of Canada is a big tent party. We represent all Canadians, all backgrounds, all walks of life," O'Toole said.Bernier is running 311 candidates in the federal election. Despite sitting at just four per cent of popular support in public opinion polls, the PPC leader and his team are hoping for a "purple wave" of former Conservative voters and others flipping to the PPC on Sept. 20.
The People’s Party of Canada, which grew in popularity over the campaign, riding a wave of protests against vaccine and lockdown policies, picked up tens of thousands of votes nationally in Monday’s federal election.
Over the course of the campaign, PPC Leader Maxime Bernier has been traversing the country, preaching to crowds of people opposed to COVID-19 public-health measures, those who are vaccine skeptics or dislike vaccine passports, as well as reaching those who came to his party for its other policies, such as a vow to cut immigration levels in half.
Moving from fringe to fourth place, PPC complicates the Conservatives' path to power
At a recent campaign event, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole couldn't quite bring himself to say the name of the man who could end up thwarting his shot at power.People's Party of Canada (PPC) Leader Maxime Bernier has gone from leading a small fringe group with tepid support to heading up a right-wing party that, according to the CBC Poll Tracker, could have the fourth-highest share of the vote on Sept. 20.
“More and more Canadians are coming on our side because of tyranny, medical tyranny, and the vaccine passport, that will be imposed on us in every province,” Bernier told a crowd in Edmonton recently.
The pitch seemed to be working, harnessing this discontent and moving Bernier from also ran to a man who might just have had the potential to split the vote on the political right.
Erin O’Toole, the Conservative party leader, cautioned conservatives against voting for the People’s Party, saying a vote for Bernier’s party would help Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
The sometimes unexpected people drawn to Maxime Bernier and his People's Party
Priscilla Campos wasn’t the sort you might have expected to find at a rally for the People’s Party of Canada. She’s vegan, all-organic, and went about barefoot, wearing a flowing dress and a blue jewel on her forehead. She formed a marked contrast to the older men in camouflage and the bearded young men in the crowd. Campos, accompanied by her dog, Drifter, called for a “spiritual revolution” to unite people who have been kept apart by lockdowns and social distancing; she worried about whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines were vegan-friendly. “I’m a freedom fighter,” she said. “The new way is about love and light and supporting one another.
“Justin Trudeau wants you to split the vote by voting PPC,” O’Toole said over the weekend.
Back in 2019, Bernier’s nascent party failed to win a single seat and managed only 1.6 per cent of the popular vote; Bernier, who had represented the Quebec riding of Beauce since 2006, failed to win his own seat, which was taken by Conservative Richard Lehoux.
This time around, bolstered by waves of dissatisfaction over the handling of the pandemic, Bernier, in the days leading up to the election, looked poised to receive somewhere around six per cent of the popular vote, according to the polling aggregator 338Canada, around double what the Green Party was projected to receive, and hot on the heels of the Bloc Québécois.
When polls first closed in Atlantic Canada, the PPC received 4.6 per cent of the popular vote, according to early Elections Canada data. As further polls opened across the country, they held steady around that number.
Vaccine mandates and passports loom large in the election's final days
The controversy over whether the federal government should require vaccinations for some people or implement a vaccine passport system is playing a role in some key swing ridings, including King-Vaughan in the Greater Toronto Area. "That's what we're hearing — 'I'm vaccinated, I'm comfortable, why do I have to get a passport?' That's a question that's asked daily," Anna Roberts, the Conservative candidate in King-Vaughan, told The House for a segment airing Saturday. Roberts is looking to take a seat that Liberal Deb Schulte won by just a few percentage points in the last two elections.
“I’m feeling good,” said Bernier to a CBC reporter shortly after all polls closed. “Four, five, six per cent that’s big for us in Atlantic Canada … so I believe tonight will be a good night for us.”
Bernier has said that after this election, his party was here to stay. Still, on Monday night Bernier was projected to lose his riding.
Organizers are pleading with the crowd at PPC headquarters to wear masks as per Saskatoon Inn’s policy, but most remain unmasked including PPC leader Maxime Bernier. Seats have been added and the room had to be expanded as the room is packed— Mickey Djuric (@MickeyDjuric)
Bernier held his election night event in Saskatchewan, where the campaign had hoped to hold an indoor event, a plan that was hamstrung by new provincial public-health restrictions.
“Saskatchewan despot’s (Premier Scott Moe’s) new restrictions won’t stop us from having a legendary Election Night party. If you can make it out, we’d love for you to join us as we make history!” said the People’s party on social media prior to the party.
At 8 p.m., most of the PPC supporters had moved inside, into a hotel ballroom. Bernier entered to a big cheer, removed his mask and began posing for photos and chatting with people.
Shortly after Bernier’s entrance, a speaker warned people they had to wear masks while standing.
With additional reporting by the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
• Email:| Twitter:
More than 830,000 voters chose the PPC. What does that say about Canada? .
The growth of the PPC is alarming, but not out-the-blue to BIPOC advocates. The People’s Party of Canada walked away from another federal election without a seat, but the growth of the party’s popularity since the 2019 election is undeniable. That has some Black, Indigenous and people of colour feeling a level of concern about how vitriolic discussions involving race will be moving forward.