People’s Party of Canada (PPC) Leader Maxime Bernier says he won’t be to blame if Justin Trudeau secures a second term as Canada’s prime minister in 2019.
Many have criticized the former Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate for his decision to jump ship and form his own party, saying it would effectively split the right-wing vote in Trudeau’s favour.
Speaking Thursday on Gormley ahead of a rally in Saskatoon, Bernier said polling data from before and after his departure from the Tories has consistently showed Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer trailing Trudeau by between six and eight points.
“So Scheer is not winning with Maxime Bernier and Scheer is not winning without Maxime Bernier,” he said.
Bernier went on to explain his decision to abandon the Conservatives, saying his high-profile resignation came after what he called “a very honest” phone call with Scheer. He said he was told during the conversation that none of the ideas he championed during his bid for the party leadership would be included in the Tories’ 2019 platform.
“So, I had two choices: to go back in the private sector and maybe make more money, or to stay in politics and fight for what I believe.”
He said the PPC stands apart from the Conservatives on a number of issues.
On the environment, he said he’s the only party leader willing to both walk away from the Paris Accord on climate change and commit to not imposing a carbon tax.
On the economy, he said the PPC would abolish supply management in the dairy sector and end government subsidies to corporations — both areas where he said the Conservatives and Liberals were effectively using tax money to buy votes.
“We want to save $5 billion a year by abolishing corporate welfare, so that’s a huge difference between us and the other old parties,” he said.
When it comes to immigration, Bernier said his was the only party looking to reduce the number of people coming in to Canada. He said a PPC government would curb immigration back to levels seen under the Harper Conservatives prior to 2015.
“It’s important for these people to be part of our society and integrate to our economy. I want to have more economic immigrants, but globally, a little bit less — going back to the average we had under Stephen Harper, about 250,000.”
He said well over 300,000 immigrants a year are being allowed in currently.
With less than a year to go before the expected date of the next federal election, Bernier said his message to right-of-centre voters was simple.
“Come with us. We have the momentum and we’re the only real ‘small-c’ conservative party.”