Maxime Bernier is set to reveal details about his new party, including its name Friday in Ottawa.
In an interview in his Parliament Hill office late Thursday, he admitted he has registered the People’s Party of Canada but that he also likes the Citizens’ Party.
Whatever Canada’s newest party ends up being called, some of its traits are already clear, and others will become less opaque after the press conference.
It is apparent, for example, that Bernier will oppose corporate welfare in all its forms, as he has done so since he told a bicycle factory owner in his riding of the Beauce, Que., that as Conservative industry minister he would not support quotas on cheap Chinese bicycles because it would increase the price of bikes for all Canadians.
We know that Bernier will advocate for an end to the cartel of supply management for dairy and poultry — a system he argues is unfair and regressive for low-income earners. This has been another Bernier staple for more than a decade.
“People are fed up of politicians who say one thing one day and another the day after. What I’m looking for is doing politics like I believe. People like authenticity and I think I have the courage of my convictions and am authentic. That’s why people like what I’m doing,” he said.
But when we discuss the murky topic of what he calls “extreme multiculturalism” there is a sense that Maxime Bernier is not as authentic as he would like you to believe.
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He makes much of the fact that he is not looking to promote policies simply to win votes. “I’m very different from other politicians,” he said.
But elected officials tend not to be that distinct from one another — the business of reaching for power contorts them all in similar fashion.
On the diversity issue that sparked such controversy when he suggested on Twitter that there should be limits, Bernier’s thinking sounds muddled. He denies he’s playing the race card, invoking dog-whistle politics or engaging in the same nativism that resulted in him lampooning former Conservative leadership rival Kellie Leitch as a “Karaoke Trump.”
But when I suggested his references to “diversity” led many people to assume he is referring to people of colour, his denial ends up sounding like an affirmation.
“They are misinterpreting what I am saying. When I talk about diversity, I am talking about diversity of opinion, diversity of values, diversity of what you believe,” he said. “I’ll give you an example, if you have two people coming to Canada and one of them wants to kill Jewish people and the other one doesn’t, are we better to have two people who believe in different things or two people coming to Canada who don’t want to kill Jewish …read more