The Leaders’ Debate Commission sent the first round of invitation to its two official leaders’ debates, including in it the leaders of the Conservative, Liberal, New Democratic, Green and Bloc Québecois parties. Absent from the invitation recipients was Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada.
In his letter to Bernier, debate commissioner David Johnston requested information on three to five ridings in which the PPC believes it has a legitimate chance of victory, to satisfy the criterion that “candidates endorsed by the party have a legitimate chance to be elected in the general election in question.”
Today, Bernier sent this letter to Johnston, citing five ridings in which PPC candidates have considerable profile, as well as media monitoring findings showing more coverage of Bernier than of the Green and Bloc Québecois leaders, who were invited to the debate.
It’s only been two months since Maxime Bernier walked away from the party he once tried to lead to launch the People’s Party of Canada.
In that time, the PPC’s membership has increased, as has its war chest despite not yet being allowed to issue tax receipts. Though Bernier has attracted continued criticism from the mainstream media, and his former colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada.
Though no poll has shown the PPC as being near victory, the party has momentum and energy. This poses challenges for the Conservative campaign and for right-leaning voters.
It’s still not clear what impact the PPC will have in the narrative of next year’s election campaigns or in the results themselves. Even if the PPC doesn’t win, it could damage Conservative campaigns in ridings with historically narrow margins.
As a longtime conservative, this possibility hasn’t sat well with me. I wanted to challenge Bernier on the impact his party is having on the broader conservative movement in Canada, and also allow him to articulate his vision for Canada in his own words.
I supported Bernier in his leadership bid, and also supported him against critics earlier this summer when he started speaking out on immigration and diversity issues in Canada. Though I’m sympathetic to his ideas, I’m not a fan of having a fractured right again.
I explained to Bernier’s team that I wanted to tackle these in an in-depth interview for the True North Initiative. They were excited for the opportunity, as was I.
In this interview, I put the questions that matter to Canadian conservatives to Bernier.