Maxime Bernier

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Bernier in 2017
It doesn't stop
at the water's edge

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Maxime Bernier (1963–) is a Canadian businessman, lawyer and leader of the People's Party of Canada. Populism, especially right-libertarian nationalist populism, is a bit of a tough gig in Canada. Polling generally consistently shows that a majority of Canadians usually support current levels of immigration to the country and that they appreciate "the benefits newcomers bring to the economy".[1] But like anywhere, every few election cycles or so, people get grumpy. Enter Maxime Bernier. In the 2019 Canadian Federal Election. His story in this election should also be seen as a reason as to why it's maybe not a great idea to start a new political party out of spite (i.e., you will probably lose).

Early life and before Politics[edit]

Maxime Bernier had the generally solid upbringing and career that one would expect of the son of a well-connected, well-known public figure in Quebec and in national Canadian politics. He went to law school, was called to the bar, yada yada. Nothing to see here basically.

Political Life[edit]

Bernier became the MP for the federal riding of Beauce as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2006, a seat which he held until 2019 (more on that later). During these years, he fell in and out of favor with the CPC party leadership and was bounced in and out of cabinet portfolios but generally towed the party line and took "ones for the team", so to speak.

Growing weary with the state of right wing politics in Canada, he decided to mix things up a bit and run for the leadership of CPC in 2016. This is where things started to go slightly off the rails for him.

Campaign for the Conservative leadership 2016[edit]

Bernier ran for the party CPC leadership, ultimately losing to Andrew Scheer, the leader of the CPC, until Scheer's recent resignation in December 2019.[2]

There's really not much more to say about all of this other than it seemed that, for the next 2 or 3 years at least, Bernier could never really get over this fact and he continually threw tantrums and told everyone that he was taking his ball home.

Formation of People's Party of Canada[edit]

For whatever reasons, Bernier left the CPC and in September of 2018, announced he was forming his own party, the new People's Party of Canada. [3] The soundness of this decision will be speculated upon below.

2019 Canadian federal election and results[edit]

The PPC pledged to run a full slate of candidates in all of Canada's 338 ridings in the 2019 federal election. While commendable, this pledge led to many problems for the PPC, most of them played out in national media outlets, as Canadians tried to figure out where this new national political party suddenly came from.

After some investigating, reporting began to show that signatories to the party's formation documents, officially submitted to Elections Canada, included a "former leader of a U.S. neo-Nazi group, a former Soldiers of Odin member and a Pegida Canada official".[4]

Not the greatest start, but something party officials simply chalked up to "growing pains". Or something.

As the election played out, Canadians generally took little notice of the party, but somehow Bernier was allowed to participate in 2 nationally-broadcast leaders' debates. His performance in these contests was described as "more vandalism than art" by the Washington Post[5] and the only person in the Canadian political landscape generally supportive of this new party seemed to be Christie Blatchford[6] (for those outside of Canada, this is inching towards the Lauren Southern end of the scale).

When the votes were all counted up, Bernier lost his own seat to a Conservative Party of Canada candidate (logging an impressive 20 point drop from his 2015 election result), and no PPC candidate won more than four percent of the vote. Nationally, the Canadian Press wire service reported that the PPC received 1.6 percent of the national vote, or around 300,000 votes in total.[7]

Rhino Party to the rescue[edit]

Seeing an opening to sagely comment on what Bernier had become, The Rhinoceros PartyWikipedia's W.svg ran their candidate, also named Maxime Bernier, in Bernier's riding of Beauce. Neither Bernier won, but it should be noted that the Rhino's Bernier actually won 1.8% of the riding's vote total, besting the PPC's national percentage take.[8] This unto itself should hopefully serve as a moral to this story.

Post Election activities[edit]

Bernier is still around, mostly posting things on Twitter it seems. But a lot of this stuff is hard to walk back from, so if anyone reading this aspires to hold national public office and have a semi-respectable public career, one probably shouldn't do stuff like this.

External links[edit]