Jared Dodds, News Reporter
I, like many other Canadians, spent Monday night sitting in front of a television watching the leaders debate for the Oct. 21 federal election.
I was proud to be sitting next to my loved ones and speaking to friends and family about what was taking place in front of us, participating in a democracy gifted to us by the lives of those who came before.
But that pride soon soured and changed to a feeling of disgust as I sawO, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, standing on that stage.
Watching that man stand next to potential leaders of our democracy, giving him legitimacy in front of our nation allowed me a glimpse into the darkest corners of Canada.
The Quebec native, the son of Conservative legend Gilles Bernier, rose quickly within the party, becoming a minister in Stephen Harper’s government in 2006.
For years he was a bastion for deregulation and limited government spending, until 2017 when he decided it was his turn to run for the Conservative Party leadership.
The campaign was tight, with Bernier finishing just behind current leader Andrew Scheer. Soon after, Scheer dismissed Bernier from his position on the Shadow Cabinet in the name of party unity.
It was at this point that Bernier put himself on a path that led him to the scorn of fellow party leaders and much of the country.
Feeling spurned by the party he had devoted his entire life to, he formed the People’s Party of Canada in 2018 to promote what he sees as the only viable future for Canada.
What it instead promotes is a bigotry and close-minded opinion on immigrants that political leaders like France’s National Rally leader Marine Le Pen and U.S. President Donald Trump used in their respective campaigns, the latter successfully.
nier’s platform states his government would repeal the Multiculturalism Act and restrict the number of immigrants our country lets in by at least 200,000 a year.
He has tweeted Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau leads a “Cult of Multiculturalism,” and he wants to lead the campaign against political correctness.
And all of this doesn’t even begin to compare to the company he chooses to keep in his party.
The Toronto Star reported on a collection of PPC officials who have posted a variety of racist and Islamophobic remarks including the former party organizer in Ontario Nicola Hanson saying, “Islam is not Canadian. Canada was founded by Christianity.”
Emil Sosnin, another official from the PPC in Thornhill, said his children would not be allowed to play with black children (his choice of words was a slur) and had posted the “14 Words” on Facebook, a white supremacist slogan.
All of this when combined with the radical dismissal of multiculturalism in Canada paints a picture of Bernier that is not part of the country that I know and love.
His place on that debate stage was almost entirely secured by his exploitation of Etobicoke North candidate Renata Ford, a famously troubled member of a famously erratic family.
She has a following in her riding, though she is still far behind incumbent Kirsty Duncan of the Liberal party.
While she may be running under the PPC banner, it is her last name that has given her credibility. Bernier knows that and has exploited it masterfully.
All of this is to say that the white supremacists and far-right extremists who support Bernier’s radical stances do not represent the Canada admired throughout the world as a place of diversity and tolerance.
Canada is a country that is proud of its diversity. Canada is a country that ties its self-image to helping people less fortunate.
Canada is all the things that Maxime Bernier and the PPC are not.
He did not deserve the credence his place on that debate stage provided him and does not deserve the attention from Canadians he craves.