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HARDING: Bernier looks to establish a beachhead

“Bernier says that between the carbon tax, spending, and lockdowns, there is potential for his party since the Liberals and Conservatives increasingly share common ground.”

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Last weekend’s whirlwind Saskatchewan protest tour earned Maxime Bernier two $2,800 tickets, and perhaps a few votes. Despite the long political road ahead, the People’s Party of Canada founder seems undaunted. In an interview with the Western Standard, Bernier expressed optimism about his young and still fledgling party.

“I am in the game. I want to [be]. I like what I’m doing. We have more support, and we need to grow the party. Step by step we will,” Bernier said.

Those words would have fit the last time the resident of Saint-Georges, Quebec came around. In June of 2019, Bernier visited six Saskatchewan cities in two days in the lead-up to October’s federal election. The PPC was rushing to get an all-but-full slate of candidates so Bernier could participate in televised debates. He says it’s not so different now.

“Yeah, we will have a full slate of candidates for this general election,” says Bernier. “And here in Saskatchewan, we’re still looking for some candidates. But I can tell you that we’ll have a good candidate in every riding.”

In 2019, the PPC succeeded in getting a candidate in most constituencies, but many were weak paper candidates. The party ran in 315 of 338 ridings nationally, earning Bernier a place on the national debate stage. But the 294,092 votes the party received were just 1.6% of the total, and the new party was shut out of the House of Commons. 

The disappointing result led some 2019 candidates to decline a sequel. Others have been pruned by the party, including past Saskatchewan candidates Trevor Wowk and Cody Payant. Besides this, the rise of the Wexit movement and Maverick Party has taken some wind out of the PPC’s sails in the West. And a national convention can’t take place until some basic party infrastructure is re-established.

“We need to have riding associations. So, we’re going to focus on candidates. We’re going to ask them to build a team around them, and ask them to sell memberships and [then] we sell [those] memberships. And after that, we’ll be able to have a convention…We may do that by Zoom or something like that. And the goal is maybe to do that before the next election.”

Form riding associations, find candidates – it all seems so, 2019. Shouldn’t the party be further ahead?

In Greek myth, Sisyphus was banished to the underworld by the god Zeus. There, Sisyphus was forever doomed to push a boulder uphill only to watch it roll back down before it reached the top. It sounds a little like Bernier trying to push the PPC.

Despite its poor showing in 2019, the PPC did post significant growth in its first year. By comparison, Canada’s Green Party was founded in 1983 and had only 60 candidates in 1984. Its first national leader’s tour came in 1997 when the party fielded only 78 candidates and earned just 0.4% of the vote. By these metrics, the PPC’s early trajectory was fast and furious, if still unfruitful. 

Unlike Sisyphus, no one demoted Bernier. He left the Conservative Party on his own. And he has only toiled a short time, not an eternity.   

Still, the growth is slow-going. In the federal by-election in York Centre last October, Bernier’s 642 votes captured just 3.56% of the total, placing him fourth as Liberal Ya’ara Saks kept the seat for her party. Bernier said he will be back to his home riding for the general election, whenever it comes.

“Yes, I will run again in Beauce. And I’ll do my best. But I think the people in Beauce, they’re on our side about ending the lockdowns, so we’ll see. But I will do that fight and I think I’ll be able to win that seat back,” said the 58-year-old.

Bernier was a lawyer, banker, business executive, and the vice-president of the Montreal Economic Institute before spending 13 years as the MP for Beauce, Quebec, some of it as a cabinet minister under Harper. Bernier’s sixth election was his only loss, as Conservative candidate Richard Lehoux grabbed 38.6% of the vote in 2019, leaving Bernier with 28.3%.

Bernier says that between the carbon tax, spending, and lockdowns, there is potential for his party since the Liberals and Conservatives increasingly share common ground. 

“Look at our platform and you will see that we have a vision for this country. And we want to have a smaller government in Ottawa that will respect the constitution, that will respect Canadians….I believe we’ll be able to increase our percentage of the vote and do a big surprise for the establishment journalists and politicians,” Bernier said.

“When I started that campaign against these draconian lockdowns, maybe 12 months ago, there wasn’t the same mood. People were a bit more scared. And now I think they understand. The common sense is prevailing.

“When I was in Montreal last Saturday, more than 40,000 people were there, and the movement is growing. That’s why I said [at the Regina rally], ‘Freedom always wins.’ And we will win. We will be able to do something, but it can take time. But you know, I believe that in the end it will go well for us.”

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Political Columnist for the Western Standard

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Eric Simpson

    May 23, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    East coast Canadians control who gets in and the rest of the country seems to like being controlled and have every aspect of their lives micro managed by the goverment R.I.P Canada.

  2. Wesley

    May 20, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Kudos to Bernier for putting action to his words! I think he will do much better in the next election as O’Toole continues down his liberal path.

  3. Left Coast

    May 18, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Anyone notice that Bernier actually Worked in the REAL World, the Private Sector. Unlike out Crime Minister and many in the Political Realm today.
    Bernier talks sense in a world of loons . . . had he beat Scheer we would likely be looking at a much different Canada today.
    I have zero confidence in O’Toole, Mr. Singh or the idiot PM . . .

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Manitoba response to Freedom Convoy has politicians cowering

“Truckers rolling down the highways — determined heroes in thousands of rigs, trucks, and cars — have unleashed a righteous beast in Canadians fed up with bullies messing with their freedoms and livelihoods and treating the unvaccinated as second-class lepers.”

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Federal politicians and bureaucrats will probably be hiding in their closets or under their desks, frozen in fear, when the massive Freedom Convoy arrives in Ottawa.

And they should hide in shame until they get it straight — that they were elected to carry out the will of the people; that it’s long past time to start listening.

Maybe a crescendo of blaring horns in the capital will improve their hearing.

They’ve created a big COVID-19 mess, underestimated the Canadians they’ve tormented and tried to crush, pulled cheap stunts, and delivered fancy, empty condescending lectures.

Few are listening to them anymore. Truckers have taken the wheel and won the trust and respect and hearts and minds of countless Canadians who oppose vaccine mandates and freedom of speech being trampled on. 

Elected pooh-bahs who’ve lost any esteem they may have had just don’t know what to do about that. 

Truckers rolling down the highways — determined heroes in thousands of rigs, trucks, and cars — have unleashed a righteous beast in Canadians fed up with bullies messing with their freedoms and livelihoods and treating the unvaccinated as second-class lepers.

That’s why hundreds of freezing supporters braved -30C temperatures to greet the convoy when it blared into Brandon, Man., population 60,000, around noon Tuesday.

A driver going the other way told the Western Standard the convoy was 100 km long.

It was a magnificent, electric scene that has, and will continue to repeat itself along highways, roads and overpasses in towns and cities across Canada until convoys coming from several directions converge on the capital January 29.

The cheering Brandon supporters didn’t come empty-handed. They brought more than 1,000 bagged lunches — sandwiches, homemade cookies, muffins, puffed wheat cakes — prepared in kitchens throughout the province. 

Someone even very thoughtfully hauled in porta-potties.

These regular Canadians don’t have much use for most politicians (Of course, Carlton MP Pierre Poilievre is an exception).

But Canadians love, love, love the truckers!

“People have been dropping food and drinks off all morning,” said Virden’s Ingrid Wilkinson, who organized the bagged lunches served at several stations.

“I’m doing it for all the harm that’s been caused. I personally know many people who have been greatly harmed. I’m doing this for our parents who had to live through Nazi occupation. Thankfully, they’re not in this world now. I do it for the kids, their future,” said Wilkinson.

“This is not sustainable. It’s a big lie.”

Virden menu for truckers

The Virden group had $825 left over from money raised to buy food to donate it to the trucker’s GoFundMe which stands at $4.6 million and counting. This amazing feat was accomplished in just 10 days.

About 193 km away in Headingley, more food and support awaited the convoy where Hutterite communities prepared for the arrival of the “dear” truckers.

“We are setting up kitchens n gonna feed you all. We are with you, and we fully support this massive convoy for freedom,” tweeted Paul Kleinsasser. “May God protect you on your journey, keep on going, we are praying for you. God bless.”

The convoy was expected to arrive in Winnipeg a few hours later.

The truckers oppose the cross-border vaccine mandates that severely impact their livelihoods.

The truckers also oppose vaccine mandates inflicted on everyone else — nurses, police, military, worshipers, children, students — everyone. 

Canadians embrace and are emboldened by their courage and stamina. 

So yes, they are well fed, dearly loved, and, it appears, to be shunned by most politicians.

However, Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer and Warrant Steinley did show up to greet the convoy in Regina Monday night.

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen blasted the Liberal government and threw her support behind truckers.

“I support peaceful demonstrations against these mandates, and our truckers from Portage-Lisgar and from across Canada,” the Portage-Lisgar MP tweeted Tuesday.

Bergen said Trudeau “dealt our crumbling supply chain another blow” when he implemented mandates making 26,000 truckers unable to transport of goods across the Canada-U.S. border “which will only drive inflation higher than it’s been in over 30 years.

“Conservatives have been opposed to federal mandated vaccines since Trudeau introduced them: and we oppose the mandatory vaccine on Canadian truckers.”

Bergen noted that truckers bring much-needed supplies to Canada and “worked tirelessly over the pandemic” to keep supplies moving.

“Hamstringing this essential industry is nothing more than a political move to further divide Canadians.”

As for the main event in Ottawa, count on People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier to be there.

But hell will freeze over before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds the courage or respect to greet the convoy that speaks for a huge segment of the country.

Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole repeatedly dodged questions Monday about whether he supports the truckers offering a wishy-washy non-committal word salad. So no, he’ll be absent. Lord help the Conservative party while he’s at the helm.

Let these two ‘leaders’ hide in the closet from the big rigs, blaring horns, and burly truckers headed their way.

Time has passed for them to speak. Nobody cares about what they have to say anymore.

The people have spoken. 

It’s time for the politicians and unelected bureaucrats to listen.

And with every blaring horn, the message gets stronger and clearer: Enough!

Exciting times.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

SELICK: Ontario’s health minister should get a second opinion

“In normal times, doctors frequently disagree with one another. That’s why patients often do seek out second opinions. “

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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott is apparently unfamiliar with the concept of getting a second opinion from a different doctor when the first doctor’s advice doesn’t seem to be producing the desired results.

In a widely publicized speech she made on January 19, Elliott said: “I want to respond to some extremely concerning reports that some doctors are spreading misinformation about vaccines. At a time when it’s never been more important for Ontarians to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, this [dissenting advice] is unacceptable. I will be sending a letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) urging them to do everything that is possible to put an end to this behaviour. They should consider all options in doing so, including reviewing the licenses of physicians found to be spreading misinformation.”

It is certainly true that some Ontario doctors have departed from the “must-vaccinate” narrative of the majority and the CPSO. However, it is not a mere handful that are creating such stress for the health minister. Forty MDs were already under investigation by the CPSO before Ms. Elliott expressed her wish for an even broader witch hunt.

There are many other dissenters that the CPSO has not yet targeted. For instance, a group calling itself Canadian Physicians for Science and Truth posted a declaration on May 9, 2021 responding to the CPSO’s April 30th threat to impose disciplinary action on any physician who questions or debates COVID-19 orthodoxy. The declaration has garnered 718 signatures from healthcare professionals (many of whom have shown their credentials as “MD”), as well as 20,171 signatures from ordinary citizens. Those signing the declaration accuse the CPSO of ordering physicians to depart from the scientific method by shying away from debate on scientific subjects.

Another group, the Canadian Covid Care Alliance, is more protective of the identities of its members but indicates that it is an “alliance of over 500 independent Canadian doctors, scientists, and health care providers…committed to providing quality, balanced, evidence-based information to the Canadian public about COVID-19 so that hospitalizations can be reduced, lives saved, and our country safely restored to normal as quickly as possible.”

Health Minister Elliott must surely share those goals, so why has she moved so pre-emptively and harshly to demonize a contingent of her fellow travelers? She herself is not a doctor or scientist, and not independently qualified to determine which group of doctors really does have an accurate view of the facts.

Rational people – when faced with a choice between two opposing scientific opinions – examine both of them closely and give due consideration to the viewpoints of all the people more highly credentialed than themselves. They don’t behave like Ms. Elliott did – pretending to know that one group is wrong while the other has a monopoly on truth.

In normal times, doctors frequently disagree with one another. That’s why patients often do seek out second opinions. Sometimes the second doctor, or even the third or fourth, has a more satisfactory answer than the first did.

Ms. Elliott must surely realize by now that the experts she has been relying on for the past two years have not served the people of Ontario well. It’s high time she abandoned her arrogant attitude towards those who are offering a different opinion and started listening to them instead of threatening them with the loss of their livelihoods.

Karen Selick is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

WAGNER: The benefits of a federal Western independence party

“As long as Albertans continue to vote Conservative federally, Justin Trudeau knows that he has nothing to worry about.”

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For Alberta to become independent, there must be a provincial referendum on independence that receives a clear majority vote. For the referendum to take place, there must be a party in power willing to hold one. That requires the election of a provincial political party that favours asking Albertans whether they want to remain in Canada or choose a path towards self-determination and prosperity. The need for a provincial independence party is clear and easy to understand.

But some people ask: what about a federal Western independence party? What would be the point of that? It could neither mandate the necessary referendum nor pass federal legislation benefiting the West. Such a party therefore seems pointless, they suggest.

However, there are some clear benefits to a federal political party that should be considered.

For one thing, a federal Western independence party gives pro-independence voters an option besides the pro-federalist parties currently on offer. Patriotic Alberta voters who reject the Central Canadian parties would at least have someone they can conscientiously support. They could “vote their values,” so to speak, and send a message to Ottawa that voting for other parties doesn’t accomplish.

Right now, many independence-minded Albertans support Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. The People’s Party has a unique and beneficial message that is attractive to conservative-minded Westerners, so that’s understandable. Bernier’s opposition to the Paris Climate Accord would mean that a Peoples’ Party federal government would eliminate the kinds of policies that prevent Western freedom and prosperity.

That is excellent, of course. However, because the People’s Party doesn’t restrict its focus to Western interests, it can’t represent the West in the same way that an exclusively Western party could. This is not to disparage the People’s Party, but simply to note that as a pan-Canadian party it must represent the interests of every region in the country, not just the West.

Having a federal independence party – such as the Maverick Party – does more than simply provide an option for Western regionalist voters. If it were to win a substantial number of votes (whether in a by-election or general election), that would alert Central Canadians to the increasing anger towards Ottawa in the West. 

As long as Albertans continue to vote Conservative federally, Justin Trudeau knows he has nothing to worry about. Conservative MPs from Alberta undoubtedly sympathize with the plight of the West, but their options to help are severely constrained by the need to appeal to voters in places like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. The Conservative Party wants more than anything to achieve power, and the path to power runs through Central Canada. Thus, the interests of Alberta will always be a very low priority for the Conservative Party.

In contrast, were one or more Western independence MPs to be elected, Trudeau would see the West was not just going to lie down and let him run us over. He might finally understand that his anti-oil industry policies would be met by stiff resistance and that he was in for a real fight.

Most importantly of all, though, is that the election of one or more Maverick Party MPs would provide a significant morale boost for the entire Western independence movement. There would be lots of excitement that would lead to increased support, even at the provincial level.

There’s something about an electoral victory that generates credibility, even if power is not attained by the victor. That is, even though Maverick MPs would not form government or exercise power, the fact that they received voter support would provide credibility for the independence movement as a whole. In this kind of situation, quality leaders would likely emerge who could take the movement forward.

Some people point out that there have been Bloc Québécois MPs in Ottawa for years and they have done little for Quebec. Therefore, Maverick MPs from Alberta would be just as pointless.

However, everyone expects Quebec to send separatist MPs to Ottawa. They’ve been doing that for decades. Alberta sending independence-minded MPs to Ottawa would be entirely different. The election of Maverick MPs would constitute a political earthquake that would rock the nation. It would be the Canadian news story of the decade, and it would generate new interest and energy in the Western independence movement.

In short, a federal political party could potentially play a meaningful role in the move towards Alberta independence. A federal party is not as essential as a provincial party for the independence movement to succeed, but the potential benefits it could provide should not be overlooked.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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