Maxime Bernier quits the Conservative Party — and wants to start his own
Quebec MP Maxime Bernier is quitting the Conservative Party and says he wants to start his own.
Bernier, who narrowly lost the Tory leadership to rival Andrew Scheer, made the announcement on Thursday in Ottawa amid controversy surrounding his tweets over Canada’s diversity and immigration policies.
The MP said he hopes to get his new party started in the next few weeks and will run in the 2019 federal election.
Bernier referred to the Conservative Party as “morally corrupt” and said it has deserted its “core conservative principles” by refusing to end corporate subsidies or abolish the supply management system for poultry and dairy products.
Richard Johnston, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia called Bernier’s announcement a “suicide mission.”
“The opinions that he is articulating publicly are widely held within the Conservative Party,” Johnston said. “He would get no traction outside Quebec.”
But Bernier said he believes the Conservative Party has abandoned “conservatives” and does not represent them anymore.
“Andrew Scheer is following the Trudeau Liberals,” Bernier said. “They are so afraid of criticism by the left and the media, they prefer to let down millions of supporters around the country.”
“I’m now convinced that what we will get if Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister is just a more moderate version of the disastrous Trudeau government,” he added.
WATCH: Scheer says Bernier more focused on ‘personal ambition’ that defeating Justin Trudeau
Scheer commented about Bernier’s resignation in Halifax at the Conservative Party convention and said: “not once did he come to me about these ideas he is now raising.”
“Bernier has made it clear that he wants to help Justin Trudeau rather than his own Conservative team,” Scheer said. “He has chosen to abandon the best alternative to the Liberal Party… and put himself ahead of that.”
WATCH: ‘It’s his choice’: Conservative MPs past and present react to Maxime Bernier’s departure
Scheer said since Bernier lost the Tory leadership race, the MP is more “interested in advancing his profile than the Conservative principles.”
Bernier’s controversial tweets
The three-day Conservative convention in Halifax comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding a series of tweets Bernier posted last week.
Bernier’s tweets argued that more diversity and “having people live among us who reject basic Western values” will lead to “cultural balkanization.” He also tweeted that “more diversity” in Canada will “destroy what makes us a great country.”
The comments caused a political backlash, including from his own party — leading to questions about whether Bernier would be booted from caucus.
Michelle Rempel, the immigration critic for the Conservatives, suggested Bernier’s comments were a “seemingly premeditated tweet thread for fundraising purposes.”
Scheer also condemned Bernier’s comments.
“Maxime Bernier holds no official role in caucus and does not speak for the Conservative Party of Canada on any issue,” Scheer’s statement said. “Personally, I disagree with politicians on the left and the right when they use identity politics to divide Canadians. I will not engage in this type of politics.”
WATCH: Former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier says he stands a better chance of unseating PM Justin Trudeau than current Conservative leader Andrew Scheer
Scheer won the Conservative leadership race in May 2017, with 51 per cent of the vote.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto said Bernier is not interested in being in the Conservative Party unless he’s the leader.
“He feels the leadership has been stolen from him,” Wiseman said.
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