While Maxime Bernier once wanted to be leader of the federal Conservatives, he says people don’t need to be conservative to join his new party.
In fact, even some NDP members might want to join up.
In an interview with the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Bernier explained why his new People’s Party of Canada wants to attract voters and candidates from a diverse range of political stripes who don’t feel the main parties right now pay enough attention to their concerns.
“We want to attract people from other parties also like the NDP,” said Bernier, who represents the Quebec riding of Beauce.
“They don’t agree with corporate welfare; the program of our party is to get rid of that. The Liberals who like Paul Martin and Jean Chretien; they had a balanced budget at that time and fiscally responsible government. That’s not what’s happening with the Trudeau government right now. So we can have some of these people.”
WATCH BELOW: Maxime Bernier announces formation of People’s Party of Canada
Last month, Bernier resigned from the Conservative Party after butting heads with Andrew Scheer, the party’s leader, for more than a year.
He said in his resignation announcement that the party was too “morally and intellectually corrupt” to be reformed.
After several weeks of speculation, Bernier on Friday announced his new party will be called the People’s Party of Canada.
“Why this name? Because it’s time the Canadian government put Canadian people first when they make decisions and policies,” he said on Friday.
“No one is speaking for the people.”
So far, the party has not released an official platform but reposted the points contained within Bernier’s failed leadership platform.
Among them are vows to end supply management and the maple syrup cartel, cut corporate welfare, run a balanced budget, and reduce immigration levels.
The latter has been a particular point of focus for the Beauce MP, who ran into criticism last month for a Twitter thread he posted opposing “more diversity.”
Bernier told Global News he wants to open up a debate about how many immigrants should be coming to Canada and whether the numbers should be reduced from focusing on family reunification and refugees to focusing on economic immigrants.
Integration, he argued, is a looming concern if Canada continues to accept ever larger numbers of immigrants.
WATCH BELOW: Bernier says he wants change on how immigration is handled in Canada
“Right now we don’t see a big problem with integration in Canada,” he acknowledged.
“That’s great, but I don’t want that in 20 years from now so let’s have a discussion about the level of immigration.”
So does he see himself as a Canadian Donald Trump or federal version of Ontario Premier Doug Ford?
Not exactly, he says.
“I want to capitalize on the ideas,” Bernier said when asked about broader populist movements gaining steam around the world.
“Me, maybe I’m doing an intelligent populism.”