A member of the Manitoba legislature and former federal cabinet minister is planning to run for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada in the upcoming federal election.
Steven Fletcher confirms he will launch his campaign Thursday to run in the Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley seat for Bernier’s party.
An email from the party’s electoral district association president describes Fletcher and Bernier as “ideological soulmates.”
Fletcher has said the federal Conservatives would not allow him to run under their banner in the next election.
Fletcher won a seat as a Progressive Conservative in Manitoba’s provincial election in 2016 but was kicked out of caucus a year later for publicly breaking from the party on a number of policies.
He took over leadership of the Manitoba Party in 2018 after sitting as an Independent.
Fletcher, who was a Conservative MP for 11 years before losing his Winnipeg seat to the Liberals in 2015, worked with Bernier for nine years under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He spent five years as a minister of state in Harper’s cabinet and Fletcher supported Bernier in the Conservative leadership race that Andrew Scheer won.
Bernier founded the People’s Party of Canada last year after leaving the Conservative party following a series of disagreements with Scheer.
Among the party’s policy positions are promises to reduce the total number of immigrants to 250,000 a year, increase border security and end reliance on the United Nations for refugee selection.
It also wants to make the federal equalization program less generous, reduce interprovincial trade barriers and build more pipelines.
Fletcher said Wednesday he supports the party’s policies and always intended to get back into federal politics.
“I intend to work very hard for the people I’ve been called to represent for 15 years now and I will continue to do that,” he said.
Fletcher previously floated the idea that the Manitoba Party could sister with the People’s Party of Canada, but Bernier’s staff said they had no intention of having a provincial wing of the party.