Lockdowns, pipelines and the separatist movement were just some of the many items discussed by People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier during his visit to Lethbridge on Sunday.
Bernier, a former MP and cabinet minister for the Conservative Party of Canada, said he is aiming to spread the PPC’s message across the country ahead of the next federal election.
Dozens of people formed a crowd at Henderson Lake Park for the meet and greet.
“For me, it’s very important to be in Alberta,” he said. “We have a lot of support here.”
In 2019, the party ran for the first time, receiving 1.6 per cent of the vote. With the possibility of an election as early as the fall, Bernier said the party is confident in its growing support and chances of winning seats this time around.
“It took 20 years and six elections for the Green Party of Canada to have more than 1.6 per cent of the vote, and we did that in a year,” Bernier said.
“We are fighting for a government in Ottawa that will respect the Constitution, respect the taxpayers,” he said of the party’s platform.
“We are the only political party saying no to the Paris Accord. We won’t impose any carbon tax or regulations, and also we are the only party that wants to change the equalization formula and be less generous.”
Bernier spoke against Bill C-36, which looked to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to recognize internet hate speech.
“We are speaking for more freedom, we are against censorship, and I think everybody must be free to say what they want to say on social media,” he said.
“That’s not happening right now. We have some censorship from the big (tech companies) and the federal government,” he said.
Specific to southern Alberta, Bernier’s support of pipeline projects and lowering equalization payments are items he believes will resonate with residents along with more autonomy for the provincial government while finding solutions to end the separatist movement.
“I understand that there’s a separatist movement here in Alberta,” Bernier said. “I’m a federalist. I believe in this country.
“We want to have a decentralized federal government, and I think people appreciate that here.”
Kimmie Hovan, the Lethbridge candidate for the PPC, was also present at Sunday’s meet and greet. She is jumping into the political realm for the first time.
“In the last election, I had a really hard time deciding where to vote,” Hovan explained. “As I did some research on Maxime Bernier as well as the People’s Party of Canada, I fell in love with the party and their platform.
“It’s a new thing for me. I’m excited for the challenge, and I’m exited to learn (and) have a voice for those around us.”
The PPC visited Taber and Medicine Hat before leaving the province.