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OPINION: Bernier’s “People’s Party of Canada” reveals a disturbing pattern

(Published in The Carillon, January 3, 2019)

Dear Editor,

As I read your December 8, 2018 article, "People’s Party takes root in Provencher", I couldn’t help but notice a disturbing pattern.

In 2008, Maxime Bernier lost his position in Stephen Harper’s cabinet after leaving classified documents at his girlfriend’s place. She was known to have strong connections to a criminal biker gang.

More recently, he lost the leadership race of the Conservative Party of Canada to Andrew Scheer. Despite Scheer’s best efforts to work with Bernier – including giving him a high-profile shadow cabinet position – Bernier repeatedly demonstrated an inability to work with others. He subsequently left the CPC caucus and announced that he would be starting his own party, the People’s Party of Canada.

Wayne Sturby’s path is strikingly similar to Bernier’s. As mentioned in your article, Sturby ran for the nomination of the provincial Progressive Conservative party in Dawson Trail in 2016. He lost that nomination. Instead of then working together with the winner, he decided to pack up and leave the Conservatives and join the Manitoba party.

Sturby then found what he believed were shortcomings in the Conservative Party of Canada. Instead of doing the proper thing and working to help fix what he thought was broken, he again left and is now carrying the flag for the People’s Party of Canada in Provencher.

Then there’s Steven Fletcher. Fletcher, who was removed from Stephen Harper’s cabinet in 2013 and demoted, subsequently lost the next federal election. He then ran for the Progressive Conservative party in Manitoba, won the election, and sat as a Conservative member of the legislature.

But after proving he could no more work with his colleagues at the provincial level than he could at the federal level, Fletcher’s Conservative colleagues held a vote and unanimously voted to remove him from caucus.

When the federal Conservative Party then rejected his overtures to run as a candidate in the 2019 election, Fletcher began musing about joining Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. Instead, he joined the Manitoba Party and – much to Sturby’s surprise – has now become its leader. Nonetheless, he is not ruling out the possibility of working with the People’s Party in the future.

The pattern is clear, and the name “People’s Party of Canada” seems to reflect this. Sounding eerily similar to the “People’s Republic”, it’s almost like they are overcompensating for what they inherently know is not true – the party has nothing to do with the “people”. It’s just the only option left for those who have repeatedly demonstrated that they can’t work with others.

- Don Plett, Senator for Manitoba
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