People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speaks during the Federal leaders French language debate in Gatineau, Que. on Thursday, October 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Wattie

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speaks during the Federal leaders French language debate in Gatineau, Que. on Thursday, October 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Wattie

People’s Party of Canada’s anti-immigration views ‘didn’t resonate’ with voters: prof

Party was formed on anti-immigration, climate denying views in 2018

Canada’s brief brush with the People’s Party of Canada showed that attacking the country’s multiculturalism won’t score a spot in Ottawa, according to Simon Fraser University professors.

“We do hear Canadians concerned about immigration, but the way it was framed with the PPC didn’t resonate with more than a handful of Canadians across the country,” said political science instructor Stewart Prest.

The People’s Party was shut out of the House of Commons, with even leader Maxime Bernier losing the seat he’d held since 2006 in Beauce, Que. His father had held the riding for more than two decades.

Bernier formed the right-leaning party in 2018, after he lost the Conservative leadership race to Andrew Scheer by only a couple percentage points.

The party espoused views that denied climate change and asked for immigration to be cut in half.

On Twitter, Bernier thanked the Canadians who voted for his group, saying the “results were disappointing… but the struggle for a better society never ends.”

Nationally, the People’s Party got just 292,703 votes, or 1.6 per cent. Albertans cast the most, at 2.2 per cent of all ballots cast, while B.C. came in at 1.7 per cent.

That’s a distance sixth place behind the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc Québécois, and Green Party.

However, even if anti-immigration views alone can’t carry a party to Ottawa, Prest said, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.

“It was only four years ago we had members of then-prime minister [Stephen] Harper’s government musing about a barbarian practices tip line,” he noted.

“These conversations can pop up in different centre-right circles.”

Cara Camcastle, who also teaches political science at SFU, said the party’s poor showing sets Canada apart from the U.S., especially in how it responds to immigration.

She said she believes that after this election, where a “fringe” party got less than two per cent of the popular vote, proportional representation should make it back into the discussion.

“This was why the Liberals were so fearful of considering proportional representation,” she said. “[But] it didn’t happen.”

READ MORE: ‘Issue-by-issue parliament’: Expert says Liberals need to placate NDP to be effective

READ MORE: Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?


@katslepian

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