Maxime Bernier, 2017. Bernier, formerly a member of the Conservative Party, founded the People’s Party of Canada in 2018.
Maxime Bernier worked as a lawyer for about 15 years before entering politics. He won the riding of Beauce, Quebec, as a Conservative candidate in the 2006 federal election. This was the same riding held by his father, Gilles Bernier, from 1984 to 1997 (first as a Progressive Conservative candidate and then, from 1993, as an Independent). Maxime Bernier served as Minister of Industry (2006–07), Minister of Foreign Affairs (2007–08) and Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism (2011–15) in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After the Conservatives were defeated in 2015 by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Bernier became Critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The following year, he announced that he would run for election as leader of the Conservative Party. Bernier finished a close second to Andrew Scheer in the leadership election of May 2017.
Although Scheer appointed Bernier to his “shadow cabinet,” their relationship was strained. Bernier’s public statements condemning supply management, tariffs and multiculturalism conflicted with official Conservative policy. In June 2018, Scheer removed Bernier from his position as Critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development. This was triggered by Bernier’s decision to post online an excerpt about supply management from his unpublished book, Doing Politics Differently: My Vision for Canada.
In August 2018, Bernier announced that he was leaving the Conservative Party, which he felt was “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.” He founded the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) in September 2018. The party has been described as libertarian and populist and has been linked to white supremacists and the far right.
Bernier has identified his fundamental values as: individual freedom, personal responsibility, fairness and respect. He supports “small government” and opposes government intervention in Canadian society, culture and economy. This includes opposition to corporate welfare, tariffs and supply management. He has criticized multiculturalism, called for a reduction in immigration and supported the imposition of a Canadian values test for new immigrants. Bernier has also denied the link between human activity and climate change and has criticized what he calls “climate change alarmism.”
Bernier stood for re-election as the PPC candidate for Beauce, Quebec, in the October 2019 federal election. However, he was defeated by Conservative candidate Richard Lehoux, a former dairy farmer, who won the riding by more than 6,000 votes.
The People’s Party of Canada was founded in 2018.