Who Are the People’s Party of Canada?

With Justin Trudeau calling an election during a pandemic, for the 5th time in the last 7 elections we are stuck with a minority government. While nothing much changed on the surface with the seats between the major parties of Canada, a relatively new party has taken shape.

While the Green Party plummeted during the 2021 elections in Canada, the People’s Party got around 5.5% of the entire popular vote. They are farther right on the spectrum than the Conservative Party and are making the right side of Canada way more interesting.

The self-described populist party has more than tripled its share of the vote so far, a purple army if you will. Here is their leader’s defeat speech:

I do not think what Maxime Bernier represents is important but I think the PPC will become to the right what the NDP is to the left in Canada. This new party has momentum on its side and an anti-pandemic restriction hype that can resonate with some Canadians.

“This is not just a political party. This is a movement. It is an ideological revolution that we are starting now,” Bernier told supporters.

While the results are humble, I tend to agree with him. This is because the gains made by the People’s Party were seen from the Maritimes on the east coast to the other provinces of Canada. The party has notably done well in Ontario, where it has so far garnered around six per cent of the vote.

You can read about their platform here. Their votes took away from many Conservative races that were too tight to be called with Liberals and the NDP. Canada proved it’s more than just a two party democracy, what in the U.S. looks like a sham of free choice democracy. Canada has the Bloc, the NDP and now the PPC, it’s a colorful rainbow of ideology and left vs. right diversity.

In 2018, after a falling out with his party and amid a backlash over statements he made about immigration and multiculturalism, then member of Parliament Maxime Bernier quit the Conservatives and formed his own federal party. In 2021, you got the feeling the purple banner was transforming into a future contender that splits the Conservative party and even takes votes from other “activist” vote parties.

According to an analysis by the CBC’s David Cochrane, vote splitting between the Tories and the PPC may have cost the Conservatives around seven to eight ridings. They include a handful in southwestern Ontario, such as Cambridge, St. Catharines and Kitchener South—Hespeler, and two seats in Alberta: Edmonton Centre and Edmonton Griesbach.

Mr Bernier, a former Canadian foreign minister, is a populist with a libertarian bent who supporters have nicknamed “Mad Max”. He has previously described his upstart party, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), as a coalition of people “disenchanted with traditional politicians”. Who does that sound like? It sounds like Donald Trump and other populist slogans from around the world.

While it’s hard to call the Bloc a unifying force in Canadian politics, the Liberals just seem to coast along with Justin Trudeau and the status quo. So what did the PPC campaign campaign on in the snap election during the fourth wave of Delta?

The People’s Party campaigned on lifting many COVID-19 public health restrictions, as well as expanding the oil and gas industry, balancing the budget, ending official multiculturalism, and reducing immigration levels, among other policies. I think the PPC will become to the right what the NDP is to the left. It’s doubtful the Green Party can recover from their loss of popular votes due to internal conflict and a seemingly weak leader.

Over 640,000 people voted for the People’s Party in 2021. While the NDP got the youth vote, you have to give the rebel vote to the purple army. The PPC does have a weird platform though for the mainstream urban Canadian.

The PPC has a wide-ranging platform that includes limiting immigration, an end to corporate welfare, a pro-firearms stance, and a rejection of what it terms “climate change alarmism”. That sounds like an ideology that might do well in Alberta, but how does it make headway in Canadian cities?

It didn’t get any seats, but got more than half of all the votes that the Bloc got. However, one issue above all has come to the forefront in the 2021 election: vaccine mandates and lockdowns. The purple army was able to leverage the pandemic and the lockdown to their advantage. Bernier, a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, placed a close second in the 2017 Conservative leadership race to replace Stephen Harper. His populist vision did surprisingly well in 2021.

Recent tracking poll numbers from CBC before the election tonight, for example, ranked the PPC in fourth place nationally at 6.5% – ahead of the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois, which only runs candidates in Quebec. While they got closer to 5.0%, they changed the foundations of Canadian politics of Left to Right.

In fact, the NDP and the purple banner of the People’s Party likely made the most gains in Canadian federal politics with a bizarre election that saw lineups and yet another minority government.

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