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People’s Party: down but unfortunately not out

John Bell

October 22, 2019

Many people are celebrating the defeat of Maxime Bernier in his own riding of Beauce. He had held the seat since 2006.

The leader of the flagrantly racist People’s Party of Canada got his ass kicked, losing to the Tory candidate by 6,000 votes.

Kudos to the Rhinoceros Party, who ran a second candidate named Maxime Bernier, sowing confusion and bringing some much-needed ridicule to the campaign.

As it became clear that he was in danger of losing, Bernier was forced to spend an inordinate amount of time in his own riding. That meant he was unable to travel the country to support and organize bigots attracted to his anti-immigrant message.

Bernier's biggest mistake must have been his strident denial of climate change, and the bullying attacks he launched at Greta Thunberg. Even in Quebec, this was an unforced error.

There is no doubt that the loss will be a blow to the PPC and the layer of bigots around it. But throughout the campaign Bernier was given far more attention and legitimacy than he deserved. Even in defeat, the media has made him a big headline.

Giving Bernier so much of a platform gave a leg up to the racist Rebel youtube channel, with Ezra Levant given space to rant in the Globe and Mail, and white supremacist Keean Bexte to pose as a real journalist.

Win or lose, the PPC had about 40,000 members before the election. It won 1.64% of the almost 18 million votes cast. The adds up to nearly 290,000, most of whom voted their racism. Those people aren’t just going to pack it up and go away.

Let’s enjoy Bernier’s defeat and disappointment, but don’t let down your guard against the forces he represents. For now, the PPC remains a dangerous organizing tool for the far right.

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