EXCLUSIVE: Maxime Bernier on O'Toole's win, COVID-19 lockdowns, and “real conservative” Derek Sloan

The Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race has come and gone, ending with a painfully slow announcement that crowned Erin O’Toole as the party’s new leader.

Now that the CPC leadership race has concluded, I gather it has brought some clarity for all everyone involved, regarding how they can properly prepare for the next Canadian election — which, rumour has it, might come sooner than we think.

So what about the People’s Party of Canada, founded and led by Maxime Bernier?

After narrowly losing the last Conservative leadership race to Andrew Scheer in 2018, Bernier resigned, stating that he had “come to realize over the past year that this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed”.

After that, he launched his own party, the People's Party of Canada.

So how have Bernier’s opinions on the CPC changed, if at all, now that O’Toole has been chosen as the new leader? And how does Bernier’s own party plan to win more Canadians over in the next election? 

I sat down to interview Bernier to discuss just that, and more. Here is what he had to say. 

With regard to new CPC leader Erin O'Toole, Bernier said:

When I was campaigning for the leadership [of the CPC in 2017], Erin O'Toole was a candidate, and at that time that was the real Erin O'Toole, the 'Red Tory' Erin O'Toole, the "progressive conservative" Erin O'Toole. He didn't have any bold policies, any ideas, and for [the 2020 leadership] campaign Erin O'Toole put a mask on saying that he's a 'Blue Conservative,' but people will realize soon, that the mask will fall.

We need to have policies that are approved and written in Canada, by Canadian members of Parliament, not by the U.N.

O'Toole is for the migration compact; he's for the Paris Accord; [on foreign aid] he is like the Liberals. The Conservative Party of Canada right now is like a Liberal-lite party. 

What Bernier thinks of Derek Sloan's place in the Conservative Party following his leadership campaign:

I must say that Derek had a real conservative platform. That's why I'm saying he will be disappointed, because O'Toole and the establishment of the CPC won't take any of his ideas, like they did to me in the past. So, I think he is wasting his time with the Conservatives right now. Like I said, he is welcome, and all of his supporters are welcome in our party. 

How he would have handled the pandemic in contrast to Justin Trudeau:

First of all, the big mistake that the Trudeau government did was not closing the border in the beginning. I was saying that actually, I did a video on that, I did some interviews on that at that time. Justin Trudeau... was saying that the people who want to close our border are racists. No, our goal was just to protect Canadians.

Second was no lockdown. Why are we having a lockdown and killing the economy, killing jobs? The lockdown was a big mistake. Look at other countries that didn't do a lockdown and they have per capita the same result after COVID... I'm thinking about Sweden and other countries that did not lock down their economy. 

For me that was two things the government did that I think was a big mistake and now we are paying for that, we are in a recession and we may be in a depression, also.

Does Bernier believe Canada is systemically racist, and that police need to be defunded?

I don't believe that and I think it's an insult to Canadians. The role of a government, first of all, is to give security to Canadians.

If you want to live in a free and prosperous country, first of all you need to be able to live in a country that will take care of your security. I think it's the first job of a government and that's why we must give more money to our [military] and our police all across the country.

So what did you think about what Bernier has to say? Will the PPC pull in more votes during the next election? Do you think the CPC could have won the last election if Bernier had been the leader instead of Andrew Scheer?