Maxime Bernier is a smart, charismatic, libertarian leaning guy with significant voter appeal. So it made sense that the Conservative Party, not wanting to worry the Liberals, chose the other guy to be their leader. Andrew Scheer is an earnest, anti-charistmatic, middle of the road guy with pretty much no voter appeal. It was going to be tough not to beat the feckless Trudeau in the next election but the Conservative Party seems to have found a way.
Max is having none of it. Today Bernier announced that he was leaving the Conservative party and beginning his own “movement”.
He has been hitting themes like abolition of the dairy supply management system, a serious re-evaluation of multiculturalism and a reduction in imigration levels. He pretty clearly thinks “climate change policy” is a hoax and he is a pretty solid fiscal conservative.
He makes the valid point that the Conservatives are not going to beat the Liberals by running as “Trudeau-Lite”.
The push back is already starting with the MSM rushing to figure out if Bernier is a Nazi or merely a fascist and the Conservatives making the usual “split the right and the Liberals have won” noises. The Lying Jackal is chortling:
What does it say about Consevatives? It says that they never ever change: Tea Party vs. Establishment Republicans, Reform vs. PCs, and so on and so on. Conservatives are always at war with themselves.
This also proves my Justin Trudeau theory, yet again: he may not be as smart as his Dad, he may not be as politically skilled as Chretien, he may not be as principled as Dion. But, Jesus, is he ever lucky.
When your main adversaries are The Mango Mussolini, Blandy Scheer, Mad Max and the Guy Who Leads the NDP, you can’t help but win.
In fact, if Bernier is clever about it, the Liberals might be heading for a bigger defeat than Scheer alone could deliver.
A couple of points: Max is just coming off a very successful run for the Conservative leadership. He came very close and one of the reasons he did was that he had good organizations in literally hundreds of ridings across the country. He still has those phone numbers and emails. So he is starting with the skeleton of an organization.
Second, he has a seat in Parliament – something which he keeps even if he resigns the Conservative whip.
Third, unlike previous 3rd Party candidates, Bernier is popular in Quebec and, hey, he is fluently bilingual.
Most importantly, Bernier does not have to play the traditional Canadian political game. The world has changed. First off, he does not have to run a candidate in every single riding in Canada. While he said he would today, he needs to rethink that position. Thirty or forty will be more than enough to ensure his new party has a national presence. But, and this is important, he can make a virtue of this necessity by making sure not to run against the many actual conservatives who currently sit, silently, in Parliament. Even better, he can endorse them.
Using a targetted riding strategy would put paid to the idea that a vote for Max is a vote for the Liberals.
With a targetted riding strategy Max can also avoid the always looming disaster of a crazy person – actual Nazi, major anti-Semite, massive homophobe – gaining a nomination in a hopeless riding and then being pinned to the party by a hostile media. Finding 30 or 40 really excellent candidates and then backing them hard pre-Writ might create the conditions for multiple wins.
Which ridings to target will be a tough choice but other than making sure to have a couple in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – for media exposure – they should be ridings without a currently sitting Conservative and where the demographics do not massively favour the Liberals (thus suburban and rural). And they need to be air accessible because Bernier is going to spend his campaign on an airplane.
Most importantly, Bernier needs to create a positive message. One of the problems the Conservatives have is that they are barely against most of the Trudeau Liberal positions and don’t seem to have any of their own. Bernier needs to define a Canadian message. Free Trade, economic expansion, jobs are one side of it, Canadian unity instead of division could be the other. Bernier’s objection to increased immigration and the fragmentation of multiculturalism will resonate if he can package them in a “making Canada stronger” theme.
Right from the go Bernier should avoid any suggestion that his party will form a government. Instead he should be talking about keeping the politicians in Ottawa honest and in touch with Canadians. Balance of power is the goal.