A split in the conservative movement in Canada solidified this September as Member of Parliament (MP) Maxime Bernier announced he would leave the Conservative Party of Canada (lead by MP Andrew Scheer) to form a nation-wide far-right conservative party called, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
Across Canada, most political pundits are discussing if this split will simply ensure that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party will win a majority government in the next election. There are also many questions about who will join Bernier because, as of now, he is the only Member of Parliament in Canada who has left Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party.
These are interesting points of discussion, but whether a conservative or a liberal party is in power, Canada’s parliament always represents Canada’s wealthy and capitalist elite and their desires and objectives. Indeed, Global News made fun of Bernier’s boast about his party’s fundraising efforts, explaining in an article, “Bernier said he'd raised around $140,000 in a month (the Liberals reportedly spent a little more than $40 million during the 2015 campaign).” While we might be glad that Bernier is not (yet) rolling in the millions, the fact that it takes $40 million to run a successful electoral campaign in Canada is further proof that this so-called “democracy” is a specific type of democracy – a bourgeois democracy – built by and for the capitalist ruling class. No honest and conscious working people in Canada can afford to participate in this game and hope to win, Canada’s parliamentary system was designed to insure this.
In Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice and as a revolutionary socialist we must ask, what the creation of this new “People’s Party of Canada” and the split in the conservative movement means for poor, working, and marginalized people in Canada.
The truth is that Bernier’s split from the Conservative Party of Canada represents a growing national and international trend towards dogmatist ultra-right-wing politics. From Germany to France and Poland, to the United States, to England and Hungry and Italy, to Australia and Canada, a growing movement of right-wing extremists is committing itself to further dividing poor and working people along the lines of sexism, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-semitism. This trend represents an ultra-conservative section of the ruling class which believes that the best way to implement their economic and political agenda, is by also promoting a conservative social and political agenda which whips up fear, division, and hatred.
Why does Maxime Bernier believe this is the right time for his dogmatist ultra-right-wing agenda?
Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer were both candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership in 2017. Scheer won 51% of the votes, and Bernier lost with 49%. With Bernier now leaving Scheer’s Conservative Party to form PPC, a Toronto Star article titled, "Tory divide a painful lesson not learned by all," by conservative strategist Jaime Watt, explains some of the political differences between these two conservative representatives of the ruling class. Watt writes, "out of the gate, Bernier has criticized Andrew Scheer directly on a range of issues. From Scheer’s commitment to maintaining the unfair dairy supply management system to his comparatively light-handed criticism of Canada’s refugee crisis, Bernier tacked right and did everything he could to position Scheer as a mushy moderate."
According to PPC website, their platform is still being finalized, but will include many of the following points:
• "Lowering corporate income tax."
• "Immigration must not be used as a tool to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada."
• "Privatize Canada Post."
• "Get Ottawa out of healthcare."
• "Promote free-market policies, liberalized trade, and private property rights around the world."
• "Work with allies to defend Canada's security, especially against radical Islamic terrorism."
• "Reduce the total number of immigrants to 25,000 per year."
• "Increase resources for CSIS, the RCMP, and Canadian immigration officials."
Of course, many of these points do not fall far from the Conservative and Liberal Party platforms either. However, Bernier’s language on the privatization of many important public institutions, as well as his anti-immigrant rhetoric, are especially gross and divisive.
Watt further explains that "the reaction to Bernier’s split among Conservatives was anything but warm.” It is true, Bernier’s decision to form the People’s Party of Canada is being criticized by many conservatives who want to win the 2019 election against Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at any cost. While they may be sympathetic to Bernier’s political views, they do not want their conservative votes divided between two parties.
However, Watt smartly warns not to discount Bernier either, explaining, "there is a significant chunk of Canadian citizens who are frustrated with many of the issues he is championing. There remains a deep well of frustration on the same hot-button issues that got Mr. Trump elected." Bernier seems to recognize that there is a segment of ultra-right-wing followers in Canada who are giving up on politics as they do not see their extreme right-wing views reflected in any of the major political parties, he hopes to bring them back into the fold.
This same political trend can be seen in the election of Trump in the U.S. and Premier Doug Ford in Ontario – financial and economic crisis of capitalism, and it’s failure to improve the standard of living of mass majority have opened a growing demand for these types of ugly divisive leadership in Canada and around the world. Bernier intends to be the lightning rod to attract these anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-environment, anti-women, anti-Indigenous, and anti-diversity hoards to a new party, the so-called “People’s Party.” Bernier plans to rip a page out of Trump’s playbook when Trump called himself, “the least racist person,” all the while promoting policies which divide and oppress human beings based on their race, ethnicity, and country of origin.
What’s next for working and oppressed people?
Poor, marginalized, and working people in Canada cannot afford to be confused by political tendencies which seek to blame women, queer people, Indigenous people, people of colour, refugees, immigrants, unions, poor people, and ‘multiculturalism’ for the problems facing our society. We must instead understand how much we have in common as human beings living under the domination of bourgeois democracy and capitalism. These two systems are working hand in hand to ensure the wealthy are consistently getting wealthier and consolidating their power, while poor and working people struggle to get by.
We must confront not only the dangerous right-wing populism of Maxime Bernier and PPC, but also the main-stream conservatism of Scheer, the hypocritical liberalism of Trudeau, and the mis-leaderships of all political parties which defend the unjust and unequal institutions of bourgeois democracy and capitalism. These are the institutions and politicians which continue to use divide and conquer policies against working and oppressed people in an attempt to stabilize their capitalist system which is in deep unresolved crisis. Our job, as working and oppressed people is to unite and win against their bigotry and hatred, as well as against the unjust and corrupt system they represent, capitalism.
Follow Tamara on Twitter:@THans01
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