OTTAWA — As Maxime Bernier sets out to create a new right-wing political party, his first task is clear: find people who will help him do it.
In a caustic speech on Parliament Hill on Thursday, the Quebec MP announced he was leaving the “intellectually and morally corrupt” Conservative Party of Canada to form a new party that, in his words, will “fight for freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect.”
Step one will be to create a team to build it. A source close to Bernier who would only speak on condition of anonymity while early plans are being formed, told the National Post that Bernier truly is starting out from scratch. He hopes to draw on key organizers from his failed leadership campaign, but otherwise Bernier will be looking to see who comes forward.
By his own account, Bernier decided to leave the Conservative party just nine days ago, following a conversation with leader Andrew Scheer.
“He couldn’t talk to many people before yesterday, just because it was too sensitive and we didn’t want the story to leak before he made his announcement,” the source said Thursday, but declined to give any names of people ready to come on board.
“I know he’s talked to a few influential supporters across the country from the leadership campaign, he’s talked to them in the past two days and they’re supportive. But really, we’re at the preliminary stage.”
Bernier’s leadership campaign finished a close second to Scheer on May 27, 2017, with 49 per cent support on the final ballot compared with 51 per cent for Scheer.
The source said Bernier does not have polling to suggest how well a breakaway conservative party would do but is sure that his policy ideas — dismantling supply management, ending corporate welfare and pushing a much more skeptical line on immigration and multiculturalism — will find substantial support among the party’s base.