By Jonathon Van Maren
Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who narrowly lost the leadership of the Conservative Party to Andrew Scheer, has announced in a scathing press conference that he will be leaving the Conservative caucus to launch his own right-wing party, which for now appears to exist primarily in his own head. In a barrage of criticism aimed at both Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party that excoriated their position on supply management as well as their apparent kow-towing to multiculturalism, Bernier told reporters that, “I have come to realize over the past year that this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.”
He went on: “Andrew Scheer keeps talking about his ‘positive Conservative vision.’ But nobody knows what that vision is. The Conservative Party has abandoned conservatives. It does not represent them anymore. And it has nothing of substance to offer Canadians looking for a political alternative. If we want conservative principles to win the battle of ideas, we have to defend them openly, with passion and conviction.” Obviously, Bernier thinks that he’s the guy to do that. A few thoughts:
- This is very obviously all about Maxime Bernier, and nobody else. After all, Bernier’s criticisms could have easily applied to Stephen Harper’s leadership, as well, but back then Bernier was at least somewhat part of the “in-crowd.” In fact, it was Harper who constantly stomped out dissent and hammered down on MPs who stepped out of line—and it was Andrew Scheer who, as Speaker of the House, defended the right of pro-life MPs to have their voices heard. Bernier’s supposedly principled libertarianism was nowhere to be found during that period. Bernier is obviously still smarting from his leadership loss and has decided that he wants his own party, just like Derek Fildebrandt’s decision to start up a competitor to Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party in Alberta. Coming before the 2019 platform is laid out and before the convention in Halifax has concluded, this just looks egotistical and petty.
- Bernier just lost a lot of respect and made a lot of enemies within the space of about fifteen minutes. If he’s been planning to leave the Conservative Party for over a week already and waited until the convention to announce his departure to maximize the damage to Andrew Scheer’s leadership, his actions can only be described as spiteful. Unless he’s delusional, Bernier has to know that he’ll never be prime minister. This move makes it look as if he’s determined to make sure that Scheer doesn’t get the job, either. Which leaves us, of course, with Justin Trudeau, who has had a lousy year—but appears to be ending the summer with some great news for his 2019 prospects. Gerald Butts is probably grinning like a Cheshire cat at the moment.
- Bernier has been in politics for far too long to think that he can get a viable party up and running by the 2019 election, especially considering the fact that he has no infrastructure, volunteers, or money. He doesn’t even have any candidates, although I’m betting Derek Fildebrandt is busy trying to get a hold of him as I write this. So again: What’s the point of all this? Bernier worked alongside many of these people for years—why the sudden display of sour grapes combined with a scathing broadside against a party he was supposed to assist in rebuilding? He managed to find ways to work with conservatives (and even supposed shills for the “dairy cartel”) for years. Why does he suddenly find himself driven by an inescapable moral imperative now?
- Doug Ford has already sent out a tweet condemning the move, and other conservative politicians across the country will be sure to follow. With conservative parties making a comeback in the provinces and Justin Trudeau’s government constantly flopping onto its face, there won’t be much appetite to risk defeat-by-vote-splitting, even with those who genuinely prefer Bernier to Scheer and secretly think that some of his critiques are accurate. Just ask Albertans—from libertarians to social conservatives—what the cost of vote-splitting has been for three long years. Bernier could not have picked a worse time to launch his little vanity project—and there’s going to be plenty of people in the right-of-centre universe who will want to make him pay for it.
I’ll be honest, I think that Bernier is right when he says that the Conservative Party is far too cautious on many things, and that they often seem afraid to defend anything that is truly small-c conservative. But that doesn’t change the fact that the way Bernier has chosen to address this just looks like a petty, egotistical case of sour grapes—and one that is profoundly counter-productive for the issues he claims to care about so much.
6 thoughts on “Maxime Bernier’s Sour Grapes”
Jonathon, I’m generally a fan of yours, and at first blush I found this piece likewise persuasive. That is, until I read this:
And that’s it. I’m jumping ship on the so-called “Conservatives” and supporting Bernier going forward.
I just discovered that Bernier may in fact do more for pre-born victims of brutal murder, than Scheer. Scheer yet again said he refuses to open the abortion debate. Sounds like Harper… If you check out the past pro-life votes, you can see that Bernier did in fact vote in a pro-life way. And he said that he wouldn’t shut down topics. There was an error on the Right Now site regarding Bernier’s past votes on pro-life issues (the Bob Rae motion). Scheer continues to not be bold about anything except Trudeau’s mistakes…his smaller ones. Bernier shows fearless conviction about bigger issues that impact a lot of Canadians. He has given his ‘conservative’ colleagues a chance to hear his many supporters’ concerns. His supporters are still left out in the cold. With this knowledge on an MP’s conscience, other respectable politicians would make the same move Bernier made -So they continue to represent the people, and work for the people’s best interests. (Not just the party’s best interests). While I am concerned about the NDP taking control if Bernier or Scheer don’t win enough votes, I recently heard NDP Tom Mulcair criticizing Bernier and saying Scheer has nothing to worry about… So if those are the lies the NDP are going with, I wonder if Bernier might indeed be the best way to defeat Trudeau and Singh both. Bernier appears to be the only bold, real, and honest one. In my opinion. Please do look into what I said though! I appreciate how you’ve taken careful assessments of the most important issues of our time. Looking forward to reading more.
Bernier voted against Roxanne’s Law as well as Motion 312. He’s only voted the right way on assisted suicide (and there he has been consistent.) He also marches in the Pride Parade with a sign that reads “The Right Side of History.”
Sorry it was evidently an issue with the newer page on Right Now. I found the old page they used to show how to vote during the leadership race. On that page they did in fact have Maxime’s correct voting record. Maxime DID vote no to funding abortions overseas, and that WAS properly recorded in Right Now’s original webpages for the conservative leadership race.
I think we need to watch and wait before we make a judgement here. Someone had to stand up to Conservative corruption, and Bernier did. Bad timing? No. There is still time for adjustments. The Scheer gang had to be called to account.
maybe the party can split between people who fight to keep babies killed legally, and people who have the guts to say “Canada needs to stop murdering its children.” If they split, babies might finally be rescued. I’m sick of people like Harper, Raitt, maybe Scheer…all the false-conservative people who appease the lying media and the baby-blood-thirsty Liberals and NDP…we need a government who wants to fix Canada. And what is our biggest problem? WE MURDER OUR OWN CHILDREN IN LARGE NUMBERS.