Maxime Bernier set for first leaders debate: Here’s where he stands on the major issues

National Post StaffNational Post Staff

The People’s Party of Canada leader will pitch his brand of populism to Canadians tonight

One new and controversial addition will join five federal party leaders in Ottawa for an English-language debate tonight.

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier will pitch his brand of populism to Canadians after successfully appealing an electoral commission’s decision and being granted the right to speak during the debate.

The MP from the Beauce region to the southeast of Quebec City was beaten by Andrew Scheer for the Conservative leadership race in 2017, then set up his own party, which has been criticized for its nativist, identity-based politics.

Some federal leaders had called for Bernier not to be invited to debate after links emerged between members of his party and white supremacist groups. Bernier has called that “old news” and said the party has dealt with the issue, but one PPC candidate says he was told his services were no longer needed after he publicly called on Bernier to denounce white supremacy.

Here, culled from Bernier’s public utterances and the PPC party website, are some of the positions Bernier’s party espouses on key election issues.

Immigration and multiculturalism

Bernier says he wants to put a halt to illegal asylum seekers but insists he is keen on economic, legal immigration. The party website says the current policy on refugees is “unsustainable” because “false” refugees are streaming to Canada’s borders. The party says it would, “Declare the whole border an official port of entry for the purposes of refugee claims to send back to the US anyone trying to enter Canada illegally.” Bernier said he doesn’t care about comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump, but in a Trumpian move, the party says it would, “Fence off the areas where illegal border jumping is prevalent.”

The party would give immigration preference, it says, to Muslims who “adhere to Western values” and are persecuted for rejecting “political Islam.” He recently told the National Post that new immigrants are putting pressure on housing prices in Toronto.

The party claims that the policy of official multiculturalism pursued by the Trudeau Liberals and previous Canadian governments, “encourages immigrants to keep the values and culture they left behind instead of integrating into Canadian society and adopting Canadian values and culture.“

To counter this, the PPC says it would repeal the Multiculturalism Act and get rid of all funding that promotes multiculturalism. It would also drastically reduce the number of refugees and immigrants that Canada accepts from abroad per year to between 100,000 and 150,000. The party says it would reduce the figure “from 350,000” per year, but the most recent statistics show 313,580 immigrants (including asylum seekers) came to Canada in 2018-2019. The party says it would make new immigrants undergo interviews to show exactly how they “align with Canadian values and societal norms.“

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