Categories: AnalysisCanadian NewsOpinionPolitics

Opinion: Bernier-O’Leary team may be reunited soon

Imagine a telephone conversation that goes something like this:

“Hey, Kevin, Maxime, here. Remember that team we formed during the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race. Want to do it again?”

That conversation may not be as far-fetched as you might think.

Kevin O’Leary and Maxime Bernier formed a coalition to try and win the Conservative Party’s leadership in Bernier’s name only a year ago. The power-play failed and Andrew Scheer became leader. O’Leary disappeared from politics and Bernier has been struggling ever since.

Yet, today, Bernier announced he’s leaving the Conservatives to form his own party. Who wants to bet O’Leary is the first person Bernier calls?

When he dropped out of the leadership race to back Bernier, back in April 2017, O’Leary said this:

“It’s for the sake of the party that I do this, and the country. Because I can’t deliver Quebec. I can’t win. That’s my opinion. I wish it was different. The worst thing for me to do is to win the leadership and lose the election. That is a disaster for everybody involved here.”

But what would happen if Bernier took hold of a new party and added O’Leary to help him in English Canada? Could that work?

It just might.

It’s no secret Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has enjoyed firm support in Quebec, his home province. With that in mind, Trudeau went on a buying spree recently to add tens of thousands of refugees, many of whom he christened as voters with changes to the Citizenship and Elections Acts.

You know when Trudeau starts buying votes from overseas, he senses he may be in trouble. A Forum Research poll taken Aug. 12 showed the Conservatives six percentage points ahead of the Liberals. A Nanos Research poll taken Aug. 17 showed the Liberals just under four points ahead of the Conservatives. It appears the next election is still a toss up.

Enter a new party, led by Maxime Bernier and supported by Kevin O’Leary. That could just break the backs of the Conservatives, currently trying to hold a united convention in Halifax.

Bernier said Thursday he wants to “do politics differently,” and suggested he could do so under a new Conservative Party.

The self-styled libertarian plans to hold discussions on his plans over the coming weeks with the aim of finding “another way to give a voice to millions of Canadians.”

“I will best serve Canadians if we start a new party,” he said.

It was earlier this month, Bernier dropped a bombshell when he denounced Justin Trudeau’s multiculturalism approach.

“Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism and cult of diversity will divide us into little tribes that have less and less in common, apart from their dependence on government in Ottawa. These tribes become political clienteles to be bought with taxpayers $ and special privileges,” Bernier tweeted.

“Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong.”

Scheer was quick to distance himself from that position.

“I will not engage in this type of politics,” he told CBC News.

“Conservatives celebrate Canada’s diversity and a Conservative government will continue to welcome those from all over the world who choose to come here because of the society we have built.”

So it was clear, Sheer and Bernier had starkly different views, at least on the subject of diversity. Now they will take those extreme differences into the next election. Sheer will do it as Conservative Party Leader. We’ll have to wait and see under what banner Bernier will be carrying.

Jeff Wilkinson

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