The 43rd general election coming in the Fall is one that has promised to be very different from most elections we’ve seen in Canada for a while now. In the past few campaigns, we’ve seen some big shifts and falls, from the rise of the NDP, to the decimation of the Bloc Quebecois, to the second to third to first moment of the Liberals.
While this campaign period is starting to show similar possibilities, with the rise of the Greens, we have another big wild card in this race; Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. Yes, the PPC has been around now for about 10 months and in that period of time they have organized their way to riding associations in most Canadian ridings and are nominating candidates at a serious pace. While the PPC hasn’t polled to the point where they are winning seats or even threatening to, they are nipping at the Conservatives heals on the right and have the potential to eat into their vote, possibly costing them seats and government.
But the other wildcard part of the PPC has been the people they seem to be attracting, the controversy that’s bringing and the fact that they will be on every ballot in the country. As we’ve spoken about here about the importance of a proper candidate vet, the PPC has seemed to not care one bit about vetting. And that folks, has some serious consequences, as we are seeing today in two stories. The first comes from Transcona, and a series of resignations:
This story is quite remarkable, not just for the scale of the resignations but because what they are saying are their reasons. They say the party is being taken over by racists and conspiracy theorists, by people with bigoted views and that it seems that Maxime Bernier doesn’t seem to be trying to stop it. In fact, they state in their resignation letter that this seems to be “encouraged with a wink and a nod now.” For these people, including the individual who was going to be their candidate, they didn’t to suffer personal damage for all of this, stating that they quit over “justifiable fear of a tainted reputation.” Wow, that’s damning stuff, I don’t care what your political views are.
For those who have been following the birth of the PPC, this isn’t completely surprising, but most people haven’t been following this for very good reasons. Bernier’s Party has been earning itself a reputation from stories like these, to the point where you can’t really say these are one-offs. In fact, it was only minutes after seeing that story I came across another one about a newly-nominated PPC candidate, just nominated yesterday in fact. If people are wondering how people are getting this impression of the PPC, it’s time to meet the PPC candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North:
Yep folks, those are deleted Instagram posts from a PPC candidate, hash tagging white supremacists words in a post about getting a DNA test. Are they a joke? Well we don’t know because the candidate, Youssef Khanjari, hasn’t responded to questions from the local media, which is ironic because at his nomination meeting the two days before he claimed to the same journalist that the media was being told not to talk to the PPC. Let that sink in for a moment.
But folks, if he actually comes out and says it was a joke that wouldn’t matter because you don’t joke about things like that, ever. That’s true if you are a candidate for political office and that’s also true for you if you are flipping burgers at McDonald’s. It’s never okay to make racist jokes, period. But given that at his nomination meeting an unnamed party member made an offensive racist joke about First Nations, maybe we shouldn’t be shocked here about, what I can most politely call, a serious lack of judgement.
And this story out of Thunder Bay is not the only such story out there. We’ve seen others come out about questionable PPC candidates, social media posts from them and more. Normally one would call for this candidate to resign, but this is the PPC and I would be stunned if this is what forced one of their candidates out, as it would in just about any other party. One can’t help but assume that this kind of behaviour is not a bug within the PPC, but a feature of it.
In 2019 I think we’d like to believe that these kinds of things shouldn’t be happening. We’d like to believe we are beyond this crap. But after watching what’s played out in the United States over the past week, topped off by last nights Trump rally chants, it’s pretty clear that we’re not. Seeing any party leader, even one leading a party at 3% in the polls, not try to stamp this kind of behaviour out is not just disappointing, it’s extremely dangerous. We can’t close our eyes and expect this to just go away. As the resignations in Winnipeg showed us, the vast majority of people have a point where their morals will not allow them to support this. Shining a light on these stories helps, and sunlight is the best disinfectant.