Editorial—Wasn’t that a Party?

The big news this week comes from the Conservative Party of Canada’s Convention, where Maxime Bernier, MP for Beauce, Quebec, has announced that he is leaving the Conservative Party of Canada and will be creating a new party to represent the conservative perspective, since, he contends, the current Conservative party simply isn’t doing that.

If you don’t know who Maxime Bernier is, the quick rundown is that he was a leadership contender who tends to avow for policies that have a significant libertarian streak within them, that is, the idea that government should not be in the business of helping people so much as it is in the business of making sure people are not being prevented from helping themselves.  Extreme proponents of libertarianism (of which I am not saying that Maxime Bernier is one) go so far as to suggest that the only thing which should be left to the public sphere to manage is the national military and police enforcement of private contracts, and everything else can be privatized, up to and including the justice system in some (as mentioned, extreme) cases.

As for Maxime Bernier, it’s unlikely he’ll go to such extremes, but he is a large proponent of the free market being the best solution for most things.  He ran for the leadership with a platform against our dairy supply management, gun registration, and a number of other things he considered to be government over-reach.  Lately he’s been in the news for speaking about the perils of “extreme multiculturalism” which, to many, is simply seen as code for “brown-skinned immigrants”.  He disagrees, but, as yet, has not come out with what he really means by the phrase.

Normally, all of this wouldn’t mean anything.  One person leaving the Conservative Party of Canada is hardly an earth shattering event, and as Douglas Fildebrandt in Alberta is finding out, starting your own party isn’t exactly an easy task.

The difference comes because of who Maxime Bernier is.  He came in second place in the CPC’s leadership convention, narrowly being beaten by Andrew Scheer in the 13th round of voting.  And even at that, there’s been a shadow cast over the leadership election with Maxime and some others making allegations of “fake” voters being brought in to support Andrew Scheer, on behalf of the dairy industry that benefits from supply management.

He has also been one of the most successful fund-raisers for the CPC.  Especially in Quebec, where Conservatives typically have a difficult time raising money, and is also quite successful in Alberta and Ontario.

Both of these things suggest that he has a significant following among those who generally support conservatives, and, of course, the media is quick to take note of the last time there were two parties to the right of center, causing a split vote in the 30% or so bedrock of conservative support, and leading to multiple Liberal majorities.

Of course, this close to the 2019 election, the idea that Maxime Bernier would be able to pull enough support away from the Conservative Party of Canada—who are already seeking to remind supporters of what happened before there was a unified party—to form government or even opposition, is extremely slim.  It takes time to build up name recognition, and with Canada’s first past the post system, you also need to build up a significant number of seats before many Canadians will consider putting their ballot toward what might be a “wasted vote”.  But that said, it doesn’t take much of a draw to significantly affect the number of seats that the Conservative Party is willing to win, because, as we’ve seen in past elections, a difference of as little a percentage point or two can swing a party from opposition all the way into a majority.

And that’s why Maxime Bernier is a big deal.  Not because a lot of people think he has a chance of forming a significant challenge to the Conservative Party of Canada, but because he does have a chance of being a spoiler effect for a party that, for many, is in a desperate fight with a nemesis of old.  Trudeau, at least for Conservative supporters here in Alberta, is simply a name viscerally linked with attacking the west and pushing aside conservative ideas for nearly a generation.

Meanwhile, in this week’s issue of The Voice Magazine we look at everything from how one writer is trying to balance her personal privacy while at the same time having work be seen and recognized.  We also have a list of 20 study hacks, and if that isn’t enough, a number of apps to help you while you work your way through your courses.

And if you never thought that fly-fishing and AU courses have something in common, you might be surprised.

Plus, our feature interview with the AUGSA Vice President External, events coming to a place near you, scholarships, advice, and more!

Enjoy the read!

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