BONOKOSKI: O’Toole has more troubles than just Senator Denise Batters

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The leadership of Mad Max Bernier, Leader of the upstart People’s Party of Canada, is quietly under review by the party faithful.

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He’s a shoo-in for good ratings, of course. But there had been some bickering within the party about the lack of a leadership review since Bernier started the party in September 2018.

This review was therefore expected, considering the PPC has attracted the outsiders, the libertarians and the social Conservatives, but still faces tough criticisms of being infiltrated by “racist, xenophobic, homophobic and downright hateful people.”

Bernier has stated that his party is no more than “a coalition of people who are disenchanted with traditional politicians who say one thing one day, and another the next.”

Bernier seems unworried about the review, although the Conservatives are worried about him eating into their support.

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And justifiably so, although Tory Leader Erin O’Toole is worrisomely getting battered for “firing” Conservative Senator Denise Batters from caucus by email for daring to publish a petition on his leadership.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington, the Batters-O’Toole conflict had the early lead in political news.

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To Bernier, it likely mattered zilch. His party is making inroads.

“In the past three years, the People’s Party has grown from 0% to 5% of the national vote and has overtaken the Green Party, a party 35 years our senior, in raw votes and national vote percentage,” Bernier justifiably bragged in a news release. “Our success so far has been impressive in the context of the first-past-the-post electoral system and proof that our ideas resonate.”

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“Greater successes await us,” he said. “And I want a mandate from our members to make them happen.”

Polling on Bernier’s leadership began last Friday and will run until Dec. 3 — the exercise overseen by SimplyVoting, a third-party Montreal firm.

In the contest that saw Andrew Scheer chosen to lead the Tories and replace former prime minister Stephen Harper, Bernier came within a whisker of winning the ranked-ballot election, even getting more first-place ballots than Scheer but falling short on second-place ballots.

Following Scheer pulling the pin on himself after his election loss to the Justin Trudeau Liberals, Bernier had already started the PPC, and Erin O’Toole eventually took over the reins of the Conservatives.

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In September’s election, while its share of the popular vote went from 1.6% to 5%, no PPC candidate was elected and Bernier, once again, failed to win his old Conservative seat in the Quebec riding of Beauce.

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Even with it inaugural 1.6% of the national vote, however, Canadian Press calculated the People’s Party of Canada cost the Conservatives a number of ridings where the Tory-Liberal vote was close.

With its rise to 5%, it did lay on some hurt.

When pressured post-election how he planned to blunt Bernier’s impact on the Conservative vote, O’Toole dodged a direct answer.

In a follow-up press release, O’Toole put it this way:

“If you don’t care about creating Canadian jobs and standing up to the Chinese Communist Party, you have three parties to choose from. If you do, you only have one choice — Canada’s Conservatives.”

He totally ignored mention of the PPC.

Some pollsters — notably those using more anonymous collection methods, like interactive voice response (IVR) — show higher levels of PPC support than those firms using live telephone agents or an online forum to survey the public on their voting choices.

While the country’s major polling firms can’t agree on just how much support the PPC enjoys, it’s clear that the party is much more of a force now than it was in the 2019 campaign.

O’Toole therefore has every reason to be additionally troubled.

markbonokoski@gmail.com

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