Spoiler alert: Canada is still in the hands of the (barely) left wing. After months of build-up, countless scandals and a close race the entire way along, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a minority government in Canada’s 2019 election. Despite projections that put the Conservatives ahead, Andrew Scheer was forced to return to Ottawa a loser. Maxime Bernier is partially to blame for this.
The Conservative party of Canada (CPC) has been the prominent right-wing party in Canada for years. In contrast, the left-wing votes were often split between 3 parties, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Green Party. The introduction of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) into the 2019 election race threw this off balance; the Conservatives had competition.
Splitting the vote
Vote splitting is an electoral effect where votes are distributed among similar candidates instead of going towards one. This reduces the chance of winning for similar candidates and increases the chance for opposing sides. It is also known as the spoiler effect and has largely affected the left side of Canada’s politics over the years. By joining the electoral race, the PPC tore votes away from the Conservatives and forced them out of their comfort zone.
When it comes down to it, the PPC did split the vote. If every ballot cast for the People’s Party went towards the Conservatives, then the Conservatives would have gained six additional seats from the Liberals and one from the NDP according to Ipolitics. These seven ridings included Miramichi-Grand Lake, Cumberland-Colchester, Richmond Hill, Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Yukon, and Kitchener-Conestoga from the Liberals and South Okanagan-West Kootenay, from the NDP.
However, this is not enough votes to credit vote splitting as the reason why the Conservatives lost the election. The PPC only nabbed 1.6 per cent of the votes. That is less than 300, 000 votes across all of Canada. Although a valid concern, the aftermath of the election has proven that vote splitting was not something that the Conservatives had to worry about, at least from the PPC.
The downfall of the PPC
The downfall of the PPC and the loss of the Conservatives was fueled by something much simpler. The PPC was a hate-fueled tantrum run by an entitled Conservative reject determined to get his petty revenge. This not only destroyed the party but surrounded the Conservatives in a black cloud of climate change denial and loathing.
The PPC ran on a platform of restricting immigration and refugees, opposing multiculturalism, climate change denial, lowering taxes and a promise to withdraw Canada from the UN. Essentially, Bernier mimicked much of the right-wing propaganda that is currently plaguing American politics.
They were invited to Quebec debates when the Green party’s then-leader, Elizabeth May, was not and managed to force their way into multiple candidate debates even though they were a tiny new party. When it came down to it, the PPC should have been a lot more successful than they were. Their loss comes down to the fact that a lot of the PPC’s media attention came from bad publicity and controversy.
Controversy after controversy
Bernier faced a lot of criticism for the large population of racism in his party and his lack of action towards that. He also made the news when he fully denied the existence of man-made climate change and made it a part of his platform to completely ignore climate science. And then, to top all of this off, he made headlines across the world when he called 16-year-old climate activist and media darling, Greta Thunberg, mentally unstable.
During an election where climate change action was one of the hottest topics, this was not a good move.
Although he had a lot of potential to be problematic in Canada’s political landscape, “Mad Max”’s extremist stance ultimately was not welcome in Canada. Many political experts even viewed the PPC as Bernier’s vanity project. Ultimately, his loss came down to the overt racism and blind stupidity that the PPC encouraged.
After months of build-up, Bernier couldn’t even get it up long enough to hold his own seat and make it back to parliament hill with dignity. With his party in shambles, the Liberals holding a minority government and his MP title gone, this election proved that although we take after America in a lot of ways, the alt-right still does not swing in Canada.