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PPC leader pitches platform at secret Cambridge rally

The original venue cancelled under fear of protest, leading the party to take their meeting into hiding
Maxime Bernier
People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier signing autographs at a secret event in Cambridge. Phi Doan/KitchenerToday

After previous venues cancelled on them, the People's Party of Canada (PPC) were finally able to hold their rally at an undisclosed location in Cambridge and Guelph.

Despite previous set backs in setting up the rally, People's Party leader Maxime Bernier remained optimistic of his party's future.

"Because I'm pretty sure that at the end of August, we will have our ticket to participate to the national debate."

The party had originally schedule an earlier event in Guelph and Cambridge before the venues cancelled under fear of protest, and what the party describes as threats of violence. A poster was circulated online by the Revolutionary Communist Party of Guelph with a picture of a knife stabbing a bleeding swastika. Underneath it were calls to "rally against racism, against misogyny, against transphobia, against fascism!" 

An anti-fascist protest did take place that day in front of Guelph City Hall, attended by around 30 people and lasted roughly 45 minutes according to GuelphToday

They report the group passed around a megaphone, sung songs and shared "apples, strawberries and snow peas" with children gathering near Wilson street for a showing of Disney's Zootopia.

A local Cambridge supporter offered up his mansion home to the PPC to congregate and around a hundred people from across South Western Ontario showed up.

Bernier was joined by the Cambridge PPC candidate David Haskell, and his London counterpart, Dr. Salim Mansur. 

It was an opportunity for them to go indepth on their party's platform, touching on many topics like federal taxes with Bernier proposing more of a flat tax system.

"For the poor, people earning less than 15 thousand dollars, they won't be any income tax at the federal level, and for people earning more than 15 thousand to 100K, they will have to pay only 15 per cent tax rate, and after that, earnings more than 100K  will be 25 per cent. So doing that, the cost of that reform will be about four or five billion dollars."

He says the PPC were also in favour of more free trade and pushing against supply management of dairy, poultry, and eggs, describing it as a "government-imposed cartel."

The conversation turned to the province equalization payments being a "poverty trap" for places like Quebec and touching on Canada's foreign aid funding.

Mansur went into great lengths on how foreign aid funds did little to help a country develop and says it often lead to corruption and dependence.

With the environment being top of mind for many Canadians, Bernier was asked about his policy proposals of which he showed great affinity for Canada's lakes and rivers.

"So we need to put some money there and that will be our part of our platform, concrete action for the environment, but about climate change. We won't do anything about it. If a provincial government wants to deal with it, that would be their choice."

The PPC leader says he does not deny that climate changes, but they "don't believe that mainly its because of human activity." He says he opposed the Paris accords along with the carbon tax and subsidies to the green industry.

The conversation turned to the PPC's policy on immigration as well as the cloud of controversy surrounding the party and accusation of racism. Bernier saying they favour fewer immigrants and a greater ratio of economic immigrants brought in.

"Fewer immigrants, around 150,000 a year. Fewer refugees, we want to help to help the real refugees that are waiting in a camp in another country. Not the fake refugees that are crossing the border in Quebec and coming to Canada. For me, their life is not in danger in the State of New York."

The candidates once again were pushing back at that characterization of racism and iterating that they welcome people from all backgrounds and condemn hate. During the brief Q&A session, one person asked them about a CBC article reporting on a PPC board in a Winnipeg riding resigning over racist supporters and lack of action from higher levels.

The former executive of the group in the Elmwood-Transcona riding had posted a resignation letter claiming the party was attracting "racists, bigots, antisemites, and conspiracy theorists" and that they were "appalled to see it encouraged with a wink and a nod."

Bernier was not to bothered at losing them.

"If you look at these people, what they said was not true. They just want to have headlines and I think at the end they were not sharing our values, they were not  sharing the People's Party of Canada values."

Haskell pointed out that they it was a small group of supporters, not the party itself, that held those views and that they have always been clear that they didn't welcome bigots as candidates. 

He did however, lay out what they did expected from potential immigrants.

"Let's be clear, the People's Party doesn't care what colour your skin is, what your religion is, what your ethnicity is -- related to religion, because this is the elephant in the room, we do care that you are going to embrace Canadian values, that say that men and women are equal. We want you to say that. We want you to say that 'we will not harm you no matter what your sexual orientation is, you are allowed to live in this country.' We also want to make sure that you think the laws of the land should come before your religious doctrine. And if you can't ask people that. If you can't ask people that, then you're in trouble as a country."

Another point the PPC raised was the threat to Canadian's freedom of speech, with Haskell saying people with libertarian or conservative beliefs were being "discriminated against."

"If you are a conservative religious believer, you are forced to accept the ideology of your government to get government funds. That's not a free country. If you want to criticize a religion -- and I think you should be able to  criticize Christianity. I think you should  be able to criticize  any religion. But there's certain.... let's call it what it is, M103 says no you can't criticize religion. At least not a particular religion, and let me be clear. The problem is not religion in general, but the way that some religions are interpreted."

M103 was a non-binding motion by members of the House of Commons calling on the Federal Government to condemn Islamophobia.

The PPC have riding associations in 338 ridings in Canada and currently have 300 candidates running.

The federal election takes place in October.

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