Calgary

Maxime Bernier visits Alberta to try to coax any disillusioned conservatives over to People's Party

Maxime Bernier, who has called himself "the Albertan from Quebec," wants to convince the conservative heartland that he offers a truer vision of conservatism than his former party.

Bernier calls Scheer a 'fake conservative' and says he offers a truer vision

Maxime Bernier speaks to supporters in Calgary on Sunday. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Maxime Bernier, who has called himself "the Albertan from Quebec," wants to convince the conservative heartland that he offers a truer vision of conservatism than his former party.

The People's Party of Canada (PPC) leader stopped in Calgary on day two of his 10-day tour of the province on Saturday where he announced his slate of local candidates before visiting the Stampede.

He took the opportunity to take some shots at Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, his one-time competitor during the party's leadership race, who was in the city to flip pancakes the day before.

"If you're a real conservative, you have two choices: to vote for a fake conservative, Andrew Scheer, or to vote for a real one," Bernier said in an interview, following a speech at the Pine Ridge Community Centre. 

Banff-Airdrie candidate Nadine Wellwood said she's a conservative who was swayed by Bernier's message.

"The Conservative Party has deserted conservative members and they have moved to the left … people haven't had a real choice."

Bernier has stirred the pot since he announced the formation of his party, from announcing he will tackle "extreme multiculturalism," to bringing a conspiracy theorist on as a candidate, to saying blackface is a "non-existent phenomenon."

Wellwood said Bernier drew her in because he says it like it is.

"Max has a different leadership style. He's willing to say what needs to get said and do what needs to get done, knowing that he's not always going to please everybody," she said.

Wellwood, a first-time politician and one of more than 30 candidates announced for the PPC in Alberta, is facing a three-term incumbent. 

"I feel I have an uphill battle because who am I, right? I haven't been in term for three years, I'm not a politician, I'm a business person," she said.

Bernier said he plans to run enough candidates across the country to debate Scheer with what he said are the People's Party's "real conservative values" — using the constitution to force a pipeline through B.C. and changing the formula for equalization.

During the 2017 Conservative leadership race, Bernier took 35.5 per cent of the vote in Alberta and Scheer took 23.7 per cent in the first round. Bernier lost to Scheer by less than two per cent in the final round.

But Scheer doesn't seem worried.

When asked about Bernier announcing his Alberta candidate on Saturday, Scheer said "Who's that? Sorry?"

With files from Audrey Neveu

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