People's Party of Canada leader campaigns in Regina
Maxime Bernier says his party can get 5 per cent of the vote across the country
Maxime Bernier is hoping to court Saskatchewan voters with a message that may sound familiar.
The People's Party of Canada leader was in Regina on Wednesday. His pitch: To revamp the equalization formula, scrap the carbon tax and support pipeline projects.
These positions are also advocated for by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his government.
Bernier said he thinks other party leaders are ignoring those issues.
"I am the only leader of a national political party that is speaking about the equalization formula in eastern Canada. These other leaders don't speak about it because they don't want to. They don't have a solution."
The PPC platform aims to reduce equalization payments and it would establish a parliamentary committee to make recommendations on a new formula.
Another major message and platform point from the PPC is putting an end to COVID-19 restrictions and policies.
"I believe Canadians are tired of COVID hysteria. We are not anti-mask, we are not anti-vaccine. We are for the freedom of choice," Bernier said.
"Every Canadian must be able to decide if they want to wear a mask or not, if they want to have the vaccine or not."
Public health policies related to mask use and vaccinations have been made by provinces during the pandemic as they have jurisdiction over health care.
The governments in Saskatchewan and Alberta have both said they will not implement a proof of vaccination policy but will allow organizations, businesses and employers to do so.
Bernier has consistently pushed back against federal and provincial public health orders during the pandemic by attending rallies across the country. In June, Manitoba RCMP arrested Bernier for breaking pandemic rules.
Bernier received a $2,800 ticket for breaching public health orders after attending a "freedom rally" in Regina in May.
He vowed to fight the tickets.
PPC courts CPC voters
Bernier said he is offering an alternative to Conservative voters because he said Tory leader Erin O'Toole is not addressing issues like equalization, carbon tax and COVID-19 policies during his campaign.
Bernier, a former candidate for leader of the Conservative Party, courted Tory voters on Wednesday saying Erin O'Toole's claims of balancing the budget without cuts was "irresponsible."
He said O'Toole's positions are closely aligned with the Liberal Party and its Leader Justin Trudeau.
Bernier said OToole's introduction of a carbon pricing policy is one example.
"I believe a lot of Conservatives are not happy with Erin O'Toole on the carbon tax. He lied to them."
Bernier said he would allow provinces to set their own climate policies.
He said he would also cancel all COVID-19 subsidies and supports for individuals and businesses.
Bernier said his party is not just interested in CPC voters, but also disillusioned NDP and Liberal voters as well.
He also dismissed a potential threat of splitting votes with the Western Canadian-based Maverick Party.
The Maverick Party was born out of Wexit Canada following the 2019 federal election. It advocates for Western Independence and issues specific to western Canada.
Bernier said the Maverick Party was "not a serious party" because its interim leader, Jay Hill, is not running in the election.
He said the party was only running 30 candidates, seven of which are in Saskatchewan.
Bernier said the PPC is running 312 candidates out of 318 federal ridings and will have 14 candidates in all Saskatchewan ridings.
PPC looks to gain
In 2019, the PPC received 1.8 per cent of the vote in Saskatchewan and 1.6 per cent nationwide. Bernier believes the party can increase that number.
"I believe we can increase our percentage of the vote from 1.6 per cent to 4 or 5 per cent all across the country."
Bernier was not elected in his riding of Beauce, a seat he held from 2006 to 2019.
He said if his party gets two or three MPs elected, it could hold the balance of power in a minority government.
"We believe Canadians need our voice and we need their support because the other options suck."