PPC Leader Maxime Bernier announces Sask. federal candidates during visit to Regina

Immigration, free speech and equalization reform were talking points for People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier during a visit to Regina to announce nine Saskatchewan candidates today. 

'I like to have people who are new in politics, that’s what we need'

Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People's Party of Canada, speaks with reporters outside the Legislative Building in Regina on Tuesday. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC News)

Immigration, free speech and equalization reform were talking points for People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier and the Saskatchewan federal candidates he announced during a visit to Regina on Tuesday. 

Bernier told reporters at an event outside the Legislative Building he was pleased that some of the candidates are new to politics and their platforms were varied. 

"Because actually they are not traditional politicians and they are regular people that want to help their citizens in working for their country," said Bernier. 

"I like to have people who are new in politics, that's what we need, we need more people like that."

Roster of candidates growing

Nine candidates were announced at the event in Regina, and more will be introduced in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

  • Mark Friesen (Saskatoon-Grasswood).
  • Phillip Michael Zajac (Souris-Moose Mountain).
  • Mario Milanovski (Regina-Wascana).
  • Lee Harding (Cypress Hills-Grasslands).
  • Chey Craik (Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan).
  • Trevor Wowk (Regina-Lewvan).
  • Tracey Sparrowhawk (Regina-Qu'Appelle).
  • Cody Payant (Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek).
  • Kelly Day (Prince Albert).

'I'm appealing to their intelligence'

Bernier would not venture a guess at how many seats he expects to win in the federal election.  

He pointed to the success of populist movements in Europe and the U.K. as a sign of the desire for political parties like his own, adding that he believes there is a growing populist movement in Canada. 

"We base our bold reforms on serious policies and I'm asking people to look at our policies," said Bernier.  "I don't appeal to their emotion, I'm appealing to their intelligence."

Maxime Bernier introduces nine of the Sask. candidates for the People's Party of Canada on Tuesday. He will be in Saskatoon to announce northern Sask. candidates on Wednesday. (Marie-Christine Bouillon/Radio-Canada)

Bernier said he would not be meeting with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe during his visit to Saskatchewan. However, he spoke of his own support for pipelines and equalization reform.  

"It's not fair to tax a taxpayer, a citizen in Quebec, to build a local road in Saskatchewan and vice versa," Bernier said. 

"The national infrastructure …is under the jurisdiction of the federal government and we will do that, but to build a bridge in Quebec and asking people from B.C. to pay for that, it is not fair."

One Sask. candidate sparks controversy

Bernier was also questioned about his stance on free speech and hate speech after one of the Sask. candidates, Cody Payant, wrote on social media that "our country could use more hate speech." 

"You're quoting him out of context," Bernier told a reporter who asked him about Payant's post. 

"And if you read his text he was saying that we must be honest and we must speak about what we believe.

"That candidate did nothing reprehensible and he is a candidate for us and he will do debates and sometimes when you debate the person in front of you won't like what you're saying."

Payant said he wrote the post partly in defence of Lindsay Shepherd, a former Ontario teaching assistant who was briefly barred from Twitter following an acrimonious online exchange with Jessica Yaniv, a transgender activist.

Payant told CBC on Tuesday that it's better to have people voice their hate and face criticism for it than to have their feelings lead to violence.

"Hate speech is best said out loud in the public square so it can be criticized and then broadly rejected by reasonable people in society," Payant said.

"It's part of how we become well-adjusted people and how we communicate effectively as a society and how we resolve conflicts, and when we don't have those words then all we have left is guns."