Opinion

In Bernier, Canadians finally have a leader working for Bernier. Wait — 'them.' I mean them: Robyn Urback

MP Maxime Bernier knows the best way to change deeply ingrained policy is from the outside, without the reach and financial resources afforded by the Conservative Party, using a strategy that seems more about ego than actual policy goals.

Maxime Bernier has tweeted about excesses of multiculturalism for last couple weeks

MP Maxime Bernier knows the best way to change deeply ingrained policy is from the outside, without the reach and financial resources afforded by association with an established political party, using a strategy that seems more about ego than actual policy goals. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Maxime Bernier is fed up.

Fed up with the Conservative Party, which he tried to lead just a little over a year ago.

Fed up with political correctness — so much so that he made sure to say it in both French and English.

Fed up with the lack of substantive policy debate — something he made clear after weeks of provocative, hazy tweets about multiculturalism and declined interview requests.

Bernier raised these complaints and more dozens of times in imagined conversations he rehearsed quietly to himself in the shower. No, Michelle Rempel, your immigration plan is way too lenient. Stop it, Andrew Scheer, don't you take that Bombardier tour. Quiet down everyone, the MP from Beauce has something to say.

Mind you, Bernier didn't actually raise these concerns with his colleagues in real life, according to both Rempel and Scheer, but he was pretty sure he knew how the conversations would go based on what he imagined in the time between shampooing and conditioning. So he's out of the Conservative caucus for good, with plans to start his own party.

Read it and weep, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! Wait, Mr. Trudeau, why are you smiling? Oh, come on. You think competing conservative parties will fracture support on the right? Get real. Like that would ever happen in Canada.

Bernier knows the best way to change deeply ingrained policy is from the outside, without the reach and financial resources afforded by association with an established political party, using a strategy that seems more about ego than actual policy goals. Indeed, when you have a legitimate message — about the backward nature of supply management, for example — it is important to package it with all the baggage associated with the messenger. That makes it memorable.

And speaking of supply management, the party's tolerance, and indeed, its bolstering of Canada's system for controlling the domestic market for dairy, poultry and eggs simply became impossible for Bernier to stomach. Sure, he stomached it under the Stephen Harper government, along with corporate bailouts that he now decries. But now it's different — now Bernier has a taste for leadership. Wait, no — I mean now supply management is a major sticking point in NAFTA negotiations with the U.S. Yes, let's go with that.

The problem is, economic appeals don't tend to rouse the masses the way rants about immigration do. But tweets about "extreme multiculturalism" — which Bernier says he will define eventually — now that's how you make a difference. I mean, the difference is mostly just in your number of Twitter followers, but it's a difference nonetheless.

Former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier explains why he had to leave his "intellectually and morally corrupt" party to strike out in his own. 1:17

Anyway, in terms of responsible immigration reform, this is where conservatives have finally found their champion: in Bernier, a man who has been tweeting about the excesses of multiculturalism for his whole, entire last couple of weeks. A year and a half after he accused former leadership rival Kellie Leitch of being a "karaoke version of Donald Trump."

Bernier also had a section about immigration policy reform in his leadership platform, but he didn't need to make it front and centre because the number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada this time last year was way … uh… anyway, let's move on.

Canadians need a politician who will speak for them, and that politician is Maxime Bernier — by proxy of the many smart columnists who have attempted to translate and find nuance in his independently meaningless Twitter blurts about reversing the trend of "cultural balkanization" and the "burden" of high immigration on a country that also depends on it for economic stability.

Bernier is here for the little guy — the Canadian who has a vague sense that things are bad and needs someone to do something. He will echo that plea right back to you, and together, everyone will feel like they are making a difference.

Indeed, after not really trying, it was clear Bernier could not change things from inside the Conservative Party. So he will champion these policy ideas from the outside, where they will be met with additional hostility coming from a political rival. Finally, a politician working in the best interests of Maxime Bernier! I mean you. You. Working in the interests of you.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Robyn Urback

Columnist

Robyn Urback is an opinion columnist with CBC News and a producer with the CBC's Opinion section. She previously worked as a columnist and editorial board member at the National Post. Follow her on Twitter at: