Bernier didn't tell anyone from the Conservative Party about his dramatic exit
Former leadership hopeful not expecting any former colleagues to join his planned new party
Maxime Bernier says he didn't tell anyone from the Conservative Party that he planned to bolt before making his stunning political departure yesterday in Ottawa.
The Quebec MP said he didn't see the need to tell any of his caucus colleagues of his plans to start a new party because he had received a clear message from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that his ideas weren't welcome in the caucus room.
In an interview with Vassy Kapelos, host of CBC's Power & Politics, Bernier said he began putting things in motion after speaking with Scheer 10 days ago as questions mounted around his views on a "cult of diversity."
Soon after their phone call, Scheer put out a statement saying Bernier doesn't speak for the party.
Bernier said he then "decided to go on and work on the press conference, and to do the announcement like I did."
Bernier, who represents the riding of Beauce, announced his departure from the party on Thursday as the Conservatives' policy convention kicked off in Halifax.
He said he had to leave because his former party is "too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed," and under Scheer's leadership, it has failed to stand up for conservative principles like dismantling supply management and opposing retaliatory tariffs in the trade dispute with the U.S.
Announcement 'blindsided' people: MacKay
Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay, who helped build the modern-day Conservative Party after the merger of his Progressive Conservative Party with Stephen Harper's Canadian Alliance, called Bernier's departure "unfortunate."
"What I've heard was this blindsided a lot of people," MacKay said. "But many saw it coming."
When asked if he thinks he could be prime minister, Bernier said, "I hope so."
"When you look in France, President Macron was a socialist. A year before the election, he decided to quit the party and formed his own party and now he's the president of France. So everything is possible with ideas."
The key difference is that in French presidential elections, the electorate votes directly for the person they want to be leader. If Bernier wants to form the government in Canada, he would have to run candidates in as many of the country's 338 ridings as possible.
The plan, said Bernier, is to have the federal party up and running in two to three months.
While he isn't expecting anyone from his old party to quit the caucus and help him start a new one, he told CBC News that since he announced his departure some 500 people have called him.
"I won't have any support from the caucus; I didn't have any support from the caucus during the leadership," he said.
"The leadership and the caucus, they don't want to have the kind of discussions I want to have."
Vassy Kapelos's interview with Maxime Bernier airs today on Power & Politics beginning 5 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.