A local member of the People’s Party of Canada said the new party is gaining momentum.
Jordan Quitzau, who sits on the board of the electoral district association for the riding of Victoria, said the party could formally announce a local candidate at the end of May, adding that the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands could be in a similar situation.
“We are picking up a lot of momentum,” he said.
Quitzau said he supports the party because he is a fan of Maxime Bernier.
“I think his platform is good for British Columbia,” said Quitzau. Specifically, he pointed to Bernier’s plan to readjust equalization payments. “I don’t think British Columbia is getting the best deal,” said Quitzau.
A former Tory minister who has held senior portfolios, Bernier founded the party after failing to secure the federal Conservative leadership in September 2017. He promised that the party would run candidates in all 338 federal ridings when Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21, 2019.
Since its formal founding in September 2018, the party has contested three of four federal byelections held between December 2018 and February 2019. Its best showing came on Feb. 25 when Laura-Lynn Thompson won 10.65 per cent of the vote during the Burnaby South byelection that earned federal New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh a seat in the House of Commons.
Jennifer Clarke, a former school board trustee candidate, is representing the party in a byelection scheduled for May 6 in the riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
Bernier, the party’s only sitting Member of Parliament, has toured that riding with Clarke, and plans an extensive swing through British Columbia next month to drum up support for the party.
Broadly, Bernier’s message combines elements of social conservatism with libertarian ideas on economic issues. Bernier has also called on the Canadian government to restrict immigration in echoing populist figures in both North America and Europe like U.S. President Donald Trump and several mainly eastern and central European leaders.
Speaking personally, Quitzau finds some but not total agreement with the argument that the party is a populist party.
“I would say it’s fairly populist, but it’s more than a populist party,” he said.
The party has about 160 members in the Victoria riding, with recruitment ongoing, said Quitzau, adding that the party will continue to speak about its issues.
“There are a lot of people who support his [Bernier’s] views,” he said.