World

Diversity Critic Maxime Bernier Leaving Conservative Party

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA — Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Maxime Bernier, who has led a one-man attack on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “cult of diversity,” is bolting his party. The former cabinet minister in the previous Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he will form a new party with true conservative principles.

“I have come to realize over the past year that this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed,” Bernier, who finished a close second in last year’s Conservative Party of Canada leadership race, said Thursday at a news conference.

“The Conservative Party has abandoned conservatives. It does not represent them anymore. And it has nothing of substance to offer Canadians looking for a political alternative.”

Bernier, who is fond of quoting philosopher Ayn Rand and has strong libertarian economic positions, said he plans to form a new party and run in the 2019 federal election. He did not say what the name of the party would be.

The Quebec MP made the announcement as Conservatives prepared to meet for a policy conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. For the last two weeks, Bernier’s severe criticism of Trudeau’s official multiculturalism has generated debate within the Conservative party.

Bernier has also been a critic of Canadian supply management policies that artificially keep the price of some agricultural products high. Some reporters suggested that this means he takes “inspiration” from President Donald Trump.

Bernier applauded Trump’s opposition to supply management policies, saying, “Canadian politicians don’t have the courage to do that.”

Official Opposition Conservative leader Andrew Scheer held a news conference almost immediately after Bernier ended his. Scheer condemned Bernier’s decision to form a new party and suggested Bernier had always “advanced his personal profile rather than defend Conservative principles.”

Trudeau, refrained from commenting, saying only that he was “concentrating on Canadians today.”

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