The media blindspot for the People’s Party of Canada
Disclosure: David M. Haskell is a PPC candidate in Cambridge.
A decade ago, I was researching media bias in Canada.
Now, ten years later, I’ve moved from researching the issue to experiencing it first hand.
On leave from my job as a professor, I’m running as a candidate for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). Recent events have made it clear that some in the left-leaning national media don’t like “my kind.”
Before I describe those recent events, it’s necessary that I give a short description of the PPC. We’re the fastest-growing political party in the history of Canada. We formed in September and already we have electoral associations and candidates in over 300 of Canada’s 338 ridings. We’ll soon fill the rest.
Our candidates are men and women from all races, ethnicities, and religions. We have more official members than the Green Party which began in the 1980s. Though clearly on the political right, our policies are an ideological hybrid reflecting a blend of conservative, libertarian, and classical liberal positions.
By any stretch, the People’s Party is a political miracle. In terms of the criteria that makes something “newsworthy,” the PPC “story” meets the requirements. Still, it’s rare to hear anything about our diversity or successes.
On the other hand, there’s a good chance you’ve heard something negative, which brings me to my discussion of a few recent events.
On Wednesday, July 23, the Leader of my party, Maxime Bernier, came to Toronto to unveil the PPC’s immigration policy. He delivered his speech to a conference venue with close to a thousand supporters. I was one of them.
Reporters from all the national media were there too. However, as I’ve read the stories filed by the journalists from the CBC and Toronto Star, I had to question whether or not we were at the same event.
In the name of brevity, I won’t outline all the ways that the representatives of these two outlets twisted their accounts to diminish or demonize Max and his message, but I’ll mention a few of the glaring omissions and manipulations.
First to the size of the crowd itself. According to the Star, just 400 people attended Bernier’s speech; the CBC was silent on number of attendees. However, the National Post reporter, like me, saw “a crowd that filled approximately 900 seats.”
What else about the attendees were CBC and Star reporters unable to see while others, like the reporter from the National Post, saw and found striking? They were blind to the fact the crowd was a “multi-ethnic room of supporters, both young and old” that “welcomed” the ideas being presented.
Of course, if the vision of the CBC and Star reporters was so compromised that they couldn’t make out the size or composition of the crowd, it’s not surprising that the were absolutely blind to the solitary figure who spoke before Maxime, heartily endorsed his message, and welcomed him to the stage.
In contrast, the National Post reporter thought it was important to mention that the man introducing Max was Dr. Salim Mansur.
Mansur, a professor from Western University and now a candidate for the People’s Party, had himself “immigrated to Toronto in 1974” and “is Muslim” who “criticizes Islamic extremism.”
Of course, that observation would not have gone well with the CBC’s and Star’s false narrative that the PPC is a party of intolerant, old, white men.
A blind and dead media
Not only were the reporters of the CBC and Star blind, they were also deaf.
In his address, Maxime said that a People’s Party government, as a condition of entry to Canada, will require that immigrants support Canadian values.
Despite clearly outlining the specific values that newcomers would be expected to hold, the Star accused Max of “offer[ing] little detail on the nature of his proposed “values test” on newcomers.”
The CBC chose not to list the expected values at all but, instead, tried to impute negativity on the idea saying it was “eerily similar to the ‘Canadian values test’ proposed by Kellie Leitch.”
So why would these reporters not want to list exactly what Maxime said? I think it’s because they know, if they did, Canadians would strongly agree with him.
For the record, in his exact words, here are the “controversial” values that Maxime dared to utter and that the CBC and Star chose not to report:
Our distinct values are those of contemporary Western civilization. They include democracy, individual rights and freedoms, including freedom of religious belief and freedom to criticize religion.
Our distinct values also include equality between men and women, the equal treatment of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, the rule of law, separation of state and religion, tolerance and pluralism, and loyalty to the wider society instead of to one’s clan or tribe.
When I say that newcomers to Canada must integrate into our society and share our values, it is to these Western values that I am
I wonder which of these values, above, the reporters at the CBC and Star don’t want newcomers to hold?
I wish the slanted coverage from the CBC and Star was relegated to just the events of last night, but it isn’t. Instead, it’s part of a larger pattern to slander Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party.
For example, in July Maxime spoke at an event in Calgary and then allowed attendees to take pictures with him. Some men in the crowd posed with Max and it was later discovered that they belonged to a group promoting intolerance.
When Max was told who these strangers were, he was unequivocal in his rejection saying, “People who are racist and anti-Semitic, they’re not welcome in our party.”
Appealing to common sense, he also noted the PPC doesn’t do background checks on event attendees at public events and those who want a photo, get one.
But in the eyes of the Toronto Star and CBC this chance meeting was national news. And in their coverage their intent to create guilt by association was clear.
Now let’s compare the reaction of those key media players
In early July, my PPC riding association in Cambridge, Ontario and, another just down the road in Guelph booked venues to host separate events, one after another.
Locals could come meet our party leader, Max. He was in Southern Ontario for the day so this was a unique opportunity.
Interest was high. Our events sold out. And then the intimidation began.
A group of protesters out of Guelph and Hamilton, describing themselves as “anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist militants,” demanded that Max not be allowed to speak.
They told the manager of the venue in Guelph that if Max was present, they’d be showing up too. And, according to their posters and social media messages, once on site their goal was to “smash fascists” (or, more correctly, anyone they had decided were fascists).
The Guelph venue cancelled. Then, fearing the mob’s attention would turn to them, my Cambridge venue cancelled.
We scrambled and were able to find other venues. But, we were forced to keep the location of both events a secret made known only to ticket holders.
Let that sink in: Law-abiding citizens had their freedom of assembly spat upon and the leader of a federal political party had his freedom of speech compromised by group of far-left activists.
Canadians had to meet in secret because of their political leanings.
To me, that sounds like national news. But others thought “no.”
The local newspapers in Cambridge and Guelph reported on this travesty. They’re owned by the Toronto Star and often share content. CBC has a bureau in our area that covers local news and feeds stories to HQ. Oddly, nothing made its way up the chain.
Maybe the staff at these national bureaus couldn’t get to typing because they were too busy clapping.
At least the local “militants” were honest about being against us.
A tweet released by Maxime Bernier shows a journalist calling him and his party “gross” on email.
The comment by Globe and Mail journalist Denise Balkissoon was in response to Bernier sending a media advisory for the introduction of his PPC Toronto candidates.
Bernier expressed his dismay on twitter and pointed out the bias present within mainstream media.
In the email, Bernier mentions that he will be in Toronto on June 21 to reveal the PPC candidates for the area.
What do you think about the response? Does is it show unfair bias from a mainstream news organization?
Join the conversation by commenting below!
Maxime Bernier has had a turbulent few years. Since the charismatic MP lost the Conservative Party leadership race to the Baron of Boring, Andrew Scheer, Maxime has truly illustrated why he has been given the nickname “Mad Max.”
Although Maxime continues to present us with a cool, calm, collected, charming, and charismatic persona, from this outsider’s perspective, it feels like watching a good baseball player go on a hitless streak. You know that he can knock it out of the park, but the bat just isn’t alive and doesn’t look to be waking up any time soon.
That’s not to say that Maxime hasn’t had his fair share of curveballs. The longtime Beauce MP has a long and impressive resume and is capable of delivering. But lately, it feels like watching a mouse in a maze that has no exit. Adamant to impress, but constantly hitting walls.
Right out of the gate, the name “People’s Party of Canada” sounds like commie gobbledygook. Perhaps it’s a stereotype, but parties that have the word “People’s” in it don’t tend to be right-wing libertarian populists, do they? I’m not sure, but this list of 40+ communist political parties from around the world that contain the word “People’s” proves my point.
To mirror Dante’s Divine Comedy (a book which details nine separate circles of hell,) Maxime’s first circle of hell was (legal) Limbo. Unfortunately for Maxime, he wasn’t the first one to come up the name for his party. An Abbotsford entrepreneur filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Canada in an attempt to prevent the People’s Party of Canada from using that name in a federal by-election or using it in the federal election.
Fear not! Maxime was eventually granted use of the name by Elections Canada. Crisis averted! But if that were the end of Maxime’s troubles, I wouldn’t even be writing this article.
Maxime presents himself as a man of principle, that much is known. So entering the second circle of hell, Lust was certainly going to be a challenge. That’s why when the official Canada Twitter account decided to condragulate Brooke Lynn Hytes for being the first Canadian drag queen on VH1’s award-winning TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, Maxime said enough is enough!
“Foul!” cried Maxime, as furious fingers surely clacked at his keyboard. The hypocrisy astounded Mad Max, and he decided to give the Canada Twitter account a piece of his mind.
Yes, this was definitely a bone Maxime had to pick. How dare men dress in woman-face and be entertaining to gays and women?! How absurd, and how dare the oh-so-prestigious and well respected Canada Twitter account acknowledge such an art form! Oh, the humanity!
The eighth circle of hell, Fraud, punishes liars and hypocrites. So when Maxime Bernier decided that he wasn’t going to comment on the New Zealand Mosque Massacre, we took him at his word. Bernier made an announcement that he would not be trying to “score political points” following tragedies, and wouldn’t comment on any that don’t occur inside the borders of Canada.
But Maxime’s rules apply for no one, not even Maxime! One month later, the world-famous Notre Dame’s cathedral burned down. And as the world collectively mourned, so did Maxime. On Twitter, of all places! As it turned out, the no-tragedy policy only really applied when Maxime felt like it.
Maxime does seem to have a knack to fight needless battles. His next crusade was against the Trudeau government’s proposed free tampons for government employees. Alright, while we do acknowledge that the idea of giving away free tampons is at the very least debatable, why does Maxime Bernier feel as though this is a hill he should die on? Is it worth it, Maxime?
It’s not all his fault. The People’s Party is in the news yet again, and of course, it’s not positive press. The PPC is now being accused of being homophobic after former PPC candidate Jordan Kent claimed that he was 86ed from the party for being gay. Though the validity of these claims have come into question, it is yet another circle of hell that Maxime apparently has no clue how to climb out of.
And what does Maxime Bernier have to show for it all? A party that is polling no higher than 5 percent in any poll and born as a consequence of Max earning a silver medal next to the “Sultan of Snore,” Andrew Scheer. The result? A political career that appears to be burning out before it ever could fade away.
After constant error after error in the far-right field, Canadians are going to have to look elsewhere.
While there are many patterns of abuse in the mass media’s everyday coverage of Maxime Bernier—i.e. the constant comparisons to Donald Trump, the failure to actually engage with his policies, quoting those who accuse him of “pandering”, while failing to quote his supporters (although there is the occasional exception),—one that jumps out is the routine questioning of his ideological bona fides.
Being ideologically inconsistent is a serious charge for many among Bernier’s base. While not a concern for liberals and progressives (they just want power and results), it is for many conservatives, even if it means becoming “beautiful losers”, as one US conservative commentator put it years back.
Recently, the National Post’s John Ivison referred to Bernier’s party, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), as being plagued by a “fundamental contradiction” in that it’s “led by a libertarian free-marketer and supported by anti-globalists.”
Although vague, Ivison is no doubt, at least in part, referring to the PPC’s call to reduce immigration levels. His Post colleague Stuart Thomson was more express, calling Bernier’s immigration position “a diversion from his ideological playbook”—a criticism repeated by Global News’ West Block host Mercedes Stephenson among others.
In calling to reduce immigration, Bernier is being perfectly faithful to free-market thought. Importing workers from abroad, if high enough, can lead to supply shocks in the domestic labour market, weighing down and distorting wage rates in the process—indeed, economists are mystified why wages in Canada have flatlined despite years of growing GDP.
For large employers, these expansions can lead to giant windfalls and a chance to avoid facing market discipline—i.e. by not innovating or offering the wages needed to draw in new workers. Markets which are expanded artificially are not “free”, and profits pumped-up with the help of government we usually call ‘subsidies’: two things free-marketer libertarians revile.
Equally reviled among libertarians is ‘big government’; something that goes hand in hand with mass immigration. Large populations with diverse languages, cultures, and religions serve as a perfect excuse for new government programs and bureaucratic meddling: from government-funded language instruction, translators, and signage, to more housing and educational and job-training initiatives for unprepared newcomers.
Overlaying all this is the array of government watchdogs mandated to ensure immigrating visible minorities get the requisite (i.e. ever-increasing) amount of cultural sensitivity and achieve economic parity with old-stock Canadians.
Then there’s immigrants’ access to existing programs, such as social safety net payments (welfare, unemployment, food stamps, etc.); a topic famously raised by the father of modern libertarianism Milton Friedman, who said:
It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs, it is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. You cannot have both… free immigration would mean a reduction of everyone to the same uniform level… it would go in that direction… it is that perception that leads people to adopt what first seem like inconsistent values.
And just as ‘seemingly inconsistent’ on this point was that other libertarian founding father, Murray Rothbard—Both men also agreed on the importance of the so-called “meta-market”, or the cultural prerequisites and shared trust needed to ensure that a free-market system is even possible.
As for libertarian political leaders Nigel Farage in the UK and Ron Paul in the US, they consistently pursued policies, including immigration reduction, in the name of the national, not the global, interest.
What they championed (as one could also say of Friedman and Rothbard) was, to borrow a phrase from libertarian columnist Justin Raimondo, a “libertarianism in one country”; that is, a libertarianism that holds national self-determination, including the right for citizens to choose who and how many outsiders can join their communities, as sacrosanct.
In this vein, they consistently viewed globalist bodies such as the European Union (with its Schengen Agreement) or the United Nations (with its Global Compact on Migration) with skepticism and as a restraint on national independence generally.
What Ivison and co. might be failing to appreciate is the difference between libertarians and, what the Americans call, “liberaltarians”: those who are pro-free-market, yet globalist (and pro-open-borders) in outlook. These types see no difference between importing people and widgets, or having open markets for both the world’s labor and its capital. It’s a debate (too fraught to get into here) that’s been rollicking conservative circles in the US for decades.
But even if Ivison and co were right, shouldn’t they praise, not deride, Bernier for being flexibility? And how about for being responsive to voters? Because current immigration rates ar at near-record levels, Frank Graves of EKOS Research calling it “forefront” issue this election year, and yet it’s barely being discussed by the other parties. Meanwhile, polling from Angus Reid shows supporters of an immigration reduction versus an expansion are in the majority by over 8 to 1, and yet every party, ex-Bernier’s PPC, wants to see an increase. Even if Ivison and co are right, and there’s no such thing as a ‘free-market anti-globalist’, what’s worse for voters; a politician who’s inconsistent or indifferent?
A message from the United We Roll convoy has been tweeted from the groups Twitter account demanding that Bernier step back so that Canadians can unite behind Andrew Scheer.
Bernier and his People’s Party went into their first electoral test Monday in three federal byelections.
The party captured just over 10% of the vote in Burnaby South yesterday, but failed to make any sizable impact in the rural Ontario riding of York-Simcoe, or the urban Montreal riding of Outremont, where the party had less than 2% of the final vote.
Bernier tweeted early Tuesday that the poor Ontario and Quebec numbers were “disappointing” and said he “expected more” from those ridings while praising the more favourable Burnaby result as “great.”
Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson delivered the best results for Bernier by a longshot, while taking away some thunder from Jay Shin, the Conservative Party’s candidate in Burnaby South.
The People’s Party walked away in 4th place behind winner Jagmeet Singh’s NDP’s, the Lee-led Liberals, and the Shin-led Conservatives.
Jay Shin, captured about 23 per cent of the vote, five points less than what the previous Conservative candidate there managed to achieve in the 2015 federal election.
However, even if the Conservatives were to add the 11% of the PPC vote to their numbers it still wouldn’t have secured them a victory over the NDP.
“As Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson said last night, babies start walking at 8 months and our party was born only 5 months ago! We must continue to grow at the same breakneck speed until October. This is only the beginning of our journey. We are in it for the long haul,” said Bernier in a Tweet.
“We are addressing crucial issues the other parties won’t touch. We have the clearest principles and the best platform. There is no alternative. CANADA NEEDS US. Let’s work even harder now to find the best candidates and be ready for the general election.”
The United We Roll Twitter account does bring up an interesting point, noting that a split in the vote could bring about a potential Ross Perot situation that the U.S. saw in the 90’s when a fledgling 3rd Party enters and sways enough votes away from one party to change the results of the election.
The People’s Party is a young and rebellious youth of a party compared to two older and much more in-their-ways party options that are presented by the Liberals and the Conservatives.
It also brings up the age old question, do you vote for who can win, or do you vote for who you believe in?
It’s an interesting time in Canadian politics, and perhaps we will get more insight into the thoughts of Canadian voters as more and more polls come in.
At this point it is incredibly difficult to gauge out whether the People’s Party are a legitimate threat for the Conservative Party. It’s a pipe dream to think that they could win, but it isn’t too far out there to think that they could take away enough attention from the Scheer-led Conservatives to cause a difference.
It’s true, you should vote for who best represents your beliefs, but what if that’s at the risk of keeping a Prime Minister in office who represents the exact opposites of everything you believe in?
A Prime Minister who has time and time again let you down, and you feel does not represent your point of view, and doesn’t make you proud to be a Canadian?
It’s a very difficult situation. Scheer doesn’t appear to have a major likability factor, and as I’ve pointed out before does seem to come off as a bit of a used-car salesman type figure. It seems like he’s trying to sell us something that isn’t overly convincing.
Perhaps it’s how centrist he can be, or how generally low energy he can be, but perhaps with more time to shine, Scheer will convince the masses that he’s the strong conservative leader that many are praying for.
With the SNC-Lavalin scandal still in full force, Scheer will have more and more opportunity to showcase his ability to impress people and drill into Trudeau for alleged malevolence.
A charming and charismatic leader like Bernier who has a long track record in politics may get plenty of attention, but it’s up to Scheer to keep Canadians in line, and keep them voting for a party that can win and that they can trust in