The People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier spent the final days leading up the federal election in Alberta.
On Friday, hundreds of Albertans flocked to an empty field behind a Strathmore business to support the People’s Party of Canada, and on Saturday, Bernier attended a rally at Memorial Park, attended by about 1,000 people.
Bernier and other speakers railed against vaccines, as the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases in Alberta spikes, and surgeries have been scaled back by 75 per cent — including surgeries for kids at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
As of Friday, 2,523 people had died of COVID-19 in Alberta. The rally was followed by a march through the city’s Beltline area.
[Alberta] seemed like a space where that anger could really be exploited by the PPC.– Barbara Perry, hate and extremism researcher
“People understand that they don’t want a ‘show me your papers society,’ they don’t want a vaccine passport. It is illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and unfair,” Bernier said Saturday. Legal experts have said that vaccine passports likely withstand a Charter challenge.
Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, says she believes Bernier chose to end his campaigning in Alberta as it’s one of the provinces where his party has seen the biggest levels of support.
It also comes days after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney introduced stricter health measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
“That obviously caused a great deal of consternation amongst those who were already opposed to vaccines and lockdowns and everything else,” Perry says.
“It seemed like a space where that anger could really be exploited by the PPC.”
When Bernier took to the microphone Saturday, among the first words he said were “when tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty,” which was met with cheers from the crowd.
That draws from the playbook of far-right militia group the Three Percenters, Perry says. The Three Percenters are a neo-Nazi group on Canada’s terrorist list.
The People’s Party of Canada is polling at 6.7 per cent nationally, and at 10.2 per cent in Alberta, CBC’s poll tracker suggests.
“They are the party that is speaking what a very small, but vocal minority wants to hear. They’re the party that is speaking the loudest against vaccination passports, against lockdowns, against all of these COVID restrictions,” Perry says.
Canadians head to the polls Monday
With one day left until election day, CBC’s poll tracker suggests the Liberals are nearly three-to-one favourites to win the most seats, though a minority government headed by either the Liberals or the Conservatives remains far more likely than a majority government formed by either party.
On Sunday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau spoke in the riding of King–Vaughan, a suburban-rural GTA riding, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole had two events, one in Markham and one in Toronto, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in Burnaby, B.C. and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is ending the campaign in Toronto Centre.
Canadians head to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20.
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