maxime bernier riding

People's Party leader Maxime Bernier loses his seat in parliament

Maxime Bernier, the firebrand libertarian who quit the Conservative Party last year to form the fledgling People's Party of Canada (PPC), lost a reelection bid in his Quebec riding in Monday's federal election.

With 26.86 per cent of polls reporting in Beauce, Bernier trailed his Conservative challenger Richard Lehoux, a former president of the Quebec federation of municipalities and former mayor of Saint-Elzéar, 38.9 per cent to 28.4 per cent.

Bernier conceded that he will lose the race shortly after 11p.m. EST.

Little more than two years ago, Bernier came in second in the Conservative's party's leadership contest, losing out to Andrew Scheer.

He struck off on his own because he claimed Scheer's party was beholden to principles — such as corporate welfare — that didn't align with his vision of conservatism.

The loss also means that, in its first election, the PPC will not capture any seats. The party was only reporting 1.6 per cent of the vote as of 10:45p.m. EST.

Multiple PPC party figures resigned in the last year, alleging that it had attracted racist and xenophobic followers.

A past leader of a U.S. neo-Nazi group and a former Soldiers of Odin member were among those who signed the paperwork to officially register the party.

Bernier has steadfastly denied allegations that his party — which otherwise advocates for smaller government and less regulation — is in any way racist.

Bernier was first elected in Beauce in 2006 as a Conservative, and served in multiple portfolios in the cabinet of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

The 2019 election in Beauce became the subject of controversy late last week, when a report in the Globe and Mail revealed that a firm led by former Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella had been contracted by the Conservatives to "seek and destroy" the PPC by organizing a campaign against the reputation of the party and its candidates.

That led Bernier to file a complaint with the Commissioner of Elections Canada. In that complaint, he asked for a review of whether the satirical Rhinocerous Party, which nominated a man also named Maxime Bernier to run against him, was part of the alleged plot.

The Rhinocerous Party denied any such suggestion.

Lead photo by

Maxime Bernier

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