PPC leader Bernier in for himself, says former Tory leader

Andrew Scheer was in Manitoba to support Conservative candidate Branden Leslie, who will run against PPC Leader Maxime Bernier.

A former leader of the federal Conservative party and former candidate for Prime Minister pulled no punches when asked what he thinks about the leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) announcing he will run for a federal seat in a rural Manitoba riding next month.

“I’ve known Maxime Bernier for a long time, and he’s always been an opportunist,” Member of Parliament and former Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer said on Thursday at a media conference in Winnipeg.

“He will go anywhere, say anything, and take any position just to bask in the spotlight.”

Scheer, who lost a bid to be Prime Minister in the 2019 federal election to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, was in Manitoba on Thursday to show support for Conservative candidate Branden Leslie, who will run against PPC Leader Maxime Bernier for a federal seat in the Portage-Lisgar riding in a by-election next month.

Bernier has announced he will run in the by-election in the rural Manitoba riding, looking to take over the seat after former Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen stepped down as a Member of Parliament in February.

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Scheer says he supports Leslie in his bid to win the seat, and he called Bernier’s candidacy a “desperate” ploy” for attention.

“Anyone who really knows Max knows what this candidacy is all about, it’s a desperate attempt at attention from a desperate politician, trying to stay relevant and in the limelight,” he said.

“While some people go into politics to serve their communities or serve their fellow citizens, Maxime has gone into it just to serve himself.”

Scheer was asked with Bernier running in Portage-Lisgar, if he believes the PPC leader cares about the people who live in that riding or cares about the people living in the province of Manitoba.

“No not at all,” Scheer said. “He only comes to Manitoba when he wants money or votes, he has no presence here.

“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to stay relevant, and to stay relevant on social media.”

Scheer also took issue on Thursday with Bernier recently referring to some in the Conservative party as “fake conservatives,” saying he believes the party is based on “rock-solid conservative principles.”

“The only fake conservative is Maxime Bernier,” he said.

Bernier previously held several roles in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, including leading the industry and foreign affairs ministries, but he quit the Conservative party in 2018, after losing its 2017 leadership contest to Scheer.

After forming his own party, Bernier ran in his former seat of Beauce, Que., in the 2019 and 2021 elections, losing both times to a Conservative candidate.

Leslie was recently nominated as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for the Portage-Lisgar by-election, beating out longtime provincial politician Cameron Friesen for the candidacy.

Leslie also has close ties to the riding’s former MP, as he previously served as campaign manager for Candice Bergen.

The federal by-election in Portage-Lisgar is June 19.

This story was originally published in The Winnipeg SunIt is republished under a Creative Commons license as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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