The People’s Party of Canada held an open house and members meeting this week as they try to recruit candidates and dispel any preconceived notions about the party.
Approximately 30 people met up at Donaleigh’s on Wednesday night for the information session, which included a slideshow and question period as the party looks to build itself locally by May 17. That's when they’d like to announce their candidates for the ridings of Barrie-Innisfil and also Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM).
The meeting was led by BSOM-PPC association CEO Daniel Boucher and president of the Barrie-Innisfil PPC association, Joe Salmon, who told BarrieToday it will be tough to win in the riding he represents with the incumbent who is there.
“Right now, we’re in the process of candidate outreach and just got our (electoral district association) set up and now we’re just looking for people with ties to the community and who believe in party leader Maxime Bernier’s platform,” said Salmon.
“It's going to be a tough job, there’s no doubt about that," he added. "(Barrie-Innisfil MP) John Brassard was a city councillor here and now has a big position in the Conservative Party, but we’re looking at this as more of an opportunity to get our message out.”
Many have questioned the message the party wants to get out and the PPC has gained a reputation as being an alt-right organization that, due in part to its stance on immigration, is prone to attracting white nationalists.
“Any new party is going to have these growing pains coming in and attracting members that they don’t necessarily want,” Salmon told BarrieToday. “All we can do from a policy standpoint is be very clear what our party values are and what party values aren’t going to jive with the party.
"We pride ourselves on being a nationalist party, but that’s obviously something different than ethno-nationalism and we want to stay far away from that," he added.
The presentation by the local PPC association gave a history and biography of the party’s leader, as well a platform review that included being pro free market and free trade, lowering taxes for all Canadians, refocusing the military on Canadian sovereignty, abolishing corporate welfare, scrapping the carbon tax, stopping foreign aid, balancing the budget in two years, pursuing free trade deals with countries that share our values and an immigration policy that should not aim to change the social fabric of Canada.
Boucher spoke to the policy regarding the social fabric of Canada and said that most Canadians are tired of being told what the culture should be and that has led to the rise of the PPC.
“Can anyone in this room even tell me what our social fabric of Canada is anymore? Because I’ll tell you right now, there’s a lot of times where I’m pretty stumped on it,” he said.
“Everybody seems to be telling us what our culture is now and not what we value anymore, but it's being told this is what our culture is," Boucher added. "We’re totally acceptive, we’re totally allowing everybody to come in and everybody is welcomed as diversity, well that’s not necessarily the value of Canadians right now as definitely shown by the rise of the People’s Party right now.”
Boucher told BarrieToday that he knows the party is in tough, like his south-end counterpart, but maybe even more so with the differences between the Barrie and Oro-Medonte Township areas.
“It all starts with our donations and our platform,” he said. “We need the money in order to canvas with literature, put some mailing campaigns out and then look at some signage. It is a tougher area to canvas but we actually have three or four members in this room right now that are from those rural areas, so word of mouth is spreading and our membership shows about a 20% sign-up from outside of Barrie.”