Maxime Bernier, according to a recent Nanos poll is up to 17%. That’s 17% of Canadians who would be open to supporting his new party in the next election. An Abacus Data poll shortly after he announced he was leaving the Conservative Party of Canada had him at 13%. All Mr. Bernier has really done so far is hold a news conference and then tweet to his followers about the issues he cares about. I don’t know what he has for fundraising but the internet makes it pretty easy to get started, and he’s already got the structure for something like that in place from his leadership campaign. I think people underestimate or write him off at their peril.
Contrast that with Andrew Scheer who’s been leader for a year and all he has going for him is decent poll numbers that (that Bernier is already showing are about a mile wide and an inch deep) might hold the Liberal Party to a minority Parliament, and a slick fundraising operation that’s raised a substantial amount of money. His supposedly positive conservative vision for the country is largely unknown to people while he decides where he stands on issues based on the polls he reads.
For a little bit of fun (if you’re a Bernier supporter or were during the leadership contest), the NDP got 19% of the vote in the last federal election. That got them roughly 40 seats.
For those who are unacquainted with our Single Member Plurality voting system – due to different factors like differing support levels in different provinces or regions and because of how the population is dispersed (mostly in large cities, less in rural areas) – your seat totals can vary pretty widely depending on how concentrated or dispersed your support is. So assuming Bernier’s support isn’t highly dispersed across the entire country, which would lower the potential number of seats he could win, he could take nearly half of the Conservative Party seat totals they currently have in Parliament.
The difference between this split and the split that occurred following the Mulroney majorities is the internet. Its far easier to develop a following amongst a large group of people and get them providing money and support than it was in the late 1980s or early 1990s when the Reform Party was launched.
Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party better pivot fast and start defining themselves on some of these issues where Mr. Bernier is staking out ground, or else they’re quickly going to be out-flanked. The next election is only a year away, and Andrew Scheer is still pretty unknown.
All this said Max Bernier still has a lot of work to do recruiting candidates and building a base of supporters that can help turn out your vote in a national election where you have candidates in 338 constituencies.
Personally, I’m rooting for Maxime Bernier. I pray for his conversion to the Catholic Church, and due to his more libertine positions with regard to the sexual revolution I can’t vote for him. I dearly wish that I could. Our Lady, pray for Maxime. Pray for me. Pray for Canada.