By Moira Warburton
TORONTO (Reuters) – An upstart Canadian right-wing political party announced on Friday that “ending official multiculturalism and preserving Canadian values and culture” will be part of its platform for the Canadian federal election in October.
The People’s Party of Canada (PPC) was founded in September 2018 by Maxime Bernier after he lost a leadership bid for the Conservative party.
Bernier, 56, has focussed on limiting immigration and protecting so-called Canadian values in contrast with the more moderate Conservatives, prompting some pundits to refer to him as Canada’s Donald Trump.
On Friday, the PPC took aim at Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has championed Canadian multiculturalism since taking office in 2015 and raised the number of immigrants allowed into the country each year to about 1% of the population.
“With his cult of diversity, Justin Trudeau has pushed this ideology even further into a form of extreme multiculturalism,” the PPC said in a statement.
The PPC went on to say that immigrants have a right to maintain their cultural heritage, but their efforts should not be supported by “government programs and taxpayers’ money.”
“The vast majority of Canadians rightly expect them to learn about our history and culture, master one of our official languages, and adopt widely shared Canadian values,” the PPC said.
On Friday, the PPC added that it would repeal Canada’s Multiculturalism Act, which was passed in 1988. The act formalised the government’s commitment to protecting diversity in Canadian society. The PPC also said it would eliminate all funding to promote multiculturalism.
So far the PPC has gained little traction. Bernier’s party is polling at around 1.4% nationally compared with Trudeau’s Liberals at 36.7% and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives at 30.8%, a Nanos Research poll published on Tuesday showed.
Rather than stand as a threat to the Liberals, the PPC is a bigger problem for Scheer’s party because it could lure votes away from the mainstream right-leaning Conservatives in the Oct. 21 election.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton, editing by Steve Scherer and Marguerita Choy)