People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier failed in his latest quest to win a seat in the House of Commons Monday in one of four byelections seen as a temperature check on the state of federal politics.
The four different storylines highlighted the challenges facing Pierre Poilievre as he seeks to guide his Conservative party to government and as Justin Trudeau seeks to keep his Liberal party in power.
For his part, Poilievre achieved one of his party’s goals this election cycle: beat Bernier in the riding of Portage-Lisgar, a Manitoba seat held by former Conservative interim leader Candice Bergen from 2008 until her departure in February.
In 2021 her vote plunged, and Bernier’s party was the beneficiary, with the PPC candidate at the time having the party’s best showing of anywhere in the country in the rural Manitoba seat — 21.6 per cent.
The Tories argued those votes were driven by pandemic frustrations and the centrist approach of their leader at the time.
Monday night’s results were being closely watched to see if that theory held or whether Bernier’s brand of right-wing rhetoric — now framed as a battle against a “radical leftist agenda” — still had traction. Bernier had decided to seek the seat himself in his latest bid to get a spot in the House of Commons.
But Conservative candidate Branden Leslie triumphed, with preliminary results placing Bernier in a distant second place.
The results will prompt immediate questions about Bernier’s future — and that of his party — given his failure to win a seat since he quit the federal Conservatives to launch the PPC in 2018.