Al Siebring said he doesn’t believe that Maxime Bernier’s decision to quit the federal Conservative Party and form his own party will split the nation’s conservative vote.
Siebring, a past president of the Conservative’s Cowichan-Malahat-Langford electoral district association, was a delegate at the Conservative Party’s policy convention in Halifax when the Quebec MP made his announcement on Aug. 23 from Ottawa.
He said it remains to be seen whether Bernier’s efforts to start another national party with conservative values would split the conservative vote across the country.
But Siebring said there was certainly not a lot of support for Bernier among the delegates at the policy convention after he made his announcement.
“If anything, the delegates were further unified in their support for (Conservative leader) Andrew Scheer,” he said.
“The verdict here is this is all about Max being self centred and egotistical, and the fact that he can’t get over losing the Conservative leadership race last year. He decided to announce his decision just two hours before the policy convention convened to embarrass Scheer.”
In his decision to leave the Conservative Party, and start a new party with the intention of having candidates in all of Canada’s 338 federal ridings in the next election, Bernier said he has come to realize over the past year that the party is “too intellectually and morally corrupt” to be reformed.
Earlier this summer, Bernier was banished from the Tories’ front bench and stripped of his role as innovation critic.
The decision to demote Bernier within the party was made soon after he wrote on his website that Scheer’s victory as party leader was owed to “fake Conservatives” who only joined the party to defend supply management in the dairy industry.
Siebring said he doesn’t think the Conservative Party has anything to fear from Bernier.
“He has some support in Quebec and the party’s Libertarian wing in Alberta, but not much else,” he said.
Siebring said the situation reminded him of MLA John van Dongen who resigned from the B.C. Conservative Party in 2012 after members voted against a leadership review at the party’s annual general meeting.
Van Dongen, who had bolted from the governing Liberals to the Conservatives, sat as an Independent is his long-held riding of Abbotsford South, but lost the seat in the provincial election in 2013.
“Van Dongen fell off the face of the Earth after his resignation from the party, and I expect the same will happen with Bernier,” Siebring said.