updated April 12, 2019, originally published February 16, 2019
by Simone Georges
Canada’s fledgling new party sprung out of nowhere seemingly, offering deeply conservative cum libertarian values. Its founder and leader, Maxime Bernier, announced unequivocally that the Conservative Party of Canada is ’too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed’ (1) and proceeded to create a new party which he later named the People’s Party of Canada (2).
Is Bernier the pure-as-driven-snow politician he purports to be? To the some 35,000 of his followers, he can do no wrong. He has said all the right words, he has inspired disillusioned people to leap upon his bandwagon of CPC bashing and attacking of the leader who beat him in the leadership race in 2017, Andrew Scheer.
We have examined his background and found numerous inconsistencies, however it is his current associations that have raised red flags. For a leader who is a bastion of conservatism to hire an individual such as Johanne Mennie for both his Executive Director and Communications Director is astonishing.
Who is Johanne Mennie? Johanne has worked in numerous roles in the government throughout her career. One major consistency, however, has been her involvement in social engineering and promotion of social economy.
Ms. Mennie has been closely involved in more than one project with players such as Coro Strandberg who is the author of ‘Canada 2030: Embedding Sustainability into Corporate Governance’ (3), David LePage who is a founding partner of the Social Enterprise Institute (4) and Nancy Neamtan who is a promoter of social economy (5).
It is important to understand the definition of social economy. This video (10) lays out the definition quite well, however in sum, it is a social system that promotes people over profit.
Social economy is a major focus of the European Union and the United Nations. Because of increasing globalization, governments are being encouraged to promote a social economy rather than a profit-based enterprise model. In the words of Carol Hunter, Executive Director of the Canadian Co-operative Association and another known associate of Ms. Mennie, “In a time of a global economic crisis now, we need to have a profound rethinking of all the different business models that are sustainable — and co-operatives are definitely one of those different business models that we need to be looking at more so.” (6) Co-operatives are one of the many sustainable economic initiatives of Ms. Mennie and her associates.
There are three main industrial sectors: firstly, the public sector which runs industries funded and government controlled, secondly the private sector which is for-profit and is run by privately owned companies that are answerable to their investors. The third industrial sector is the social economy under which umbrella are all for-profit and non-profit industries whose goal is to generate revenues for social and environmental causes (7).
Ms. Mennie and her associates have lobbied extensively with the government for the social economy. They proposed that the government should 1) develop regulations preferential to the establishment of social economy enterprises, 2) provide training to low-skilled people, 3) provide preferential government contracts to such enterprises, and 4) make funds available to establish and support such enterprises. Ms. Mennie was closely involved with the Vancity Plan Institute for Caring Citizenship which was funded by Tides Canada (11).
Suddenly Maxime Bernier’s push to ‘end corporate welfare’ makes perfect sense. He has made it abundantly clear that subsidizing traditional corporations such as Bombardier or GM is against his philosophy. Clearly, through his association with Ms. Mennie and her involvement in his new party, and his past involvement with the United Nations (8) his focus is social economy and promotion of socially run multi-national co-operatives with the goal of lifting out of poverty the unskilled migrants and non-migrant populations through government support, training and subsidization.
Even the name of Bernier’s new party is now clarified. Many spoke of its socialistic implications: People’s Party of Canada. All is now completely understandable; even Bernier’s support of China (9) is understandable as is his refusal to allow a leadership race for his fledgling party.
It is to be hoped that all his 35,000 supporters know what they are signing up for.