Some Tories relieved after Bernier quits

Many members attending the annual Tory convention in Halifax expressed quiet relief

After a bombshell day for the Conservative party, many members attending the annual Tory convention in Halifax expressed quiet relief on Thursday that the long-expected divorce of maverick MP Maxime Bernier from the party was finally out of the way.

Delegates from across the country began arriving for the three-day policy convention in Nova Scotia just as Bernier staged a spectacular resignation from the party in Ottawa, calling the Tories “intellectually and morally corrupt” and announcing plans to start his own party for the 2019 election.

As news of Bernier’s announcement reverberated around the convention halls, many members said they felt it was something they felt was inevitable after the Quebec MP’s recent flurry of controversial tweets.

RELATED: Maxime Bernier tears strip off Conservatives, Scheer as he quits federal party

It was “only a matter of time” until Bernier would leave, either by choice or by ousting, one member said.

“He kind of ripped off the Band-Aid,” another stated, a phrase that was repeated by several others.

A few people commented that some larger donors to Bernier’s campaign are now feeling angered by his rash decision to mount a battle against the Conservative party, and that they now feel a sense of “buyer’s remorse.”

Kathleen Mahar-Wagner of Quebec proudly displayed her reaction, fashioning a hand-drawn sign saying “bye bye Bernier,” which she wore around her neck.

“I’m very glad that he made the decision and that he’s left. I think it will be better for the party that he take his ideas and he does what he wants with them.”

Most used the word “disappointed” to describe how they felt about Bernier’s departure — some because they supported him and others because of the negative pall the spat has cast on the party in recent weeks.

“I was hoping he would stay in the party,” said Alex McColl.

“I supported Bernier because he supported ideas that I share. So we’ll see what happens for the rest of the policy convention, and hopefully we can have a Conservative party that supports those policies as well.”

Toronto delegate Stewart Kiff said he too felt let down as a former Bernier supporter.

“I feel very frustrated because Maxime ran for leader of the party. And here he is two years later, setting up his own party, saying that this party is not good enough for him. So to me it’s like breaking a contract, a bond with people.”

When asked if Bernier’s departure could fracture the party and, in turn, hand victory to the Liberals in the 2019 federal election, many said they felt the party remains united under leader Andrew Scheer.

“Most of us remember what happened when we splintered before: it gave us three successive governments of Liberals,” said Mike Chopowick of Brampton, Ont.

Jason Kenney, the leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, said he felt Bernier’s departure would not affect party unity under Scheer.

RELATED: Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

“I think he has the overwhelming support of this party (and) with the exception of Max’s ego outburst today, I’ve never seen this party more united in Opposition before,” Kenney said.

But there remains a faction within the party, who supported Bernier in his campaign to end Canada’s supply management system, who say they are now worried about where they will fit in.

Just how this group will react to Bernier’s split from the Tories remains unknown for now, but a few expressed concern about the convention’s upcoming policy debates.

One of 74 policy resolutions to be voted on during breakout sessions on Friday supports killing supply management of agricultural products — but its ranking at the bottom of the list of resolutions to be debated makes a vote unlikely.

Peter McCaffrey of Calgary said he doesn’t like the idea that he won’t have an opportunity to vote on this resolution with Bernier now gone.

“I want good policy — free markets, small government, low tax — and I’m a little bit worried that the party is going to try to block us from voting on those things now,” he said.

Clinton Devereaux, who was handing out “end supply management” buttons on Thursday, said he felt Bernier had no choice but to leave.

“His caucus mates have told him to stop talking about the issues that he cares about: corporate welfare, supply management, border issues, all kinds of things,” he said.

“There’s no choice in the matter — the party doesn’t want him or people like him.”

The Conservative convention continues on Friday, beginning with an update on party finances from the party’s fund chair, Irving Gerstein. Policy sessions will continue throughout the afternoon.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Neonatal nurse practitioner joins NICU care team

Babies requiring specialized care at Red Deer Hospital have extra set of hands caring for them

The old Greyhound Bus Depot is being demolished

The Red Deer building has been around for decades

Official torchbearers for 2019 Canada Winter Games announced

Canada Games officials open time capsule from Grande Prairie Games in 1995

Alberta Health Services, United Nurses of Alberta reach agreement to settle union grievance of nursing staffing shortage

Settlement includes the designation of 11.7 full-time-equivalent Registered Nurse relief positions

UPDATE: Two 12-year-olds have been found safe in Airdrie

Public tips were received which led the RCMP to locate the children this morning

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Olivia and Liam top list for Alberta baby names in 2018

Premier Rachel Notley announced the top baby names in Alberta in 2018; Loki didn’t make the cut

Edmonton Police charged 236 people with auto theft in 2018

Police states many of the thefts are crimes of opportunity

Woman’s complaint leads to sexual assault charge against Calgary priest

Malcolm Joe D’Souza, who is 62, has been charged with one count of sexual assault

Saudi teen who was granted asylum in Canada says she’s a lucky one

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was fleeing abusive family back home

New migrant caravan sets out from Honduras for U.S.

Caravan has about 300 people, mainly women and children

British Parliament nears historic vote on Brexit

A ‘no’ vote would throw British politics into further turmoil

Most Read