Maxime Bernier listening to a member of the audience after his speech in Surrey on Wednesday. (Photo:Tom Zytaruk)

Federal election

Maxime Bernier, of People’s Party of Canada, touts less immigration at B.C. event

Party leader spoke at Surrey Board of Trade event while a small protest took place outside

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier says fewer immigrants coming to Vancouver and Toronto would mean less pressure on the housing market in these cities. He was extremely well received inside the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel ballroom in Surrey, where he spoke Wednesday morning and received standing ovations.

Out in the hallway, on the other side of locked doors, protesters hollered their discontent.

Bernier said 41 per cent of immigrants settle in Vancouver and Toronto.

“So, if you have fewer of them, that won’t put a bigger pressure on the housing market,” he said.

Bernier said that if elected, his government would cut foreign aid, noting Trudeau’s government gave $2.2 billion to African countries to fight climate change.

“We can save money there,” he said. “But yes, we are generous as Canadians, yes, if there’s an environmental disaster somewhere, we will be there to help, and if there is a humanitarian crisis, we will be there, but not to build growth, and bridges, and pipelines in Asia. We need to help our people first.”

Bernier was the fourth speaker in the Surrey Board of Trade’s series of “town hall” speaking engagements that showcases federal party leaders heading into the October general election.

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The Sept. 25 event at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel drew eight protesters ahead of his talk, pacing out on the sidewalk carrying signs with slogans like “Poisonous political candidate.”

“The Surrey Board of Trade has invited Maxime Bernier, the leader of the far-right, racist, anti-immigrant party, People’s Party of Canada. We’re here to say no to Bernier and all the toxic politics that he represents,” said Isabel Krupp, who held a sign that read “Refugees Welcome Here.”

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Another protester, Dave Diewert, said the rally was organized by the “Anti-Police Power Surrey” group.

Diewert said those who came to protest oppose “far-right racist discourse that really gives oxygen to white supremacy and to an anti-immigrant sentiment.”

Inside, Bernier called for Canada to allow 150,000 immigrants in per year, instead of 310,000.

“We’re not anti-immigration, but we’re not for mass immigration.”

He said this past year “only 26 per cent” were economic-class immigrants and if elected, he’d like to see that change to 50 per cent. “They will help us to build this country. That’s what we need.”

Bernier said Canada takes in more refugees than the U.S. and all European countries, “so we need to stop that. But the problem is we don’t receive the real refugees, that are waiting in the country where their life is in danger,” but instead border jumpers, 40 per cent of whom will end up being deported.

READ ALSO: Maverick MP Maxime Bernier launches new party as the People’s Party of Canada

It was a full house inside the hotel’s ballroom, with security guards on hand and RCMP in the hallway.

“When people are calling names at us, for me, it is because they are weak,” Bernier told the crowd. “They don’t want to have a discussion.”

He added that his political party is the fastest-growing in the country.

“We’re in Canada, a strong democracy. We must have the right to say what we believe in,” he said to applause. “We call that in our country free speech.

“I’m not popular. Our ideas are popular,” he said. “We know we have the best ideas when we speak about freedom, and personal responsibility, and respect and fairness. These are Canadian values, and values coming from the Western Civilization, and western countries.”

If elected, Bernier said, his party would end corporate welfare, and abolish capital tax.

SEE MORE: Trudeau promises energy bill cuts, pledges carbon-neutrality while in Delta, Surrey

READ ALSO: Jagmeet Singh says NDP would ensure medication coverage for all

The Surrey series has already heard from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, in February, Green Party leader Elizabeth May in April and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in August.

SBoT CEO Anita Huberman said the business group also had security when NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh came to Surrey for the town hall series.

Huberman said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has not yet been scheduled to speak.

“We’re just waiting for him to confirm a date,” she said.

READ ALSO: Andrew Scheer says Conservatives have ‘comprehensive plan to make Canada safer’



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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