I do not support the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). I want that to be made abundantly clear. In fact, I disagree with them fundamentally on most issues. The PPC, in my opinion, was something not well thought-out about by a man who lost the Conservative leadership and who is hoping to split the right-wing vote. Remarkably, they have candidates in every riding, which is way ahead of the other parties in that regard.
I believe a brief historical context is necessary before continuing with my argument. The PPC is another attempt at a further right-wing party in Canada. It can be compared to parties such as the Reform Party of the past. Ultimately the party failed at replacing the Progressive Conservative Party as the conservative party in Canada, although the Reform (later the Canadian Alliance Party) was successful in merging with the Progressive to form the current Conservative Party. This “Unite the Right” campaign was successful in merging the conservative parties, which resulted in a further right-wing party being created. Yet there are still some Canadians who believe an even further right-wing party is necessary.
As much as I do not support the PPC in the slightest and I feel it will split the right vote once again, I believe that silencing PPC supporters is not the answer. I was perusing Facebook and saw a gentleman’s post about wanting to start a PPC club at Trent. Quickly, the comment section became a sideshow of individuals not debating the individual on his ideas, but instead berating the man who made the post. Multiple people in the comments compared Bernier to a Nazi, which fascinated me. Silencing ideas only makes the people who believe them believe them even more vehemently. Instead of a public debate, it is now being conducted behind a computer screen. This dehumanization allows for the discourse to reach ridiculous levels, like it quickly did in this case.
My question is this: Is this really what we want for the state of political discourse in Canada in 2019? I hope these comments can start a discussion on campus. This is a fundamental issue, not only to this university, but to our democracy. As the election campaign kicks into high gear, remember to be respectful and have those debates amongst your peers. University is meant to be a debate of ideas, both ideas you agree with and others that you argue against. To not have a conversation about it is both an affront to the values of not just our university but also to our democracy.
– Bryce Saulnier