People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Doug Bebb is, like many of his PPC colleagues, a first-time politician, but the 62-year-old mechanical engineer says the arrival of Maxime Bernier on the scene drew him out of semi-retirement and into politics.
Bebb is hoping to make inroads for the new party in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, which has sent right-leaning MPs to Ottawa in the past.
“It’s a straightforward, honest message,” Bebb said during an interview for Coast Reporter Radio. “We’re about small government, individual freedom, free speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression.”
The PPC may be a new party, but leader Maxime Bernier is no political rookie and his record is controversial.
A Lower Mainland candidate was kicked out of the party last month after criticizing Bernier for not denouncing racism within the party’s ranks and a Nova Scotia candidate quit over the party’s values “and the choices its leadership have made.”
Bebb said despite those incidents he’s confident the party is doing its utmost to ensure it’s free of people who espouse racist ideologies.
“The issues you’re talking about are common to all parties,” Bebb said. “Everybody has to have a process to weed people out and we’ve done our best over the course of this last year. Some might have snuck through, but I haven’t seen any evidence myself of that sort of behaviour in the party – either in the people I’ve met and dealt with or the literature I’ve seen.”
Bebb also said the accusations of racism stem from a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the party’s immigration platform.
The PPC wants to lower immigration levels to 150,000 people per year and Bebb said there would be a focus on “economic immigration, where we will vet these immigrants not only for their adherence to Canadian values, but also because their skills are needed in this country.”
Those Canadian values, according to Bebb, are “a matter of European traditions in democracy, in free speech, in freedom of conscience… The People’s Party has a view that Canadian values are distinct, based upon the three founding groups of people – English, French and our Inuit and natives – and these derive from the European tradition and I think they’re worth maintaining. Others may not agree, others may take a more globalist view where they want to make this a worldwide melting pot.”
Bebb pointed to recent public opinion surveys that suggest a majority of Canadians favour more limits on immigration.
The PPC stand on the environment and climate change has also proven controversial and Bebb has drawn some negative reaction from audiences when addressing the topic at recent all-candidates forums
“We all are quite convinced that global warming is progressing,” Bebb said. “There’s great scientific agreement on that matter. What is less certain is the contribution of carbon dioxide to the mix… There is no consensus on the idea that we have an emergency at hand. Our policy position and my personal view is that there’s plenty of time to have a proper debate on the matter.”
Bebb said moving aggressively on climate change, in the way other parties support, would be a “massive blunder” that puts Canada’s prosperity at risk.
Affordability, especially for housing, has emerged as an important local issue and Bebb said balancing the budget, following up with tax cuts and simplifying the income tax structure into just three brackets will improve everybody’s bottom line.
“Affordability is a function of disposable income, which we will help, only after we get this balanced budget in place,” he said, adding that the PPC does not favour federal spending on local infrastructure projects or transit systems.
Bebb said, when it comes to whether he’s seeing much support for his campaign, “People who will talk about their support privately are hesitant to speak publicly.”
Free speech, taxes and immigration are the top issues mentioned by the supporters he’s encountered while campaigning, said Bebb, who also said he expects to be able to draw some voters from all four of the established parties.
You can hear the full interview with Doug Bebb at: www.coastreporter.net/audio