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People's Party garners local candidate

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While some votes may be split between the NDP and Liberal Party in the federal election this fall, it appears the Progressive Conservatives will face a similar challenge.

The People's Party of Canada (PPC), a right wing party formed by Maxime Bernier in October of 2018, currently has 310 candidates across the country's 338 ridings with more PPC supporters putting their names forward each day.

Rainy River councillor Andrew Hartnell is one of the candidates running in the federal election under the PPC in an effort to reshape the three party system.

“We're doing this for a change in politics, I think a lot of people are tired of the same back and fourth,” he remarked.

Hartnell appreciates Bernier's straightforward approach and that he isn't afraid to speak the truth, which he says is a rarity in Canadian politics.

“To me, he's not the same old, same old politician," Hartnell noted. ”When he's asked a question he actually answers it.

“It seems nowadays everyone's playing the blame game,” he added.

Part of the PPC's platform focuses on creating growth in the oil and gas industry, rejecting “alarmism” surrounding climate change, protecting Canadians from censorship and discrimination, and improving services for veterans.

Other areas of importance include creating a more “common-sense” foreign policy focused on the security and prosperity of Canadians, eliminating interprovincial trade barriers, and respecting legal firearms owners while targeting criminals.

The PPC is also looking to end “official multiculturalism and preserve Canadian values and culture.”

This is done through repealing the Multiculturalism Act and eliminating funding to promote multiculturalism while emphasizing the integration of immigrants into Canadian society and lowering the number of immigrants and refugees accepted into Canada each year by more than 50 percent.

The PPC has faced criticism for wanting reduced levels of immigration and a number of accusations of racism or xenophobia within their ranks, but Hartnell said it's a lot of “fear mongering” from the other parties.

“Maxime Bernier says he doesn't cater to any speciality group and racism and white supremacists is not welcome in the party,” he explained.

The PPC's party leader was under fire in early July for taking a photograph with members of an alleged hate group in Calgary at one of the party's events.

Bernier's spokesperson said he takes many pictures with people at his event's and doesn't inquire about their views prior to each picture, adding that Bernier wasn't aware of the hate group.

Hartnell said because of the photos Bernier's been wrongly labelled as a racist.

“He apparently took some with an affiliated group and has been painted with that brush but he's taking pictures with Canadians, he believes in Canadians, that's what it is,” he remarked.

"Anyone can believe what they want to believe in and have their opinion, that's the beauty of free speech and that's one of the things that this party's for.

“To me it's just kind of like a smear campaign or fear mongering,” Hartnell added.

Meanwhile, one of his goals if elected, is providing stronger representation for the district.

“We need a stronger voice in Ottawa, especially for down in this area,” he charged.

“I was born and raised in Rainy River so, I've seen both ends of the riding, and what we need to focus on is things down here.”

If elected Hartnell says he will help to create more jobs, build economic development, and eliminate existing boiling water advisories on the riding's reserves.

While the PPC is a newly formed party, Hartnell lauds the work it's done to become established across Canada.

“We have more candidates right now than some of the head parties,” he charged.

“With our volunteers and our supporters, we've accomplished more in a year than some of the other parties accomplished in decades, it's quite remarkable to see the response of the people.”

Hartnell's outlook for the election is optimistic, but he acknowledges its an uphill battle to build recognition for the PPC and gain a new wave of voters.

“I'm hoping that we'll win quite a bit of seats and actually make a splash in this election but regardless, it's a way to get our name out there and that's what we're trying to do,” he said.

Going forward, Hartnell plans to knock on some doors for his campaign and get residents of the riding up to speed on the PPC.

The federal election is slated for Oct. 21 and candidates have been selected for the NDP, Progressive Conservatives, and Liberal Party.

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