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Emails reveal why Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party cannot use his name in next Ontario election

The People’s Party of Canada was barred from registering its name for a provincial party in Ontario by a man from Toronto, who began running in election campaigns as a “People’s Political Party” candidate years before Maxime Bernier does not create his national party.

Kevin Clarke, former teacher, standing candidate and advocate for the homeless, founded his provincial group in 2011 and registered the name “The Peoples Political Party” with Elections Ontario.

Since then, Clarke’s party has fielded up to six candidates in a provincial election campaign, but no member has garnered more than half a percent of the vote. Clarke himself has run unsuccessfully more than 20 times, most notably in the Toronto mayoral race.

The Federal People’s Party was founded by Bernier in 2018 after narrowly losing a race for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party. He promoted a right-wing agenda during the 2019 and 2021 federal election campaigns.

But although Bernier heads a national political party that once had a sitting MP, Elections Ontario has refused many applications to register a provincial popular party because its name is too close to the one already registered by Clarke.

These rejections, which came less than two years after the next Ontario election, appear to have derailed the possibility of linking the provincial candidates by name to the national populist and libertarian party, which did not win a seat in the 2021 federal election but has tripled its membership. share of votes compared to 2019 campaign.

Clarke showed the Star a series of emails sent in 2021 in which Koltyn Wallar, a communications assistant for the Federal People’s Party, invited him to run under the party banner in exchange for the transfer of the rights to his name in Ontario. .

According to the email exchanges, this negotiation failed after Clarke added a number of other people to the thread, some of whom ended up responding.

In an email exchange with the Star, Wallar confirmed that he contacted Clarke. “We were interested in getting the name for use at a later time,” he wrote.

Wallar, who also ran as a PPC candidate, did not say whether he had been authorized by the People’s Party to approach Clarke on his behalf. The party did not respond to this question and provided no comment when it received the full thread.

In a March email, Wallar brought up the name issue with Clarke, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor six times, most recently in 2018. Wallar described what he considered to be similarities between the positions of his party and those of Clarke. “Like you, we want to fight the establishment and help people before special interests,” he wrote.

Clarke replied that he had already contacted the People’s Party but had not received a response. Wallar apologized, praising Clarke and saying the party would “strongly consider” his candidacy to run under his banner in the 2021 federal election if he renounces his name.

“We will also invite you to run as a candidate in your riding of choice in next year’s Ontario general election,” added Wallar.

Although Clarke responded positively, discussions collapsed after he posted the topic to Facebook and added the other people to the email conversation.

Wallar asked Clarke to remove the posts.

It rubbed him the wrong way, Clarke said in an interview. “Wait, are you supposed to be the People’s Party and want to keep things away from people?” ” he said.

Clarke didn’t respond to Wallar’s request in the thread, but two of the people he added did. One of them wondered whether a party was entitled to one name rather than another. Another criticized the federal movement.

Wallar then wrote that he was ending the conversation.

However, he added, “if you want to discuss it further, you can always reach me at this email address.”

Clarke says he has had no further contact with the People’s Party beyond a missed phone call. The party did not respond when asked what other contact it had with Clarke.

According to the Elections Ontario database, it has rejected five applications to register the name “People’s Party of Ontario” since 2020, and a sixth application has been withdrawn.

These files did not contain detailed information on the persons who submitted the requests.

Months after the email exchange between Wallar and Clarke began, a de facto provincial wing of Bernier’s party – the Ontario First Party – was launched by Independent MP Randy Hillier.

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