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Will Jordan Peterson endorse Maxime Bernier as Canada's next Prime Minister ahead of the 2019 Canadian federal election?
Canada is heading into a federal election in the fall of 2019. Recently, there has been a fracture in the Conservative Party of Canada: the libertarian-leaning MP from Quebec, Maxime Bernier, left the party over complaints that it is "morally and intellectually corrupt" and beholden to special interest groups whom they serve at the public's expense. Bernier's acrimonious departure came after the Conservative Party caucus — mostly notably leader Andrew Scheer, who beat Bernier by two percentage points during a 2017 leadership race — distanced themselves from him in the wake of blowback to his comments addressing what he called the ruling Liberal party's policies of "extreme diversity".
Bernier has declared his intentions to form his own federal political party and field candidates in all 338 of Canada's federal ridings. He enjoys considerable grassroots support. A poll of a thousand Canadians shortly after he announced his intention to form a party found 13% of Canadians intended to cast their vote for its candidates. While this is an impressive start, it's clear that Bernier has an uphill battle ahead of him in order to ascend to the Prime Ministership, or even to the Leader of the Official Opposition, a position currently occupied by his formal rival Scheer.
One big boost to Bernier's candidacy would be an endorsement from Canadian intellectual Jordan Peterson, who is arguably the most well-known and popular intellectual in the Western world today. His work — which is often articulated in bombastic popular lectures — covers topics such as free speech, identity, anti-totalitarianism, personality, performance, and religion, among many others. Peterson's reach is considerable: his lectures have been viewed nearly 70 million times on YouTube, and his new book, 12 Rules for Life, has sold over half a million copies.
Peterson and Bernier have crossed paths before. Bernier cited a meeting with Jordan Peterson has having changed his mind on endorsing Bill C-16, which amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression". He met Peterson again and was photographed with him this past April at an event in Montreal, where he says the two of them spoke on the topic of freedom of speech.
Peterson considers himself to be a "classical liberal", while Maxime resists political labelling but has suggested he himself might reasonably be called a freedom-loving fiscal conservative, or a "reasonable libertarian". Both share a dislike for the policies and perspectives of the current Prime Minster, Justin Trudeau, and his Liberal Party.
While there is perhaps not much political space between Bernier and Peterson, its not clear that Peterson is in the business of offering political endorsements. He seems not to have made any publicly during the 2015 Canadian federal election. He did say, when asked, that he would be open to endorsing candidate Tanya Granic Allen during the Ontario Progressive Conservative party's leadership race earlier this year, but no such endorsement ever came. That said, he clearly has an interest in politics, and even considered running in the Ontario Progressive Conservative party's leadership race after the previous leader Patrick Brown resigned amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.
Peterson's ideas have already had a large impact on Canadian politics at the federal and provincial level. It no doubt informed the pushback among federal Conservatives on Bill C-16, and has fueled the concerns of both federal and provincial conservatives regarding the challenges to freedom of speech on the country's university campuses.
Jordan Peterson will be considered to have "endorsed" Maxime Bernier if he declares in a public statement or utterance that he endorses him to be Canada's next Prime Minister. Nothing short of an unequivocal endorsement — such as Peterson mentioning Bernier or his policies favourably in the media — will suffice.
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