Maxime Bernier

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier speaks in Penticton.

Maxime Bernier said there’s three steps to balancing the budget within four years — end foreign aid, eliminate handouts to big corporations and defund the CBC.

The People’s Party of Canada leader addressed a maskless crowd of about 250 supporters, Sunday morning at Gyro Park in Penticton, devoting most of his time on stage to the COVID pandemic.

Bernier addressed a Kelowna rally later on Sunday.

Bernier said he supports freedom of choice and respects those who have been vaccinated. But, he doesn’t believe vaccines should be mandatory and he opposes lockdowns and vaccine passports.

“We must learn to live with this virus,” he said. “Justin Trudeau is the most divisive prime minister in our Canadian history. He has divided us by race, by gender, by religion and now by vaccination status.”

Bernier also took aim at Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, calling him “Justin O’Toole,” saying that much of his message mirrors the Liberal leader.

Bernier, who was not offered a seat at this week’s leaders’ debates, said the mainstream media has ignored his campaign. He believes his candidates can win and encouraged the crowd to become active on social media and to speak with their friends and coworkers about supporting the PPC.

Sunday’s rally itself was grassroots and promoted mostly by word-of-mouth with posters stapled to telephone poles in the downtown.

“We are opening our arms for every Canadian in all corners of this country who want to fight for our freedoms,” he said. It’s all about government control versus freedom and we choose freedom. When tyranny becomes the law, revolution becomes our duty. It’s our duty to start the common-sense revolution in Ottawa.”

In 2019, the PPC failed to win a seat. Bernier lost his own Quebec riding by 6,000 votes to a Conservative. In the Okanagan, PPC candidates picked up about 2% of the vote.

“On Sept. 20, the leftists and mainstream media will have a big surprise,” Bernier said.