Maxime Bernier says if people vote their conscience, the People’s Party of Canada is poised to win its first seat.

Bernier visited Scugog on the weekend to campaign for PPC candidate Patricia Conlin in preparation for the Durham byelection taking place Mar. 4 to replace former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole.

Over 60 people attended the event held by Conlin and Bernier at Castle John’s in Port Perry, in the northern part of the Riding of Durham.

Conservative activist Josh Alexander and former Ontario MPP Randy Hillier were expected to attend but didn’t arrive.

“I believe that if people are voting in line with what they believe, Patricia will do very well,” Bernier said. “The goal is to win, but we know we are a young party. So, step by step, we are growing.”

Bernier and Conlin went door knocking before the event and said there was “big momentum” for the PPC.

Bernier said the PPC has a better chance of winning a seat in a byelection due to low voter turnout.

According to Elections Canada, the average turnout for all by-elections since 2016 has been approximately 30.7%.

“That can help Patricia because our people are very motivated,” Bernier said. “If not, we’ll see, and she’ll be with us next time.”

In 2019, the PPC had 1.6% of the popular vote in the general election. By the 2021 election, where the issue of lockdowns and mandates was vital for many voters, the party received 5% of the vote, but Bernier said support is still growing.

“So at the next election, if we doubled or tripled our score, that would be great. I know that we have the right ideas. We just have to be out there to speak about them,” he said.

Conlin, who also ran for the PPC in Durham in 2021, is optimistic about a win for the PPC this by-election.

“It’s going to make a huge difference in Canada because we will finally have a seat to hold the Conservatives accountable,” she said.

She thinks having a PPC voice in the House of Commons will put pressure on Pierre Poilievre on issues such as parental rights and “unsustainable immigration.”

Conlin says the party’s platform and track record speak for themselves. The PPC fought against mandates and lockdowns and is currently against net zero climate policies and unsustainable mass immigration.

“It’s time that we return power to the people and we elect a candidate of the people, for the people, who will introduce ‘Canada first policies’ so we have a hopeful future and make our country great again,” she said.

Mario Greco, the 2021 PPC candidate for the nearby Vaughan—Woodbridge riding, said the PPC can break through the logjam of partisan politics.

“We don’t have to rely on the big government of Liberals or Conservatives. We can focus on grassroots movements here because we’re not focused on politicians; we’re focused on people.” Greco said.

Conlin told attendees that Bernier would attend another campaign event in Hampton, Ont., next week, and she mentioned that Alexander might also attend that one.

The Conservative candidate is Jamil Jivani, while Robert Rock, who ran for the Conservative nomination against Jivani, is standing for the Liberals.