Hoback disappointed by comments from PPC leader Bernier

Prince Albert Conservative MP Randy Hoback addresses local business leaders in this file photo from 2017. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

People’s Party of Canada leader Max Bernier wasted little time attacking his former party during a stop in Saskatchewan, which comes as little surprise to Conservative Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback.

Bernier, who left what he called a “morally corrupt” Conservative Party almost a year ago, told Prince Albert supporters the party has become almost indistinguishable from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

In an interview on Thursday, Hoback said Bernier was pulling things “out of his hat” to get people to vote for the PPC, and pointed to economic and environment policies as the major distinction between the Liberals and Conservatives.

“I think it’s the understanding of our resource sector,” Hoback said when asked for examples of big differences between the two. “It’s the understanding that it’s not an evil sector. It’s a sector that provides jobs. It’s provides finances for healthcare and taxes for social programs. It’s an industry that we’re world leaders on.”

Bernier didn’t stop at criticizing his former party. He also called out Andrew Scheer for being a weak leader who moved the party to the centre, and said Hoback was drifting to the centre too.

“He’s not conservative anymore,” Bernier said when asked about the Prince Albert MP. “He’s behind Andrew Scheer.”

Hoback called Bernier’s comments disappointing, but declined to respond further. He remains happy with the Conservative Party’s direction.

“I’m very proud of what we represent and what we’ve done in the past under Stephen Harper and what we can do in the future under Andrew Scheer,” he said. “Our policies come from the grass roots.”

Hoback unsure about debate attendance

Bernier also took aim at Hoback for not attending debates during the previous election campaign. He guaranteed that PPC candidate Kelly Day would show up for every debate she’s asked to attend, and challenged the Conservatives to encourage their candidates to do the same.

Hoback said he hasn’t decided if he’s going to appear at any debates during the next campaign. He’s not sure they’re the best use of any candidate’s time.

“It’s too early to tell,” he said. “We look at our schedule, we set out a prearranged schedule, and we go from there. The problem I see with debates is that people are convinced for one party or the other at the beginning. It’s not people who are looking to make decisions one way or the other. If we had a room full of undecided (voters) that’s one thing, but when you’ve got a bunch of NDP supporters and a bunch of Liberal supporters and a bunch of Conservative supporters and that’s all you have in the room, then you have to wonder what is the value of that debate.”

“I won’t rule it out,” he continued. “I’m not scared to do the debates. When I look at what Justin Trudeau’s done over the last three or four years, there’s lots to talk about.”