OTTAWA — Maxime Bernier may be causing headaches for his fellow Conservative MPs, but his latest musings on "extreme multiculturalism" have been a boon for the federal Liberal party.
The Liberals say a fundraising campaign based on Bernier's controversial comments has raised 77 per cent more money than any of their previous issue-based efforts.
Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations have doubled and social media engagement has quadrupled since Monday.
And he says the Bernier controversy has also helped boost the rolls of registered Liberal supporters, with 1,000 new sign-ups this week.
Bernier, who came within a whisker of winning the federal Conservative leadership last year, has been making life difficult for the winner, Andrew Scheer. He's suggested that "fake Conservatives" propelled Scheer to victory, and he's repeatedly contradicted the leader on the issue of supply management.
Since last Sunday, Bernier has also posted a series of tweets criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promotion of ever more diversity, which the Quebec MP warns will eventually segment the country into tribes, erode Canada's identity and "destroy what has made us such a great country."
Scheer has distanced himself from Bernier's views, saying the MP doesn't speak for the party. But he has dodged questions about whether Bernier should be kicked out of the Conservative caucus.
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The Liberals have pounced on the controversy, using it to appeal for donations in a multi-pronged fundraising campaign launched Monday.
In an email appeal, the Liberal party suggested Bernier's tweets were a harbinger of the kind of campaign the Conservatives intend to run in next year's election.
"We can never go numb to this kind of politics — or the kind of deep divisiveness and negativity that Canadians rejected in 2015," the email said.
The party also posted ads on social media, arguing that it's time for Scheer to boot Bernier out of caucus and repeating Trudeau's mantra that "Canada is strong not in spite of our differences but because of them."