POLITICS
01/08/2019 17:21 EST | Updated 01/09/2019 11:16 EST

NDP MP Jenny Kwan Accuses Maxime Bernier Of Embracing 'Disturbing' Campaign Tactics

The B.C. MP says the People's Party of Canada leader's silence "speaks volumes."

Paul Chiasson/CP
People's Party leader Maxime Bernier is seen during an interview with The Canaian Press in Montreal on Dec. 14, 2018.

OTTAWA — An NDP MP criticized People's Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier Tuesday for failing to denounce "shallow and disturbing" campaign tactics against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

An image of Singh speaking to constituents was shared by a PPC riding association on Sunday — the same day the NDP leader rallied with volunteers in Burnaby ahead of a byelection.

The tweet, shared by the PPC's Mississauga—Erindale association mistakenly identified Singh to be in Burnaby South. The chosen photo is actually of Singh in Brampton, Ont. It also asked if Singh, who is greeting supporters who happen to be people of colour, is leader for one "only for one group of people."

"To suggest Jagmeet only represents one community group because of an event picture with Indo-Canadians is shallow and disturbing," said Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan, who serves as the party's multiculturalism critic.

"This kind of dirty politics has no place in Canadian society," she added. "Mr. Bernier should denounce these kind of tactics, otherwise his silence speaks volumes."

The PPC announced Monday that Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson, host of "The 700 Club Canada," will carry the party's banner as a candidate in the upcoming byelection in Burnaby South where Singh is also a candidate.

PPC elected officers required to sign pledge to not 'publicly embarrass the party'

Bernier founded the People's Party of Canada after a high-profile split with the Conservatives this summer. The party claimed it's been able to sign up more than 30,000 "founding members" in its first few months.

The tight time frame prompted the party to ask all its elected officers to sign a pledge promising that their past and future conduct won't "publicly embarrass the party."

Party spokesperson Martin Masse told HuffPost Canada the pledge is an "additional measure to prevent people with extremist views that could be damaging to the party to become party officials, at a time when tens of thousands of new members were joining the party."

Electoral district association (EDA) presidents, vice-presidents, treasurers, secretaries and directors are considered elected officers, he said. Masse added that elected officers of the party who violate the pledge face removal from their executive position.

Candidates do not have to sign the same pledge.

Masse declined to comment about the NDP accusations. "I don't believe this is important enough to warrant a response from us," he said in an email.

Darryl Dyck/CP
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, and MP Jenny Kwan high-five after a three-day NDP caucus national strategy session in Surrey, B.C., on Sept. 13, 2018.

Despite being a new party, the PPC recently hit a milestone in setting up EDAs in all 338 federal ridings.

As a new federal party poised take part in this year's general election, there's a financial incentive to set up EDAs. According to Elections Canada, the associations allow parties to accept donations and issue tax receipts for contributions

Bernier's comments on reforming Canada's immigration policy and on "extreme" multiculturalism have drawn scrutiny, causing the PPC leader to clarify that he's not opposed to immigrants or legitimate asylum seekers.

Asked about his party's appeal to anti-immigrant advocates, the Beauce MP told HuffPost Canada's politics podcast "Follow-Up" in December that he promises to fight for the rights of all Canadians.

"We want a country that will follow the rule of law — and we don't like discrimination," he said at the time.

Listen to the full interview about Bernier's position on immigration below: