The Rhinoceros Party of Canada, a satirical political party that would like to “privatize the Senate” and “nationalize Tim Hortons,” has turned its attention onto divisive People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.
On Tuesday, the Rhinoceros Party announced they will also be running a candidate named Maxime Bernier in the PPC leader’s riding of Beauce, south of Quebec City.
“A lot of people tell me that they want to vote for Maxime Bernier, but they also want to vote Rhinoceros,” the party’s leader, Sébastien CoRhino, said in a French-language press release on Tuesday. “I’m giving them a chance to do both.”
Rhino Bernier’s campaign slogan, CoRhino said, will be: “Don’t take any chances — vote for both.”
Watch: PPC Leader Maxime Bernier launches campaign in Quebec. Story continues after video.
Many in the Rhino Party change their names — CoRhino’s real last name is Corriveau, and they also have candidates named Thibaud Rhino Mony and JudahRhino Soucy-Rousseau.
But their Maxime Bernier did not change his name, CoRhino said. “Yes, it’s actually his legal name,” he told HuffPost Canada in French.
CoRhino says he found his candidate on Facebook. “I reached out and asked him: ‘Hi Maxime, would you like to be part of a secret mission for the Rhinoceros Party?’ And he said ‘Yes, I accept your mission.’”
“Maxime” is a fairly common name in Quebec. Sixty-eight baby boys named Maxime were born in the province in 2018, 88 in 2017, and 133 in 2016, according to the provincial government. And Bernier isn’t an unusual last name, either — there are Quebecois hockey players named Jonathan Bernier and Steve Bernier, and a Montreal professor named Michel Bernier, for example.
The party has not yet completed all of the requirements to run their candidate in the election, but CoRhino says they fully intend to. Among those requirements includes the signatures of at least 100 eligible electors in the riding.
“There will be two Maxime Berniers on the ballot,” CoRhino insisted.
He wouldn’t give his party’s stance on the other Maxime Bernier, the former Tory MP who has come under fire for his comments on immigration and “radical multiculturalism,” as well as accusations of pandering to far-right groups for votes. CoRhino said that he respects democracy and free speech, and that the Rhino Party “is here and we say what we want.”
Though the Rhino’s Maxime Bernier lives in Montreal, he can still run as a candidate in Beauce. But because he’s not a resident in the riding, he is ineligible to vote there. CoRhino says his party is hoping for a slip-up from the original Bernier.
“We think it’s possible that Maxime Bernier himself will get it wrong, and vote for his adversary.”