In the wake of the bombshell revelations that Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party of Canada hired Warren Kinsella to “seek and destroy” Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party, new questions have come to the surface about the July 2019 mass resignation of the Elmwood-Transcona PPC board.
Taking place the day Maxime Bernier was in Winnipeg campaigning, the resignation of all five People’s Party riding executives in the Elmwood-Transcona riding was a massive blow for Benier and received widespread coverage.
Shaun Martin, Willow Christopher, Andrey Kovalchuk, Michael Brunette, and Jason Gudmundson released a letter on the Elmwood-Transcona PPC Facebook stating the resignation was due to concerns about the party encouraging and harbouring racists without condemnation.
In the media, very few questions were raised of the board members and the circumstances surrounding their departure. As it turns out–it was incredibly rapid. The men cited in the letter had only formed the board on March 8, 2019, never having any previous donation or volunteer history with the PPC. They issued their mass resignation on July 18, a little over four months later, when Maxime Bernier was in Winnipeg campaigning.
According to PPC executive director Johanne Mennie, none of them had been members prior to March 8. Mennie went on to state that Willows Christopher, mentioned in this CBC article as the prospective candidate who had “finished his paperwork and campaign video,” dropping out due to alleged racism he witnessed, was never a member of the PPC, and had never completed or submitted any paperwork related to the candidacy.
Noel Gautron, current candidate for the People’s Party in Elmwood-Transcona told The Post Millennial that once he took over control of the Facebook and Twitter for the riding, he noticed direct messages abandoned by the resigned board members that suggested the resignation was premeditated.
Gautron says he called Shaun Martin, resigned president, to question him over his claims of racism in the party. “He couldn’t give me a straight answer… He was only able to give me the example of what happened in Winnipeg centre with Kinnarath, that antifa guy, being called a terrorist.”
Martin, who had no social media presence prior to allegedly joining “#BernierNation”, retracted his support with a link to his resignation letter on July 16, 2019.
Attempts to reach Martin were unsuccessful. His pro-Bernier Facebook page was established in Sept. 2018, but according to the PPC, Martin did not join the party until March 2019 and never donated. According to the resigned board’s statement, the members were “libertarians and small-c conservatives.”
Michael Brunette, who had been the vice-president, shows a similar pattern of social media creation and then radio silence. His social media account, created in December of 2018, only posted and retweeted Maxime Bernier and PPC-related content, and went dark on May 18.
Though it was difficult to track down PPC Edmonton-Transcona volunteers who had met the resigned board members in person, those who had presented a very different story of the board members and their alleged experiences. While the letter released by the resigned members charged local PPC supporters with inexcusable racism, one member that spoke to The Post Millennial, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated she never heard any negative sentiments expressed by any of the board members about the party, policies or other members.
Former Minister of State and current PPC Candidate for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley Steven Fletcher believes what happened in Elmwood-Transcona was “a complete set-up” and commenting on the widespread controversy that broke Friday, “The dirty tricks that Warren Kinsella and certain elements of the federal Conservative Party were no doubt involved in, with dozens of false stories or manufactured stories, including making outrageous claims with no evidence, and with all due respect to the media, they fell for it.”
The Post Millennial reached out to Martin, Christopher and Brunette through social media accounts and emails but none replied to requests for comment. Attempts to find Kovalchuk’s and Gudmundson’s contacts were unsuccessful.
While what happened in Elmwood-Transcona still remains unclear, these new details, alongside the news of Kinsella’s alleged union with the CPC, have thrown gas on the fire of an already volatile election.