Loss of Conservative seats could give Trudeau a free ride. Or open the door to a different challenge.

The Conservative Party puts on a brave face on the pundit shows. The new far-right party of Maxime Bernier with either come to nothing, they explain, or any success will come at the expense of the Liberals and NDP.

Remember, this is what pundits are paid to do.

But you judge for yourself.

The more realistic prognostication is that the Bernier split means for the next 13 months Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will be looking over his shoulder at Maxime Bernier – not be eyes-forward on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It means that in the election to be held just over a year from now the Conservative Party will win fewer than the 96 seats it currently holds.

Maxime Bernier was the close runner-up in the recent Conservative leadership. He built a national organization including a national fundraising machine. He also knows where conservative voters itch. And that’s exactly where he’s going to scratch.

Look at his policy platform. He knows exactly where to put the wedge in order to separate Scheer from the Conservative base. Bernier will sprinkle his talk with coded phrases – like “illegal immigrants” and “mass migration” – to appeal to the Rebel Media types. He has promised that all capital gains will be untaxed and higher incomes will get a tax cut – to appeal to affluent conservatism. He will take pro-gun positions – he is already known as someone who thinks the AR-15 assault weapon should be unrestricted and there should be no limit on the killing-power of ammunition magazines.

Rebel Media. Affluent conservatives. Gun owners. That’s the trifeca of hard-core Conservativism, and Bernier is going hard at it.

A poll by Abacus released in late August suggested a Bernier Party would receive 13 per cent support, dropping Scheer’s Conservatives to 28 per cent.

When the Conservatives were tossed out of office in 2015 they won 99 seats on 32 per cent support. At 28 per cent, the Conservatives would likely lose 20 to 30 seats.

A more interested question is how the campaign flow would change with a Conservative Party that is not an electoral threat. It could be good times for Trudeau. Or open the door to a different threat.

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