NGI: Were you active in politics and public service before getting involved with the PPC?
Darik: I first started participating in politics as a teenager. I had a boss at one of my first jobs who was active in municipal politics in my home town of Brantford, and he got me interested in it at an early age. His name is Tim Philp, he was involved in the library then, and today he is involved in things like the city museum. When I was a teenager I helped him start an organization called the Brant Freenet which was one of the very first dial-up internet service providers in Southern Ontario - we helped bring internet to Ontario.
Tim was a member of the Liberal Party. He ran for city council, he helped make a lot of things in that city happen. He helped the library, he helped the museum, he helped the internet infrastructure. Later on in his career he went on to run things like Rosewood house. Tim was very much a role model for me.
NGI: That shaped your view of public service?
Darik: That’s right, it’s about doing good things to make good things happen. And many good things depend on political participation or at least political awareness.
NGI: How did you first hear about the People’s Party and Maxime Bernier?
Darik: I always had a low-level interest in politics. I would always read the news-wire stories. I would always watch what local candidates were doing. I tried to keep involved. And when Maxime broke away from the Conservative Party of Canada, to me it was an interesting news item. And a few guys that I worked with mentioned it, and they were excited about it, and I went and I did some independent research. I read up about what Maxime was about, and I discovered that I align almost perfectly with the things that he cares about and with the policies that he wants for Canada.
NGI: I have been to a few PPC events and you are at most of them.
Darik: That’s right, I’m at almost every PPC event I can get to in Southern Ontario.
NGI: What has made you so committed to volunteering and supporting the party?
Darik: Let me frame this by saying, I spent almost 10 years living and working in the United States. I lived and worked in California and I lived and worked in Texas. So, I have a little bit of perspective about how other places run their business, and when I returned to Canada I had more culture shock coming back to Canada than I did going to the United States. In that, I was shocked at how expensive everything is, I was horrified at housing prices. When I came back to Canada my income went down significantly and my taxes went up astronomically. And I looked into why is this, because I was gone for almost 10 years, why is everything so expensive up here? And it became apparent that there’s a huge amount of waste. So the economics of it were very noticeable to me, and I also noticed a different culture.
Canadians don’t seem to value free speech as much as the Americans do. Living in Texas, free speech is a big deal, and it’s a big deal among regular people, people who are not politically inclined or don’t really care about politics. The same with firearms rights, in Texas in particular, they enjoy their firearms, they use their firearms, they have a natural affirmative right to self-defense. It’s pervasive in their culture, and you become accustomed to it when you live down there. And I noticed it lacking, that kind of civic participation is remarkably lacking, at least in Southern Ontario. And I don’t think that’s a good thing. It’s something I think we can improve.
We can make free speech rights in Canada stronger, and I think that’s a valuable thing. I think free speech in particular is necessary to have the kind of comfortable, compassionate, well integrated, culturally sound place to live in Canada. I think it’s hugely important.
And what follows from that is things like M-103, they do bother me. I look at M-103 and I see, it’s almost like a discount on freedom. It’s chipping away at something that I think is necessary to have civilization.
NGI: For people who don’t know, can you say a bit about M-103?
Darik: M-103 is the government motion that, I’m oversimplifying this to the point of incorrectness, but it’s almost like a secular blasphemy law where you’re not allowed to criticize certain persons, certain groups, or certain religions. And while right now it’s only a motion, and it technically does not apply to us - the general population - government agencies are beginning to implement it. Obviously the government passed it, but also I’m starting to see it overflow into things like the police services, where the police have looked at M-103 and they’re subscribing to it, they are trying to fit it into their day-to-day operations and their general policy.
NGI: You are obviously very dedicated to public service in all aspects. Did you see a stronger civic spirit and sense of public service while living in the United States?
Darik: Yes, absolutely. The Americans that I lived and worked with were unquestionably more outwardly patriotic. I would say that a similar number of Canadians also feel that patriotic spirit. They like living in Canada, they know that Canada is a great country with huge current and future potential. It’s just that one of the cultural differences up here is that people tend to be a little bit more subdued, a little bit more quiet about it. And Canadians seem to be much more responsive to bullying or criticism. There’s fewer people in Canada willing to stand up to people who say bad things about them.
NGI: What do you think can be done to encourage more free speech and more public service in Canada?
Darik: I think we need to get a critical mass of people who are willing to be publicly forward about how they value these things in our culture, in our country, in our civilization. And the PPC is helping to make that happen by holding public events, by holding rallies, by communicating their values. They're showing Canadians that there is a critical mass of people that value the same things that they do, and it’s an encouragement, it does get people out. When we run public events, and when we get really good turnouts, it forms a positive feedback loop.
Early on in the campaign, many of our public events had low turnouts. We frequently got zero or only one mainstream media outlet to cover us at a time. And now, 3 to 4 months out from the general election in October 2019, for example last Friday at the Military Institute, we had a packed house and we had a representative from every major Canadian news outlet in attendance plus two or three from out of market, and that’s huge, and that’s a critical mass, and it’s positive inertia. And the handful of early PPC supporters, that worked hard, that put in the time, that made early events happen, it’s snowballed into something big and positive.
NGI: Since your early experience working with Tim in Brantford you have been engaged in public service, and your experience in the United States contributed to that. And now you are leading by example, you would like to see this change happen in Canada.
Darik: That’s right, and I’m showing up, I’m putting in the time. It’s something that I care about and something I value, it’s something that I want to see. I have children and I do genuinely want to make Canada, now and in the future, a great place for my kids to grow up in. And so, I’ve made a conscious decision to show up and work and make it happen.
NGI: Have you considered becoming a PPC candidate?
Darik: They’ve informally asked. It’s not something I want for myself. But it might be something that I do in order to help the party. So right now, I’d try to say yes. Whenever the PPC asks for help, regardless of where it is, I am bumping other obligations, I am finding the time to help out wherever they need it, wherever they need it most. And I’m doing this in part because this is very definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I don’t think that in my lifetime I will see another party created that aligns so perfectly with what I value. And October is only 3 months away, so why not show up every day and put in 100% and make that happen. Across an entire lifetime this election cycle is just going to be a tiny blip.
NGI: How would you motivate other people to volunteer?
Darik: I would lead by example, a large number of people respond extremely well to leadership by example. Some people respond really well to pep talks, where you just tell them how good it feels to do good work. For me it genuinely feels good to do good things, and get good outcomes, and meet good people, and make new friends and, like I said, to belabour the point, to make good things happen, it feels fantastic.
NGI: Have you had any negative experiences volunteering?
Darik: I have been targeted a few times by social justice warriors, and they are petty, they are mean, they are angry people. And it felt bad to be singled out by people who politically disagree with you. I was singled out in a way that I would never do to another person, it would very much violate my golden rule, the way that I was treated by certain people.
And, I’m over the hump, it doesn't bother me anymore. And for example, I know of EDA members, Electoral District Association volunteers, who from time to time get hate mail or nasty phone calls or are publicly accosted, and it feels bad the first time it happens to you, but after you get over it, it just strengthens your resolve. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest now when I’m canvassing door-to-door and somebody slams the door in my face or is rude to me, because for every one of those people there are 100 or 200 or 300 people who are receptive and will have a meaningful conversation with you.
One of the nice things about the PPC is that it doesn’t have any baggage, it’s a new party, it was formed for arguably really good reasons, it’s got a strong leader, the platform is consistent and well defined and easy to understand and easy to communicate. And I’m finding that, at least compared to prior elections that I have worked on, this is almost easy, because people are so receptive to the message.
When you tell them basic things like the PPC cares about fundamental rights like free speech and freedom of association - they get that. Or when the PPC doesn’t want to send your hard-earned tax money overseas to either foreign national governments or foreign corporations or any corporation at all - people get that. They understand it and it resonates.
NGI: Which PPC event was your most memorable experience?
Darik: The one that sticks out for me was when I met Max for the first time in Etobicoke. That was memorable. It was a really high-energy gathering. It was remarkable in how positive and how packed and how energetic it was compared to anything I had done in the past few years.
And Max is a great guy. He doesn’t have handlers, he engaged the audience, he stayed until everybody got a photo or a selfie, and he’s plain with his answers.
NGI: Which political campaigns did you support before the PPC?
Darik: Some municipal level stuff that wasn’t party affiliated. But almost always provincial Tory or federal Tory.
NGI: How do you feel about the Tory party now, particularly at the federal level?
Darik: I think the phrase LibCon, which is sort of being used as an insult or invective, I think the criticism LibCon is accurate. You can take Andrew Scheer’s own quotes, Andrew Scheer said that the Tories have become a mainstream centrist party. I completely agree. The federal Tories are, in fact, a middle of the road, conflict-averse, mainstream, middle of the road party. And that’s exactly where the federal Liberals were 10 and 20 years ago, and it’s not something that I want, it’s not something I subscribe to.