VANCOUVER — Former federal Conservative party cabinet minister Maxime Bernier may have to find a new name for his fledgling People's Party of Canada, if a British Columbia businessman wins two lawsuits filed in Federal Court.
Elections Canada shows the People's Party of Canada was officially registered on Jan. 17, and Bernier is its leader, but Abbotsford, B.C., resident Satinder Singh Dhillon claims to own the copyright and registered trademark to the name, and wants Bernier to quit using it.
Dhillon says in a news release that he filed his Elections Canada application for the name weeks before Bernier did, and a media story shows he discussed the People's Party name as early as 2015.
Dhillon's Federal Court action asks for an injunction preventing Bernier from using the party name during the upcoming federal byelection in Burnaby South, and he wants a review of the process used by Elections Canada to grant Bernier use of the name.
He has also launched a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit against Bernier and the other People's Party of Canada.
Dhillon says the decision by Bernier's party to run a candidate in next week's Burnaby byelection forced him to take the legal action.
"The byelection underway in Burnaby is the first time the other party using our name has put forward a candidate, so it was critical we file for an injunction to show Mr. Bernier and anyone in his party that we are serious," Dhillon says in the news release.
The chief agent for Dhillon's People's Party sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bernier's party, but Dhillon says the letter was ignored.
"We are asking the courts to stop them from improperly using a party name which rightfully belongs to us before further damage is done in this byelection or any election," he says.
The news release says Dhillon filed the party name with Elections Canada on Sept. 25, 2018, weeks before Bernier made the same application.
However, Dhillon says supporting documents had to be filed by mail and a postal strike impeded that paperwork.
Christian Roy, chief agent with Bernier's People's Party, says a lawyer is handling the matter but the party has been assured by Elections Canada that it can use the name.
The executive director of Bernier's party was not immediately available for comment.
Dhillon's applications to Federal Court were filed separately in Vancouver less than a week ago and no dates have been set for hearings.
The Canadian Press