People's party leader Maxime Bernier sues political pundit for defamation

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A former Member of Parliament and leader of a fringe federal party is suing a prominent political commentator and strategist for defamation.

Maxime Bernier alleges Warren Kinsella repeatedly branded him as a racist on social media and blog posts before, during and after the federal election campaign last year.

In his statement of claim, Bernier says those descriptions damaged his reputation and subjected him to public scandal and embarrassment.

A lawyer representing Kinsella says the suit is an effort to suppress public debate about Bernier's political views.

Kinsella had previously published a blog post in which he said there would be "no retraction" of past statements concerning Bernier.

The statement of claim, which has not been tested in court, says Bernier is seeking an admission of defamation along with $325,000 in damages.

Bernier was a former high-profile member of the Conservative party before founding the fledgling People's Party of Canada, which failed to win a single seat in the October election.