Canada’s ‘Mad Max’ ramping up for Tory leadership vote

March 10, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

One of the frontrunners in the race to succeed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the permanent head of the Conservative Party of Canada made a pit stop in Orangeville this week.

Maxime Bernier, an 11-year veteran of the federal political arena, was at MacMaster Buick GMC on Tuesday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with local residents as he firms up his bid for the party leadership.

“I’m happy to be here in Orangeville today to meet with people and discuss my platform,” Mr. Bernier told the Citizen.  “It’s a great opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with Conservative party members.”

Currently serving his fourth term as MP for Beauce – a federal electoral district in southern Quebec – Mr. Bernier has emerged as one of the favourites among the 14 hopefuls seeking to succeed Mr. Harper, who resigned as leader following the party’s defeat in the 2015 federal election.

Dubbed ‘Mad Max’ by a number of his competitors for his apparent thirst to quash ‘big government’, Mr. Bernier has been making waves over the past six months as he traveled the country, visiting communities far and wide in an attempt to get people on board with his ambitious platform.

“I believe my campaign is a true Conservative campaign, based on the four key values of western civilization – freedom, responsibility, respect and fairness. These four principles are very popular among Conservative members,” Mr. Bernier said. “I think people are ready for big changes and, If I’m successful in my bid to become Conservative party leader, that’s exactly what I’ll bring.”

Top of his immediate ‘to-do’ list would be “decentralizing and shrinking” the “big government” that has been allowed to grow “out of control” in Ottawa in recent years. Should Mr. Bernier be chosen to lead the Tories into the 2019 federal election, he has promised to challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a number of key issues he believes are crippling the Canadian economy.

Mr. Bernier says a Conservative government under his leadership would scrap the controversial carbon tax, slash federal income tax rates and all forms of “corporate welfare” will be eliminated.

Directly addressing the proposed carbon tax, Mr. Bernier wrote on his website that Canadians “all want to protect our air and our water, but a carbon tax won’t do that. It will only take money out of the pockets of Canadians and put it in government coffers. It’s wrong. It should be repealed.”

Mr. Bernier also plans to “get Ottawa out of health care”, privatize Canada Post, end interprovincial trade barriers, kick the CRTC out of the telecom industry to allow more competition and lower air travel costs by privatizing airports. He also wants to place a cap on immigration, allowing for a maximum of 250,000 new residents per year. Perhaps most importantly, he would balance the federal budget within two years of taking power.

“Debt and deficits are nothing more than deferred taxes on our children and grandchildren,” Mr. Bernier notes. “At some point, the bill will come due for the reckless spending from the Trudeau Liberal government. That is why it is important to present a balanced budget within two years of taking office, commit to only running a balanced budget, and legislate a debt repayment schedule. This is the right plan.”

With fellow long-time, high-profile Conservative MPs such as Chris Alexander, Michael Chong, Andrew Scheer and Lisa Raitt also competing for party leadership, there’s plenty for party members to ponder ahead of the upcoming May 27 vote. With the controversial Kellie Leitch and Canada’s token celebrity candidate Kevin O’Leary also on the ballot, this is shaping up to be one of the closest leadership races yet.

However, with his platform and strong financial backing, thanks in no large part to a successful $600,000 fundraising campaign, Mr. Bernier remains one of the favourites heading into the polls.

“I think I’m the only candidate that has a true, comprehensive platform covering a number of different topics and issues. I’m not just a one-issue candidate,” Mr. Bernier said. “I’ve said right from the beginning that this isn’t about me as a person, nor is it necessarily about me as a candidate – it’s about my ideas. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past few months, it’s that people like and appreciate my Conservative platform.”

He added, “I’m the only candidate that wants to abolish corporate welfare. I plan to lower taxes for every single entrepreneur in this country, while also implementing a ‘flat tax’ system that will see people earning between $15,000 and $100,000 paying a fixed 15 percent tax rate. Everybody will pay lower taxes under my platform.”

“I’m ready for this fight,” Mr. Bernier concluded.


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