OTTAWA – Aside from calling for an end to supply management in the dairy sector and privatizing Canada Post, the man dubbed “Mad Max” has a history of making headlines, often with colourful – if not contentious – commentary. Here’s a look:
Bernier touches off a diplomatic row during a visit to Afghanistan by publicly urging the country’s government to replace the governor of Kandahar, linking him to rampant corruption: “I think (the Afghan government) can work with us to be sure that the governor will be more powerful, the governor will do what he has to do to help us, and there’s the question to maybe have a new governor.”
Bernier comes under fire from opposition MPs over his relationship with Julie Couillard, who reportedly had ties to Quebec’s notorious biker gangs.
“Never did I think I’d get such a nasty and low attack from an opposition party,” he says during question period. “This concerns my private life, the private life in the past of my former girlfriend, and the private lives of people are none of your business.”
Bernier resigns his cabinet post by the end of the month after he is found to have left confidential briefing notes at the Couillard’s home.
Bernier slams a proposal to give federal money for a new NHL rink in Quebec City, needed to fulfil dreams of the return of professional hockey to the city: “It’s nice to have dreams, but when you use borrowed money to achieve them and act as if money grows on trees, you may have a brutal awakening.”
Bernier delivers a speech in Toronto where he says the federal government should end health transfer payments to provinces and territories, creating instead a new system to let them raise the money themselves to cover the costs of health care.
Bernier holds a campaign rally where he rejects the idea that the Tories aren’t open to fresh faces and new ideas: “I think we are an open party, and we like to debate and the best one will win. What is an election right now if it is not about debates?”
Bernier is re-elected and is appointed to cabinet as the minister of state for small business, tourism and agriculture.
At the Conservative policy convention, Bernier floats the idea of holding a referendum on whether to abolish the Senate, which at the time is mired in scandal.
Bernier weighs in on the high-profile acquittal of Sen. Mike Duffy and the court judgment itself, which was critical of how Harper’s office handled the affair: “I think we have some blame to take and that the people who were in charge at the time, they have to take the blame.”
Bernier loses the party’s leadership battle to Andrew Scheer on the last of 13 ballots, even though Bernier led the previous 12. Scheer wins with 50.95 per cent of the vote; Bernier earned 49.05 per cent.
A chapter from Bernier’s forthcoming book is made public and causes a stir in caucus. In it, Bernier charges that it was “fake Conservatives” in the Quebec dairy lobby who signed up in the leadership vote to help Scheer win the leadership and protect Canada’s supply management system for dairy and poultry products – a scheme Bernier is anxious to abolish.
“He did what he thought he had to do to get the most votes, and that is fair game in a democratic system,” Bernier writes of Scheer in the book. “But this also helps explain why so many people are so cynical about politics, and with good reason.”
Amid controversy over irregular border crossers in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, Bernier trains his Twitter feed on the issue of immigration and multiculturalism, saying too much diversity and “extreme multiculturalism” could divide the country into “little tribes” and erode Canada’s identity. Immigration in Canada is at “too high a level,” he writes, and could soon cease to be “a tool to economically benefit Canadians,” instead becoming a “burden” and “a big-government policy of social engineering for ideological and electoral purposes.”News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2020