For the first time since the leadership race, the Conservative Party of Canada is dominating national headlines. But it isn’t because Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task on his “sunny ways.” It’s because Maxime Bernier, the libertarian-leaning Member of Parliament from Quebec, is quitting the “intellectually and morally corrupt” party.
“Mad Max” Makes Mad Dash
Bernier made a bombshell announcement at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. After months of defying the caucus, the maverick lawmaker told reporters he is ditching the party to launch his own political movement, a move that some analysts are already warning could fracture the right in the same way the Wildrose Party did in Alberta.
After more than a decade of being a Conservative MP, what changed? According to Bernier, the Conservative Party has lost its way.
Bernier averred that the Tories have abandoned the core principles of conservatism, such as refusing to eliminate corporate subsidies or abolish the supply management system that impedes free trade. And this all comes down to the party’s leader: Andrew Scheer.
“I have come to realize over the past year that this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.
The whole strategy of the party is to play identity politics, pander to various interest groups and buy votes with promises, just like the Liberals…. Andrew Scheer keeps talking about his ‘positive Conservative vision.’ But nobody knows what that vision is.
The Conservative Party has abandoned conservatives. It does not represent them anymore. And it has nothing of substance to offer Canadians looking for a political alternative.
If we want conservative principles to win the battle of ideas, we have to defend them openly, with passion and conviction.”
Scheer slammed Bernier for looking after his own interests and not the those of the party, telling reporters in Halifax:
“Over the last couple days, I have made it clear that Maxime could decide to work with us to help defeat Justin Trudeau or to put himself first. He’s made his decision. Maxime has been afforded every opportunity to be a helpful and a contributing member of the Conservative team.
However, since losing the leadership, Maxime has repeatedly demonstrated he is more interested in advancing his personal profile than advancing Conservative principles. He has decided that he is more important than his Conservative colleagues and indeed, the Conservative Party.”
Despite the headline-grabbing events, the typical Canadian will likely ask following a nightly newscast: who? Because Scheer has been weak on Trudeau, the leftist propaganda outlets have made it clear they hate conservatism, and Bernier has mused on unpopular or mundane affairs over the last two years, you can’t fault the average Canadian for not knowing these names.
What Happened to Conservatism?
Since losing the Conservative leadership, thanks to supply-managed farmers purchasing memberships just to sway the vote in Scheer’s favor, Bernier has consistently been a thorn in the party’s side. He has been that independent who refuses to toe the party line, espousing policy objectives that contradict the Official Opposition’s playbook.
No wonder Bernier is routinely likened to former Representative Ron Paul (R-TX).
It is true that promoting an end to supply management and drastically cutting spending would realistically harm the Conservatives’ chances of defeating Justin “Peoplekind” Trudeau and forming government in next year’s general election. However, if your party doctrine is the old Groucho Marx joke – “I have principles, and if you don’t like them, then I have others” – then what’s the point of winning? Politics is indeed about power, but Canadians are sick of politicians pandering – they want conviction. Bernier has been that rare breed of conservative that’s going extinct.
Unfortunately, like every major party, it appears the aim is to attain power by adopting politically expedient and correct ideas. For the Conservatives, that means being liberal-lite.
Just take a gander at some of these increases in the size of government under the previous regime:
- Welfare program employees surged 43%.
- Administration services ballooned 20%.
- Financial management staff soared 35%.
- The national debt skyrocketed $150 billion.
- The budget was imbalanced seven times.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. No matter how you look at it, Harper may have been a Conservative, but he never acted as a conservative.
Contrast that with Bernier’s policy proposals:
- Hold a referendum to abolish the Senate.
- End federal health transfer payments to the provinces and territories.
- Debate returning to the gold standard.
- Oppose retaliatory tariffs against the U.S.
- Pay off the national debt.
- Stop socially engineering national culture through immigration policies.
- Adopt a 0% inflation target (sound money).
In addition, he is a proponent of the Austrian School of Economics, name dropping Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek in interviews. (That should immediately propel him to the Prime Minister’s Office!)
Is it any surprise that the former prime minister called out Bernier and urged him to follow the leader?
Nobody expects Scheer to defeat Trudeau. Should he pull off the unexpected, does any Canadian really believe that Ottawa would be managed any differently? It would be the status quo, but with less media fawning and flashy hair.
Should Have Happened Sooner
Is this a case of sour grapes or does Bernier have a genuine grievance with the party? Either way, it was about time Bernier resigned from the Conservatives – he should have made his exit when Stephen Harper was the prime minister and racked up the nation’s credit card on big government policies. Conservatism is dead in Canada, but Bernier now has the opportunity resuscitate the movement and make it great again in the Great White North.
Do you support Maxime Bernier? Let us know in the comments section!