CONTROVERSIAL Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, who lost the party leadership race to Andrew Scheer, announced on Thursday that he is quitting the party, saying: “I want to do politics differently. I will find another way to give a voice to millions of Canadians.”
In a statement he said that his party’s stand on several issues had convinced him that under the current leadership, it had all but abandoned its core conservative principles.
Bernier said: “I still cannot understand how a party that is supposed to defend free markets supports a small cartel that artificially increases the price of milk, chicken and eggs for millions of Canadian consumers.
“More importantly, supply management has become one of the main stumbling blocks to an agreement with the United States on NAFTA. Former Conservative leaders Brian Mulroney and Rona Ambrose agree that it should be put on the table.
“But the Conservative Party has been siding with the Liberal government. It also supports the retaliatory tariffs of the Liberal government, even though this is going to hurt our businesses and consumers. Even though Canada has no realistic chance of winning a trade war with a neighbour 10 times larger. Even though we could successfully relaunch the negotiations if we put supply management on the table, and if we accept President [Donald] Trump’s offer to negotiate a dismantling of all barriers, as the European Union has done.
“The Liberals are playing politics with this crucially important trade file. They are endangering the 20% of our economy that depends on trade with the U.S., and Canada’s future prosperity.”
Bernier accused Scheer of following the Trudeau Liberals, adding: “I was told that internal polls are showing that the Liberals’ response to Trump is popular. And that in six months, if the polls change, the party’s stand may change too.”
Bernier said: “The same thing happened in reaction to my tweets on diversity and multiculturalism. This is another crucial debate for the future of our country. Do we want to emphasize our ethnic and religious differences, and exploit them to buy votes, as the Liberals are doing? Or emphasize what unites us and the values that can guarantee social cohesion?
“Just like in other Western societies grappling with this issue, a large number of Canadians, and certainly the vast majority of Conservatives, are worried that we are heading in the wrong direction. But it’s not politically correct to raise such questions.”
Bernier accused Scheer of choosing to avoid the controversy instead of “leading the debate and pushing back against all the unfair accusations.” He added: “He [Scheer] and several of my colleagues disavowed me. They are so afraid of criticism by the Left and the media that they prefer to let down millions of supporters across the country who would like us to tackle this issue.”
Bernier said: “When the Liberal government recently renewed the unfair and inefficient equalization formula for another five years, I was the only one to criticize it. Not a word from my Conservative colleagues.
“A Conservative party that supports free markets should also advocate the end of corporate welfare. It is not only the principled thing to do, it could also be popular if we defend it in a consistent way. Canadians are tired of paying taxes to bail out Bombardier, Ford and other businesses.”
He criticized Scheer for announcing that he would name a regional minister for all the regional development agencies in the country, as opposed to having only one minister overseeing them as is the case now.”
Bernier added: “The conservative solution should be to abolish these wasteful agencies. What my party proposes is to make them more efficient at buying votes with taxpayers’ money.
“How can we expect this party to adopt any conservative reform when it comes to power, if it cannot even articulate a clear stand and defend them before it is elected? I am now convinced that what we will get if Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister is just a more moderate version of the disastrous Trudeau government.
“I have come to realize over the past year that this party is too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed.
“I know for a fact that many in the caucus privately oppose supply management. But buying votes in a few key ridings is more important than defending the interests of all Canadians.
“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.”
Bernier said: “Every public declaration is tested with polls and focus groups. The result is a bunch of platitudes that don’t offend anybody, but also don’t mean anything and don’t motivate anyone.
“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.”
He said that if they want conservative principles to win the battle of ideas, they have to defend them openly, with passion and conviction.
Bernier said that that was what he wants to do and so he was quitting the Conservative Party.