Maxime Bernier

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The Honourable
Maxime Bernier
PC, MP
Maxime Bernier.jpg
Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 18, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Rob Moore
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
August 13, 2007 – May 26, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Peter MacKay
Succeeded by David Emerson
Minister of Industry
In office
February 6, 2006 – August 13, 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by David Emerson
Succeeded by Jim Prentice
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Beauce
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 23, 2006
Preceded by Claude Drouin
Personal details
Born (1963-01-18) January 18, 1963 (age 51)
Saint-Georges, Quebec
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Divorced
Residence Montreal, Quebec
Profession Businessman, lawyer, consultant

Maxime Bernier, PC, MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian politician currently serving as the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Bernier is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Beauce in Quebec, and previously served as the Minister of Industry and Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, he resigned from cabinet on May 26, 2008, after a scandal involving an ex-girlfriend, Julie Couillard, with ties to the Hells Angels. Prior to entering federal politics in 2006 Bernier was vice-president of the Standard Life of Canada insurance company and manager of corporate and international relations at the Commission des valeurs mobilières du Québec.

Background[edit]

Bernier was born in Saint-Georges, Quebec, to Doris and Gilles Bernier. He has two sisters, Brigitte and Caroline, and one brother, Gilles Bernier, Jr. His father represented the riding of Beauce from 1984 to 1997, first as a Progressive Conservative and then as an independent. In his teens Bernier played football and was a member of the Condors, the team of the Séminaire St-Georges, when they won the Bol d’Or at the Olympic Stadium in 1980. He has participated in several marathons and runs daily. He obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and went on to complete his law degree at the University of Ottawa. He was called to the Quebec Bar in 1990. Bernier has held positions in several financial and banking institutions, including the National Bank, the Securities Commission of Québec, and Standard Life of Canada, to that of Executive Vice-President of the Montreal Economic Institute.[1]

Bernier is regarded by pundits as belonging to the libertarian wing of the Conservative Party.[2][3][4] He has suggested that there are uncertainties or exaggerations about anthropogenic climate change and its significance.[5][6] [7][8]

Politics[edit]

Bernier became the Conservative Party candidate in the riding of Beauce for the 2006 federal election. The Conservatives had been shut out of Quebec in the 2004 election but Bernier was well known and well liked in the area, partly due to his father's legacy. The Conservatives thought that he represented their best chance of winning a seat in Quebec.[9] On election day the Conservatives made big gains in the province and elected 10 Members of Parliament, including Bernier. He won 67 per cent of the popular vote in the riding, which was the largest majority for a Conservative MP outside Alberta.[1][10]

Industry Minister[edit]

Bernier was one of the higher-profile freshman MPs from Quebec, and as such, on February 6, 2006, he was appointed Minister of Industry. He was also the minister responsible for Statistics Canada, and by virtue of being appointed as the Minister of Industry, Bernier also served as the Registrar General.[11] During his time as Industry Minister Bernier worked to deregulate the telecommunication industry.[12][13][14][15]

Foreign Affairs Minister[edit]

On August 14, 2007, Bernier was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Peter MacKay who became the Minister of National Defence.[16][17] His appointment was criticized by both opposition leaders due to Bernier's right-wing ideology.[18] Bernier made several high-profile gaffes during his time in the portfolio and resigned as Minister of Foreign Affairs less than a year after his appointment when it was revealed he left ministerial documents at the house of his ex-girlfriend.[19]

Khalid affair[edit]

In April 2008, during a trip to Afghanistan Bernier made comments to reporters with regards to replacing Governor of Kandahar Asadullah Khalid, who was alleged to have participated in torture of detainees. Bernier stated; "Is it the right person at the right place at the right time? President Karzai will have to answer these questions as soon as possible." Bernier clarified his statement hours later saying that Canada was not calling for any changes to the Afghan government.[20][21] The Prime Minister defended Bernier, and said he had "very quickly corrected the misimpression". Bob Rae, the Liberal Party's Foreign Affairs Critic, called for Bernier to resign as Minister, while Liberal leader Stephane Dion said that Bernier lacked the experience to run such a high-profile portfolio.[22] According to Afghan parliamentarian Khalid Pashtoon, President Hamid Karzai was set to remove Governor Khalid from office but had no choice but to leave him in the post after Bernier's comments.[23] However, several months later the Afghanistan government announced that Khalid had been removed from his post.[24]

Aircraft affair[edit]

In May 2008, he promised to send a C-17 aircraft transporting several helicopters to Burma which was hit by Cyclone Nargis that killed tens of thousands of people in early May. However, none of the four C-17 aircraft were made available at the time and the government was forced to send an aircraft rented at a cost of $1 million to the cyclone-ravaged area.[19]

Couillard affair and resignation[edit]

Bernier came under even more intense scrutiny after the media discovered that his girlfriend Julie Couillard had past romantic links with members of the Hells Angels.[25] Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper initially dismissed this as irrelevant, he later accepted Bernier's resignation when it was revealed that Bernier had left classified and sensitive briefing notes for an upcoming NATO meeting at Couillard's house after having broken off the relationship.[26][27][28] The Liberals and the NDP called for a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation into possible security breaches.[29] International Trade Minister David Emerson became the interim minister of Foreign Affairs following Bernier's resignation, and in June became his permanent replacement.[30][31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Biography". Maxime Bernier. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Maxime Bernier: Ottawa should quit intruding on provincial jurisdiction". National Post. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Taber, Jane (10 September 2010). "Maxime Bernier breaks ranks on arena funding". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Maxime Bernier wants to have an adult conversation". Globe and Mail. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Taber, Jane (February 24, 2010). "Maxime Bernier has 'long history' of climate-change denial". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  6. ^ "Bernier questions climate science". MacLean's. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Climate skeptics gathering influence in Tory Senate seats". Edmonton Journal. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Une position sage". La Presse. 22 February 2010. 
  9. ^ "Harper targets attainable Quebec ridings". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 January 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Conservatives make breakthrough in Quebec; Bloc wins 51 seats". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "More Quebec MPs named to cabinet than expected". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 February 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "CRTC gives thumbs-up to telecom complaints agency". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 December 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Conservatives overrule CRTC on regulation of internet phones". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Ottawa accelerates deregulation of local phone service". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "Removing the dead hand". National Post. 16 June 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "Opposition leaders slam Harper's cabinet shuffle". CTV News. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Quebecers gain key cabinet roles". Montreal Gazette. 14 August 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Findlay, Alan. "Rookie in foreign affairs". The Toronto Sun. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "Maxime Bernier resigns as foreign affairs minister". CTV. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  20. ^ "Bernier clarifies comments over Kandahar's governor". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  21. ^ McCarten, James (14 April 2008). "Bernier's Afghan bombshell". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Bernier must resign, say Liberals". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Kandahar governor set to leave until Bernier spoke, says Afghan official". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Controversial Kandahar governor replaced". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "Who is Julie Couillard?". Montreal Gazette. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Harper shrugs off new concerns about minister's ex-flame". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Bernier quits cabinet post over security breach". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "No secrets revealed in Bernier document security breach, PM says". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  29. ^ "Let Mounties investigate Bernier's indiscretions". Montreal Gazette. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "Emerson adds high-profile post to other duties". The Vancouver Sun. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  31. ^ "Foreign Affairs Minister Emerson set to retire: sources". Canadian Broadcasting. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Peter MacKay Minister of Foreign Affairs
2007 - 2008
David Emerson
David Emerson Minister of Industry
2006 - 2007
Jim Prentice
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Predecessor
Title Successor
Josée Verner Minister responsible for La Francophonie
2007-2008
Josée Verner