In 1989, the federal budget mandated fiscal cuts to a broad range of departments and agencies, one of which was Bouchard's ministry at Transport Canada. As part of his department's efforts to cut its budget, Bouchard authorized Transport Canada to slash the subsidy to the national intercity passenger railway, Via Rail by 55%. Responding to the cuts, Bouchard said in a television interview several weeks later: "Ten years from now, no one will remember Benoît Bouchard cut Via Rail".
He retired from politics in June 1993 to accept an appointment as Canada's Ambassador to France.
1The department was eliminated in 1993 when the government was reorganized. The position of Secretary of State for Canada was not legally eliminated until 1996 when its remaining responsibilities were assigned to other cabinet positions and departments, particularly the newly created position of Minister of Canadian Heritage.