Maxime Bernier

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The Honourable
Maxime Bernier
Maxime Bernier.jpg
Official Opposition Critic for Innovation, Science, and Economic Development
In office
November 20, 2015 – April 7, 2016
Leader Rona Ambrose
Preceded by Peggy Nash
Succeeded by Diane Finley
Minister of Small Business and Tourism
In office
May 18, 2011 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Rob Moore
Succeeded by Bardish Chagger
7th 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
Chair of the Standing Committee on
National Defence
In office
March 9, 2009 – June 20, 2011
Minister Peter Mackay
Preceded by Rick Casson
Succeeded by James Bezan
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Beauce
Assumed office
January 23, 2006
Preceded by Claude Drouin
Personal details
Born (1963-01-18) January 18, 1963 (age 54)
Saint-Georges, Quebec, Canada
Political party Conservative
Residence Saint-Georges, Quebec, Canada
Profession Businessman, lawyer, consultant

Maxime Bernier, PC, MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian businessman, lawyer, and politician, who is currently serving as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Beauce in Quebec. Bernier has been elected four times with a majority of the vote in his riding. During his time in politics, he served as the Minister of Industry, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, and Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He is now the Official Opposition Critic for Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.


Bernier was born in Saint-Georges, Quebec, the son of Doris (Rodrigue) and Gilles Bernier,[1] a well known radio host, who represented the riding of Beauce from 1984 to 1997, first as a Progressive Conservative[1] and then as an independent.[2][3] He has two sisters, Brigitte and Caroline, and one brother, Gilles Bernier, Jr. 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.

For 19 years, Bernier has held positions in several financial and banking institutions, including the National Bank, the Securities Commission of Québec, and Standard Life of Canada. He also served as Executive Vice-President of the Montreal Economic Institute, a prominent Quebec free-market think tank.[4] During his time with the think tank, he co-authored a book on tax reform.

Personal life[edit]

The father of two children, Bernier and their mother have been divorced for several years. However, Bernier explains that he keeps his children's life private due to their importance to him, and is proud of them.[5] On September 29, 2013, he trained for and ran an ultramarathon for thirteen hours and raised $153,000 for a local food bank.[6]


Bernier became the Conservative Party candidate in the riding of Beauce for the 2006 federal election. The intention was to bring his father back into federal politics; however, he declined. Before 2006, Bernier, who was recruited, has explained he was not active in politics and decided to join the Conservative party, not because of his father affiliation, but their stance on federal centralization.[7][8]

The Conservatives had been shut out of Quebec in the 2004 election but Bernier, whose father had previously represented the riding, was well known and well liked in the area, and was seen as one of the Conservatives' best hopes of electing an MP in the province.[9] Bernier voted no in the 1995 Quebec referendum. Bernier explained that while he did not favour the centralized approach of the federalist elite, he did not believe that the separatist establishment could address all of his concerns.[10]

Bernier has long been viewed as one of the most libertarian politicians in Canada, and a leader of the limited government wing of the Conservative Party. Bernier has an history of quoting Friedrich Hayek and Henry Hazlitt. These beliefs have caused him to be nicknamed "Mad Max", the "Bloc-buster" or the "Albertan from Quebec" by his Ottawa colleagues.[1][11] He has said that his views were shaped by his life experiences such as seeing how regulation affected small business.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

In the 2015 federal election he released a viral retro campaign jingle, which had support from his constituents.[18]

Political views[edit]

In 2009, Bernier released a blog explaining his views on certain issues. In 2017, Bernier considers himself libertarian but reasonable.[1][19]


He told Huffington Post Canada in December 2015 that he would focus his platform on a "more decentralized federalism, a smaller government less involved in Canadians' day-to-day lives, as well as more personal freedoms".[20]

In 2010, he told an audience at the Manning Centre that his view for Canada is not held by Pierre Elliot Trudeau or Jacques Parizeau by stating "Jacques Parizeau used to say that he and Pierre Trudeau agreed on almost everything, except where to put the national capital. They were both believers in big government. Left-wing Quebec nationalism and left-wing Canadian centralism feed off each other."[21]


Bernier believes that the best way to strengthen unity in Canada is by respecting the constitution and not interfering within constitutional granted jurisdiction; instead of vote buying measures.[22]


In 2007, Bernier was requested by a local bicycle manufacturer to impose a quota against Chinese bicycles. He opposed it because he would not protect 200 jobs in his own riding against the interest of all Canadians. The owner explained to him that he had two options if the quota did not get approved, invest $1-million in low-end bicycles, creating 300 new jobs in Saint- Georges, or a similar amount in high-end bikes that would bring considerably fewer jobs but keep the company more productive. Bernier opposition shocked his Cabinet colleagues, who feared for his electoral chances and Bloc Quebecois accused him of not supporting the needs of Quebecers. However, Bernier accused the Bloc Quebecois for protecting corporate interests, not Quebecers. Bernier explained that the bicycle company decided to retool its self as an high-end manufacturer and is still in business.[23]

Corporate welfare and equalization[edit]

"It's not the job of the government to give money to businesses", he said at the 2016 Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa. "I think people understand that. Small businesses don't have the connections or the time to get a handout from the government."[24]

In a February 2, 2017 speech, Bernier criticized equalization as a scheme that subsidized provinces with poor economic performance while creating a "poverty trap" for "have-not provinces". [25]

International development[edit]

On March 19, 2016, at the Conservative Future's Conference[26] he cited the liberalization of China, India, "other 3rd world countries" that lifted "millions of people out of poverty", citing "less government and more freedom". In the same speech he also criticized policies creating "more government" to address poverty and unfairness in the free market as "nonsense".[27] Bernier later clarified that his comments were a joke and questioned Press Progress due to their connection to the NDP.[28]

Climate change, bureaucracy, and politicalization[edit]

Bernier has suggested that there are uncertainties or exaggerations about anthropogenic climate change and its significance.[29][30][31][32] Bernier later clarified that he wanted scientists to stay out of public policy. He also mentioned that he did not want the government to dictate scientific policy.[33]

Foreign affairs[edit]

He did not support the Iraq War.[34]


In 2010, Bernier was rumoured to be the MP that prevented the federal government from spending $175 million for Videotron Centre in Quebec City.[35] Even though, most of his Quebec colleagues did support the investment.[36] Even when there were rumours of the government making the investment, Bernier did not waver his position by pointing out the growing budget deficit as an issue.[37]


In 2017, Bernier stated that while "it was nice" that Canadians wanted to help refugees, it should not come at the cost of its citizens. He pointed out that he prefers private sponsorship over government sponsor due to logistical challenges that a government sponsor may face.[38]


In 2016, Bernier explained that he would get rid of omnibus bills and wants to encourage more transparent debates before passing policies in government.[39]

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.[40] During his time as Industry Minister Bernier set in motion/credited the steps that led to deregulation of the telecommunication industry.[41][42][43] Professor Richard J. Schultz from McGill University lauded his attempt to deregulate the telecommunications industry, calling him "the best Industry Minister in 30 years, without challenge".[44]

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.[45][46]

Couillard affair[edit]

Bernier came under intense scrutiny after the media discovered that his former girlfriend Julie Couillard, predating their relationship, had romantic links with people that had connections to the Hells Angels before 1999.[47]

In April 2008, Bernier inadvertently left sensitive government documents at Couillard's home.[48] Couillard gave the documents to a lawyer for transmittal to the government, and then the media revealed her links. Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper had initially dismissed Bernier's relationship with Couillard as irrelevant,[49] he accepted Bernier's resignation.[48] (International Trade Minister David Emerson became the interim minister of Foreign Affairs following Bernier's resignation, and in June became his permanent replacement.)[50][51]


Journalist Chantal Hébert criticized the reaction to the incident by opposition parties, and said that both the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals had been actively lobbying the media to break the news for weeks. Hébert says that Couillard never had any criminal record and was not charged with criminal activity, and that investigative journalists could not find links between Couillard and the bikers since 1999. Also, Hébert says that it is "just about unprecedented for a Quebec party to venture into the private life of a political opponent in this fashion" and that most Quebec politicians avoid using such tactics.[52]


An internal government report dated 16 July 2008 found that Bernier did not adequately safeguard the NATO conference briefing materials, in leaving the documents unattended in an unlocked briefcase both in a Bucharest hotel room and in Canada. The documents related to a NATO summit in Romania, and addressed NATO's relationship with Russia; expansion to the Balkans; Afghan prisoners; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; AECL reactors in Estonia; and the presence of Al-Qaida in Pakistan, among other topics.[53] Bernier accepted blame for the incident and resigned his cabinet post on May 26, 2008.[48] The review (conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs) found that the content of the documents, if disclosed, "would not have caused significant injury to the national interest", but also found "the incident itself was injurious to the national interest by tarnishing Canada's good reputation within NATO circles for safeguarding classified information."[54][55]

Several weeks later, Bernier apologized to his family members, who felt dishonored by his actions. Bernier mentioned that this incident made him rethink why he was in politics and decided to stay out of the public eye.

In 2010, Bernier was recruited by the now defunct ADQ to become their leader. It was supported by Ottawa insider as a potential swap with Mario Dumont. However, he decided to rejected the opportunity based on the time.[56]

Whenever asked about the incident, Bernier mentions that he keeps government information within the parliament while staying up late to finish duties. He also explains that his constituents have told him that they did not have an issue with Couillard's past, and would vote for him if he did not get into trouble. Bernier has moved past this incident.[57]

Minister of State[edit]

On May 18, 2011, Bernier was appointed as Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism). His responsibilities were expanded with his appointment on July 15, 2013 to Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture).[58] He served in this last role until the new cabinet was sworn in on November 3, 2015, following the Harper Government's defeat on October 19, 2015.[59]

Red Tape Commission[edit]

During his time, he led the red tape commission which created a rule that for every regulation added then another one has to be cut.[60]

Opposition Critic[edit]

On November 20, 2015, Bernier was appointed by the interim Conservative Leader of the Opposition Rona Ambrose as Critic for Economic Development and Innovation.[58]

On March 06, 2016, Bernier introduced a motion that would have required Bombardier executives to testify reasoning for the federal government to bail them out. However, the governing Liberal Party of Canada blocked it.[61]


On April 7, 2016, Bernier filed his nomination papers to be a candidate in the Conservative Party of Canada leadership election, which is to be held in May 2017.[62] Bernier explains that the reason why he is running is to explaining his views while being authentic and not pandering to any special interest group.[63][64] Before filing his nomination papers, he consulted with his family and supporters when making the decision.[65]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Maxime Bernier 32,910 58.89 +8.17
Liberal Adam Veilleux 12,442 22.26 +11.27
New Democratic Daniel Royer 5,443 9.74 -20.26
Bloc Québécois Stéphane Trudel 4,144 7.42 +0.75
Green Céline Brown MacDonald 943 1.69 +0.08
Total valid votes/Expense limit 55,882 100.0     $222,691.43
Total rejected ballots 712 1.25 0.02
Turnout 56,594 66.15 +3.13
Eligible voters 85,547
Conservative hold Swing +14.22
Source: Elections Canada[66][67]
Canadian federal election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Maxime Bernier 26,799 50.71 -11.70 $80,639.74
New Democratic Serge Bergeron 15,831 29.95 +21.43 $1,165.17
Liberal Claude Morin 5,833 11.04 +0.72 $53,133.79
Bloc Québécois Sylvio Morin 3,535 6.69 -7.29 $19,711.99
Green Etienne Doyon Lessard 852 1.61 -3.16 $2.00
Total valid votes/Expense limit 52,850 100.0     $90,992.37
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 681 1.27 -0.30
Turnout 53,531 63.02 +0.64
Eligible voters 84,941
Conservative hold Swing -16.56
Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Maxime Bernier 31,883 62.41 -4.61 $69,558.01
Bloc Québécois André Côté 7,143 13.98 -5.99 $13,263,15
Liberal René Roy 5,270 10.32 +2.40 $2,129.85
New Democratic Véronique Poulin 4,352 8.52 +5.97 $2,575.32
Green Nicolas Rochette 2,436 4.77 +2.23 none listed
Total valid votes/Expense limit 51,084 100.0     $87,470
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 817 1.57 +0.75
Turnout 51,901 62.38 -5.24
Eligible voters 83,205
Conservative hold Swing +0.69
Canadian federal election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Maxime Bernier 36,915 67.02 +49.93 $79,344.54
Bloc Québécois Patrice Moore 10,997 19.97 -16.29 $66,069.90
Liberal Jacques Lussier 4,364 7.92 -33.46 $54,809.07
New Democratic Cléo Chartier 1,405 2.55 -0.50 $1,020.20
Green Jean-Claude Roy 1,397 2.54 +0.31 $108.47
Total valid votes/Expense limit 55,078 100.0     $81,497
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 454 0.82 -1.42
Turnout 55,532 67.62 +8.12
Eligible voters 82,123
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +33.11


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  7. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  23. ^ . 31 August 2007 Retrieved 26 February 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  39. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  60. ^ "Video: Feds to cut red tape for small business". 
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  63. ^ "Conservative MP Maxime Bernier discusses ways party can regain public trust - Watch News Videos Online". 
  64. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  65. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  66. ^ "Voter Information Service - Who are the candidates in my electoral district?". Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  67. ^ "Elections Canada On-line - Élection Canada en-ligne". Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  68. ^ "OVR / ROS". Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  69. ^ "Financial Reports: Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return". Retrieved October 31, 2016. 

External links[edit]

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