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
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 53)
Saint-Georges, Quebec
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Divorced
Residence Saint-Georges, Quebec
Profession Businessman, lawyer, consultant

Maxime Bernier, PC, MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian politician currently serving as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Beauce in Quebec. He was reelected in the 2015 election.

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.

Prior to entering federal politics in 2006, Bernier was vice-president of Standard Life of Canada and manager of corporate and international relations at the Commission des valeurs mobilières du Québec.


Bernier was born in Saint-Georges, Quebec, the son of Doris (Rodrigue) and Gilles Bernier.[1][2] 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.[3] The father of two children, Bernier and their mother have been divorced for several years.[4] On September 29, 2013, he trained for and ran an ultramarathon for thirteen hours and raised $153,000 for a local food bank.[5]

Bernier is regarded by pundits as belonging to the limited government wing of the Conservative Party.[6][7][8]


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.[3][10]

Political views[edit]

Bernier has long been viewed as one of the most libertarian politicians in Canada, favouring smaller government and reduced taxes. “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.”[11] His beliefs have caused him to be nicknamed "Mad Max" by his Ottawa colleagues.[12]

He told Huffington Post Canada in December 2015 that he'll 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".[13]

On March 19, 2016, at the Conservative Future's Conference[14] he cited the liberalization of China, India, "other 3rd world countries" that lifted "millions of people out of poverty." specifically 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."[15]

Bernier has suggested that there are uncertainties or exaggerations about anthropogenic climate change and its significance.[16][17][18][19] Bernier later clarified that he wants politicians, not scientists, to determine policy.[20]

He did not support the Iraq war.[21]

In a speech in 2011, Bernier criticised the controversial Bill 101 since he believed that the government should not infringe on individual freedom to protect its culture and language.[22]

In 2010, Bernier was rumoured to be the MP that prevented the federal government from spending $175 million for Videotron Centre in Quebec City.[23]

In 2015, Bernier voted in favour of the controversial Bill C-51. [24]

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.[25] During his time as Industry Minister Bernier set in motion steps that led to deregulation of the telecommunication industry.[26][27][28]

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.[29][30]

Couillard affair and resignation[edit]

Bernier came under intense scrutiny after the media discovered that his former girlfriend Julie Couillard had romantic links with members of the Hells Angels, predating their relationship.[31]

In April 2008, Bernier inadvertently left a dossier containing sensitive government documents at Couillard's home.[32] 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.[33] Bernier resigned his cabinet post on May 26, 2008.[32]

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper had initially dismissed Bernier's relationship with Couillard as irrelevant,[34] he accepted Bernier's resignation.[32] (International Trade Minister David Emerson became the interim minister of Foreign Affairs following Bernier's resignation, and in June became his permanent replacement.[35][36])

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 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."[37][38]

Several weeks later, Bernier apologized to his family members, who felt dishonored by his actions.[39]

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)[40] 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.[41]

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.[40]


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.[42]

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[43][44]
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


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Biography". Maxime Bernier. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "In training with Maxime Bernier". Maclean's. 14 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Maxime Bernier's latest challenge: an ultramarathon". CBC. 29 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Maxime Bernier: Ottawa should quit intruding on provincial lurisdiction". National Post. 13 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Taber, Jane (10 September 2010). "Maxime Bernier breaks ranks on arena funding". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  8. ^ "Maxime Bernier wants to have an adult conversation". Globe and Mail. 17 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  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. ^ "Maxime Bernier and the politics of ideas". Retrieved 21 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "From 'Mad Max' to The Running Man: Tory MP finishes 107-km marathon for local charity". National Post. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  13. ^ "Maxime Bernier Preparing Bid For Conservative Party". Retrieved 21 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "VIDEO: Conservative MP Maxime Bernier wishes Canada had "more freedom" like China". Press Progress. 
  15. ^ "Maxime Bernier: China has "less government and more freedom" than Canada". 29 March 2016. 
  16. ^ Taber, Jane (February 24, 2010). "Maxime Bernier has 'long history' of climate-change denial". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 
  17. ^ "Bernier questions climate science". MacLean's. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "Climate skeptics gathering influence in Tory Senate seats". Edmonton Journal. 22 January 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "Une position sage". La Presse. 22 February 2010. 
  20. ^ "Press review: my opinion piece on climate change «  Maxime Bernier blog". Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  21. ^ Stephenson, Dan. "The Shotgun: Maxime Bernier agrees with Harper: "Iraq war was a mistake"". Retrieved 2016-04-08. 
  22. ^ "We need more Max Berniers". Retrieved 2016-04-12. 
  23. ^ "Maxime Bernier Maverick Watch -". Retrieved 2016-04-19. 
  24. ^ "Who's on our side?: Here's how your MPs voted on Bill C-51". Openmedia. 30 September 2016. 
  25. ^ "More Quebec MPs named to cabinet than expected". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 February 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  26. ^ "CRTC gives thumbs-up to telecom complaints agency". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 December 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  27. ^ "Conservatives overrule CRTC on regulation of internet phones". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  28. ^ "Ottawa accelerates deregulation of local phone service". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "Opposition leaders slam Harper's cabinet shuffle". CTV News. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  30. ^ "Quebecers gain key cabinet roles". Montreal Gazette. 14 August 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2012.  "Maxime Bernier resigns as foreign affairs minister". CTV. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  31. ^ "Who is Julie Couillard?". Montreal Gazette. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  32. ^ a b c "Maxime Bernier resigns as foreign affairs minister". CTV News. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  33. ^ Bruce Cheadle (3 September 2009). "Dossier that cost Bernier his job released". The Globe and Mail. CP. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  34. ^ "Harper shrugs off new concerns about minister's ex-flame". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  35. ^ "Emerson adds high-profile post to other duties". The Vancouver Sun. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  36. ^ "Foreign Affairs Minister Emerson set to retire: sources". Canadian Broadcasting. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  37. ^ "Bernier hurt Canada's reputation: gov't report". CTV News. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  38. ^ "Bernier's slip hurt Canada, review says". Toronto Star. CP. 2 August 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ a b |url=
  41. ^ "Stephen Harper to step down as leader after Conservative defeat". Canadian Broadcasting. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  42. ^
  43. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Beauce, 30 September 2015
  44. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
  45. ^ Elections Canada – Official voting results, Forty-first general election, 2011
  46. ^ Elections Canada – Candidate's electoral campaign return, 41st general election

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