Bernier in July 2017
|Leader of the People's Party|
|Assumed office |
September 14, 2018
|Preceded by||Position established|
|14th Minister of State for Small Business, Tourism and Agriculture|
May 18, 2011 – November 4, 2015[a]
|Prime Minister||Stephen Harper|
|Preceded by||Rob Moore|
|Succeeded by||Bardish Chagger|
|7th Minister of Foreign Affairs|
August 13, 2007 – May 26, 2008
|Prime Minister||Stephen Harper|
|Preceded by||Peter MacKay|
|Succeeded by||David Emerson|
|6th Minister of Industry|
Registrar General of Canada
February 6, 2006 – August 13, 2007
|Prime Minister||Stephen Harper|
|Preceded by||David Emerson|
|Succeeded by||Jim Prentice|
|Chair of the National Defence Select Committee|
March 9, 2009 – June 20, 2011
|Preceded by||Rick Casson|
|Succeeded by||James Bezan|
|Member of the Canadian Parliament|
|Assumed office |
January 23, 2006
|Preceded by||Claude Drouin|
|Born||January 18, 1963|
Saint-Georges, Quebec, Canada
|Political party||People's Party|
|Conservative (until 2018)|
|Spouse(s)||Catherine Letarte (m. 2019)|
(m. 1991; div. 2005)
|Parents||Gilles Bernier (father)|
|Residence||Saint-Georges, Quebec, Canada|
|Education||Université du Québec à Montréal (B.Com.)|
University of Ottawa (LL.B.)
|Profession||Author, businessman, consultant, lawyer|
Maxime Bernier PC MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian businessman, lawyer and politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Beauce since 2006. He is the founder and current leader of the People's Party of Canada (PPC).
Prior to entering politics, Bernier held positions in the fields of law, finance and banking. First elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative, Bernier served as Minister of Industry, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, which later became the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture in the cabinet of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Following the Conservatives' defeat in the 2015 election, he served as opposition critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development in the shadow cabinets of Rona Ambrose and Andrew Scheer, until June 12, 2018.
Bernier ran for the Conservative Party leadership in the 2017 leadership election, and came in a close second with over 49% of the vote in the 13th round, after leading the eventual winner, Andrew Scheer, in the first 12 rounds. Fifteen months later, in August 2018, Bernier resigned from the Conservative Party to create his own party, citing disagreements with Scheer's leadership. His new party was named the People's Party of Canada in September 2018.
- 1 Early life and family
- 2 Education and career before politics
- 3 Political career
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Works
- 6 Electoral record
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and family
Bernier was born in Saint-Georges, Quebec, the son of Doris (Rodrigue) and Gilles Bernier, a well known radio host, who represented the riding of Beauce from 1984 to 1997, first as a Progressive Conservative and then as an independent. In a 2010 interview with John Geddes, Bernier said he respects his father as a Mulroney-era politician, but tries not to emulate his style. Bernier has stated that his views were shaped from his upbringing in Beauce to his life experiences. He is the second oldest child and has two sisters, Brigitte and Caroline, and a brother, Gilles Jr. In his teens, Bernier played football as a member of the Condors, the team of the Séminaire St-Georges, that won the Bol d’Or in 1980 at the Olympic Stadium.
Education and career before politics
Bernier obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Université du Québec à Montréal, completed his law degree at the University of Ottawa and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1990, of which he is still a member. For 19 years, Bernier held positions in law, several financial and banking fields, such as working as a lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault, rising up to become branch manager at the National Bank, the office of the Securities Commission of Québec as Director of Corporate and International Relations, an adviser (handling fiscal reform) from 1996 to 1998 in the office of Bernard Landry—Quebec's finance minister and Deputy Premier of Quebec at the time—and Standard Life of Canada as the Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Communication. He also served as Executive Vice-President of the Montreal Economic Institute, a Quebec free-market think tank, where he authored a book on tax reform.
In 2005, Bernier became the Conservative Party candidate for the riding of Beauce for the 2006 federal election. Stephen Harper had asked his father to re-enter politics, and the latter advised Harper that his son should run instead of him. Bernier won handily, taking 67% of the popular vote, the largest majority for a Conservative politician outside of Alberta. His ties to the riding and his support for provincial jurisdictions (which earned him an endorsement from former Social Credit party leader Fabien Roy) were factors in his win. Some political pundits believed Bernier's ideas led to the unexpected Conservative breakthrough in Quebec during the election.
Minister of Industry
Bernier was one of the higher-profile freshman MPs from Quebec, and as such, on February 6, 2006, was appointed Minister of Industry and minister responsible for Statistics Canada, and by virtue of being appointed as the Minister of Industry, he also served as the Registrar General. During his time as Industry Minister, Bernier set in motion steps that led to reformation of the telecommunications industry, particularly on local phone service. 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." James Cowan from Canadian Business, called Bernier's tenure "a golden age" for Canadian business policy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
On August 14, 2007, Bernier was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing Peter MacKay, who became the Minister of National Defence. The rumour is that appointment had to do with preventing Bernier from pushing his personal views such as opposing corporate welfare farther as industry minister. During the beginning of his tenure, Bernier's personality and charm received praise among foreign dignitaries.
In May 2008, it was revealed that, one month earlier, Bernier inadvertently left a confidential briefing book at the home of his girlfriend at the time, Julie Couillard. While Prime Minister Stephen Harper originally defended Bernier, he ultimately accepted his resignation on May 26, 2008, saying "It's only this error. It's a very serious error for any minister. The minister immediately recognized the gravity of that error." Bernier explained that the incident made him rethink his political career and that he would avoid taking government information out of his parliamentary office in future.
Recalling his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernier felt unsatisfied due to the Prime Minister's Office controlling the portfolio, making it harder for him to implement his views into Canadian foreign policy.
Six days before the 2008 election, Couillard released a book which was supposed to reveal his confidential opinions such as his personal objection to Canadian involvement in the Iraq War. The English version peaked at No. 6 on La Presse's bestseller list while the French version reached No. 5. However, the book was viewed negatively by Bernier's constituents. He was reelected with 62% of votes.
In 2009, Bernier decided to start a blog and spent the next four years travelling across the country to discuss political issues. Bernier's speeches were criticized by Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Raymond Blanchard and Tom Mulcair, but praised by Andrew Coyne, Warren Kinsella, and André Pratte. He was also chair for the National Defense Select Committee.
In September 2010, after Bernier's Quebec colleagues pushed for the federal government to invest $175 million in the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Bernier expressed opposition to the proposed project and a feasibility study by Ernst & Young, stating that the proposal made little financial sense. The government later decided against the investment. When recalling about that decision, he revealed that his colleagues were furious at him because they wanted to use the investment to "Buy votes".
It had been rumoured that Conservative Party insiders wanted Bernier to take over as leader of the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) party if Stephen Harper's preferred choice, Mario Dumont, became Quebec lieutenant, and that Bernier was considering a leadership run. In 2009, there was a movement to draft Bernier for the leadership of the ADQ. Bernier called the attention flattering, but declined to run.
Minister of State
On May 18, 2011, Bernier was appointed as Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), a junior ministerial post. Bernier did not enjoy being bound by the principal of cabinet solidarity, and disliked being named to a minor department, but accepted the role out of deference to his colleagues and to regain credibility via a return to the cabinet. Bernier later said he also accepted the position because he had felt he did not accomplish enough in his career and expressed a desire to end the budget deficit.
His responsibilities were expanded with his appointment on July 15, 2013, as Minister of State (Small Business, Tourism, and Agriculture). During this time, he led the Red Tape Reduction Commission, which created a rule that for every regulation added another one has to be cut.
Move to opposition
On November 20, 2015, Bernier was appointed by interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose as Critic for Economic Development and Innovation. He resigned on April 7, 2016 to run in the Conservative Party's leadership election.
In March 2016, Bernier introduced a motion to require Bombardier executives to testify to the Industry Committe to explain the reasoning for the federal government to bail them out. Bernier argued that Bombardier should restructure itself rather than seek public funds. Justin Trudeau's Liberal government blocked Bernier's motion.
At a conservative conference in March 2016, Bernier said that China has "less government and more freedom" than Canada; a video of the speech was later circulated by the Broadbent Institute's Press Progress. Bernier said that he was referring to economic freedom, not political freedom, and said that his remarks should not be construed to suggest that he supported Chinese dictatorship.
Campaign for the Conservative leadership
On April 7, 2016, Bernier filed his nomination to be a candidate in the 2017 Conservative Party of Canada leadership election, saying that he was running to promote his views and ideas on four principles: freedom, responsibility, fairness, and respect. After the Conservative Party decided to remove the traditional definition of marriage from their constitution, Bernier was one of few leadership contenders to march in the Toronto Pride Parade. Nathan Giede of the Prince George Citizen wrote that Bernier was "the living reincarnation of all Laurier's good ideas and Dief the Chief's pan-Canadian optimism". In the Times Colonist, Bernier stated, "They can call me a fiscal conservative, they can call me a conservative who believes in freedom, they can call me reasonable libertarian, call me anything you want—call me Max, call me Maxime, call me 'Mad Max'." Occasionally, he displayed a sense of humor which helped him gain voters' attention. Bernier achieved unexpectedly high levels of support, finishing a close second in the 13th and final round of voting on May 27, 2017, taking 49.05% of the vote to Andrew Scheer's 50.95%.
William Watson argued in the National Post that although some of Bernier's policies were reflective of the role "rugged individualism" played in Canada's past, and may have played a role in his loss, they could also affect Canada's future. A few days after the results, Michael Chong, another leadership candidate, argued that both his and Bernier's campaigns represented "real change, significant change" to the party but felt they wanted the status quo. Stanley Hartt, former Chief of Staff to Brian Mulroney, found Scheer's victory not "stirring" and suggested that Scheer should have taken ideas from Bernier's economic platform, which Hartt praised.
On August 31, 2017, Bernier was reappointed critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada by Andrew Scheer.
After it was revealed that the 2015 Conservative campaign team knew about sexual assault allegations against former Conservative MP Rick Dykstra, on January 31, 2018, Bernier publicly demanded answers as he was heading towards a caucus meeting into the handling of the nomination as did Conservative MP Brad Trost, who tweeted in favor of Bernier statement. After the meetings, Scheer reversed his previous decision.
Bernier intended to publish a book, Doing Politics Differently: My Vision for Canada. In April 2018 he pre-released a chapter on his publisher's website explaining why he made the abolition of Canada's supply management system an issue during the leadership campaign. The chapter referred to Quebec's dairy farmer lobby as "fake Conservatives" because they opposed his abolition of the supply management policy and supported Scheer's candidacy. However, in deference to his Conservative colleagues who saw the chapter as an attack on the Scheer, Bernier agreed to postpone publication of the book indefinitely for the sake of party unity, while also saying that the book was not about his leadership campaign, but about important ideas. He later told the Toronto Star in an email that he defended his comments and that the book would someday be published.
On June 12, 2018, Scheer dismissed Bernier from the Official Opposition shadow cabinet, saying that Bernier had violated his pledge to delay publication of the book by posting the chapter on his website on June 5, after it had been removed by from the publisher's website. Bernier denied that he broke the pledge, saying that the published excerpts had previously been publicly released on his publisher's website. During a At Issue panel after Bernier's demotion, Chantal Hebert was critical of Bernier decision to publish the chapter, Coyne found Bernier to be a victim of "a political setup" and Paul Wells thought Scheer was being "paranoid". On June 15, Bernier stated in an interview that he believed his stance on supply management was the real reason behind his dismissal, not his decision to post the chapter.
In a series of Twitter posts in August 2018, Bernier garnered attention for criticizing Prime Minister Trudeau's comments about "diversity is our strength". He later tweeted that naming a park in Winnipeg after Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was an example of "extreme multiculturalism". The tweets were broadly seen as divisive and inflammatory with calls for him to be reprimanded or removed from caucus such as John Ivison; However, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer stated Bernier "speaks for himself" amid calls for Bernier to be expelled from the party's caucus. Scheer later claim that he did not use identity politics to gain support; which Bernier issued a serious of tweets counter-arguing the point. Others such as him Mathieu Bock-Côté, Lise Ravary and Neil Macdonald defended his comments by writing op-eds to counter arguing critics. While, Tom Walkom, Deborah Levy and Andre Valiquette found his critique common within mainstream Quebec. In his resignation speech, Bernier, had an issues with Scheer's response, and later clarified that he wanted to have a conservation about "ethnic division". When asked about his tweets by Question Period, he responded by stating "Instead of always promoting the diversity in our country, why not promote what unites us. That's the most important." Commentator Colby Cosh later wrote that Bernier had previously praised ethnic diversity, while also "objecting to its elevation to cult status."
Formation of People's Party of Canada
On August 23, 2018, Bernier announced that he was leaving the Conservative Party with the intention of founding a new political party. He held a press conference where he declared that the Conservative Party was "too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed" and was afraid to address important issues or articulate a coherent philosophy.
Bernier's departure was criticized by former Conservative Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney; Harper suggested that Bernier was a sore loser, while Mulroney said that Bernier's creation of a new party would split the vote and make it more likely that Trudeau's Liberals would win the 2019 election. Conversely, Bernier's decision was praised as courageous by columnist Christie Blatchford. In a National Post op-ed, Bernier stated that his establishment of a new party aimed to reverse what he call a "public choice dynamic" in Canadian politics that leads to vote-buying and pandering by the main political parties.
On September 14, 2018, Bernier announced the creation of the People's Party of Canada, saying the party would advocate for "smart populism" which Bernier defined as policies based on principles of freedom, responsibility, fairness, and respect. Bernier has positioned the People's Party to the right of the Conservative Party; the party has been variously described as conservative, libertarian and right-wing populist, and classical liberal. During the 2019 election campaign, Bernier and his chief strategist, Martin Masse, positioned the People's Party in alignment with the anti-immigrant European New Right, with Bernier calling for steep cuts to immigration to Canada and criticizing multiculturalism. Bernier's focus on issues like cutting immigration marked a change in his public profile; contrasting with Bernier's earlier focus (while in the Conservative Party) on free-market, libertarian stances, such as telecom monopolies and deregulation. During the campaign, Bernier also proposed reductions in federal income tax; called for a reduction of the federal role in healthcare and the replacement of the Canada Health Transfer; called for the replacement of the Indian Act; said he would do "nothing" to address climate change, and called for Canada to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions. Bernier is the only federal party leader represented in the House of Commons to reject the scientific consensus on climate change.
Bernier is the father of two teenage daughters. Since 2010, he has been in a relationship with Catherine Letarte, a National Ballet School-trained ballerina, who worked for a women's shelter and currently runs a community centre for adults living with mental health issues. Bernier and Letarte married in the summer of 2019. Bernier has a history of quoting James M. Buchanan, Friedrich Hayek, and Henry Hazlitt and been known as "Mad Max", the "Bloc-buster", or the "Albertan from Quebec" by his Ottawa colleagues.
In September 2013, Bernier trained for and ran an ultramarathon across his riding to raise funds for a local food bank. In 2014, Bernier participated in the Rodeo de Cochons after being challenged by a local mayor.
- Maxime Bernier (March 2003). Pour un taux d'imposition unique. VARIA. ISBN 9782922245882.
- Doing Well and Doing Better: Health Services Provided to Canadian Forces Personnel with an Emphasis on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder : Report of the Standing Committee on National Defence
- Canada's Arctic Sovereignty: Report of the Standing Committee on National Defence
- Doing Politics Differently: My Vision for Canada – Chapter 5 "Live or die with supply management"
|2015 Canadian federal election|
|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|
|Source: Elections Canada|
|2011 Canadian federal election|
|New Democratic||Serge Bergeron||15,831||29.95||+21.43||$1,165.17|
|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|
|2008 Canadian federal election|
|Bloc Québécois||André Côté||7,143||13.98||−5.99||$13,263,15|
|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|
|2006 Canadian federal election|
|Bloc Québécois||Patrice Moore||10,997||19.97||−16.29||$66,069.90|
|New Democratic||Cléo Chartier||1,405||2.55||−0.50||$1,020.20|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||55,078||100.0||$81,497|
|Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots||454||0.82||−1.42|
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+33.11|
- Office became known as "Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture" from 2013 to 2015.
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Bernier mentioned to CTV News that it was his decisions to keep their lives private
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- [dead link]
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Scheer told Macleans that he could not speak to "decisions made by past campaign teams"and called for a third-party investigation }}
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Levy, who was his chief of staff and daughter of Jewish immigrants referred to multiculturalism as a reasonable accommodation within democracy
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maxime Bernier.|
- Conservative Party of Canada biography
- Maxime Bernier's Official Blog
- Doing Politics Differently
- Profile at Parliament of Canada
- Maxime Bernier – Parliament of Canada biography
- Speeches, votes and activity at OpenParliament.ca
- Final Report on the Administrative Review into the Security Incident Reported By Maxime Bernier
|Parliament of Canada|
| Member of Parliament
| Minister of Industry
| Minister of Foreign Affairs
| Minister responsible for La Francophonie