Maxime Bernier, founder and leader of the People’s Party of Canada made a campaign stop in North Bay Saturday to speak with local media before heading down the highway to the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo in Verner.
Bernier is the first party leader to set foot in the federal riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming.
The PPC leader solidly endorsed his local candidate Mark King, who originally ran for the Conservative Party, but had his nomination win stripped after allegedly paying for several memberships with a corporate card which King still denies.
“He made my day when we called him, and he said ‘yes’. I think he can be the second after me to be elected in the People’s Party. He delivered when he was working at the municipal level. So, people know him, and that is helping.”
Bernier said he came to the riding to help get his candidate elected.
“We can win this riding. It is very important. I wanted to campaign with Mark and help him win this riding. I won’t be the only member of parliament from the People’s Party on the 22nd of October. I’m pretty sure we will have a number of candidates elected.”
Bernier was asked about the scandal surrounding Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the pictures and video of him in blackface dating back 20 years.
Trudeau has apologized for his actions
“I don’t think Justin Trudeau is a racist. I won’t go there, but I think he is a hypocrite and people will look at it,” said Bernier.
“I don’t know what will happen next but that will be a big change in the election.”
On Friday as part of his gun control platform, Trudeau pledged if re-elected, to ban military-style assault rifles.
And his government will work with provinces and territories to enable municipalities to restrict handguns.
“I don’t think it will solve anything because it is all illegal guns when that happens,” said Bernier.
“They’re not registered guns. I think the Trudeau government is speaking about guns right now because they don’t want to speak about what Trudeau did 15-20 years ago. They want to change the channel.”
When it comes to reinvesting in Canada’s low-income wage earners and seniors, Bernier says the government needs to review its spending.
“It is the same thing for our veterans. We have a platform for that to be more generous for veterans and we want to be more generous for our seniors. That is why it is so important to look at all our spending. That is why it is important to cut foreign aid. That is why it is important to stop giving money to the CBC. That is why it is important to cut corporate welfare. We’ll save a lot of money there and we’ll be able to have a federal government that will be more generous with our seniors and Canadians,” said Bernier.
“And that is why it is important to balance our budget in two years because if we don’t do that, our social programs at the federal level will be in danger.”
While in North Bay, Bernier made a commitment that his government is not going to cut any money to Canada’s First Nations.
“And if we have to be more generous, we will look at it for sure,” said Bernier.
“You can not send $2.3 billion to Africa and not help our First Nations and people on reserves. That is part of our commitment.”
Bernier is also committed to looking for efficiencies.
“The federal government is spending more than $20 billion for First Nations. We must look at that, and if we can be more efficient to deliver services on the reserve’s we must do that,” said Bernier.
“We need to have a discussion with them, and we need maybe more accountability. What is happening with the money we are sending on the reserve? So that is part of our proposal.”
The PPC leader was asked what he could do for the region that hasn’t been done before.
“I have the same question everywhere I go. The answer is nothing special. All our policies are good for the region and when we lower taxes, Canadians will save $35 billion. That is our tax plan with only two tax rates. So that will be good for your region, your riding, and that will be good for every riding.”
On the issue of immigration, Bernier says Canada needs to reduce the number of immigrants entering Canada.
“We need to have fewer immigrants, 150,000 a year not 350,000 that will be the number in 2021. We want to be sure to be able to take care of them and we want them to be able to integrate into our society. If you have a job, it is always easier to integrate into our society,” said Bernier.
“If they want to come to Canada, they just have to cross the border at the official port of entry. If they are refugees, they will be able to stay in our country.”
“Our policy on immigration is fewer refugees, helping the real ones that are waiting somewhere in the world where their life is in danger, and not the fake ones that are crossing the border. At the same time right now only 26 per cent of our immigrants are economic immigrants and we need more economic immigrants. That is a person who is coming here because we need their skill, we need their experience, and they will be able to work.”
When it comes to having a national Pharmacare program Bernier said health care is a provincial jurisdiction.
He says a PPC government is prepared to transfer money to the provinces without any conditions, to meet healthcare needs.
“What we must do for health care and Pharmacare is to give the resources to provinces, and that is what we are going to do. The Federal government raised $40 billion with the GST. So right now, the provincial governments are responsible for health care, but they don’t have the money. They don’t have all the resources. So, we want to help the provinces. And the way to do that, we’ll transfer the $40 billion. We’ll transfer the GST. We’ll transfer the tax point and I tell you we’ll be able to raise money for health care, and they’ll be responsible.”
The PPC leader says any cabinet he forms will be based on the competence of the individuals, not on gender.
“We won’t have any quota. We don’t believe in quotas. We will judge the person by their character, by their competence and their credentials and what they can bring around the table. We did the same thing with our candidates. We have maybe 30 per cent of our candidates who are women and that is good. I wanted to have a little bit more, but that is life. And I hope to have a lot of them elected.”
Bernier admits that the biggest challenge facing his party is recognition.
“A lot of people don’t know we exist. If you look at the poll 52 per cent of the population said a couple of weeks ago that they are ready to vote for a new party at the political level. We are the only new party at the political level. The challenge is, people must know our candidates and people must know we exist and that is why it was so important for us to be part of the national debate.”
Bernier says he is enjoying his first campaign as a party leader.
“We are making history. Building a party in less than a year with candidates all across the country, with riding associations all across the country. We are able to raise money and do politics based on ideas without any compromises to our convictions,” said Bernier.
“Yes, it is a lot of work and I am travelling a lot, but I am receiving a lot of energy from our people. I think we could have a huge surprise on the 21st of October. A huge surprise.”