Bernier launched a lengthy attack against Trudeau and his father in a speech on Saturday that was billed to be about strengthening business confidence.
The minister of state for small business and tourism said the government of Pierre Trudeau was responsible for stagflation, big government, and spiralling national debt in the 1970s.
He said the next election will be a choice between the Pierre Trudeau-era policies of the 1970s, and the small-government focus of the Conservatives. Bernier did not refer to the NDP in his speech.
"OK, OK, some people might think, Maxime, it is unfair to compare Justin Trudeau with his father and to burden him with the record of his father. After all, is he not his own person?" Bernier told the Manning Networking Conference, a conservative policy conference.
"Well, I'm not the one who created the Trudeau mystique. I'm not the one who made the connection in the first place. And, if he is so different from Pierre, then why did Liberals elect him to lead their party?"
Bernier went on to credit the Conservatives for helping to diffuse the Quebec separatist movement. He said the Liberal party's interest in such areas as education and health-care suggests Trudeau wants to meddle in provincial matters, and that approach could ultimately lead to a constitutional crisis.
"What he wants is to interfere in provincial matters. With that vision of Canada, we will not have constitutional peace in Quebec," Bernier said.
"A Justin Trudeau government will be destabilizing for our national unity, just like a Pierre Trudeau government was."
Bernier, an unabashed libertarian, is a popular figure among a certain segment of the Conservative movement. He said the key to economic prosperity is to cut spending and taxes.
"Growth and progress depend on economic freedom through less government intervention," Bernier said.
"More government spending is not the answer to our social and economic challenges. The task is not to reinvent government. The task is to limit government."
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