I have waited awhile to write this blog because for the longest time I thought it was too soon and too good to be true. I didn't want to jinx it.
He is known as "Mad Max," "The Running Man" and "the Albertan from Québec." Whatever you want to call him, Maxime Bernier is the real deal.
I joined the conservative movement when I was 18 because, like Bernier , I was mad. I was mad about wasteful, bloated and parasitic governments, systemic entitlement, condescending paternalism, corporate stigmatization and the self-righteous cries of so-called progressives.
Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier. (Photo: Sean Kiplatric/The Canadian Press)
Nearly a decade later, I am a bit older, am slightly more cynical, have less hair (mostly from the stress), but not a lot has changed. I mean there is also Trump. That's a thing. How the hell is that a thing? I digress.
I will be the first one to admit that the reasons above are all pretty negative. But, unlike me, Bernier has transformed this sentiment into a positive and inclusive message. This is a credit to a well-run campaign, competent organizers and loyal supporters inspired by a man with a refreshing vision based on a principled and unapologetic platform of freedom, respect, fairness and personal responsibility.
Bernier brings bold, innovative and common sense policies to the table deeply rooted in the foundations of conservatism and classical liberalism. From privatizing Canada Post, abolishing the capital gains tax, to ending supply management. At the core of these policies is the ideological belief that the free market, within reason, is the most fair and effective form of public policy. That competition drives innovation, lowers cost, and contributes to a stronger and freer Canadian economy and society.
He is both the outsider and insider that we are looking for, need and deserve.
Bernier appreciates the hard work and sacrifice of Canada's innovators, entrepreneurs and job creators, but is apathetic to "picking winners" and corporate welfare. He is an advocate for consumer rights, but believes the best way to achieve them is through the free market. He isn't focused on bringing up divisive social issues, but he welcomes free and open debate with conservatives for whom those issues are important. He is against supply management, even though his riding, Beauce, near Quebec City, has more dairy farmers than any other riding in the country.
Bernier has taken the best ideas from all corners of our vast, diverse conservative tent and discovered a new, inclusive pathway forward. That is why I decided to support him last summer. That is why Bernier will win this leadership race.
This is a movement that respects merit. Bernier is by far the most qualified to lead us. A charismatic, bilingual lawyer and businessman with over a decade of experience as a member of Parliament. He has been around government long enough to know how it works, but also how it does not. He was kept at an arm's length distance from the previous administration, but respected enough to earn a cabinet position. In that sense, he is both the outsider and insider that we are looking for, need and deserve.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Photo: Mark Blinch/Reuters)
And, as the saying goes, money talks. In this case it shouts -- from all provinces -- from coast, to coast, to coast. Not only has Bernier's campaign raised the most amount of money, it has done so from the greatest number of donors. Bernier has tapped into the very roots of the movement. We are collectively buying what he is selling. And what he is selling is a return to principled conservatism.
Some leadership contestants believe that we need to abandon our core principles to attract the greatest number of people. Others believe that the best approach is capitalizing on xenophobia. Some are beholden to special interest groups. Others live in Boston. At least two are only interested in abortion. Who is Rick Peterson anyways? Deepak is, well Deepak.
I have said and will continue to say it. There is a tremendous cost to abandoning principles. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, Liberals are better at being liberals than we are. And we learned our lesson the hard way with negativity. We can and will continue to win elections by staying true to who and what we really are: Conservatives.
I joined the Conservative Party of Canada because of Stephen Harper. I am staying because there is a principled way for us to earn our way back into government, and his name is Maxime Bernier.
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