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Canada's Future PM Needs Experience Beyond Politics

05/01/2017 11:20 EDT | Updated 05/01/2017 11:20 EDT

Conservative Party members are starting to vote for their next leader. I believe I am the best candidate for that position because I have the best platform and I will be able to convince Canadians from all regions of the country to beat Justin Trudeau in 2019, in both official languages. But life experience should also be among the criteria used to determine the next leader.

maxime bernier

Conservative Party leadership candidate Maxime Bernier addresses crowd at the Conservative Party of Canada's final televised debate in Toronto, Ont., April 26, 2017. (Photo: Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

Career politicians who have never worked in the private sector tend to see the world only through the lens of politics and are disconnected from the priorities of ordinary citizens. On the other hand, someone who wants to become prime minister must have the ability to govern and know the workings of our institutions if he is to succeed in implementing a bold reform program.

I believe I offer the right balance between private sector and political experience.

After finishing my law degree at the University of Ottawa in 1990, I worked at the law firm Clarkson-Tétreault in Montreal, specializing in labour law. Then, I became director of commercial accounts at a National Bank branch office on the South Shore of Montreal. This is where I learned a lot about business finance and how entrepreneurs are important in our economy.

I am ready to govern.

In 1996, I went to work in the office of Quebec's minister of finance. This was my first experience with government. I was in charge of piloting the minister's reform of insurance law and financial institutions. I learned a lot, not only about how government works and how to adopt legislation, but also about the field of insurance and finance.

From 1998 to 2000, I was director of corporate and international relations for the Quebec Securities Commission. This allowed me to understand economics and finance from a global perspective. Then, in the early 2000s, I became vice president of corporate affairs and communications for a large insurance company, Standard Life Canada. This allowed me to understand how a large company works, and how government regulation affects private businesses.


Finally, in 2005, I joined the Montreal Economic Institute as vice president. I did not stay very long but I very much enjoyed working on economic and public policy issues at this free-market think tank.

My private-sector experience ended when I decided to run for Parliament at the end of 2005 and was elected MP for Beauce in early 2006. I have been reelected three times since then. And, of course, I served in Prime Minister's Stephen Harper cabinet as minister of Industry, minister of foreign affairs and minister of state for tourism, small business and agriculture.

I have extensive experience of the private sector. But I also know how government works. I am ready to govern.

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