On June 12, 2018, Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer fired Maxime Bernier from the Conservative party’s shadow cabinet.
The reason? Bernier, the party’s most popular MP from Quebec, opposes “supply management" for Quebec’s dairy industry.
Of course, supply management is just a fancy way of saying: we all have to pay triple the normal price for milk, cheese and yogurt, because Quebec dairy farmers have managed to lobby Ottawa for subsidies. It makes the rest of us hundreds of dollars poorer every year, and it benefits a handful of Quebec businessmen.
Supply management treats every Quebec dairy owner like a little Bombardier — making them rich off the backs of ordinary Canadians.
Bernier has never made a secret of his views. He even wrote about it in a forthcoming book — and that chapter has been public for weeks on his publisher’s website.
But Andrew Scheer suddenly fired Maxime Bernier for his views. Why?
Maybe because Quebec dairy farmers are the reason Scheer squeaked out a 51% to 49% win over Bernier in last year’s Conservative leadership vote. In the arcane rules of the Conservative Party’s leadership contest, every riding had the same number of “points”. So a rural Quebec riding with 50 party members counted as much as a Calgary or Toronto riding with 2,000 party members. Signing up Quebec dairy farmers based on that Bombardier-style promise let Scheer beat Bernier 51% to 49% — and now he’s returning the favour.
Trouble is, that’s just not conservative. Conservatives believe in freedom, and small government, and no special favours for special interests.
And Conservatives believe in letting MPs have the right to speak, too — and in this case, Bernier’s book excerpt was published weeks ago, and his views have been known for years. This was 100% punitive.
Since the Trump and Trudeau trade war talks have begun, being pro-Canada has now somehow morphed into being Anti-Trump and pro expensive cheese.
Bernier is now being treated the same way the Liberal Party of Canada treats pro-life MPs within their ranks. You shut up or you will be demoted, even if you are doing your very best as an MP to represent the people who sent to you to Ottawa.
By tossing Bernier to the back bench for expressing a mainstream conservative principle, Scheer is also tossing over 49% of his own party’s supporters to the back bench too.
I remember when the Conservatives fought against the Soviet-style Canadian wheat board. Conservatives stood behind those farmers back then because it is a conservative principle to believe in the ability to choose your own destiny and take responsibility for your own actions.
I know that there are good conservative MPs that I admire and respect who do support supply management. And that's fine because I think conservatism is a big tent idea - libertarians, social conservatives, and economic anarchists can all exist if we have the shared goals of small government and personal responsibility.
I don't want the supply management conservatives purged from the party. I don't want to see an Andrew Scheer ideological purity test for conservatives.
Scheer should be more like Stephen Harper — after Harper won the party leadership in 2004, he was magnanimous towards his rivals, appointing people like Tony Clement and Peter MacKay to prestigious posts. He didn’t hold a grudge.
Let’s support Maxime. Please sign the petition below, and we’ll deliver it to Andrew Scheer.
Andrew Scheer is the leader of the Conservative Party. But if he’s going to purge everyone who doesn’t believe in special subsidies for Quebec lobbyists, it’s going to be a pretty small party.
Sign the petition!
We demand that Andrew Scheer respect the diverse range of conservative opinions within his own party on the issue of supply management and that he reinstate Maxime Bernier to the Conservative shadow cabinet.