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Maxime Bernier
February 2, 2012
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Way back in 2006, Maxime Bernier was set to be the next big thing in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet. He was a rising star with an impressive presence - a French-speaking Conservative who, like his boss, is a fan of small government - a veritable "Albertan from Quebec." Bernier, born and raised in Quebec, managed to earn a whopping 67% of the vote in his riding. That was more than any Conservative MP east of Manitoba.

Maxime initially took on the job of minister for Industry. And the following year, 2007, he headed up Foreign Affairs. But it was soon clear that the straight talk that may have worked well with business owners and in trade talks over at Industry wasn't well-suited for the delicate business of diplomacy at Foreign Affairs.

Maxime touched off a firestorm when he suggested, on a trip to Afghanistan, that the central government replace its governor in Kandahar. There'd long been a sense that Canadians found the governor hard to work with. Given Canada's troop presence in Kandahar, what might have been a gaffe for someone else became an international incident for Maxime. The president of Afghanistan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper met to sort out the problem. The governor was let go a few months later.

But the bigger blunder came quickly after - Maxime left classified documents at the home of his girlfriend who, it turned out, once had connections to the Hells Angels. The documents were there for weeks. Maxime resigned his Foreign Affairs post.

After several years In the political wilderness, but never losing his Quebec seat, Maxime is back. He says he's learned his lesson. It was tough but he did it. He's in a junior role now but the speculation is rife about whether Maxime is being positioned to be pushed up the ranks.

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