Maxime Bernier timeline

Timeline of the career of Maxime Bernier

History of miscues

Feb. 6, 2006

Following the Conservatives' election win, Maxime Bernier, who won in the Quebec City-area riding of Beauce, is sworn in as industry minister.

Aug. 14, 2007

A cabinet shuffle sees Bernier move to foreign affairs from industry. Bernier arrives for the swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa with Julie Couillard.

Jan. 19, 2008

After a torture-awareness training manual for Canadian diplomats is inadvertently released, Bernier issues a statement in an effort to pacify allies angry that the manual lists the U.S. and Israel as countries where prisoners risk torture and abuse.

April 14, 2008

Answering a reporter's question about corruption in the Afghan government on a visit there, Bernier suggests President Hamid Karzai might have to replace Kandahar provincial Governor Asadullah Khalid. He later retracts the statement.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a poor choice in making Bernier foreign affairs minister.

May 5, 2008

Bernier pledges $2 million in aid for Burma after a devastating cyclone. Opposition leaders say the figure is too low.

May 7, 2008

Media reports reveal court documents that say that Bernier's former girlfriend, Julie Couillard, was once married to a member of the Rockers biker gang and was a potential target of Hells Angels' kingpin Maurice (Mom) Boucher while she dated another biker in the 1990s.

May 8, 2008

Harper dismisses the reports about Bernier's former girlfriend as irrelevant to government business, calling Dion and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe "gossipy old busybodies."

"It's none of my business," he says. 

May 22, 2008

Ottawa was forced to rent a Russian cargo jet to ship helicopters to Burma to deliver aid after Bernier publicly promised in Rome that the Canadian military's new C-17 transports, none of which were immediately available, would handle the job. 

May 26, 2008

In an interview with French-language network TVA, Couillard says Bernier left a classified document behind when he visited her house sometime in April. She also says Bernier knew about her past ties to Quebec biker gangs right from the beginning of their relationship.

Bernier resigns from cabinet. Harper says his departure had nothing to do with his private life. "What matters here is that rules respecting government classified documents were broken," he says.

May 27, 2008

Stephen Harper says he doesn't believe national security was compromised because of the classified documents left at Couillard's home. Opposition leaders call for a public inquiry or a police probe into the security breach.

June 2, 2008

The House of Commons public safety committee launches an inquiry into the Bernier affair. Opposition MPs on the committee, led by the Bloc Québécois, outvoted the Conservative minority to expedite an investigation. The vote came after Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed calls for an independent inquiry or an RCMP investigation in the House.

Oct. 1, 2008

Couillard's autobiography, My Story, is released to the media. In it, Couillard portrays Bernier as a narcissistic womanizer. She writes that Bernier once asked her to dispose of confidential NATO briefing papers on trash day and that he frequently bad-mouthed Harper.

Bernier calls Couillard's allegations "gossipy delusions."

"That woman's intention is to personally harm me personally in my campaign in the Beauce, and to harm my relationship with my leader," he says.