Saskatchewan

Maxime Bernier talks equalization, pipelines and issues 'important to people here' in Regina

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People's Party of Canada, spoke at the Regina Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Bernier says he would approve more pipelines, scrap carbon tax, reform equalization

Maxime Bernier founded the People's Party of Canada, a fiscally-conservative libertarian party. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People's Party of Canada, spoke at the Regina Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Monday, just a few days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a town hall meeting at the University of Regina.

Bernier discussed issues he says are "important to people here," like inter-provincial trading, pipelines and equalization money.

"The equalization formula is too generous," he told CBC before the event.

"We must give less money to these provinces, like my own province of Quebec, and give them the right incentive to develop their own natural resources and their economy."

Quebec is set to recieve a $13.1 billion equalization payment next year — $1.4 billion more than its last payment.

Bernier said his goal is for Quebec not to receive any equalization payments in the future. Instead, he wants the Quebec government to be more "pro-growth" and have incentives to develop their own natural resources.

More pipelines

Bernier said his party will work to increase pipeline capacity and streamline pipeline approvals, even if that means approving pipelines in provinces that are opposed.

"It's federal jurisdiction, so the federal government can approve pipelines," he said.

Bernier said consultations are needed before a pipeline is built, but the federal government can override provinces that are against pipelines. 

"If we need to do that because a province like B.C. or Quebec doesn't want a pipeline, that's not a decision for a provincial government, that's a decision for the federal government," he said.

Bernier said he would also scrap Bill-C48 and Bill-C69. He said his party would, if necessary, "use our constitutional power to ensure we have a pipeline built."

Bill C-48 would ban all oil tanker traffic off the coast of northern B.C., while Bill C-69 would overhaul the process of environmental assessments for major resource projects.

He also said he would eliminate the federal carbon tax and take Canada out of the Paris Climate Accord. The People's Party of Canada does not have a plan to address climate change, according to Bernier, nor would it impose one.

Bernier said he would leave it to the provinces to develop and implement their own plan, if they choose to do so.

Immigration issues

Bernier's views on immigration became a contentious topic after he made a series of controversial tweets about immigration and diversity in August.

Bernier said he would like to drop immigration levels down to Harper era numbers, which were about 250,000 per year. Canada is currently set to increase its annual immigration admissions to 350,000 by 2021.

"We must have fewer immigrants," said Bernier.

"We must go back and we must be sure that our immigrants will be well-integrated into our society, and the best way to do that is to have more economic immigrants, less refugees a little bit and less reunufication of families," he said.

Quebec MP and former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier talks about immigration at the launch of the People's Party of Canada. 1:13

Bernier said he wants immigrants who come to Canada to have a job because it will help them integrate into the country.

Some critics have suggested his views on immigration are xenophic. Bernier denied those accusations on CBC News Network's Power & Politics in September, saying his platform is about freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect and that all his policies will be based on those principles.

"Extreme people who are against immigration, they're not welcome in this party. And it's clear. I will have the privilege to choose the candidates that will run for this party and we'll choose people who share the values of our party," he told host Vassy Kapelos.

Conservative alternative

Bernier said his party is an alternative to the federal Conservative Party, even though his party has policies similar to the Conservatives and he recently ran for the Conservative leadership

Bernier said he's speaking about issues that Andrew Scheer, leader of the federal Conservative Party, isn't addressing.

Bernier said his party currently has associations set up in all 14 Saskatchewan ridings, and he hopes to have candidates established by April. He's also aiming to have riding associations all of the country's 338 federal ridings

About the Author

Cory Coleman is a reporter, web writer and associate producer for CBC Saskatchewan. Have a story idea? Email cory.coleman@cbc.ca

With files from CBC News Network's Power & Politics

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