Wearing a white hat and cowboy boots, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier came ready to walk the walk.
And his pro-pipeline, anti-political correctness message showed he could talk the talk before a crowd of about 140 at a rally outside the Radisson Hotel in Red Deer on Thursday.
Right out of the gate, Bernier promised if he became prime minister, Western Canada’s pipeline woes would disappear.
He would use the Constitution to pass legislation saying that pipelines are to the advantage of the country, he said to loud applause.
“That’s it. We’ll pass that bill and we will have the full authority, the full responsibility, the full jurisdiction for approving pipelines or other national projects,” he said.
Bernier has called his platform a “common sense revolution” and he frequently took aim at political correctness and what he sees as a lack of any conviction on the part of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
He blasted Scheer, saying his stance amounted to “Tell me what you want to hear and I will repeat it.”
When running for the leadership of the federal Conservatives, which Bernier lost to Scheer, they both agreed to balance the budget, he said.
But Scheer has already begun waffling, saying in B.C. last month that he could not do that, said Bernier, eliciting boos from the crowd.
If Bernier’s party takes power, he would stick to that pledge, he promised.
Cuts to the CBC would save $100 million, he said to loud cheers. Another $5 billion could be saved by cutting subsidies to business.
“It is not fair,” said Bernier of the current system, which he said makes small business entrepreneurs subsidize Bombardier and SNC Lavalin.
Also not fair is the country’s equalization formula that will see Quebec get around $13 billion next year.
“We are the only party that speaks about equalization and being less generous, to be sure that the formula would be fair for everybody across the country.”
Quebecers are proud and do not need the money, he said. The revenue could be replaced by giving them and other provinces more control to develop their resources.
The $4-billion foreign aid budget would also be slashed. Canadians are generous and help nations in need, but it is not the country’s job to build roads in Africa, he said.
On immigration, he wants to see more economic immigrants and fewer refugees among the more than 300,000 immigrants Canada takes in each year.
He promised a smaller government that will not interfere in Canadians’ day-to-day lives.
“We will start a common sense revolution right across the country. No more political correctness.”
Bernier was joined on stage by six of the candidates who will be representing the party in Alberta. The party intends to run a full slate of candidates in this fall’s federal election.
Before he spoke, several people took to the mic to talk about the economic pain being felt in this area.
“Right now, all or our equipment is sitting in the yard. We’re doing nothing,” said Barry May, who owns a Drayton Valley trucking company.
“We have a government that’s failed us and betrayed us.”
Bentley’s Gary Hebel said he’ll vote for Bernier because his ideals haven’t changed since he got into politics with the federal Conservatives, serving as a cabinet minister in several portfolios.
“For me, he’s the only one worth voting for. He tells it the way it is,” he said.
“What he proposes is what this country needs.”