April 2, 2017 11:19 am

‘Corporate welfare’ under Harper government ‘not in line with my values’: Bernier

WATCH: Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier says he is against corporate subsidies and supply management, even though he supported both when he was industry minister under Stephen Harper.

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Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier says financial lifelines provided to big corporations like Bombardier Inc. when he was industry minister were “not in line with my values,” and that so-called corporate welfare will stop if he wins the race.

Bernier, considered one of the race’s front-runners with less than two months until the Tories choose their new leader, has made ending government subsidies for corporations a central plank in his platform.

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He says he wants to redirect those funds into tax breaks for all Canadians.

“Why (are we) giving subsidies to Bombardier or (General Motors)?” Bernier told The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos this weekend.

“You know, what happened this week with Bombardier, that’s a shame what they did with the money.”

The aerospace giant recently came under fire for huge payouts to top executives, which came on the heels of a $372.5-million federal government loan for the CSeries and Global 7000 programs, to be repaid over 15 years.

Pressed by Kapelos about the fact that he, himself, oversaw such subsidies as industry minister, Bernier acknowledged he didn’t agree with his government’s actions at the time.

“That was not in line with my values, but you know, I must admit that our government didn’t campaign on that.”

Bernier said that now, “it’s time to stop.”

“Now I have the opportunity to build a platform in line with our values and my values, and people appreciate that.”

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The deadline for signing up new members to the party who can vote on May 27 passed last week. Bernier said his campaign was “very successful” in signing up eligible voters, but he didn’t have a precise number yet. His campaign set a goal of 25,000 new members.

The Quebec MP also said he’s not overly concerned about the damaging effects of recent controversies linked to the race, including debates over a Canadian values tests, and anti-gay comments made by Brad Trost.

“They’re one-issue candidates, like Kellie Leitch. (Her campaign) is all about immigration and Canadian values,” Bernier said.

“At the end, the members will choose the leader, and that leader will be the face of the party and will be the face to communicate to Canadians our real Conservative values.”

Watch the full interview with Maxime Bernier above.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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