Maxime Bernier tells Halifax he wants to ‘make Canada great again’

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier paid a visit to Halifax on Fri. Jan. 18, 2019 to gather support ahead of the federal election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier “wants to make Canada great again,” he says, and says he plans to do it through sweeping cuts that would return money to the pockets of taxpayers.

Calling them cost-saving, the measures include cuts to the CBC, Canada Post and foreign aid to Africa, Bernier told a Halifax audience on Friday evening.

“These countries are poor because they have socialist systems, they don’t have more free market systems,” he said at the rally, which drew a crowd of nearly 300 people from across the province.

“The best way to do it, like I said, is not to give them a fish, but to teach them how to fish.”

READ MORE: Maxime Bernier believes he can win next federal election

If elected prime minister in the fall, he clarified, a government under his leadership would still provide crises assistance and humanitarian aid, but it would end investments in climate change resilience and infrastructure in developing countries.

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At home, he said he would eliminate trade barriers between provinces, cut back on equalization, and vigorously pursue free-trade deals, which would help Halifax “more than anything” because of its small market.

“What I will do to help Nova Scotians and to help your province — we need to have a real economic union in this country. And it is a shame that after 152 years, we don’t have an economic union in Canada,” he said.

A government under his leadership, he added, would also use constitutional powers to overcome opposition and build a pipeline like TransCanada’s Energy East project.

READ MORE: Maxime Bernier says People’s Party set up in all 338 ridings ahead of 2019 election

After outlining his proposals, Bernier took questions from the crowd on climate change, the fight against extremism in Canada, the national debt and relationships with China, before posing for selfies with supporters.

Bernier ran for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party in 2016 but lost to the current leader, Andrew Scheer. Last summer, the renowned libertarian — once a cabinet minister in the Harper administration — quit the party to start his own.

WATCH: ‘It’s a great day for us’: Maxime Bernier registers People’s Party of Canada (October, 2018)

Click to play video: '‘It’s a great day for us’: Bernier registers People’s Party of Canada' ‘It’s a great day for us’: Bernier registers People’s Party of Canada
‘It’s a great day for us’: Bernier registers People’s Party of Canada – Oct 10, 2018

The new People’s Party of Canada, he says, now has 34,000 members across Canada and is running on a platform of small government, free markets, reduced immigration, reducing equalization payments and scrapping the federal carbon tax.

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Describing the Conservative Party as “intellectually corrupt,” Bernier said his will “[fight] for ideas that we know are the best for this country and we won’t try to please everybody.”

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