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.”
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.
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.
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)
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.