Maxime Bernie is parting ways with long-standing party policy on supply management saying there’s no way to reconcile his free-market principles with support for Canada’s supply-managed agriculture sector.
“It is a government cartel,” Bernier told a press conference on Parliament Hill. “It is the opposite of free markets.”
“In order to protect 10 per cent of farmers, we are forcing all Canadian families, especially those with children and low-income families, to pay hundreds of dollars more every year for dairy, eggs and poultry products,” he said.
Bernier acknowledged this is a reversal from his previous public position.
As the minister for small business and tourism specifically, and as a Conservative MP since 2006 generally, he’d repeatedly voiced support for the supply-managed farm sector, a significant source of employment in his rural Quebec riding.
“I was not in a position to question the party’s democratic decision, or cabinet solidarity,” he said. “And so I went along with it, even though I had grave misgivings about it for all these years.”