Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), met with members of the public in various locations around Terrace today as part of his “Mad Max B.C. Freedom Tour.”
As speculation of a fall election builds, Bernier scheduled meet and greets at Terrace Timber Mart, Mountainside Gallery, Cafe Zesta and Terrace Honda before a meeting with residential school survivors Thomas Samuel and Louis Roger at the Highway of Tears memorial totem pole west of Kitsumkalum on Hwy 16.
After a brief ceremony led by Samuel, Bernier told reporters that Indigenous issues are part of his election platform, and promised reforms to Canada-Indigenous relations that would be based on respecting Indigenous people and culture.
“When people are speaking about systemic racism in this country, I don’t believe in that, but the only racist act that we have in Canada is the Indian Act, it’s based on race, we must abolish that,” Bernier said.
“We must have a kind of property rights on reserve, that would bring more prosperity, so we want to do bold reforms and that’s very important.”
Bernier said that the PPC is the only federal party that is fighting against “draconian” COVID-19 restrictions, and that every business should be considered essential. He also argued against making people provide proof of vaccination, and that there should be less government intervention in people’s daily lives.
When asked a question about the City of Terrace’s invitation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a look at the city’s infrastructure needs and the impact of large projects like LNG Canada on neighbouring communities, Bernier said that federal government should stay out of provincial jurisdiction unless it relates to national infrastructure.
He said that the federal infrastructure program was created at a time when the federal government had a surplus, which is no longer the case today.
“We won’t give money that we don’t have, so that’s why we want to have a smaller government in Ottawa, that’s why we want to cut the budget, cut foreign aid, and also that program, we don’t need to buy votes by doing infrastructure,” he said.
“It’s a provincial jurisdiction, we must respect that, but at the same time if there is national infrastructure like pipelines, the federal government must be there.”
Responding to a question about rising housing costs in Terrace and around Canada, Bernier said that the federal government can lower the price of homes by reducing immigration.
“The huge majority of new immigrants are going to big centres like Vancouver or Toronto, Montreal, and maybe other cities, and that’s pushing the price for houses higher a little bit,” he said.
“So with our program on immigration, we want to have fewer immigrants, a maximum of 150,000 a year, not 440,000, like the Trudeau government is doing right now.”
Bernier said making gains in any federal election means increasing the PPC’s share of the popular vote. He expressed confidence in Jody Craven — the party’s candidate for Skeena — Bulkley Valley, who joined Bernier at the event — and was optimistic about the PPC’s chances when an election is called.
“I can tell you that we will have in Ottawa and in Parliament, candidates elected representing the People’s Party of Canada, and the freedom fighters will have a voice in Ottawa.”
Bernier is scheduled to travel to Smithers tomorrow (July 21), where he will speak about the PPC and its platform at a public event.