Let Bernier Attack Supply Management

June 13th, 2018 | R. Rados
bernier booted

I voted for Andrew Scheer and jumped off the Bernier bandwagon a long time ago, but Scheer's decision to boot Bernier from the shadow cabinet doesn't get my support. Maxime Bernier proved to be confused about his own principles and vision during the CPC leadership race when he voted for Bill C-16, years after he started describing himself as a libertarian. It's one thing to change your mind over the course of several years, but when you can't even stay coherent and consistent after you've declared yourself a “lover of liberty”, you don't get my support. Maxime Bernier is an imperfect and often flakey excuse for a libertarian, but I can't support Andrew Scheer's decision to remove him from the shadow cabinet over his criticisms of supply management.

Supply management is a disgrace. Donald Trump was one of the first to say it on the world stage. Maxime Bernier started railing against supply management when someone told him that's what libertarians are supposed to do. It's like that time Bernier voted for Bill C-16, then retracted his support when his followers threw shade at him. Had Bernier actually understood liberty and Bill C-16, he would have voted against it—like Andrew Scheer.

Now, with supply management, Andrew Scheer is the one running into a consistency problem.  

Unlike Maxime Bernier (another reason I dropped him), Andrew Scheer's leadership platform included free speech. Scheer said he would restrict funding for universities that limit and ban speech, whereas Bernier said very little about anything related to the subject. When it came to free speech on campuses and Canada's archaic hate speech laws, Bernier had nothing substantial to say or offer. He was a dud. He was an opportunist dressed up like a libertarian and he relied on advisors to tell him how to be a proper “lover of liberty”. This was why I had no use for him anymore.

Andrew Scheer's voting record showed an appreciation for free speech, individual rights and freedom. Fast forward to 2018 and Scheer is proving to care less about free speech and more about appeasing the dairy farmers who supported his leadership bid.

Not only is supply management far from being a conservative principle, Andrew Scheer has punished a member of his own party for having an opinion that defies the status quo. This equates to two strikes on Andrew Scheer's part. I can understand the measure and the need to express party unity when it comes to taking a stand against Trump's tariffs, but we already have two political parties that support supply management. At the moment, Canadians who don't support supply management have no representation in Ottawa.

Maybe, in a back room somewhere, Scheer's strategists decided that supporting supply management was a better gamble. It is true that a majority of Canadians have no idea what supply management is, how it works, or what the consequences are. This leaves a lot of ammunition for Liberals and New Democrats who might be looking to capitalize on that collective ignorance by attacking Conservatives and accusing them of trying to hurt Canada's dairy industry by siding with America's super-villain, Donald Trump. However, that collective ignorance could be used in reverse if Conservative strategists knew how to be Conservative strategists.

Let's face it. If Conservative strategists knew what they were doing, we wouldn't have Justin Trudeau. That same collective ignorance about supply management could be used as ammunition against Liberals and New Democrats. If most Canadians have no idea what supply management is, we have ample opportunity to educate them and show them how it doesn't make any sense from a free market perspective. It's like a blank slate. It's tabula rasa. If Liberals and New Democrats can work with a blank slate, Conservatives can too.

To his credit, Maxime Bernier has been doing this all along.

It's time for educational videos, lectures, articles and speeches. Bernier's voice isn't enough. Andrew Scheer needs to come to his senses and stay true to his own principles by reinstating Maxime Bernier into the Conservative shadow cabinet. Conservatives who are opposed to supply management need to be more vocal, without attacking the CPC as a whole. Despite what a lot of conservatives and Bernier supporters have been exhibiting, it is possible to chew gum and walk at the same time.

Attacking the CPC and Scheer won't stop supply management. Both Liberals and New Democrats support supply management, so their parties don't serve as viable vessels to ending it. If conservatives and libertarians really want to end supply management, they'll need to put pressure on Scheer and the Conservative establishment from within. The so-called “dairy cartel” can be pushed out with the right amount of pressure and the Conservative Party can learn to adapt to a new way of thinking over time. We don't need the dairy cartel and with good enough policies that matter to a majority of hard-working Canadians, the CPC can overcome the loss.

Enough with the tax credits. Enough with the old tactics. Scheer's Conservative Party needs to adapt and find new ways to attract voters. We want lower taxes, less identity politics and more policies that benefit a majority of Canadians. If Scheer can make us believe the CPC is capable of doing this, he will win.