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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

MP Maxime Bernier shares his vision of conservatism

Maxime Bernier, Member of Parliament for Beauce and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, appeared before the Calgary Centre Conservative Riding Association on January 21st to share his vision of conservatism.

Bernier's vision is a vision many of us should get behind. Here's a nice overview of the values that underpin his vision:

The Beauce is unique in Quebec. It is well known as the most entrepreneurial region of the province. This is where I learned the values that go with entrepreneurship: individual freedom, personal responsibility, integrity, and self-reliance.

Because I often talk about these values, some people in the media have described me as “the Albertan from Quebec”! This is a compliment, by the way. I wish the media was always this nice to me.

Of course, they are also universal values -- values that are at the core of Western civilization and are shared by millions of Canadians. Values that have made this country prosperous and a great place to live.

And I believe you will agree with me -- they very much are conservative values. Values that distinguish us from our political opponents.

What really caught my eye was a nifty proposal he put forward at the talk that I'd like to get your thoughts on, Shotgun readers. Let me again quote Bernier:

Last year, the federal government’s total expenses were about 250 billion dollars. You can do a lot of things with 250 billion dollars! From a historical perspective, it’s a gigantic amount of resources.

What if we decided that this is more than enough? That expenses are not going to grow anymore?

And I’m not saying zero growth adjusted for inflation and population or GDP increase. Just zero growth.

The overall budget is frozen at 250 billion. From now on, any government decision has to be taken within this budgetary constraint.

Every new government program, or increase in an existing program, has to be balanced by a decrease somewhere else.

We no longer have debates about how much more generous the government can be with this or that group, as if the money belonged to the government instead of taxpayers. The silent majority’s interests are always being protected.

The focus of the debate is shifting to a determination of priorities: what are the most important tasks for government to achieve with the money we have? Is this government function really important and should we have more of it? Then what should we do less or stop doing and leave in the hands of the free market, voluntary organisations and individual citizens?

That would be quite a change, don’t you think? A commitment to Zero Budget Growth could become a powerful symbol of fiscal conservatism, just like the “No Deficit” consensus was, to some extent, until the advent of the global economic crisis. But the consequences would be much deeper.

It would mean that every year, the relative size of government would be smaller. It would force politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and everybody else to stop thinking that your salaries are just there to grab for their own benefit. And because of the budgetary constraints, Canadians would have a lot more confidence that we’re not wasting their money.

We have to convince people that we’re not simply aiming to be better managers of a bigger government; we are aiming to be better managers of a smaller government.

Good idea?

Here's Part I of the three-part video from his talk in Calgary. Parts II and III are below the fold:

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on February 9, 2010 in Libertarianism | Permalink


Excellent post and I for one share his vision of zero budget growth.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-02-09 10:59:54 AM

Uttering such heresies as the need to cap and/or reduce government expenditures might ensure he never gets a cabinet position in the Harper government.

Posted by: Dennis | 2010-02-09 11:08:25 AM

Yes, excellent. In agreement with Alain, and Dennis. But we will see. He is from PQ so anything can happen.

Posted by: TM | 2010-02-09 11:22:10 AM

this clown is kicking off the spring fundraising drive by the faux-Cons.

After raising spending by 40% in the past 4 years, they're gonna become fiscal conservatives?


Posted by: captcold | 2010-02-09 2:09:16 PM

The only clown I see is captcold. What Mr. Bernier proposes is just common sense, which would be welcome coming from any political label, but then I do not get hung up on political labels.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-02-09 6:30:32 PM

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