A Time for Choosing
Maxime Bernier, minister of State, Small Business and Tourism, Agriculture
Manning Networking Conference
March 7, 2015, Ottawa
Thank you Catherine for those kind words. And also a big thanks to the Manning Centre for inviting me.
This is such an amazing opportunity to meet like-minded friends from across the country and to recharge our batteries with lots of good ideas from the best minds in the conservative movement.
I hope you have been taking advantage of the conference, because this year is a crucial year for our country.
It will be a time for choosing: stability or uncertainty… a consolidation of the gains we have achieved over the past several years, which have made Canada one of the soundest economies in the world… or gambling with superficially appealing but reckless policies.
This is the choice that Canadians will have to make before the end of the year, and we have to make sure that it will be clear in everyone’s mind what kind of policies are best for Canadians.
But before we get into this debate, I want to rewind the tape a little bit. I want to talk about the “coolest” decade of the 20th Century: the 1970s!! You remember the 1970s?
I think I can spot some people in this room who are old enough like me to remember the 1970s: the decade of disco! With Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever. The decade of men in jumpsuits with long hair! Can you imagine me like that?!!
On the economic front, it was not cool! It was the decade of stagflation: economic stagnation with inflation. The decade of big deficits and huge debt. The decade of the National Energy Program. The decade when the federal government was growing like wildfire. The decade when we had all these brilliant federal politicians and bureaucrats who were not busy enough running the federal government; they also wanted to run the provinces.
The decade of federal intervention in health care and education. The decade of centralisation and nationalisation. The decade when, partly in reaction to that federal activism, Separatism in Québec grew and grew, when the PQ became the official opposition in 1970, formed the government in 1976 and held its first referendum in 1980.
I can feel a wave of nostalgia in the room for that blessed period! Yes, the 1970s: the decade of Pierre Elliot Trudeau.