Bernier on Greta Thunberg, immigration and more in wide-ranging interview
OTTAWA - People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier said his “smart populist party” is aiming to appeal to the intelligence of Canadians through policy reform and not their emotions.
Speaking on CTV Question Period on Sunday, Bernier was asked what populist means to him. In response, Bernier said “we base our policies on serious reforms that need to be done in this country.”
“There is no political correctness with us. We are saying what we believe in with passion and with conviction, and that’s why you can call our party a smart populist party.”
Bernier was on CTV Question Period as part of a series of leaders’ interviews where he spoke about his party’s position on climate change, Quebec’s controversial Bill 21, and his stance on immigration and multiculturalism.
'There is no climate change emergency in this country'
When asked if humans and excess carbon emissions are the cause of climate change, Bernier gave a two-fold “yes and no” answer.
“It is not the main reason why we have climate change; there are other factors also, like the ocean and the sun,” he added. “There is no climate change emergency in this country.”
Bernier has long disputed the science behind climate change, which is why his party is the only camp running in this election without any sort of climate policy. And if elected, he said his stance wouldn’t change.
“The environment is a shared jurisdiction with provinces, and I’ll let provinces deal with it if they want,” he said. “I’m the only leader that won’t sign the Paris Accord and we won’t try to achieve the targets in the Paris Accord. We’re not hypocrites, we’re telling the truth to Canadians.”
The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and Greens have pledged to meet or surpass the targets laid out in the international agreement, which aims to cut emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Earlier this month, the PPC leader made headlines for calling Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist with Asperger’s syndrome, “mentally unstable.”
After sparking controversy online, Bernier later tweeted, “She is a courageous young woman who has overcome her problems and deserves our admiration for it.”
He was asked about his comments on Question Period.
“First of all, when she is saying and I quote her ‘everyone must panic and feel her fears’ I think that is not responsible,” said Bernier.
“You cannot build public policy on panic, on sentiment, you must build public policies on facts and there’s no proof that tomorrow it would be the end of the world if we didn’t do anything on climate change.”
PPC wouldn't intervene on Bill 21
Bernier also gave a firm “no” response to whether a PPC government would intervene on Quebec’s controversial Bill 21, which bans public servants from donning religious symbols and clothing.
“It’s in line with provincial jurisdiction and they use the notwithstanding clause and the Quebec government has the right to do it. I won’t interfere.”
But, Bernier added that he wouldn’t broaden the legislation federally.
'We're not anti-immigration'
Bernier has proposed lowering the admittance of immigrants to between 100,000 and 150,000 per year, as opposed to a projected intake of 340,000 immigrants by 2020 as proposed by the Liberals.
“We’re not anti-immigration, we’re not for mass immigration, we just want fewer immigrants but we want more of them being economic immigrants.”
Bernier has said the Liberals' immigration plan has led to what he called “extreme multiculturalism.”
“I know this country is a diverse country, and we’re proud of that. This country has been built by Francophones, Anglophones, First Nations, Inuits, immigrants from around the world, that’s perfect but what I don’t like with extreme multiculturalism is when the government is using the taxpayers' money always to fund our diversity.”
Bernier said he wants to help “real refugees that are waiting in a country where their life is in danger. That’s the most important. That’s Canadian values. Not the people that are crossing our border illegally in Quebec.”