In those anxious days before the Conservative leadership vote, while other candidates practised their pitches to the party faithful, Maxime Bernier was spotted rehearsing his victory speech.
That speech never saw the light of day, but Bernier wants to change that with a new book he’s writing.
“I will have an annex called ‘the speech that I never delivered.’ That was the winning speech that I didn’t deliver because, as you know,” he said, laughing, “I didn’t win.”
Releasing a victory speech after losing is an unconventional move, but Bernier prides himself on defying at least some political conventions —Think supply management, but more on that later.
In his as of yet untitled book, Bernier will delve into the leadership race and his campaign strategy. He’ll talk about what drew him into politics and his years in Stephen Harper’s cabinet. He, however, is promising precious little space for “gossip” or anything to do with a certain ex-girlfriend.
“The book will be about my vision of the country. What’s wrong with our country and how we can fix it.”
For Bernier, now the Conservative critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development, that means more freedom and less government. It is a return to the values that guided his leadership campaign.
“You can call Maxime Bernier a real free market guy or a Libertarian on the economy, ” he told CBC News.
He has a publisher and has already delivered a first chapter. He’s eyeing early 2019 for a potential release date but admits it will depend on how quickly he can write — in English. The book will be released in both official languages.
The Harper years
He plans to write about his time around Stephen Harper’s cabinet table, with a particular focus on his work reforming the telecommunications sector. But, he is not promising any profound insights into what makes the former prime minister tick.
“I don’t want this book to be based on gossip or things like that. It will be very, very factual. But at the same time, it must be like a story. I’ll tell things and speak mostly about myself.”
Perhaps the most infamous chapter of Maxime Bernier’s political career came when as foreign affairs minister he left confidential documents at his girlfriend’s home. That girlfriend, Julie Couillard, turned out to have past romantic ties to bikers.
In her book, Julie Couillard writes that Bernier had visions of replacing Stephen Harper as federal Conservative leader. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)
Bernier ultimately resigned from cabinet over the incident.
Couillard went on to release a book called My Story, which is full of unflattering allegations about Bernier’s character and his actions as a cabinet Minster.
But Bernier said she won’t receive nearly as much attention in his book. He insists people know the truth about that chapter of his life.
“It’s all behind me. I’ll have maybe a paragraph about that. Nothing new.”
Cows, chickens and Kevin O’Leary
Since losing the leadership race, Bernier has said he “won’t speak” about his views on the need to abolish supply management. He was the only candidate in the 14-person race to call for dismantling the pricing system for dairy, eggs and poultry. Leader Andrew Scheer was particularly staunch in his defence of supply management.
Bernier said he won’t actually be advocating to end supply management again, but it is an important part of the story.
“What will be in the book, will be the strategy, why I decided to be the only candidate to want to abolish supply management. But you’re right, I don’t want to speak about it because the members of our party decided by 51 per cent they want to keep that policy.”
Bernier shakes hands with Kevin O’Leary, after it was announced that O’Leary had quit the leadership race and thrown his support behind Bernier. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)
Bernier also plans to reveal more about his interactions with other leadership candidates, notably Kevin O’Leary, who dropped out in the 11th hour and endorsed Bernier.
”That will be part of the book for sure.”
Any hints about what he plans to say?
“No, no. My publisher would be mad at me,” he said, and laughing.
Many other politicians have penned similar political manifestos in the lead up to an election. Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground and Tom Mulcair’s Strength of Conviction were both released prior to the 2015 vote. Barack Obama wrote The Audacity of Hope focusing on many of the themes that would be part of his 2008 presidential campaign.
So is this book a sign Bernier still harbours leadership hopes?
He said the key difference between his book and those other examples is that he’s already had his fight.
“It’s after the leadership. Not before. So it’s very different.”