Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier turned heads Tuesday morning when he alleged a Liberal victory in 2015 would reignite the separatist movement in Quebec.
The minister of state for small business, tourism and agriculture was in town to give a speech to a group of young Quebec entrepreneurs when he made the disparaging comments.
Bernier later joined CJAD host James Mennie in studio where he changed his tone to focus on how Quebec might once again become a 'have province' and that he was ashamed to be from one of the nation's poorest provinces. In the wide-ranging interview Bernier touched on a variety of issues he felt were directly responsible for Quebec's diminished status within the federation, including an apparent over preoccupation with constitutional negotiations and matters of cultural identity. The Tory Quebec Lieutenant said the province's interventionist policies needed to be scrapped in order to increase wealth and regain pride.
Asked whether the 'tectonic plates' of Quebec politics had shifted with the election of Philippe Couillard, Bernier said "I think so (...) the province of Quebec has the power to solve its problems within Canada" and that "the people of Quebec must be proud to be Canadian."
Bernier further stated that all Quebecers are 'real' Quebecers regardless of mother tongue and that the nature of federalism can change without necessarily requiring formal constitutional negotiations.
Peculiarly, Bernier told CJAD that all the autonomy Quebec desires is already found within the 'letter of the law' of the constitution, and that the Fathers of Confederation desired greater provincial autonomy and a small central government.
Bernier did not mention whether it was necessary for Quebec to sign the constitution documents drafted and put into law by Pierre Trudeau in order to realize its full potential within Confederation.