The People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier wants to reform healthcare.
He claims Ottawa is overtaxing Canadians and holding money ransom to force provincial compliance.
If elected, his party would abolish the law imposing uniform medical services across Canada and end healthcare transfer payments.
Although provincial laws govern the quasi-totality of health services in the country, the Canada Health Actdefines the terms which the provinces must respect in order to receive the full federal financial contribution.
The Canadian Constitution outlines healthcare as a provincial jurisdiction.
Consequently, Maxime Bernier promises to abolish income taxes collected for healthcare services and renegotiate equalization. Provinces would surely need to raise taxes to recapture monies formerly obtained through transfer payments.
Healthcare and equalization raised through a question on abortion
Maxime Bernier made these statements in response to questions on abortion during an interview with Studio TheoVox.
Jean-François Denis asked whether the federal government should be funding abortions. Maxime Bernier replied that Ottawa should not be funding any healthcare services whatsoever.
The party leader refused to give his personal opinion on the ethics of abortion. Doing so as leader would “give a certain direction to the Party”.
However, when asked whether abortion qualified as a healthcare service, he said "he doubts it".
Denis also wanted to know if government should be funding sex-change surgeries. He asked if such operations should be considered healthcare services. Bernier answered, “We shouldn't exaggerate in our definitions of what is a healthcare service.”
Bernier maintains that certain basic services should be standard across the country. However, provinces should remain free to define and fund any additional services.
No whipped vote on issues outside party platform
These answers may attract the attention of social conservatives who feel they don’t have a voice in Canadian politics.
Despite being heavily indebted to the Conservative Party’s social-conservative base and pro-life lobbies, Andrew Scheer has closed the door on discussing abortion. As for the NDP, it chose to punish a pro-choice MP in 2018 for simply disagreeing with compelled speech on abortion. Anti-abortion candidates can’t even run for the Liberal Party.
Maxime Bernier stressed that all MP's in the People’s Party of Canada retain their right to propose private member's bills. There are no taboo subjects, contrary to other parties on the federal political landscape.
The freedom of conscience and of political expression exclusive to the PPC may explain how an outspoken pro-life candidate such as Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson can coexist with the libertarians and classical liberals of the party.
She sure wants to talk about abortion.
Maxime Bernier made it clear he does not cover abortion in his party's platform. He will however allow votes on the subject.
MPs under his banner may submit any idea for discussion before Canadians, as long as it does not contradict party policy.
Therefore, MPs cannot attempt to restrict free trade, but they can propose providing a framework around abortion.
Liberty & servicing local needs locally
A leaner government respecting constitutionally-defined responsibilities could not perform functions which are better handled by lower authorities.
In other words, the federal mandate should not encroach on provincial jurisdictions.
That's Canadian subsidiarity in action, Bernier sees government as it was originally envisioned. He thinks the Canadian Constitution is a good document.
His government would be too small to tell people which medical procedures they may have. As a result, this will empower provincial authorities to determine what services they will tax their citizens for.
It may be just what the doctor ordered. According to the Canadian Medical Association, Canadians have been frustrated with their health system for years.
More liberty on a local level is a big change for Canada, but Maxime Bernier's sizable membership is asking for it.
The 35,000 members who joined the People's Party of Canada in these past five months are tired of successive Liberal and Conservative governments centralizing power in Ottawa.
They expect the nascent party to bring balance after decades of growing and overreaching government. They want to do politics differently.
Maxime Bernier is therefore staying true to the grass roots of his political movement by proposing radical changes in healthcare.
He's also taking the bold risk that the rest of Canadians will agree with.