Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier brought his small-government message to a standing-room only crowd in Laval last week.

“The current Liberal government is financing its programs on the backs of generations to come,” he told the more than 250 Laval residents who packed the Palace ballroom in Fabreville, Feb. 22. “They want to increase the size of the government and the size of the public debt and they want your children and your grandchildren to pay for their irresponsible decisions. There are five parties represented in Canada’s parliament. Four of them believe that the government should get bigger. Only one, the Conservative Party of Canada, wants you to be in charge of your life.”

Bernier picked up the endorsement of Senators Larry Smith, Claude Carignan and Leo Housakos and former Conservative cabinet minister Gerry Weiner.

The Beauce MP, who served as a senior Conservative cabinet minister, also said that he wants to promote interprovincial trade by reducing needless barriers to commerce.

“I want to shrink the government and give you back your freedom, because we Conservatives have faith in people,” he said. “We have faith that you have the ability, the dignity and the right to make your own decisions and determine your own destiny.”

Bernier’s message has played well in Western Canada, where he’s referred to as “the Albertan who speaks with a French accent”, and as a leadership candidate here in Quebec, where he enjoys favourite son status.

“We’re strong in most regions of Canada,” he told the party faithful. “We have to be strong here in Quebec. I’m here to tell you that we’re very strong in Quebec.”

He complimented Laval residents for turning out in such strong numbers, which exceeded Conservative organizer Roland Dick’s expectations.

“We need a leader with solid experience who understands Quebec,” said Dick. “Canada needs a leader who looks out for all of us and our families.”

“We could win Quebec,” suggested Housakos, “with a leader who can communicate with Quebecers, who is bilingual and can deliver the merchandise. That leader is Maxime Bernier.”

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