March 22nd 2022.
In a country dominated by statist politicians, what it is like to campaign for freedom, personal responsibility, and limited government? In this episode, Saifedean talks to leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier about Canadian politics and whether bitcoin can protect Canadians from government overreach. They discuss Maxime’s journey into politics as a libertarian, why Canadian inflation is so high, and why Maxime supported recent protests by Canadian truckers. They also talk about the merits of gold versus bitcoin as money, and how Maxime would change Canada’s monetary policy. Saifedean pitches Maxime on the advantages of bitcoin for Canada, and Maxime announces that he's looking to accept donations in bitcoin!
Enjoyed this episode? You can take part in podcast seminars, access Saifedean’s courses and read chapters of his forthcoming books by becoming a Saifedean.com member. Find out more here.
Saifedean Ammous: [00:03:02] Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bitcoin Standard Podcast! Our guest today is Maxime Bernier, the leader and founder of the People's Party of Canada. Maxime is a well-known advocate of freedom and personal responsibility. He is committed to reducing the size of government and he is known as Canada's Ron Paul.
It's a pleasure to be talking to Maxime, he's shown some interest in Bitcoin and I'm looking forward to hearing his opinions, and he's somebody who has got a very unique perspective on Canadian politics. It's not very common that you find Canadian politicians oppose some of the draconian measures that the Canadian government has been doing over the past few years in terms of the economic policies, the monetary policies, as well as the public health policies that have taken off over the [00:04:02] last few years.
So it is a pleasure to have you here Maxime, thank you very much for joining us!
Maxime Bernier: Thank you for the invitation, very pleased to be with you.
Saifedean Ammous: Great, thank you. As a starter, could you give us a little bit of a background about your own personal background? What did you do before politics? Why you got into politics, and what made you such a staunch freedom advocate?
Maxime Bernier: First thank you for asking. Yes, I'm not a career politician. I walked into private sector before being in politics, actually I jumped into politics in 2006 at 42 years old. So what I did before that, I have a law degree, and I worked also in the financial sector.
I work with a, well I was VP of an insurance corporation and I was also a VP of a bank in Montreal. So my [00:05:02] career before politics was mostly in the financial sector in Montreal, and I decided to be a politician when I had a meeting with Stephen Harper at the summer of 2005. At that time, the new born government in Canada had the minority government and Stephen Harper was looking to be ready for the next general election.
And he was looking for candidates, and also for some ideas. And I had a dinner with him in Montreal at summer 2005, and we had a discussion about his bad form. And I said, if you want to have support in Quebec, because I'm coming from Quebec, and if you want to have some support, you need to lower taxes to get Quebecers and everybody.
You need also respect our constitution, not interfering in provincial jurisdiction [00:06:02] like the federal liberal government did and is doing right now, and less regulation. So I believe that he liked it, and he asked me to run. So in 2006, I decided to run in the riding of Beauce, near Quebec city, I was elected in 2006.
I was an industry minister, after that foreign affair minister, after that the minister of state for agriculture and small businesses and in 2015 when we, I was a conservative at that time, and when and the conservative government didn't win the election in 2015, Harper resigned and the job was open.
So the conservative part of Canada had the contest for the leadership, and I was one of the candidates. I think at that time we were about eight or nine candidates and I didn't win with 49% of the vote, [00:07:02] we had a very strong platform, like you said before, based on the four principles, individual freedom, personal responsibility, respect, and fairness.
And all our policies were based on these principles. So it was a real free market conservative platform. And when I didn't win, when I tried to walk for 13 months with the new leader, Andrew Scheer and the establishment of the Conservative Party of Canada. They told me that my ideas were very popular with the membership because I didn't win with 49% of the vote, but they won't take any of these ideas for the next election.
And they were right. In 2019, they didn't run on a conservative platform. So when they told me that, I said what is the point to stay with a party and run with a party when you know they're not conservative? And I resigned, and I said that the conservative party is morally [00:08:02] and intellectually corrupt, and I'm leaving that party.
And we created in 2018, The People's Party of Canada. We had our first election in 2019. We had 1.6% of the vote. The second election for us was last fall in 2021 on September, and we add 5% of the vote. And so this party is going right now, and the platform of our party is almost the same that I had when I was running for the Conservative Party of Canada, for the leadership, and with the same four principles.
And now we're supposed to be around the 10% in the polls. And I believe that the next general election in Canada, maybe in two or three years, and the people's party will be ready. We will have a candidate in every riding and I believe that will increase again or percentage of the vote. And I believe at that time, we'll be able to elect a couple of [00:09:02] candidates in parliament.
Saifedean Ammous: Very nice. First of all, what do you think is the reason that the conservative party has moved away from this agenda of what I think is quite popular amongst the conservative base which is small government, reduced government spending. Realistically if you look at Canadian politics, as well as British politics, U.S. politics, a lot of conservative parties generally pay lip service for this, but when they get into power they end up being very indistinguishable from other parties.
And I think for an outsider, it's not entirely unreasonable to not see these kinds of things in these supposedly conservative parties. In fact, if you look at it from a liberty perspective, conservative parties [00:10:02] might not be that different. In fact, they can be less liberty minded when it comes to social issues, and with foreign policy where they are very keen on foreign intervention usually.
Why do you think the conservative parties in Canada and in most of the Western world choose this track rather than more of a libertarian agenda?
Maxime Bernier: I believe because they don't do politics based on principles and convictions. They're doing politics based on survey polling focus group, because their only goal is to be in government.
Their only goal is to be in power, so they don't want to speak about something that is not popular like cutting spending when we are living in a socialist era right now, When the population is asking are ways for more and more spending. And, it's not popular to say [00:11:02] that. So they're not running usually on a real conservative platform because their goal is to be in government.
And if they win, they don't have the mandate to do these changes. And so they will do polling and try to please everybody. So that's why I said we are all running on the same platform. The platform that we run on at the last general election was the same one as first general election for us in 2019.
And it will be the same one that the next general election. We don't do a new patch form for every election. We believe that our ideas are the best for the country, and we need to explain that to the population, and we believe that the more we speak about what we believe, the more support we will have.
So that's the opposite. Usually another party will speak about something when they're going to see in the polls that they have maybe [00:12:02] 40% of the population on that side. So maybe they will speak about a policy, hoping this percentage will increase, but if there's only 10% of the population on one side, they won't speak about that.
And we will, because we know that what we want to do, it's a smaller government that would respect the constitution, respect taxpayers, respect our individual freedom and personal responsibility. And I believe that these principles that are the foundation of the Western civilization are the best ones.
So a traditional establishment political party won't do that. They will do polling, like I said, and speak about what is popular. And so that's why I said that in Canada here, the conservative party is morally and intelectually corrupt, because they are giving more credibility to the leftist [00:13:02] ideology, speaking like them.
So that's why we must fight that, and that's what we are doing at the People's Party.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. So in the last election you got something around 5% of the vote. And the previous one, you got 1.6, is this encouraging for you? You think the growth is encouraging? Do you think you're going to be doing better or are you disappointed at 5%? What do you think?
Maxime Bernier: No, it's encouraging because I said to our candidates before the last general election, that our goal was to have 4%. Why 4%? Because at 4%, first of all as a leader I will be able to participate in the national debates on TV at the next general election. So at the last election, I was not part of the national debates, the conservatives, the liberals, we're debating together.
The leaders were debating together, but I wasn't there. So the condition that they imposed to me was to have [00:14:02] 4%. And at 4% also, that was important, because half of our expenses as a political party will be reimbursed by the government. So you need to have at least 4% for that.
So that's why I said to my team, we need to have at least 4% and now we achieved 5%. And at the next election, I will be part of these national debates. I will be able to reach to these Canadians that are only listening their news on the traditional and mainstream media and not on social media. I will be able to reach to more people and half of our expenses will be reimbursed. So I believe that we did well.
So what will be the goal for the next election? Always to increase our percentage of the vote, and for me as the leader and other candidates will try to be elected in parliament.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes, we wish you best of luck! Now [00:15:02] since 2015, since the election of Justin Trudeau, I think Canadian politics has taken a decided turn toward more government control and intervention in the economy.
What are your impressions of this? I obviously know you have very strong opinions on this, but how do you rate the past seven years of Justin Trudeau rule in Canada?
Maxime Bernier: For a guy that is fighting for individual freedom and personal responsibility, that was a disaster, that was a disaster in Canada, but also in other countries with COVID-19 hysteria all over the globe.
And you're right when you said in the beginning that I was the only national leader in Canada that was fighting to end these draconian measures since the beginning of all that. The last two years I did rallies and meet with people and speeches against [00:16:02] that.
And we had a huge curfew, stay at home orders and also a vaccine passport that was imposed and still imposed in Canada. I still cannot travel Canada by plane or by train, and I'm a prisoner in my own country. I cannot travel by plane outside the country. So we still have some draconian measures in force right now.
So with the COVID hysteria and all the spending coming from the federal government. And the huge deficit that they did for the last two years, it was more than $400 billion that we are paying right now for that, with the inflation tax. So the way that I'm judging the Trudeau government was a disaster [00:17:02] for for freedom, was a disaster for Canadians.
We may be in recession in Canada, we have inflation of 5.7% that will go up, and inflation is a hidden tax. Instead of taxing us and taking our money in our pockets, the government decided to have a huge deficit monetized by the Bank of Canada. The Bank of Canada printed money to pay for that deficit to buy Canadian bonds.
And when you have more money chasing fewer goods, you have inflation and that's what we have in this country. And so with the same dollar that you have in your pocket, you cannot buy the same amount of goods and services with that. So that's why it's a hidden tax. The government is telling you, you can keep your money but you won't be able to buy everything that you want with that dollar, like you were able before the inflation.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think if you look [00:18:02] at Canadian money supply statistics the last couple of years, it's actually astounding how quickly things have gone up. The fact that inflation has only, price inflation seems like it is relatively tame in government statistics, currently it says 5.7%. What are your thoughts on that number?
Maxime Bernier: You're right, that's the official rate of inflation. And if you look in the U.S. the official inflation is about 7.8%, something like that. But if you take the whole formula, the way that the government in U. S. was calculating inflation in the 1980s and 1990s, if you take that formula, the inflation in U.S. it's about 15%.
So a government doesn't like [00:19:02] inflation and they change the formula to calculate inflation, and so that's why some economies in U. S. are saying the real inflation is 15%, not 7.8%. And I believe that it must be the same in this country, in Canada, the real inflation rate, and when you speak to people, they know. They do their grocery, it's more than 5.1%.
At the gas pump it's more than 5.7%. So the real inflation in Canada, I agree that it must be a lot more than 5.7%, maybe around 10%. But that number will increase because the federal government is still spending money that we don't have. And not only that government, but Western governments did the same thing the last two years.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, it's one of our recurring topics on this podcast. How [00:20:02] there's a big disconnect between official statistics on inflation and the inflation that people feel. And the reason is very simple. Government bureaucrats decide what to put in the basket of goods and they decide to prioritize the kinds of things whose prices don't rise a lot.
Particularly industrial goods, particularly industrial food. So they won't put a lot of weight on beef. They'll put a lot more weight on sugary snacks and beans and lentils and things that can be produced at scale where production can respond to increases in demand relatively effectively, bringing the price down.
And so I think inflation statistics are massively under reported. And just recently in fact, I found out that in India, the way that they have managed to successfully fight inflation is that the central bank is still including VCRs and cassette tapes in the [00:21:02] basket of goods. So as you can imagine, the price of VCR is going down, and so the Indian central bank has been quite successful at keeping inflation at bay with that policy.
And the same kind of thing used to happen in the 1970s in the U. S. We don't hear much about what's going on behind the scenes now in the U. S. and in Canada, but we hear about what happened in the seventies, people retire and then they write their books.
Arthur Burns, who was the chief of the federal reserve at that time basically got rid of about 70% of the goods that were in the basket of goods during his reign. And then he kept only the 30% that weren't going up much. And that's how they managed to keep inflation down.
Maxime Bernier: Absolutely, absolutely. You cannot trust the bureaucrats, and politicians also. I like to say that I'm not an establishment politician, I'm not a career politician, [00:22:02] if I don't win I'll go back into private sector and do what I did before and they have to fight for these ideas.
And that's why I'm patient also as a politician. I know that I won't be prime minister after the next general election, but we need to do an ideological revolution and that can take time and we are ready for that. But you're absolutely right, I believe they did the same thing here in Canada.
And we're playing with the basket of goods and services that they put in the formula for inflation. I'm pretty sure also.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think this is really the depressing thing is that being in power allows you to use the tools of power to keep yourself in power. It allows you to fiddle with inflation statistics.
It allows you to abuse the constitution in order to impose COVID restrictions, [00:23:02] which essentially I think, a very important part of them is that they end up punishing people who are not obedient to the government.
I doubt that Justin Trudeau is so concerned about issues of public health, and I doubt that he's really looked at all of the scientific evidence for all of the insane draconian restrictions that he placed on people. I think the reason that politicians all over the world were so anxious to do this, the same politicians who tell you to eat junk food, the same politicians who subsidize the manufacturers of junk food suddenly became extremely concerned about your health when it came down to these draconian measures all over the world.
I think it's much more about politics and power and control.
Maxime Bernier: Yeah, you're right. I'll give you an example here in Quebec, in the province of Quebec. The premier of Quebec, we're not in an emergency anymore, but we are still under the emergency act in Quebec.[00:24:02]
And the premier has said, I need to pass a new legislation, and that new legislation I will take some of these powers that I had under the emergency act because it can be useful. So what he is saying to the population, he says there's no emergency anymore, but I will take some powers that the emergency act is giving me because I need that for a near future.
So they really enjoyed the power that they had and they want always more and more.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. If there's one thing that the people in power like, it is more power. So what are your thoughts about, obviously it's clear what you thought of these measures but what do you think about the recent protests by Canadian truckers?
What were your ideas about the protest themselves and then the reaction to them?
Maxime Bernier: Oh, first I must say that happened because after two years, [00:25:02] and we had a couple of protests across the country, and I was part of that. But after two years, the population were saying enough is enough.
There is no emergency anymore. And when Justin Trudeau said to these truckers to cross the border from U.S. to Canada, you will need to be double jabbed, you will need to have your vaccine passport. And if you don't have your vaccine passport, you will have to quarantine for 10 days. So you won't be able to work for 10 days.
And I believe that about only 20% of these truckers were not vaccinated, but everybody decided enough is enough. And that was kind of a grassroot movement because that was not based on logic, that was not based on science, because don't forget these truckers were [00:26:02] essential workers in the beginning of the pandemic. Because they weren't the only ones that were able to cross the border from the U. S. to Canada and from Canada to the U.S. to bring us foods and goods.
And at that time we didn't have any vaccine, and they were able. We had the lockdown in Canada and in some states in U.S. but they were able to work, they were essential workers. And now, and usually when you are a trucker, you are alone in your truck. And so you cannot put the life of other Canadians in danger.
So that was not based on logic, that was not based on common sense, that was not based on science. And they said enough is enough, and the population agreed with that. That was a celebration and not so a protest, a kind of [00:27:02] celebration because people knew that the end was coming, and they knew that they were right.
So they gave us a lot of hope and actually couple of days after that provinces in Canada started to end their draconian measures. And so now we just have some measures that are still enforced that the federal government is still imposing.
So that was a success. And I want to thank them, they had the courage of their conviction.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think it was pretty impressive to watch this. And yes, you're absolutely correct, it's clear that the thing was really about control and obedience, because as you said, these people spend 18 hours in a truck not interacting with anybody.
The idea that they're going to infect anybody, and most of them are vaccinated anyway, [00:28:02] and the disease had lost its severity and people who are getting it over the last several months were, most of them were not having any serious complications.
It was always like this, but it just keeps getting less and less serious. But what was most telling for me was the reaction of the Canadian government to this in terms of the confiscation of the bank accounts of these Canadian citizens who really did nothing illegal.
And I think the prosecution of people who donated to a cause that was perfectly legal was astonishing. And I'm wondering if you think that these kinds of measures are going to be coming to opposition politicians like yourself at some point?
Maxime Bernier: Everybody's at risk. Actually what they did when they froze the bank accounts of not only the organizers of that [00:29:02] freedom convoy, but on ordinary Canadians that donate 20 bucks to that convoy, that was, we thought, a court order.
We must say that and they did it, actually they did it for about 10 days but that was too much, and I think that was the beginning of something. People are starting to lose confidence in the banking system when you're doing that.
Actually, if you take the international example of that, was the repercussion, what the Biden government and other government did to Russia by freezing the account of their central bank outside of Russia, that's about the same thing. So put these two together and [00:30:02] that's not good for the financial system, and for the confidence of people in that system.
We'll see what will happen in the near future about that, but that was too much and it's very sad that we were, and we all are right now, still the only national political party in Canada that was picking against that and supporting the truckers.
Saifedean Ammous: Yes. But that brings us very nicely to the punchline of this whole discussion, which I've been leading to I think, first of all, thinking about the political restraints on government, I think it's very clear that they're not very effective.
The government has shown that they can sidestep the constitution and do whatever they want. We've seen the political measures that they'll take, and [00:31:02] now we're seeing it in financial terms. And I think this is really important, it's in both in inflation and in confiscating bank accounts.
And if only we had some kind of technology for financial assets that was outside of the control of governments, oh wait, we do! Bitcoin! What do you think of Bitcoin? Do you see the opportunity here for it to solve a lot of these problems?
And do you see the potential really for why, I think to be perfectly honest with you, a lot of us Bitcoiners are completely disillusioned with the political process because you're effectively playing a game against a team and the referee. and the referee is wearing the jersey of the other team. So when the government is in charge of the financial system, it's like your opposition team has the referee.
It [00:32:02] doesn't matter how well you play if the referee is blamed for the other side. They take your bank account, they take your money, they're using inflation to confiscate your wealth in order to finance their operation, and in order to buy votes for them, and in order to win more people. And in order to really, I think they might not think of it this way, but politically this is how it works, the worse off you make the economy, the more lives you destroy financially, the more people are dependent on the government, and the more people will vote for more draconian political and economic control.
It seems to be a winning formula, unfortunately. And I think there's a strong case to be made that the answer can't come from within politics, or at least if it is going to come from within politics it's a job that requires a very new kind of tool.
You know how in Superman they say this is a [00:33:02] job for Superman, this is a job for Bitcoin I think! What do you think?
Maxime Bernier: I think you are right about that. It's all because of fiat currency, fiat money. That's not new in the world, but in the 19th century we had a gold standard, and I like Bitcoin. I like it because they're a competition.
They're a competition to fiat money. And we as a political party, we have a policy and we said the government must not regulate transactions and Bitcoins and it must be free. My fear is that government doesn't like competition.
They may regulate, and it can be harder for Canadians or for anybody to do a [00:34:02] transaction with Bitcoins, but I hope it won't. And so that's why you're right, saying that the financial monetary system right now, we are at a turning point, like we were after the second world war.
After 1971, when Nixon closed the gold window, and 1974, when Henry Kissinger decided, and the American government, to have an agreement with Saudi Arabia, for them to use the US dollar for all their transactions for oil, and that was the beginning of the petrol dollars. So now with some governments in Canada in other countries, they pass the legislation for a bail in, if we have a financial crisis, not a bail out.
A bail [00:35:02] in means that if you have money in a bank, and that bank is in bankruptcy, the bank will decide maybe a part of your deposit will be exchanged with a share of the bank that is bankrupt. And so that's bail in. And we had that possibility in Canada, the federal government passed a law about it.
So when you have that, when you have governments like the Trudeau government that freezes bank accounts, when you have at the international level sanctions against a country that you cannot do any transaction in US dollars, I think that will accelerate the change of the the U. S. dollar being the dominant currency for international exchanges. And that can be a good thing.
But the [00:36:02] way that it's happening, maybe not so much under control. And I hope that gold or Bitcoin will have a role to play and that will be the best. So we'll see what will happen. I'm not an expert in gold or Bitcoins, but I understand that the fiat money is not the solution. And so these changes will happen at the international scene.
Maybe it will have two or three currencies that will be, that will dominate international exchanges and maybe maybe a basket of currency that can be based on gold or based on Bitcoin. I don't know, but a lot of things can happen and we must be open to that. I'm not there to give any advice, financial advice to Canadians or to anybody, but adding gold or Bitcoins in your portfolio, I believe that [00:37:02] it may be smart to do that.
Saifedean Ammous: In my book, The Bitcoin Standard I think the case for Bitcoin very briefly comes down to the fact that it's the hardest money that we have. It's harder even than gold. So the supply growth is lower than even gold, or it will be in the next couple of years.
And that's really what made gold so special. What made gold money is that it's supply growth is very slow, but now Bitcoin is going to overtake it. But I think the major advantage that Bitcoin has over gold is that gold requires centralized clearance. So you have to trust in central banks and you have to trust in the political authorities that control central banks.
And so therefore the gold standard is essentially a big honeypot, because you're putting all of everybody's gold, you can't send gold across the world physically, from your home to somebody else's home in China when you're buying something from China.
You put your gold in your bank and your bank has its reserves in the central bank, and your central bank has a a line [00:38:02] of trade with the Chinese central bank. And the Chinese central bank has an account for the person you're buying from, from his bank. And so that entire process is extremely vulnerable to centralized control. That's the problem with gold and that's why we got off the gold standard.
Bitcoin fixes this effectively by having the clearance happened in a decentralized way, where you can actually effectively hand over your Bitcoin to the person in China without anybody being in the middle. Without anybody being able to take over that. And I think this is really where the advantage lies on why I think it's unlikely to be a future of many different currencies.
So I think, I'm trying to make the case for here, why don't you take a more proactive role about Bitcoin? I think it's economic inevitability perhaps, but also [00:39:02] it's politically a very powerful tool for you to employ it, because the more political parties in Canada speak about Bitcoin, the more they place it as an agenda, the more you put it out there, the more Canadians hold Bitcoin, the more Canadians become supportive of it.
The more Canadians are free from what we saw happen to the Canadian truckers. If the Canadian truckers, most of them already had Bitcoin, they'd have been far less vulnerable to what the government would have done. So do you see yourself maybe adding it as perhaps part of your platform or making it legal tender perhaps?
Maxime Bernier: Yeah, you have a point there. The challenge with Bitcoin right now is that people are not using it to do their day-to-day transaction. And they're not using it because a lot of people don't know [00:40:02] that they have something else that they can use.
And the more people that can use it, the better it will be for the currency, the better it will be. So that being said, also we as a political party, the only position on Bitcoin is to not do anything. Like you just said, you don't want the government to be in charge of that. You don't want the government to take any control.
What I don't like to see right now, it's central banks that try to have an electronic currency or something like that, or they want to regulate Bitcoins, and they must not. So the government doesn't have a role to play. And in our platform, we'll add that to the free market.
And same thing also about the gold standard, I just said [00:41:02] historically that it's there, and yeah I believe, but in Canada we cannot impose a gold standard. It has to be a negotiation with different countries, and it will happen, but we cannot say, okay here in Canada, we'll have a goal standard.
Actually The Bank of Canada doesn't hold any gold. But what I'm doing, I think I participate in the education of Canadians about real currency and against fiat money. I think that's important to do that. I'm looking forward and maybe yes, maybe we'll have a basket of currencies that will be backed on Bitcoin and other with gold, I don't know.
But what I'm saying, it's that the financial system that we have right now [00:42:02] won't be the same one in 10 years or 15 years. We are in the middle of a revolution, and people must be ready for that.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I'm a libertarian, so I think generally governments shouldn't intervene with money at all.
But I also don't think people should run for elections and legitimate the process in general, but I think if you are into it, I think it it might be worth thinking of it as a kind of defensive weapon against this. Because I think if the PPC grows, there is no reason why Trudeau might not do the same thing that he did to truckers against you. Let's face it, you've broken as much laws as the truckers have broken laws so far. So if he can do it to truckers [00:43:02] he can do it to you.
Maxime Bernier: As a political party we will accept donations with Bitcoin, I think we're working on that, that will come soon.
So that's something that we're looking at. I think that will be important, to have that opportunity to receive money from our donors, the Canadian donors, so we are open to that. But yes, I don't trust the government, and that's why we need to find an alternative and you are an expert on that subject and I think you have great points there.
And we need to have the discussion a little bit more in our democracies.
Saifedean Ammous: If you were to be elected prime minister, what would be your central banking policy? What are you going to do with the central bank?
Maxime Bernier: [00:44:02] First of all, like Ron Paul said audit the Fed, I believe that we must audit The Bank of Canada.
We must be sure that The Bank of Canada, we will try to target a zero inflation target instead of 2%, 3%. Inflation is a hidden tax like I said. That will limit their power to create money out of thin air. That won't be the real solution, that's only a first step that we can do when we are elected.
And also the federal government must cut spending to balance the budget. So if we balance the budget, we won't need to have The Bank of Canada monetize our deficit, because we won't have any deficit, so I think that will be important. And after that, speaking with our counterparts, speaking with other Western countries, if it's not happening right now, about a new [00:45:02] monetary system based on something and not on fiat money, that will be important.
And I think it would be something that I can start. Maybe if I'm elected prime minister in two years we can start these conversations, if I'm prime minister in 20 years, maybe that will be done. But that being said, we need to have a new international monetary system.
And I want to be part of these discussions, and I'm welcoming the solution that you are arguing for. I think that can be a good solution.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, and I think it might also be worth looking into El Salvador. They've adopted Bitcoin as a national currency, as a legal tender.
And a lot of people said this was going to end in tears, it hasn't been ending in tears yet. So it might be something worth considering as a part of the agenda. [00:46:02]
Maxime Bernier: Did you have any details about that? Because I believe that doing that, the population must use more Bitcoin than they were before.
Did you have any data or statistics? I know it's recent.
Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I don't have the exact numbers, but millions of people in El Salvador downloaded the new wallet and it's still not used very widely in terms of day-to-day usage, but a lot more people are aware of it, a lot more people are using it.
But at this point, I argue in my book, because Bitcoin is such a small part of the global money supply, there's about a 90 to $100 trillion of money in the world of national currencies. Bitcoin is around 1% of that.
So it's still 1% of people's cash balances. The likelihood that you will want to trade with somebody who has a significant Bitcoin balance and is willing to [00:47:02] change the size of their Bitcoin balance, depending on buying and selling with you is pretty low at this point, even in a place like El Salvador, most people just don't hold large quantities.
So it's a slow process, it's not going to happen overnight. People think of it as upgrading from say Windows to Mac. Cause you're just switching from one operating software, you're buying a new machine, but it's money, it's more complicated. You have a lot of revenues and expenditures that are in Bitcoin and obligations that are in in dollars let's say, and you can't just overnight flip to holding everything in Bitcoin because you're going to need to be exchanging back and forth to meet your obligations.
And you'll be getting paid in this. So it's a gradual process of building up cash balances, which I think over time, because Bitcoin goes up in value because it's supply is limited, whereas national currencies decline in value because the supply is unlimited, overtime people's cash balances in Bitcoin increase and then the [00:48:02] opportunities for trade increase.
But I think an interesting thing is that if something similar to the truckers protest happened in El Salvador, President of El Salvador, President Bukele would not be able to do something like what Justin Trudeau did, because he can't control the Bitcoin network. And I think this is really the key idea, that it's money that allows people in the country to send money to one another and abroad, and to get remittances from abroad, and to send and receive money from anywhere in the world, without needing to go through the government's authority.
So it's an astonishing move for a government to make, because it's effectively handing over power, because it's telling the people now you have this wallet in your phone and nobody can take away your coins from you. So I think it's a very interesting case to keep track of, might be worth looking into for the PPC as an agenda item.
And I think Bitcoin is quite popular in Canada. Canada's got [00:49:02] a pretty significant Bitcoin constituency.
Maxime Bernier: Yeah. I believe it is, also. Yeah, you're right. I know some of my friends that are doing transaction with Bitcoin. But you have a point there, the next general election in Canada, maybe in two years, we still have the time to look at it and to read your books in detail.
I said that I'm for a gold standard because that was what happened in the past. We had more stability and things like that. But now we have a new new competition to the gold standard, and and we need to look at it. You have a point there.
Saifedean Ammous: Okay, great. Daniel, you have a question for Mr. Bernier?
Daniel: Yes, it has just already been answered. I was going to actually ask you whether you would accept Bitcoin as donations for your [00:50:02] party, and you've already said that. I think it would be an amazing move for you to make. As Saif said, there's already so many great Bitcoiners and great Bitcoin companies in Canada that have probably not even voted for many years because they're so disillusioned with what's going on. But if they saw a party come out and say, we will accept Bitcoin as donation, and you can have that in your party for the next two to five years, you'll be shocked at what a war chest that could become. So thanks for giving up your time and coming on and speaking to us about this. But like I said, you've already answered my question before.
Maxime Bernier: Yeah. About that, I just want to add that we are in discussion with The Election Canada. That's the body who regulates us as a political party, and I believe that we may have their approval or not about it, but it's something that actually we want to do as soon as possible.
Saifedean Ammous: Well I guess we are coming up to the end of our time, I want to thank you [00:51:02] so much for this fascinating conversation, and I want to wish you all the best of luck in your attempts to bring some sanity back to Canada. I've spent a lot of time in Canada, I love the place. I love the beef in Canada, it's amazing delicious beef that you guys have over there.
Have a lot of friends and family in Canada as well, and I look forward to going back again, and I hope one day we'll have a much more sane world with people like you playing a much more significant role in the future of the country.
Maxime Bernier: I appreciate that, thank you very much. And thank you for educating me on Bitcoin and thank you for everything. I think you have a point there, we need more discussion about it. And I really appreciate that opportunity that I had to be with you today.
Saifedean Ammous: Thank you very much, have a good day!
Maxime Bernier: Thank you, bye-bye.