Frederic Lacroix-Couture, The Canadian Press
BOUCHERVILLE, Qc — The Parti Québécois (PQ) must stay on course for independence during the next election campaign, despite the “adversity” facing the project, claimed Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
The PQ leader spoke Saturday morning to PQ deputies meeting at the national council in Boucherville ahead of the October election. He invited them to fully incorporate their beliefs and remain authentic, which he believes will win votes.
“We don’t back down, we don’t back down, we don’t apologize, we don’t change our mind. We’re going to fight,” he declared in a room at the Mortagne hotel before being cheered by the crowd.
In a press conference, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon lamented that he had been “supplied with the narrative that independence is not popular”, while about a third of Quebecers say they are sovereign, according to the latest polls.
Nevertheless, there is a significant gap between the 8% of voting intentions obtained by the PQ, according to Léger’s latest poll, and support for sovereignty.
“Clearly there is room for growth,” the PQ leader said, without being able to provide a further explanation for this discrepancy.
According to him, the news of recent days shows the relevance and urgency of independence. By refusing to talk about sovereignty, “Quebec will only receive denials from Ottawa and, sadly, Quebec will be condemned to linguistic and cultural decline,” the PQ’s 10th leader argued in his speech.
The delegates also voted in favor of a proposal to integrate the holding of an independence referendum in the first term of a PQ government into the electoral platform.
“126 CAQ deputies out of 125?”
Mr St-Pierre Plamondon did not fail to attack the CAQ government, accusing it of “aplaventriism” and of “significant setbacks” against the federal government. He ridiculed François Legault’s desire to get a “strong mandate” to repatriate the immigration force.
“As if the current mandate – 76-deputy majority – wasn’t enough, but above all, as if getting a few more delegates would change Justin Trudeau’s position. It really takes people for granted,” the PQ leader launched.
His message gained the support of Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, who declared himself a PQ member, during a warmly acclaimed address to PQ delegates on Saturday afternoon.
“Does Quebec need 126 CAQ deputies out of 125?” he asked jokingly. This is not a reproach. We are going to an election, we want them all, everyone, it’s normal.
However, Mr Blanchet wondered whether the current nationalism in the National Assembly is strong enough. If he were pushed in a different direction for “an opponent in Ottawa who is often an enemy.”
“Isn’t nationalism going to risk becoming a bargaining chip in exchange for a check? Shouldn’t this nationalism be sustained in its finality, the right to self-determination, the exercise of self-determination or frankly independence? said the leader of the Bloc, receiving applause.
During the National Council, the participants also heard about the state of French and the actions to be taken in the field of education and immigration, as well as the challenges and opportunities of the manufacturing sector.
The Coalition avenir du Québec (CAQ) still tops the polls, with 46% of support, leaving the opposition well behind.
The PQ MPs are nevertheless optimistic as the elections approach. Pascal Bérubé thinks the election campaign will shed more light on the opposition parties.
“Over the past two years, we’ve mostly heard of the government, which is constantly on the news channels, which is constantly in front of the cameras. There will be room to express yourself. This election is far from over,” the MP for Matane-Matapédia argued in a press scrum.
His colleague Joël Arseneau also believes that the tide will turn with substantive debates on important themes such as the environment.
“The only thing that is certain with the polls is that they will change. We will not be able to give the keys of parliament to 125 CAQ deputies. It won’t happen,” he said, confident his leader will win the support of Quebecers.
This article was produced with financial support from the Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.