Canada Controversial question in English debate may have galvanized Bloc voters
Voters getting split between Liberals and NDP, creating path for Tories: election poll
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News suggests the Conservative Party not only appears to have the most locked-in support but also has the most momentum.The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News suggests that split could create an opening for the Conservative Party, which not only has the most locked-in support but is also seen as the campaign with the most momentum.
At a bowling alley in Montreal's east end on a weekday afternoon, Réal Desrochers is playing in his weekly league and also considering his choices in next week's federal election.
Desrochers had been planning to vote Liberal, but a key moment in last Thursday's English-language leaders' debate galvanized identity sentiments in Quebec and spurred him to change his mind and choose the Bloc Québécois led by Yves-François Blanchet.
Live updates: Leaders face off in second federal election debate in French
This is the Montreal Gazette’s live coverage of tonight’s federal leaders’ debate. Questions/comments? firstname.lastname@example.org Top updates: Trudeau and O’Toole neck and neck with less than two weeks left in campaign: Leger poll Welcome to our live coverage Tonight’s French debate, Thursday’s English debate pivotal for federal leaders In 2019, the Liberals narrowly outpaced the Bloc in Quebec The Greens were poised for a breakthrough in 2019. Now their woes may impact the wider election Opinion: With two weeks to go, the real campaign is beginning Opinion: No room for error in Round 2 of federal leaders’ debates Opinion: With two weeks to go, can Justin Trudeau reverse th
"For me, it's because the Bloc will balance the situation in Ottawa," Desrochers said. "I know he won't form a government, but he will defend Quebec [in Parliament]."
Desrochers called the moment "a direct attack on Quebec, and I don't like it."
Last Thursday, at the beginning of the English leaders' debate, moderator Shachi Kurl asked Blanchet why he supported bills 21 and 96 — respectively, Quebec's secularism law and its proposed new law to protect the French language.
"You denied that Quebec has problems with racism yet you defend legislation such as bills 96 and 21, which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones and allophones," asked Kurl.
Trudeau on defence as opposition leaders fight for points in English election debate
Canada's federal party leaders were quickly put on their heels in the first moments of the English language debate Thursday, the last face-off before election night.Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul each faced questions on their leadership qualities and shortcomings from moderator Shachi Kurl at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.
"Quebec is recognized as a distinct society, but for those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws."
Blanchet shot back, saying, "The question seems to imply the answer you want."
"Those laws are not about discrimination. They are about the values of Quebec," he said.
The exchange had the effect of reviving an old wound, leaving Quebecers feeling disrespected and misunderstood by the rest of Canada, according to several experts interviewed by CBC.
It created a situation in which a debate that is typically almost ignored in Quebec may have changed the game for the federal election on the ground.
A bounce for the Bloc
The Bloc Québécois has risen from its slump in the polls back to a level of popularity similar to what it enjoyed during the 2019 election, in which it experienced a dramatic comeback, winning 32 seats after being reduced to 10 in the previous election.
Trudeau on defence as opposition leaders fight for points in English election debate
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says Canada's voice has been absent when it comes to standing up for human rights, accusing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of letting down 'the two Michaels' — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who are currently detained in China.
According to a Léger poll published earlier this week, the party went from 27 per cent to 30 per cent of voter support in the province after the English debate.
"It ignited Quebec's identity sentiments," said Guy Lachapelle, a political science professor at Concordia University in Montreal.
"Quebecers are sick of Quebec-bashing in general.… I think there is a misunderstanding of the major issues and debates in Quebec."
Lachapelle doubts the increase in Bloc support will make a huge difference in which party ends up forming a government, though it minimizes the Liberals' and Conservatives' already slim chances of forming a majority and reduces the NDP's chances of making gains in the province to almost nil.
For Christian Bourque, executive vice-president at Léger, though, that small bounce — accompanied by the Liberals surpassing the Conservatives in the polls this week despite an— could lead to surprises Monday night.
"We're all in these sort of dominoes because the race is so tight," Bourque said.
Bloc Québécois sees an increase in support after English debate, poll suggests
QUEBEC — The Bloc Québécois has emerged as the winner after last week’s English federal election debate, increasing its support in the polls by three percentage points. With only seven days to go before the vote, support for the Bloc has gone from 27 per cent to 30 per cent in Quebec over the last few days, the Léger-Presse Canadienne poll reveals.
There are about 15 three-way races between the Bloc, Liberals and Conservatives, he said.
"Since 2011, Quebec is, around Canada, probably the region where we have the most strategic voters, who will change alliance depending on how they feel the race is going," Bourque said.
Lise Thériault says she has voted for the NDP since the so-called orange wave in 2011, but this time, she went to an advance poll to vote for the Bloc the day after the English debate.
"Telling me, at 70 years old, that I'm a racist because I want to be proud of my French language? Non, ça marche pas ça. It doesn't work," Thériault said, switching easily between English and French.
"I was insulted, and Monsieur Blanchet did a good job. I'm behind him 100 per cent."
Lachapelle says many Quebecers had a similar reaction. He, too, thinks English-speaking Canadians are misinformed about the nuances of Quebec issues.
"We typically have a pretty good idea of what's happening in other provinces in Quebec, but the reverse is not always true," he said.
Thériault lives in the Montreal riding of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie, the NDP's last seat in the province, held by incumbent Alexandre Boulerice for the past 10 years. She said that this year, she was proud to vote for the Bloc's 21-year-old candidate, Shophika Vaithyanathasarma.
ELECTION INSIGHTS: How a single debate question may have flipped Quebec for the Bloc
For the rest of Election 44, the National Post will be sharing insights from Polly, an artificial intelligence engine developed at the University of Ottawa that was the only pollster to correctly predict the results of the 2019 election. Unlike typical polls, Polly gauges public opinion through constant computer analysis of public social media posts: If you’ve ever posted something political to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’re probably part of Polly’s dataset. Today, a look at how a single question in the leaders’ debates drove a wave of support for the Bloc Québécois.
In an interview with CBC this week, Vaithyanathasarma said her own feelings about Bill 21 are complicated.
She supports the bill but is concerned that there is not enough diversity of candidates and politicians who are part of the conversation about it.
"That's one of the reasons I'm involving myself in politics: none of the people who are talking about the bill are racialized," Vaithyanathasarma said. "I seriously think we have to listen to the citizens that are concerned."
Vaithyanathasarma, whose parents immigrated from Sri Lanka, says minorities should not be excluded from the discussion.
"That is one of the biggest mistakes we could make," she said, smiling.
Mireille Paquet, who holds the research chair on the politics of immigration at Concordia University, told As It Happens the question served Blanchet because "it allowed for Blanchet to speak as if he was representing all of Quebecers, and as if Quebecers were all united around these pieces of legislation."
Premier Legault's controversial gambit
The conversation about the debate has overshadowed another significant development in the federal race in the province.
Hours before the English debate, Legault took a public stance against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, saying Quebecers should "beware of three parties: the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Green Party."
Legault was irked by those parties' intentions to intervene in health-care matters, which are under provincial jurisdiction, and said, "For the Quebec nation, Mr. O'Toole's approach is a good one."
But Lachapelle, the Concordia professor, says Legault's endorsement could backfire. Many Quebecers have grumbled about being told who to vote for. The Conservatives have lost some ground in Quebec since the endorsement and are now polling at 18.4 per cent, according tofounder Philippe Fournier.
The voters of Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec party are generally split between voting Bloc, Liberal and Conservative at the federal level. Legault's gamble may have alienated a good portion of them, Lachappelle said.
"Legault risks losing a certain amount of his base, especially if the Conservatives win and don't deliver [on their promises to Quebec]."
Still, as the dust settles following the debate and its controversy, thesuggest that Quebecers may end up voting along the same lines as they did in 2019.
"I'm under the impression we're going to have a similar result as the last election," he said.
Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet gained confidence from debate .
With many races too close to call Monday evening, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet was hoping to outperform expectations. Surfing a wave of nationalist outrage launched by a question in the English leaders’ debate, the head of the Bloc set his sights on holding and even adding to the 32 seats his party won in 2019. As soon as election results started rolling in from Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, part of which is in the Atlantic time zone, a tight race between the Bloc’s Guy Bernatchez and Liberal Diane Lebouthillier — most recently the Minister of National Revenue — was in evidence. But by 9:50 p.m.