Canada 'I do not regret it at all,' Legault on telling Quebecers that Trudeau Liberals' platform was 'dangerous'
John Ivison: Trudeau weathers storm as campaign enters final week
CANDIAC, QUE. — “This is John Ivison, reporting from the Liberal campaign bus, in the Quebec riding of La Prairie. I can exclusively reveal that the media left the hotel in Montreal at 8.15am and are scheduled to make it to bed at around 3am in Vancouver.” I know what’s happening in the little bubble of the campaign tour, gender balanced and rapid-tested. As for the campaign itself….er, not so much. It is a fascinating perch from which to observe snapshots of history in the making. But it is less useful for making pronouncements on its grand sweep. All of that is to suggest caveat emptor for what follows, which may be completely specious.
One day after Canadians elected a new minority Liberal government, Quebec Premier François Legault says he does not regret telling Quebecers that Justin Trudeau’s platform was “dangerous” for the province and that he would do it again if necessary.
But the popular premier and leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)’s decision to jump headfirst into the federal election two weeks ago by tacitly endorsing a Conservative minority government over the Liberals, NDP and Greens — and subsequent lack of remorse — is rubbing many federal Liberals the wrong way.
Legault condemns Bill 96-'Gestapo' comparison
Premier François Legault said he takes offence at his government’s new language legislation being compared to the Nazi regime. Speaking at a news conference Wednesday morning, Legault reacted to comments made last week by Anne-France Goldwater during public hearings being held on Bill 96 by the Quebec Community Groups Network. Goldwater’s comments, made in English during the hearing, took issue with the fact that the bill as written would encourage Quebecers to report those who violate the language laws.
Multiple Liberal staffers, who were granted anonymity to be able to speak freely about intergovernmental affairs, say Legault’s interference was “his biggest political mistake” to date and is likely to affect their willingness to collaborate with their provincial counterparts on files that are considered uniquely beneficial to the province’s reigning party.
“Trudeau obviously won’t punish Quebec because of Legault,” one staffer explained. “But when there are files that are only beneficial to them (the CAQ), that’s when they might have less of our ear,” they added.
Tuesday, Legault organized a brief press conference during which he congratulated all federal candidates and new MPs, and particularly Justin Trudeau for his third term as prime minister. He also revealed that the two had spoken that morning.
Legault says people who see discrimination everywhere are wokes
QUEBEC — Premier François Legault says he thinks people who see discrimination everywhere or want Quebecers to feel guilty about defending their values are wokes. One day after calling Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois a woke in the legislature after the Québec solidaire co-spokesperson compared Legault to former premier Maurice Duplessis, Legault Thursday called in the media to again talk about the woke concept. Reporters wanted to question Legault on the nursing shortage , but the news conference opened with Legault saying he wanted to make a statement on wokes. He said he wanted to put his comment Wednesday in context. “People asked me: What is a woke?” Legault said.
“Of course, we have our disagreements, but we both said that we’d be able to work together,” Legault began, before immediately detailing one of those disputes.
“I reminded him that I have real trouble with national standards in long-term care homes. He was not surprised, because I’ve already told him often. But for the good of all Quebecers, in the interest of all Quebecers, we are going to work together and try to move files forward.”
He also said that this election demonstrated that Quebec was “inevitable” for any federal party hoping to win a majority.
But reporters mostly pressed the premier on comments he made repeatedly in the last two weeks of the campaign about how he considered the Liberals’ “centralizing” platform as “dangerous” for the province’s autonomy and extolled Quebec nationalists to cast their vote elsewhere.
Video: Liberals fight back after Legault’s Conservative endorsement (cbc.ca)
Too close to call: Quebec ridings to watch on election night
Until late last week, polls were indicating the federal election results in this campaign in Quebec would look very similar to the last, in which the Liberals won 35 seats, the Bloc Québécois 32, the Conservatives 10 and the NDP just one. But then Premier François Legault suggested a Conservative minority led by Erin O’Toole would be the best outcome for Quebec . And then the English leaders’ debate stirred controversy, with questions directed at Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet asking why he supports “discriminatory” Quebec laws like Bills 21 and 96, fanning the flames of outrage among many . Suddenly, the outlook for Quebec became much less clear.
“I do not regret it at all,” Legault said. “Yes, absolutely,” he then added when asked if he would do it again in hindsight. “I defended Quebec’s autonomy and I will always defend Quebec’s autonomy.”
In the final days of the campaign as well as on election day, many re-elected Liberal MPs reiterated their surprise and dismay at Legault’s intrusion into the federal campaign and plea to Quebecers to turn their back on Justin Trudeau’s candidates.
“People don’t like to be told what to think and how to vote,” Liberal Minister Mélanie Joly told reporters earlier this month.
“I come from generations of women who fought to get the right to vote and, during the Quiet Revolution, to get the right to think and in that sense, we don’t like to be told by anybody how to behave in this important election.”
That comment clearly irked Legault, who singled out Joly’s reaction specifically on Tuesday.
COMMENTARY: A tarnished Trudeau, Bernier bump or hung Parliament? Shockers and probabilities for election night
We’re almost certainly getting another minority government come election night, says Randy Boswell, and it may not be immediately clear who will get to become prime minister. That’s right: finishing first in Monday’s vote is not an iron-clad guarantee the top party’s leader will take command of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). However, the threshold for forming a government isn’t complicated. Strike a formal or tacit agreement among 170 MPs to pursue a legislative agenda — from as many parties as it takes — and you get the keys to the kingdom.
“Minister Joly stands by her comments made about Premier Legault’s interference in the federal election,” Joly’s director of communications Maéva Proteau said in a statement.
“That being said, we look forward to continuing our work with the provincial government, for the benefit of all Quebecers. There is much to achieve still, particularly with respect to creating 37,000 new places in daycare centres.”
On election night Monday, Trudeau’s Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez said he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by Legault’s campaign comments but adding that he had a “good relationship” with his provincial counterparts and he expected that to continue.
Liberal sources agreed with that statement on Tuesday. “Ministers don’t have a choice but to collaborate with Legault,” one noted.
“But eventually, the CAQ is going to have to realize that they don’t have the monopoly over Quebec. Quebec is not the CAQ and the CAQ is not Quebec.”
Within the provincial government, one source that is often involved in dealings with the Trudeau government said they don’t believe Legault’s comments will change much in his relationship with Trudeau.
“It’s uncomfortable for Legault (now), but what is Trudeau going to do,” they asked. “I really don’t get the impression that this is catastrophic … but if Trudeau had won a majority government, then it would be a whole other ball game.”
Asked if he expected the Liberals to exact “revenge” on him for publicly supporting another party, Legault retorted that Trudeau had already supported Philippe Couillard’s Quebec Liberal Party during the 2014 provincial election. At the time, the CAQ was the second opposition party.
“If Mr. Trudeau wants to defend his intrusion into provincial jurisdictions … well, I think I have the support of the majority of Quebecers,” Legault added.
COVID-19 updates, Sept. 23: Quebec will spend $1 billion to tackle nurse shortage, Legault says .
Updated throughout the day on Thursday, Sept. 23. Questions/comments: firstname.lastname@example.org Top updates Legault government is putting recovery of health network on ‘shoulders of nurses,’ Québec solidaire says Canada needs to share more COVID-19 surpluses with world, says UN envoy Bob Rae In Facebook message, Legault touts Quebec’s plan to retain and attract nurses Quebec will spend $1 billion to tackle nurse shortage, Legault says Province will give nurses bonuses of $12,000 to $18,000, Legault says Palais des congrès vaccine clinic will be temporarily closed on Monday and Tuesday Anti-vaccine protesters in Quebec could face fines of up to $12,000 for blocking access t