CANDIAC, Que. — Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is already touting the gains his party would seek for Quebec — and the projects it would block — in the event of a minority government, which polls suggest is an increasing likelihood.
Blanchet was visibly buoyed on Wednesday by the increasing prospects of a minority government following next Monday’s federal election, as it would offer his party the best chance at being a relevant force in Parliament. He spoke about the conditions under which his party would defeat a future minority government, and he threatened politicians who dared to propose something Quebecers didn’t like.
While polling suggests the next government could be a minority led by either the Conservatives or the Liberals, Blanchet focused his attacks during a news conference in a Montreal suburb on the ideas of Tory leader Andrew Scheer.
Scheer can forget about abolishing the carbon tax, Blanchet said, and he shouldn’t even think about forcing through a so-called “National Energy Corridor” — a pathway across Canada that would facilitate the transport of energy resources from coast to coast.
“It will be the job of the Conservatives, if they ever are in power, to say: ‘We know we are in a minority, we know it’s not consensual, we know Quebecers don’t want it, so we won’t try and advance it,'” Blanchet said, regarding the possibility of an oil pipeline travelling from Western Canada through Quebec.
“If the Conservatives are in power, they’ll be smart enough to not go through with an energy corridor forced through Quebec because the political price to pay would be dramatic,” he added.
Polling indicates the Bloc is in first or second place in Quebec, and the nationalist party could hold the balance of power in any minority government. Blanchet is so far refusing to commit to propping up any party, and is instead vowing to look at proposed legislation piece-by-piece.
If the Tories were to win and try to impose the energy corridor, Blanchet said the Bloc would “see if we can block it without making the government fall.” But if the government does fall because of the Bloc, then so be it, he said.
“Quebecers would never pardon the Bloc if we expropriate Quebec territory to force the transport of oilsands through Quebec, for export.”
Same for getting rid of the carbon tax imposed on provinces by the Liberals.
“If the Conservatives think the Bloc Quebecois will support the abolition of the carbon tax — it won’t happen,” he said.
The Bloc leader said his own party is gaining support at the expense of the Conservatives — comments that are backed up by recent polling. He described Scheer as a desperate boyfriend expressing his love for a scorned partner after being shown the door.
“Mr. Scheer looked like an evicted lover, who is multiplying his messages of love in order to be let back in the house,” Blanchet said.
He was referencing Scheer’s recent campaign stops in Quebec, where the Conservative leader gave a rousing speech to supporters highlighting promises specific to the province’s voters.
During a campaign rally Tuesday south of Montreal, Scheer brought up a historic political slogan from the 1960s that talked about how Quebecers were “maitres chez nous” (masters in our own house). The line is taken from the time of the Quiet Revolution, when Quebecers took control of their institutions from the church and made French the province’s only official language.
“My message is simple: when we talk about the powers of Quebec, you will be masters in your own house,” Scheer said.
Blanchet’s response echoed criticism Wednesday morning from media pundits with the influential Quebecor media empire, who said Scheer’s push for votes in Quebec was too little too late.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 16, 2019.
Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press