Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 3, 2019
In debate, Bloc leader says only his party represents the Quebec nation
Whether it was on abortion, religion, or health care, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet hammered home a single message Wednesday night: the only party in which Quebecers can fully recognize themselves is the one he heads.
During the first French-language election debate, where leaders fought for the hearts of Quebecers — and their coveted 78 seats in the House of Commons– Blanchet repeatedly tried to position his opponents as out of step with the majority of Quebecers, whom he sees as forming a nation apart.
And the Bloc leader used the debate to try to convince Quebecers he would be the champion in Ottawa of the policies put forward by their highly popular and self-professed “nationalist” premier, Francois Legault.
Early on, Blanchet hit the Conservative leader on abortion, painting Andrew Scheer as a man who rejects a value “anchored” within Quebecers. He then described Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as a haughty prime minister who looks down on Quebecers who desire a secular state.
And he criticized the NDP leader for wanting to expand medical coverage across Canada, calling Jagmeet Singh a centralizing politician looking to strip Quebecers of their constitutional right to determine their own health care needs.
“I am going to Ottawa to defend the right of Quebec to function in its own way,” said Blanchet, who was acclaimed as Bloc leader in January. “I don’t want to send people to Ottawa who want to undue what we are doing in Quebec.”
Blanchet asked Trudeau to accept Premier Legault’s demand that he stay out of any court challenges against Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21.
The legislation bans some public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace, such as hijabs for Muslim women and turbans for Sikh men.
Bill 21 is also overwhelmingly popular among francophones in Quebec — and with the Bloc. But Trudeau said he wouldn’t commit to staying out of any court challenges.
Blanchet said the value of state secularism is something Quebecers inherited from the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, which included a social rebellion against links between the political world and the Roman Catholic Church.
He said he has “an enormous problem” with Quebecers’ tax dollars in Ottawa going towards court challenges against a law adopted “in their own legislature” in Quebec City.
Toward the end of the debate, moderator Pierre Bruneau asked Blanchet a simple question that went to the heart of the Bloc’s purpose: How many laws has the Bloc gotten adopted in Ottawa?
Blanchet evaded the question, knowing the answer was zero.
“The contribution of the Bloc is to use all the advantages of the parliamentary system to get gains for Quebec,” Blanchet said. (National Post)
Editorial Cartoonists wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they forgave & forgot… pic.twitter.com/JD3lKSQt6U
— Graeme MacKay (@mackaycartoons) October 3, 2019