Voting Liberal, NDP or Green would be dangerous for Quebec, Legault says

Voting Liberal, NDP or Green would be dangerous for Quebec, Legault says

“Given no party responds to all our needs,” a minority Conservative government in Ottawa would be better for the Quebec nation, the premier says.

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QUEBEC — Premier François Legault is urging Quebec nationalists to beware of three of the federal political parties, the Liberals, New Democratic Party or Green Party, because they want to centralize more power in Ottawa.

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On the other hand, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is willing to give Quebec more powers over immigration even if he also wants to rip up the $6-billion daycare deal signed by Legault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just before the election.

Legault is not satisfied with O’Toole’s formula for the federal health transfer to Quebec because it falls short of what Quebec and other provinces need.

Insisting he is not telling Quebecers to vote for the Bloc Québécois — a party that he recognizes cannot form a government — a cranked up Legault nevertheless lashed out at three parties and said he has questions about the Conservatives based on what he has seen in the campaign and the two televised French debates.

“I am a nationalist, I want Quebec to be more autonomous, to have more power and there are three parties — the Liberals, NDP and Green Party — which want to give us less autonomy,” Legault said on arriving for a meeting of the Coalition Avenir Québec caucus.

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“I find this dangerous.

“What I am saying is Quebecers who are nationalists, who believe the Quebec nation should have more power, should beware of three parties, the Liberal Party, the NDP and Green Party.”

Legault recognized no one party suits him perfectly or has delivered entirely on the shopping list of demands he issued early in the campaign.

“Now it’s up to Quebecers to make their choice,” he said. “Nothing is black and white. What I am saying is what I said.”

He went further, saying that under the circumstances, “given no party responds to all our needs,” a minority Conservative government in Ottawa would be better for the Quebec nation.

Without backing O’Toole as a minority prime minister directly, Legault noted at least he seems willing to negotiate more powers for Quebec. While neither O’Toole nor Trudeau want to give Quebec what it wants in the health transfer, Trudeau’s vision clearly clashes with Quebec’s, he said.

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“Mr. Trudeau proposes targeted programs where he interferes in the jurisdictions of the provinces and this scares me because Mr. Trudeau has an approach where he wants to meddle in health, he does not want to give us power over immigration when this is important to defend our identity, our nation.

“He does not exclude opposing Bill 21 (which bans religious symbols for workers in positions of authority) so this is so is a cause for concern for all Quebecers who are nationalists.

“The Conservative Party is clear. It wants to increase the health transfer without strings, they want to transfer on immigration. Mr. O’Toole commits to not participating in a challenge of Bill 21. For the Quebec nation, it’s a good approach, the approach of Mr. O’Toole.”

He added O’Toole is also committed to funding 40 per cent of the CAQ government’s $7-10 billion Lévis-Quebec tunnel.

Legault made the comments with only two weeks to go before the election and with the parties neck and neck in the polls.

The first to react was Quebec Liberal Dominique Anglade who blasted Legault in a tweet.

“In hoping for the election of a minority Conservative government, François Legault is accepting the idea that a $6 billion (daycare) deal will be torn up, abandoning parents and children and all Quebec’s daycare network,” Anglade said.

“We are standing up to defend the interests of families.”

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In this campaign, all the federal leaders have tried to woo Quebec nationalists and, at least, not make an enemy out of Legault, who remains hugely popular in Quebec.

There was more evidence of that Thursday.

An internal poll presented to MNAs behind closed doors Wednesday and leaked to La Presse shows the CAQ completely dominating the political landscape.

With about one year to go before the general election, the CAQ is polling at 49 per cent, which is 33 percentage points ahead of its nearest rival, the Quebec Liberal Party. Support for the Liberals is pegged at 16 per cent, a historic low.

The Liberals are barely ahead of Québec solidaire, which is polling at 14 per cent.

The news is bleak for the Parti Québécois, too. The party is down to nine per cent support. That’s the same score for Éric Duhaime’s Conservative Party of Quebec, which appears to be tapping into voter discontent over pandemic measures and vaccination passports.

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The CAQ also dominates in the francophone vote category. While the CAQ has a whopping 53 per cent of that section of the population, QS is second with 16 per cent. The PQ is at 11 per cent and the Liberals way down at 9 per cent.

The poll was conducted for the CAQ by Synopsis Recherche Marketing. The firm polled 1,500 Quebecers online between Aug. 27 and 30th.

Even though it only has two seats on the island of Montreal, the CAQ is in first place with 36 per cent of the vote compared with 26 per cent for the Liberals and 19 per cent for QS.

The CAQ caucus is meeting this week to prepare for the resumption of work at the National Assembly Tuesday.

pauthier@postmedia.com

twitter.com/philipauthier

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