Sunday, October 17

Robert Libman: Time for Justin Trudeau to face Quebec

With federal elections out of the way, it is time for the prime minister to enhance his legacy and correct some mistakes.

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Prime Minister François Legault has some egg on his face this week. After boldly intervening in the federal election campaign, essentially telling Quebecers how to vote, the results were very different from what he wanted. Interestingly, the day after he smuggled into the federal campaign, he himself would tell the rest of Canada to back off from Quebec affairs after the moderator of the debate of English-speaking leaders dared to refer to two controversial Quebec laws in a negative light. . But I digress.

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Legault warned Quebecers to avoid Justin Trudeau’s liberals and Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, describing the two parties as “dangerous” for favoring a more centralist federal government. Legault wanted a minority conservative government under Erin O’Toole, who had promised to give the store away to Quebec without conditions, with the Bloc Québécois maintaining the balance of power. This would have given Legault extraordinary influence over the federal government.

His gamble was not worth it. Probably to their surprise, Quebecers did not follow their marching orders and the results in Quebec were practically identical to those of the last federal elections. The Liberals clung to a minority government with the NDP maintaining the balance of power. Legault, far from showing humility, doubled down and tried to take advantage of the result. He reiterated that he hates federal interference in provincial jurisdiction and emphasized that his position was in defense of the autonomy, language, culture and values ​​of Quebec. He suggested that if a party hopes to form a majority government in Ottawa, it needs the (nationalist) support of Quebec. That is not really the case. Trudeau can continue to rule with the support of the NDP, probably even for four years, and is no longer in debt to the prime minister of Quebec.

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Before the elections, Trudeau and the other federal leaders brazenly won favor with nationalist opinion in Quebec. Legault’s snub, however, gives Trudeau a chance to reestablish the historic commitment of liberals to minority language rights and live up to the Trudeau name. His father’s legacy was the patriation of the Constitution and its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill 96 of the CWC government, currently in public hearings, seeks to unilaterally insert into the Constitution a notion of collective rights, affirming that Quebec is a nation and French is its only official language. Trudeau’s initial response, calling that request “perfectly legitimate,” seemed crafted for electoral purposes. I find it hard to believe, with his DNA, that he agrees.

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There are no elections on the horizon now and no one knows if Trudeau will run again. Only Wilfrid Laurier, John A. MacDonald, Mackenzie King and Pierre Trudeau have reached fourth terms or more as prime minister. If you want to cement a meaningful legacy for yourself, you have the opportunity to stand firm to fix things by defying Bill 96 and Bill 21 of Quebec, the province’s secular law. He and Singh would be justified in knocking Legault down a couple of pegs. Both laws must be referred to the Supreme Court for the benefit of the country and minorities. Quebecers ignored Legault’s orders for the election. Perhaps it is a sign that the consensus on these issues is not as strong for Quebecers as Legault makes it seem.

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As for O’Toole, he’s likely just another placeholder leader for the Tories, much like Andrew Sheer, until someone more serious decides to run. He tried to be everything to everyone, hanging around when necessary and doing his best to appease the Quebec nationalists. It was all in vain.

Quebecers respect strong leadership and conviction. They want to be convinced, but they don’t like being told what to do, as Legault found inglorious this week.

Robert Libman is an architect and building planning consultant who has served as a leader of the Equality Party and MNA, as mayor of Côte-St-Luc, and as a member of the Montreal executive committee. He was a conservative candidate in the 2015 federal elections.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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