At a press conference on Thursday, Premier François Legault outlined what his government sees as Quebec's priorities for the next federal government following the upcoming Canadian election. Immigration and health care spending were at the top of the list.
First, Legault reiterated his request that the federal government up its health care contribution to "35% of total expenditures." He and other premiers, including Doug Ford, have repeatedly called on the feds to increase their share of spending to take some of the burden off of the provinces.
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Second, Legault called on the federal government to grant Quebec more power over immigration, specifically requesting that the province have "full control over immigration through family reunification."
"Quebec cannot function in a multicultural regime like the rest of Canada. We must absolutely integrate immigrants into the francophone majority," the premier said.
He listed eight other issues he said he hopes to "resolve" with the next federal government, according to a press release, including applying the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses in Quebec, more funding for the province's effort to combat climate change and "the implementation of a single income tax return administered by the Quebec authorities to simplify the administrative procedures for citizens."
Legault also asked federal party leaders to not challenge the controversial Bill 21, which bans public servants from wearing religious symbols while performing their duties.
The other demands were for:
"the modification of the structure of federal payments so that they are complementary to the investments provided for in the Quebec Infrastructure Plan"
"respect for Quebec's jurisdiction over housing through federal investments that support Quebec government priorities and programs"
the "modification of the legislative framework for environmental assessments to provide that only the Quebec environmental impact assessment and review procedure should apply to projects under Quebec's jurisdiction"
"the conclusion of an agreement recognizing Quebec's unconditional right to opt out, with full financial compensation, of any federal spending in its areas of jurisdiction."
"The premier did his best impression of Maurice Duplessis," Nadeau-Dubois said at the National Assembly on Wednesday evening, "by proclaiming himself the 'Father of the Quebec Nation.'"
What happened at the National Assembly?
Nadeau-Dubois said that Legault shouldn't assume that he can speak for all Quebecers.
"There are millions of Quebecers who are against Bill 21 [...] who don't support him or his government," said Nadeau-Dubois. "There are millions of us who are tired of him pretending to be our 'saviour and 'redeemer' [...] we are fed up of his sermons."
Legault angrily retorted that "there is a large majority of Quebecers who support Bill 21 and there are two multicultural parties [...] who are against Bill 21."
"The leader of Quebec Solidaire talks about Maurice Duplessis [...] the man had his faults but he defended the Quebec nation and wasn't 'woke' like the Quebec Solidaire leader."
Nadeau-Dubois then clapped back that "if the premier wants to bring the level of this discussion into the gutter, I won't follow him there."
"The premier doesn't have the right to expel Quebecers from the nation just because they disagree with him. He's a premier, not a monarch."
But who exactly was Maurice Duplessis?
Duplessis was twice elected Quebec premier from 1936 to 1939 and from 1944 to 1959.
Duplessis was against mandatory conscription for Quebecers during World War II but lost his premiership after calling a snap election. At the time, he was a heavy drinker and womanizer according to the Canadian Encyclopedia but quit drinking after a life-threatening bout with pneumonia and diabetes.
His second, 15-year long term as Quebec premier was more successful than his first. His government undertook enormous public works projects.
He was, however, especially harsh against workers' unions, according to the Encyclopedia, which also states corruption reached "legendary proportions" under his government
Quebecers who grew up during his reign took to calling this era in Quebec history "La Grande Noirceur," or "The Great Darkness."
According to the Canadian Encylopedia, Duplessis "had disdain for most contemporary concepts of civil liberties."
Nadeau-Dubois took to social media to poke fun at Legault's use of "woke," writing, "I don't know what François Legault has against woks," alongside a picture of himself with the cooking pot.
Legault doubled-down on using the term at a press conference on Thursday morning and even went on to define what he meant by "woke."
"For me, 'a woke' is someone who wants to make us feel guilty about defending the Quebec nation and its values," the premier said.
"I don't mind him calling me Duplessis but he is really on the other extreme [...] defending Quebec values doesn't interest him [...] that's why I called him 'woke.'"
Around 80 housing advocates gathered in front of Justin Trudeau's campaign office in Montreal on Tuesday to protest on behalf of social housing and against inadequate housing and what they say is Trudeau's "lack of commitment" on the issue.*
"The health crisis exposed the serious physical and mental health consequences for tenants in Mr. Trudeau's riding living in substandard overcrowded housing, and in particular for the development of children and the safety of abused women. One would hope that this would lead to greater interest on his part, but it didn't," Comité d'Action de Parc-Extension coordinator Amy Darwish said in a press release.
Crise du logement: @JustinTrudeau interpellé sur les besoins urgents de logements sociaux dans sa circonscription
FRAPRU and other housing advocate groups in Montreal have called on the government to "commit to a recurring investment of $3 billion per year to fund new social housing."
The investment would allow Quebec to build around 7,000 social housing units per year, according to FRAPRU.
Montreal's Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension borough has been at the centre of the social housing debate for quite some time.
Advocates claim thousands lived in unaffordable housing or housing that was too small before the pandemic.
"We already cannot rely on the private rental market to take care of low-income households, the response must be political, the State must take this on. This response requires social housing and we want clear commitments from Mr. Trudeau," Charles Castonguay, community organizer at the Association des Locataires de Villeray, said.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of Montreal's Dawson College shooting. 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa was killed and 19 others were injured.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante offered her thoughts to De Sousa's family and the victims of the shooting in a Twitter post. The mayor also implored the federal parties to make "better gun control" a priority so that a mass shooting doesn't happen again.
(1/2) Aujourd’hui marque le 15e anniversaire de la fusillade du Collège Dawson. J’ai une pensée particulière pour A… https://t.co/89NE1pLaJJ
"I have a special thought for Anastasia De Sousa and her family, as well as for the other victims and witnesses of this tragic event," the mayor wrote.
"It's a sad anniversary that reminds us of the need for better gun control. Federal parties must commit to making it a priority."
Dawson College, for its part, will mark the anniversary with a day of "quiet reflection." No formal commemorations will be held due to strict COVID-19 regulations at the school.
"Our daughter, forever in our hearts and present in spirit, was robbed of her bright future," Louise De Sousa said in a press release put out by the college.
"We had hoped that we would see more tangible improvements for tougher gun laws, but here we are, 15 years later and gun control is still being attacked and has become a campaign issue in these upcoming elections."
In a press conference Friday, Quebec Premier François Legault sharply criticized both the moderator and debate consortium responsible for the English-language leaders' debate. The premier called the phrasing of one question from the moderator an "attack" on Quebec and its values.
"What we saw at the leaders' debate was an attack against Bill 21 on secularism, against Bill 96 on language. [...] claiming that protecting French is discriminatory or even racist is ridiculous. [...] Quebec is a nation, free to protect its language, its values, and its powers."
"I was very surprised that somebody who was supposed to be the referee decided to be part of certain teams saying that those laws are discriminatory," he said about debate moderator Shachi Kurl.
In her opening question to Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, Kurl called Quebec's Bill 21 and Bill 96 "discriminatroy to religious minorities, Anglophones, and Allophones."
Blanchet, who expressed fury at the line after the debate, accused Kurl of calling Quebecers "racists and xenophobes."
Legault echoed Blanchet's statement the following afternoon.
"That was an attack, for sure, against Quebec and against our responsibilities," the premier decried.
"The vast majority of Quebecers agree to forbid religious signs [for] people in authority positions. Bill 21 doesn't apply to the rest of Canada so please, it's none of your business."