Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press François Legault recalled that his priority was the defense of Quebec's interests.
Prime Minister François Legault ceded the title of “Captain Canada” to Denis Coderre, preferring that of “Captain “Quebec within Canada””.
On Wednesday, Mr. Coderre, a potential candidate for leadership of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), contrasted his federalist record with that of Mr. Legault to claim the name. At a press briefing on Thursday, Mr. Legault declared that his priority was the defense of Quebec's interests. “I think it takes a “Quebec inside Canada” captain. And Quebecers must understand that we can defend our language,” he said.
Mr. Legault accused the PLQ of being subservient to the interests of the Liberal Party of Canada led by Justin Trudeau. “We can defend our identity within Canada. But to crash like the Liberal Party, to be at the service of their big brother in Ottawa, but not to ask for measures to protect and promote French, I don't think so,” he said.
In an interview at Devoir, Mr. Coderre argued that he would be a better “Captain Canada” than Mr. Legault to resist the return of the proposed referendum on sovereignty proposed by the Parti Québécois (PQ).
The Minister of the Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, for his part affirmed that Mr. Coderre did not deserve this title: “The best, I would not say. He's a good captain, yes. » According to him, there is no doubt that Mr. Legault is the best “Captain Canada”. “I think, yes, I support Mr. Legault 100%,” he clarified.
A shamed label
The Minister of the French Language and Canadian Relations, Jean-François Roberge, for his part rejected the label of “Captain Canada” with which the PQ bestowed upon him Thursday due to his comments on the use of the exemption provision to protect the Quebec State Secularism Act from the courts.
“When people start throwing insults, it’s because there are no more arguments. I won’t answer that,” he said at a press briefing.
PQ MP Pascal Bérubé had accused Mr. Roberge of seeing the use of the notwithstanding provision as a way of strengthening Canadian federalism. “I heard Denis Coderre, [Wednesday], say that he was going to be “Captain Canada”. Add Jean-François Roberge, there is competition to be had. A Strong Canada ? Remember that. The CAQ calls for a strong Canada. »
Mr. Bérubé criticized Mr. Roberge for comments published Thursday by Le Journal de Québecaccording to which the use of the notwithstanding clause, “it allows Canada to function and it allows strong nations like Quebec to make their differences heard.”
Oil in the gear
In his press briefing, Mr. Roberge then recognized that the use of the notwithstanding provision, provided for in the Canadian Constitution, demonstrated that the Canadian federal system offers Quebec room for maneuver. “It puts a little oil on the gears, because it allows Quebec to define our way of being. We use it for the Charter of the French Language, for the Law on Secularism. These are laws that are fundamental to the Quebec model. »
Mr. Roberge refrained from saying that this element proves that the constitutional regime offers a place for the distinctive elements of Quebec. “I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. This is a very useful mechanism. »
Mr. Roberge repeated that in the event of a referendum on sovereignty, with the PQ promising to hold one in its first mandate if it is brought to power, the Coalition Avenir Québec would side with the No camp. But he did not want to say whether the party was a federalist party. “I won’t get into that. It is a debate which is theoretical, there is no referendum in the medium term. »
Mr. Coderre affirmed on Wednesday that the PLQ was the only party that could claim this label in Quebec.