Former PQ cabinet minister poised to become next Bloc Quebecois leader

MONTREAL — It appears likely that Yves-Francois Blanchet, a former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, will become the next leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

He officially launched his campaign on Saturday in Montreal, surrounded by artists and members of the provincial and federal sovereigntist parties.

A well-known political commentator on Radio-Canada in recent years, Blanchet was first elected provincially in 2008 and served as environment minister in Pauline Marois’ short-lived minority PQ government between 2012 and 2014.

Blanchet told reporters he is ready to work with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the benefit of Quebec.

“He could propose something which might be good for Quebec and then we will say ‘fine’ we’ll vote with it — but he might propose something which is bad for Quebec and then, of course, we will say we will go against it,” Blanchet said.

He added that he doesn’t think his adversaries will be able to prove to him that Canada works.

“Because nothing works as well as a nation including all its communities — as a nation taking care of itself and making its own decisions,” he said.

Blanchet also appears to be focused on winning the support of younger Quebecers.

“The time has come to give a voice, give room, give power and authority to a new generation which has not recognized itself in the Bloc Quebecois in the last few years.

“There’s no future for any party, for any country, without its youth.”

Blanchet was critical of former Bloc leader Martine Ouellet during her tumultuous term as party leader, and now has the support of nine of the party’s 10 members of Parliament.

The 10th, Michel Boudrias, decided last week not to run for the party leadership.

If no other candidates come forward before the Jan. 15 deadline, Blanchet will become the new leader of the Bloc Quebecois on Feb. 24.

There was one other sour note at Blanchet’s official launch event — no one from Quebec solidaire, the other provincial sovereigntist party, showed up.

But Blanchet said he wants to continue to seek the support of all sovereigntists and not just solicit the approval of Quebec’s sovereigntist parties.

“It’s not the leaders of the political parties that I want to call out to,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to “play the game of convergence.

“I’m saying to everyone: ‘If you are a sovereigntist, regardless of who you vote for in the Quebec national assembly, the Bloc is there for you’.”

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