Trudeau meets with Bloc Quebecois leader in Ottawa
OTTAWA – Yves-Francois Blanchet says his party will do what it can to make the minority Liberal government work.
The Bloc Quebecois leader met with the prime minister Wednesday in Ottawa, a day after Justin Trudeau had a closed-door meeting with Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau and Blanchet talked about the upcoming sitting of Parliament, scheduled to begin Dec. 5 with the election of a House of Commons Speaker followed by a Throne Speech outlining the Liberal government’s priorities.
The prime minister is looking for common ground in order to keep his new minority government alive as long as possible. He kicked off the meeting saying the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois have shared priorities on climate change, the cost of living and gun control.
Blanchet appears to have a positive outlook for the minority Parliament and suggested his party may be in a position to support the Speech from the Throne, the first test of confidence for the Trudeau Liberals.
“I want to see it as a source of solutions and progress for the benefit of Quebecors,” he said.
Blanchet has made clear that his party will only vote to accept legislation that benefits Quebec and is expected to push for more autonomy for the province.
Where the Bloc and the Liberals will likely find common ground is on the environment.
Blanchet stressed that as the leader of a separatist party, he still believes Quebec will do better as an independent country, saying he will not be fighting for a “nice, beautiful and united Canada.”
However, Blanchet says that doesn’t mean he is willing to offer advice to those seeking more independence for Western Canada in the hopes of promoting the oil and gas sector.
After the meeting he said it would be different if those considering “Wexit” were attempting to create a “green state,” but says if the goal is to focus more on oil and gas production, they cannot expect any help from his party.
The Bloc also supports carbon taxes, but Blanchet says decisions about whether to continue supporting the Liberal government will come as the Bloc sees how things play out in the budget, proposed legislation and committee work.
Trudeau is set to meet with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Thursday.
The meetings are an opportunity for the prime minister to sort out which of his party’s policy platforms will fly in a minority Parliament.
The Liberals were reduced to a minority of seats in the Commons in the Oct. 21 election and will need the support of one or more of the opposition parties to survive a confidence vote, which would include approval of the Throne Speech.
The Bloc surged unexpectedly in the election after being nearly wiped out in 2015, winning 32 seats in the Commons this time around.