François Legault says he is not Donald Trump. The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader began his speech Sunday at a party convention in Drummondville denying comparisons from the Liberal Party to the inflammatory president-elect.
Rather than build walls, Legault said he wants to put an end to the most divisive political question in Quebec.
“A CAQ government will never have a referendum on sovereignty. Our proposal is within Canada,” Legault explained.
If there’s one thing he does have in common with the American billionaire, he says, it’s that he thinks he can win – but only if he can win over the English vote.
CAQ members voted to enshrine their position to stay in Canada in the party’s constitution. Legault specifically addressed English Quebecers in his closing speech.
“If you are tired of being taken for granted, you now have another option: join us!” he said to cheers.
Legault calls his party the “nationalist alternative.”
“It’s Quebec first, but we’re open for business and open for partnerships with the rest of Canada.”
But a “nationalist government” under Legault could be a hard sell – he’ll have to prove he values English voters.
During a convention debate Saturday, a member who asked a question in English was told by another member to speak in French.
“I took the mic after that and I said to everybody that the anglophones, the allophones, it’s important to them that they’re not a second-order people,” said CAQ house leader, Francois Bonnardel.
Party members insist the CAQ is inclusive.
“We are family here in Quebec,” Mario Boulianne explained. “If you are from England, or Algeria, Germany – it’s not important. You stay here. You are a Quebecer.”