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Bloc Quebecois leader stops in eastern Ontario to express francophone solidarity

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet wavs as he boards his campaign bus following an announcement in Montreal, on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

CASSELMAN, Ont. — Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet made a brief foray outside Quebec Tuesday to express solidarity with francophones across the country.

The party is only running candidates in Quebec, but Blanchet made a stop in eastern Ontario to say that pursuing sovereignty doesn’t mean renouncing francophone and Acadian communities outside Quebec.

He was travelling between campaign stops in Montreal in the morning and Gatineau, Que., adjacent to Ottawa, in the afternoon. The town where he stopped, Casselman, Ont., is in the middle of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, a riding where nearly 60 per cent of the population speaks French as a first language.

Wednesday is Franco-Ontarian Day in Ontario, the anniversary of the first time the Franco-Ontarian flag was first officially raised.

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Blanchet said anglophones in Quebec are treated very well and francophone and Acadian communities elsewhere should be treated equally well, including being able to work in their native language.

“The federal parties say lovely words but in fact, on the ground, francophones are treated like second-class citizens in Canada,” he said in French. He pointed to cuts to French-language services by Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government as evidence.

WATCH (Nov. 30, 2018): Francophone students protest provincial cutbacks
Click to play video: 'Francophone students protest provincial cutbacks'
Francophone students protest provincial cutbacks

If Quebec independence were to be achieved, Blanchet said the Bloc would demand a “solid guarantee” of sustainability for those communities in Canada.

The Bloc also wants to mandate that Supreme Court justices be bilingual and to expand the powers of the federal commissioner of official languages.

When asked whom he thinks people outside of Quebec should vote for, Blanchet said they can choose whoever they want, adding that he doesn’t want to “get involved in Canadian politics.”

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