In an impassioned speech, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer evoked images of former prime minister John Diefenbaker and the man known as the father of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, Jean Lesage.
But Conservatives gathered at a banquet hall on Montreal’s south shore Tuesday night say it was too little, too late.
Scheer echoed Lessage’s nationalistic call to Quebeckers to be maîtres chez nous — “masters of our own house” — saying a Conservative government would allow Quebec to keep jurisdiction over its culture and institutions.
Asked why such an appeal is coming so late in the campaign, a Conservative spokesperson told Global News the speech had been planned for weeks.
But Conservatives in the hall said it had been planned just 48 hours prior as a response to a resurgence of the Bloc Québécois — a resurgence which some Tories say is taking votes away from their party.
It’s also why Scheer’s speech took several shots at the Bloc Québécois, imploring Quebeckers to vote for a party with a different hue of blue.
“We want to be sure that the ‘blues’ of Quebec return to power,” said Scheer, hearkening back to 1984 when Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives took 58 of 75 seats in the province.
The Bloc Québécois is currently in a statistical tie for first place with the Liberals when it comes to voter intentions in Quebec (30 per cent), according to the latest Ipsos poll for Global news.
Quebec is a focus for other parties, too. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was scheduled to speak in Montreal and Sherbrooke on Wednesday. Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh planned to visit Hudson, Que., and Montreal on Wednesday.
The Conservatives are now polling third in Quebec and haven’t been able to count on a strong NDP vote to split the progressive vote in some ridings, allowing the Tory candidate to come up the middle.
Scheer had aspirations of growing his seat count in Quebec, but now there are some indications the party could lose a number of the 11 seats it held at the dissolution of the 42nd Parliament.
It’s why the Conservative campaign has changed course in the last week before the vote, spending more time in La Belle Province. A Conservative source told Global News Scheer will make at least one more stop in Quebec later this week in an effort to save seats.
If Tuesday’s 19-minute appeal to Quebec was supposed to motivate voters to cast a ballot for the Conservatives, the timing was off.
Scheer began speaking 30 minutes after advanced polling closed across the province. So anyone who may have been motivated by the mainly French speech will now have to wait six days to cast a ballot.