Scheer wraps up Quebec campaign in riding long held by Bloc Québécois

An extended interview with Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer
WATCH: An extended interview with Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer wrapped up what’s likely his final visit to Quebec this election campaign by stopping by a Montreal-area Tim Hortons with one of his star candidates in the province.

That Scheer and his wife Jill would appear at a branch of the beloved national coffee chain topped off Scheer’s efforts to double double down on his plan to win a majority government by selling a fervently nationalist message in Quebec, promising to respect and enhance its place in the federation.

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He shopped that promise in ridings held by Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Québécois alike during his last 24 hours in the province; this morning’s stop was in the Bloc-held riding of Rivière-du-Nord.

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Its current MP was at the heart of political chaos for the party after the 2015 election.

Rhéal Fortin became the BQ’s interim leader after its former boss, Gilles Duceppe, failed to win a seat in that campaign.

Fortin chose not to run for permanent leadership, and after frustration with the winner of that contest, briefly left the BQ.

READ MORE: Tories viewed as most likely to keep promises, but voters remain cynical: Ipsos poll

He’s now back in the fold, but the Conservatives are hoping to capitalize on the uncertainty by running a star candidate in the riding: former Olympic champion Sylvie Fréchette.

She attracted her own share of controversy at the start of the campaign. She was among the Quebec candidates who were saying publicly that a Conservative government wouldn’t allow backbench members to bring forward motions or legislation seeking to curtail access to abortion.

While Scheer has said he’d personally oppose the idea, he has not said he’d forbid his members of Parliament from trying.

Scheer says he is ‘personally pro-life’; says he still supports women’s rights
Scheer says he is ‘personally pro-life’; says he still supports women’s rights

The confusion saw abortion rights suddenly become a question Scheer could not avoid, as his party, the public and the media sought clarity for days on both the leader’s personal position and how he’d handle it in government.

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It would take until after the first French-language debate — which saw Scheer get pummelled by his opponents for obfuscating his position — for Scheer to be clear: he is personally opposed to abortion, but would not back any effort to re-open the debate.

French Leaders’ Debate 2019: Full
French Leaders’ Debate 2019: Full

Outside a Tim Hortons in a Montreal suburb this morning, Frechette chalked the whole thing up to a misunderstanding, and said Scheer had always been clear about where he stood.

“For me, it’s just very sad that we wasted so much energy on something that was already covered and was clear,” she said.

Scheer’s campaign is now moving into Ontario for campaign events in Essex and the Hamilton suburb of Ancaster.

As Scheer is appearing in the southern part of the province, his provincial counterpart, Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford, is slated to have his own events in the northern region.

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READ MORE: Doug Ford factor looms large in election as Liberals seize on premier’s tanking popularity

Ford has kept a very low profile during the election campaign — his event Wednesday is the first time in weeks he will take reporters’ questions.

The Liberals have repeatedly invoked his name in their attacks on Scheer, accusing the federal leader of wanting to carry out a similar agenda that would result in service cuts.

Scheer has denied that’s the case.