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Politics

Surge in Bloc Quebecois popularity ‘a little bit surprising,’ says Maxime Bernier

QUEBEC — People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier says he’s a bit surprised by the popularity of the Bloc Quebecois and its leader, Yves-Francois Blanchet.

Bernier told reporters Friday if Quebecers knew more about his party, they might be less inclined to vote Bloc.

The PPC leader said his policies are as nationalistic, if not more, than those of Blanchet.

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Bernier said a PPC government would reduce immigration and ensure Quebec gets to choose which newcomers it would accept.

He added his government would also increase the ratio of economic immigrants accepted into Canada and make them take a values test, similar to the proposal put forward by Quebec Premier Francois Legault.

“With regards to immigration, we are the only party that is responding to (Legault’s) aspirations,” said the PPC leader.

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Bernier was attempting to position his party as the defender of the policies of Legault’s popular and self-professed nationalistic government.

The Bloc has campaigned in a similar manner and has seen its support increase in the polls. Recent surveys suggest the party is fighting for first place in Quebec with the Liberals.

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Bernier also promised to respect provincial jurisdiction and the Canadian Constitution. That meant ending federal transfers to the provinces for health care, he said.

In their place, Bernier said, he would transfer tax points to the provinces so they can collect their own health-care revenues.

He said a big reason his party isn’t more popular in Quebec is because voters there don’t his know its platform.

“The rise of the Bloc Quebec is a little bit surprising,” he said. “But if we look at our electoral platform, and I compare it to the Bloc Quebecois’, I can say that nationalist Quebecers have a place in our party.”