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Politics

Trudeau, Scheer slam Blanchet’s Quebec sovereignty comment on last day of campaign

WATCH: Trudeau, Scheer speak about Blanchet's Quebec sovereignty comment

The two frontrunners in Canada’s election campaign attacked the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Yves-Francois Blanchet, on Sunday, the final day before the vote, for again raising the prospect of a sovereign Quebec.

The Bloc has surged during the six-week official campaign, partly thanks to Blanchet’s convincing performance in the debates, where he promised to stick up for Quebec.

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

That has eaten into both Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative opposition leader Andrew Scheer’s support in the province, which is a key battleground in a very tight race.

In a speech on Saturday in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a town to the southeast of Montreal, Blanchet said the Bloc’s position was that the Quebec nation “will have to once again consider giving itself all the attributes of sovereignty.”

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Focus Montreal: Federal Election polls
Focus Montreal: Federal Election polls

That was enough for both Trudeau and Scheer to respond that Blanchet would take the province once again down a path toward separation from the rest of Canada, a prospect most Quebecers have not embraced in recent years.

“Canadians need to come together and we got a very clear reminder of that last night in Quebec when the Bloc Québécois came out and said its number one priority is separation, dividing the country once again,” Trudeau said at a bakery in the Vancouver suburb of Port Moody.

Scheer said the Bloc would seek another referendum over whether Quebec should proclaim sovereignty after the two previous ones failed. The last one, in 1995, ended with 50.6% saying “no” and 49.4% saying “yes.”

READ MORE: Bloc Québécois leader calls on feds to let exiled Catalan leader enter Canada

Federal Election: Blanchet discusses desire to be independent on the part of some Quebec residents
Federal Election: Blanchet discusses desire to be independent on the part of some Quebec residents

“A vote (for) the bloc is a vote for the referendum,” Scheer said in Vancouver.

The provincial party that triggered both referenda was the Parti Quebecois, which got hammered in last year’s provincial election by the nationalist Coalition Avenir Quebec.

New Brunswick premier critical of perceived favoritism towards Quebec during federal election
New Brunswick premier critical of perceived favoritism towards Quebec during federal election

Blanchet himself responded to Trudeau and Scheer on Sunday on Twitter, saying ambiguously: “We understand the limits of the mandate of Quebecers and we respect all of Quebec.”

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