Ridings that party strategists had targeted to steal from opponents escaped them. And the controversial question posed to leader Yves-François Blanchet during the English-language debate did not give the party the boost at the polls it had wished.
Debate moderator Shachi Kurl had told Blanchet in a preamble to a question that two popular Quebec laws were discriminatory against minorities and anglophones in the province. Blanchet had called the question an insult to all Quebecers and had argued it was an example of how Quebec would never be understood in Canada.
On the campaign trail, Blanchet had evoked his “dream” of winning 40 seats. The party had chosen about 10 opponents’ seats it had wanted to snatch. As of early Tuesday, his party had failed to make it a reality. They were elected in 29 ridings and leading in two others too close to call.
“We still have, with a positive approach, with confidence, the duty to do more, to do better,” Blanchet told supporters in French after the results came in.
“The result is difficult to comment: the percentage is about the same, the number of seats is about the same.”
The Bloc had wanted to carry Sherbrooke and ran Ensaf Haidar, a well-known human rights activist who moved to the province from Saudi Arabia, where her husband, Raif Badawi, is languishing in a prison for his dissident views. Liberal Elisabeth Briere kept her seat.
At the Bloc’s electoral headquarters in Montreal on Monday evening, the atmosphere was fairly calm because of the small number of supporters gathered at the Pierre-Peladeau centre, in respect of the COVID-19 health restrictions.
Blanchet had spent a lot of time on the campaign in ridings held by other parties — particularly by the Liberals. He said the question of the campaign was “the right to be Quebecois.” He had suggested the government of Canada didn’t let the province make its own decisions.
On Monday night, he told supports he was proud of the issues he had campaign on: increasing payments to seniors and more money for health care.
And he evoked his sovereigntist creed: “Quebec is strong. Who knows what a strong Quebec will one day decide.”