After heavy criticism, François Legault congratulates Justin Trudeau on victory

Click to play video: 'Legault congratulates Trudeau and expresses no regret for taking sides' Legault congratulates Trudeau and expresses no regret for taking sides
WATCH: Quebec Premier François Legault openly expressed his desire for a Conservative minority for this federal election. He was strongly criticized for telling Quebecers how to vote. That criticism is getting louder and people are wondering if the premier's bet on the wrong party will have consequences for Quebec. Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports – Sep 21, 2021

After lambasting him in the campaign, Quebec’s premier has congratulated Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on his federal election win.

François Legault issued a brief message on Twitter early Tuesday morning, saluting Trudeau on his minority government victory.

“I will work with him to advance the interests of Quebec,” he wrote.

The premier made a splash earlier this month after he was particularly critical of Trudeau following the English-language debate between party leaders.

Read more: Liberals projected to form minority government; Trudeau bills win as ‘clear mandate’

Legault accused the Liberal leader of meddling in provincial affairs, ranging from the management of long-term care homes to housing.

He also took aim at the NDP and the Greens during the 36-day campaign, saying that he would find it easier to work with a Conservative government led by Erin O’Toole.

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Click to play video: 'Canada election: Trudeau meets supporters in Montreal after winning minority government' Canada election: Trudeau meets supporters in Montreal after winning minority government
Canada election: Trudeau meets supporters in Montreal after winning minority government – Sep 21, 2021

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Legault defended his interjection in the campaign.

“During the campaign you heard me defend on several occasions Quebec’s national autonomy,” he said. “I don’t regret having done so and I will continue doing it for the rest of my mandate.”

He also maintained his position that the Conservative Party was more aligned with those goals.

“I want more autonomy for Quebec, I want the federal government to respect our jurisdictions. Of course the Bloc agrees with that but they cannot form a government … The Conservative Party supported the respect of our jurisdictions.”

Despite not seeing eye to eye on certain issues, Legault said both he and Trudeau agreed they can continue working together.

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Read more: Little change in Quebec as Liberals, Bloc shore up ridings

At the top of the agenda for Legault is an increase in health transfer payments to the provinces.

“You know it’s unanimous. The provinces are asking the federal government to increase from 22 per cent the health spending to 35 per cent,” he said.

Legault added the need was urgent as provincial health-care networks that were already fragile before the pandemic are under increasing pressure.

But opposition parties at the National Assembly worry Quebec will pay for Legault’s harsh criticism of federal Liberals.

“I believe that the biggest loser of this election is François Legault,” said Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade. “François Legault gambled a lot, and he lost his gamble. And I believe that the situation in which he lost brought all the Quebeckers with him.”

Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon agrees.

“François Legault called the Liberals himself: ‘Dangerous for Québec.’ What are the odds if we get $6 billion in transfers? Good luck,” he said.

With Trudeau’s win, the latest results show that the Liberal Party held on to many of their seats in the province. This includes a swath of red strongholds in Montreal.

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After his minority victory, Trudeau headed out to his Papineau riding early Tuesday to thank constituents for their support.

The Liberal leader was out and about greeting commuters at Jarry Metro station and waving to them as they headed to work. He also took photos with some supporters. He did the same in 2019 after he was re-elected.

After failing to secure a majority, the victory was taken in stride by some of those who live in Trudeau’s riding.

“What can I say? It’s not a majority government. It’s still a minority government but it is still a good result,” Zakir Hussaien said.

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On that note, Legualt did have a word of advice to federal leaders.

“What this election shows is that Quebec is crucial for a government that wants to form a majority government,” he said.

with files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and Raquel Fletcher

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