Is Quebec really a nation? Bloc Québécois leader's statements during campaign spark questions about party platform, province

·3-min read
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet speaks to the media following the French-language leaders debate during the Canadian federal election campaign in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada on September 8, 2021. (Photo by Fred Chartrand / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRED CHARTRAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week's leaders' debate raised some eyebrows, particularly around some of the retorts given by Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet. The politician had some interesting answers about Quebec’s position as a nation, its controversial bill that forbids Quebec civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work as well as other aspects that makes the province unique from the rest of the country. Here are the answers to some of the questions readers have been asking themselves after remarks by Blanchet throughout the campaign.

Is Quebec a nation?

Quebec is a province in Canada, which came into confederation on July 1, 1867. While it is distinct from other provinces in many ways, namely that the official language is French and the province is primarily Francophone, it is not officially recognized as a nation. This lack of specificity remains an unresolved issue in the province, which wants a limitation on federal spending power in the province and the “granting of additional powers in the areas of culture and communications.” The goal from this is to allow Quebec to apply public policies that align with its unique properties.

On November 27, 2006, the House of Commons adopted a motion that recognized the Québec nation. It read: “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.”

However, the motion was a symbolic political gesture that had no legal consequences. Click here to learn more about the recognition of Quebec as a nation.

Why is the Bloc Québécois a federal party?

The Bloc Québécois was formed on 15 June 1991, and registered by Elections Canada on 11 September 1993. It came about after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, which would have formally recognized the province as a distinct society and allowed it to reject most constitutional changes. In turn, Quebec MPs from both Conservative and Liberal parties came together to form a parliamentary movement. Quebec is the only province where Bloc Québécois candidates run. The political basis of the Bloc Québécois is that of Quebec nationalism and the support and advancement of Quebec sovereignty.

Bloc Québécois platform

The platform the Bloc Québécois is running under for the current election is made up of 30 measures. Some of these include more health care funding, abolishing the Indian Act in order to fully integrate The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and creating a "green equalization" program that would compensate provinces that successfully fight climate change. The Bloc Québécois commitment to promoting Quebec's interests includes putting forth a bill that would require a sufficient grasp of the French language in order to be able to obtain citizenship in the province.

Bill 21 Quebec

This controversial bill bans any public service worker from wearing a religious symbol such as a hijab, crosses, turbans or yarmulkes to work. The bill impacts such professions as teachers, police officers, judges, and lawyers who work in public services. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association defines the bill as unconstitutional, and is challenging the law in court.

When was the Bloc Québécois the official opposition?

The Bloc Québécois was the official opposition in the House of Commons between the years of 1993 and 1997. At that time, it had obtained 49.3 per cent of the Quebec vote and a total of 54 seats in the house.

Who can vote for Bloc Québécois?

The foundation of the party is to advocate for the interest of Quebecers, which means that candidates for the Bloc Québécois party only run in ridings within the province. Therefore, only residents of Quebec can vote for Bloc Québécois during the federal election.

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