Political change? The PQ promotes independence (in English)

“It is important to remember that we are all in the same boat, all united by the same citizenship and the same destiny,” says PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

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QUEBEC – In what the party considers a first, the Parti Québécois is launching a television advertising campaign in English in favor of independence.

The PQ has gained time on CTV and CBC, and ads will begin Wednesday. It is the English version of a campaign that the party launched during the long weekend on French networks.

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The ads show PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon walking and talking through various background scenes urging all Quebecers to think about the advantages of sovereignty and the negative side of remaining within the Canadian federation.

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“Our commitment in the PQ is to create a country,” St-Pierre Plamondon said in a statement issued Tuesday. “That’s why we invest every additional dollar we raise in promoting independence that involves all Quebecers.”

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He points out that an English campaign of this nature has never been launched in the long history of the PQ.

St-Pierre Plamondon adds that the country the PQ wants to create is “for all those who live on its territory, including citizens of the historic Anglophone minority.”

“It is important to remember that we are all in the same boat, all united by the same citizenship and the same destiny,” he said. “The fiscal asphyxiation of the provinces and the resulting lack of financing of services to the population affect all Quebecers, including English speakers.

“The federal government is wasting an immense amount of money offering very few direct services to the population. “We are convinced that by repatriating all tax dollars to Quebec instead of sending them to Ottawa, we could invest where it really matters in our lives.”

In his television ads, St-Pierre Plamondon uses the figure of $82 billion, the amount that, according to the PQ, Quebec would have at its disposal in the event of independence and if it no longer sent money to Ottawa.

He takes the figure from a document prepared for the PQ in October 2023. The so-called Year One budget concluded that an independent Quebec would be financially viable and one of the richest countries in the world.

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Independence would also mean the end of Ottawa entering areas of provincial jurisdiction and full control over issues such as immigration and the French language, he adds.

“What if I told you that we can keep this $82 billion here in Quebec?” St-Pierre Plamondon says in the ads. “Imagine what we could do with that amount: improve services in our schools, in our hospitals, protect the French language, invest in the quality of our environment.

“That’s what independence is all about: taking back the money that belongs to us and spending it where it really matters. Being independent is worth it.”

The campaign does not mention what the PQ would do to protect the rights of English-speaking Quebecers, but the party has a chapter on this topic in its program.

While the PQ did make some translations of its material during the 1995 referendum campaign and much of its current program has been translated into several languages, these prime-time television adverts are a first for the party.

Asked on Tuesday about the costs, PQ MP Pascal Bérubé stressed that the bill is paid for with money raised by the party independently of the subsidy it gets from Élections Québec, which is determined by the number of votes the party receives.

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He said the PQ can afford the ads because it has no debt. He said Quebecers can expect more such announcements because the party wants to push its agenda year-round and not just for events like the Journée nationale des Patriotes.

In fact, his advisers later said that the PQ has two more French campaigns in the works.

“People give us money so we can explain to other people what our project is about,” Bérubé told reporters. “We have the money, we have the ideas, we are enthusiastic and we feel that we must promote sovereignty every day.

“Get used to it. This is the new PQ.”

The Liberals focused on some of the PQ’s comments, with the party’s interim leader, Marc Tanguay, saying the $82 billion figure is pure fantasy.

“I would ask: What will we do without federal transfers?” Tanguay said. “It’s one thing to say we’re asking for billions of dollars to help sustain our health care system; It’s another to get these billions.”

“With the PQ it will be a third referendum. The only party in the National Assembly capable of responding to this is the Quebec Liberal Party. “Potentially, this will be one of the electoral issues of the next election.”

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This is not the first time that a Quebec political party has tried to attract anglophones with ads in English. The provincial Liberals have done this for years.

And before the 2018 general election, the Coalition Avenir Québec broadcast its Join Us campaign, in which party leader François Legault called on anglophones to break their habit of voting Liberal.

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St-Pierre Plamondon, a bilingual graduate of McGill University, has reached out to the English-speaking community before. In January, he appeared on the Gazette’s Corner Booth podcast.

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