Turning his back on the independence debate, former PQ minister and radio host Bernard Drainville was politically reincarnated as a candidate for the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) on Tuesday, under the watchful eye of Premier François Legault. , who cut him new clothes with an economic profile.
Mr. Drainville appeared alongside Mr. Legault on a platform set up in a reception hall in the riding of Lévis, where he will try to be elected in the next general election.
The new candidate, who became a radio host after leaving his post as a Parti Québécois (PQ) deputy in 2016, has embraced the guideline of the CAQ, whose nationalist project is part of Canada. “We are not doomed to powerlessness because we do not have all the powers,” he said. We can act and improve our society and the lives of Quebecers with the autonomy we have. »
Without specifying whether he ceased to be a sovereigntist, Mr. Drainville remained vague on the precise moment when he became sympathetic to the ideas of the CAQ. This conversion took place at the end of a “journey” that began after the PQ defeat in 2014, on reading the low levels of support for sovereignty. “I don’t feel like fighting this battle,” he explained. It’s not my motivation. If I had wanted to fight for sovereignty, I would return to politics with the PQ, not with the CAQ. »
According to him, Quebecers have gone elsewhere and want their politicians to work together beyond divisions on the place of Quebec in Canada. “My belief is […] that the old federalist-independence debate is outdated”, dropped the candidate, specifying that the evolution of his thought “has nothing to do with the CAQ”.
Mr. Drainville pleaded for a “generous nationalism, bearer of social progress” and open to immigration. He welcomed the gains obtained from Ottawa by the CAQ, such as funding for daycare, social housing and infrastructure. Achievements that Mr. Legault himself then modestly described as administrative agreements.
Mr. Drainville has endorsed the hobbyhorse of his new party, which is calling for more powers in immigration to protect the French. “There are Quebec fights to be fought inside Canada, and I am a man of fights and I answer this,” he said.
Formalized Monday, the candidacy of Mr. Drainville had been announced Friday by the radio station 98.5 FM, where he hosted a program. This news prompted his opponents to unearth old statements, including some where he denounced the “provincialism” of Mr. Legault or said that the real courage consisted in remaining faithful to independence, unlike the chief caquiste.
Tuesday, Mr. Legault welcomed with open arms his new recruit, of which he praised the talents of communicator essential to a political formation like his. “He is someone who is very close to the world,” said the head of government.
Mr. Legault gave a glowing review of Mr. Drainville’s 18 months in the PQ government, spanning from 2012 to 2014, in particular his reform of political financing which lowered the ceiling on contributions to $100, which he placed in line with that of René Lévesque.
Beyond the differences that may have opposed the two men, the Prime Minister rather drew parallels between them. He recalled that they had been deputies together from 2007 to 2009, within “another party” which he did not name, the PQ. He underlined that they followed the same “journey” which led them to turn their backs on the sovereignist project.
“We are two pragmatic guys who love the economy a lot. »
Mr. Legault recalled that his new colleague studied at the London School of Economics. He firmly anchored his return to politics in this niche. “He follows everything we are doing in the battery sector, in the green economy, with green steel, green aluminum, he said. This is a subject that has always interested Bernard, economic development. »
Mr. Drainville would not comment on reports indicating that he could be appointed Minister of Natural Resources after the October election. Cautious, he contented himself with saying that his priority remained to be elected in Lévis, where he would succeed the caquiste François Paradis, who had represented the riding since 2014.
On a local issue, Mr. Drainville was convinced that the under-river tunnel project towards Quebec City has an environmental dimension since it provides for a reserved lane for public transit during rush hour. “It would be irresponsible not to have one, third link, in a metropolitan agglomeration which will reach one million people within 15 years,” he explained.
In the National Assembly, the parliamentary leader of the PQ, Joël Arseneau, described Mr. Drainville as an opportunist. “He wants to grab the[occasion] to take advantage of the apparent indomitable popularity of the CAQ in order to be able to get closer to power,” he said.
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Bernard Drainville is politically reincarnated at the CAQ
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