SAINTE-MARIE, Que.—Stephen Harper used Quebec’s national holiday Wednesday to make a pitch for Quebecers’ votes in the looming federal election.
The prime minister rallied his troops at a party event in the Quebec City region, telling them they should never let anyone tell them that Conservative values are not Quebec values.
“When I come to Quebec, I’m often told: ‘We want to save more money and pay less taxes, we want more jobs for our families and our community, we want safe neighbourhoods, towns and cities,”‘ Harper said, flanked by some 50 of the Conservative party’s candidates in the province.
He drew loud applause from the invitation-only crowd when he said Quebecers equally want “new citizens who take oaths with their faces uncovered.”
“All these are Conservative values and Conservative policy,” he said.
On a holiday that celebrates Quebec nationalism, the prime minister reminded voters that it was his government which passed a motion recognizing that Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada.
He courted nationalist voters by saying they are welcome within the Conservative party.
“For us Conservatives, Quebec nationalism—nationalism that doesn’t lead to the impasse of separation—is not a threat. It’s an expression of deep pride in a brilliant past and a solid confidence in a promising future.”
Harper made the remarks in the town of Sainte-Marie in the Quebec City region, where he has recruited several star candidates in the hopes of making major gains in this fall’s election.
He described his team of candidates as “the best we have seen in Quebec in a very, very long time.”
The Conservative party currently holds only five of the province’s 75 seats and recent polls suggest it faces an uphill fight to improve that count in the Oct. 19 election.