(Ottawa) The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, wants to speak with US President Joe Biden during his visit to Ottawa at the end of March.
Mr. Blanchet requested such a meeting, to which all opposition leaders should be invited, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent weeks, but which remains unanswered.
In an interview, the Bloc leader recalled that the Canadian political system is different from that of its neighbor to the south, in that it sometimes leads, as is currently the case, to the formation of minority governments.
“Reading what Canada is, well, it also goes through what (the Conservative leader) Pierre Poilievre, me or (the NDP leader) Jagmeet Singh thinks about it,” he noted.
The US president’s visit, scheduled for March 23-24, will be his first north of the border since taking office in 2021. Trudeau and Biden will discuss an ongoing upgrade to NORAD’s continental defense system, supply chains and the fight against climate change. The President will also address Parliament.
Should a meeting take place, the Bloc leader would first like to tell President Biden that the Bloc Québécois is a partner on security issues, particularly those relating to NATO, the war in Ukraine and what has relating to China. The need to renegotiate the safe third country agreement would be one of the “first” items on his list of topics.
Mr. Blanchet revealed that he intends to travel to New York in the coming weeks to present “another vision than that of the Liberal government” with regard to Roxham Road, in particular by dealing with the “issue of a cultural, linguistic and of government services in Quebec”.
“We want an answer”
The letter was sent two weeks ago and so far the Bloc has only received an acknowledgment of receipt. Now that the dates are set, the Bloc is demanding a response from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Bloc leader avoided a question as to where he places his chances of success on a scale of 0 to 5 of a meeting with the American president. “My requirement is 5,” he replied.
Moreover, the holding of such meetings should, according to him, become “a systematic practice”, be “in the order of things” and the Prime Minister’s office should propose them by itself “out of politeness, out of respect for democracy “.
Mr. Blanchet acknowledges that it is rare for opposition party leaders to meet foreign heads of state. “But hey, the American president is not the same thing, it’s the president of the neighboring state who is a giant. This is not New Zealand,” he summed up.
We are not barbarians who are going to insult everyone and denigrate the Liberal Party. We will behave with the sense of the state.
Yves Francois Blanchet
The Prime Minister’s Office had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Mr. Blanchet also considers it “vulgar” that the Prime Minister’s Office ignored his request to greet the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during a ceremonial activity after her speech in the House of Commons more early this week.
“I find it insulting,” he said. I find that “Justin Trudeau”. I find it contemptuous for democracy. I remind Justin Trudeau that on the 32e Bloc member is as much a member as he is Prime Minister, and that he must treat all elected officials with respect, all parties with respect and all leaders with respect. »
Leaders of the Bloc Québécois have “met” American presidents during visits to Ottawa, the party points out. Lucien Bouchard, then leader of the official opposition, had met Bill Clinton during his official visit to Ottawa in 1995. And Gilles Duceppe had done the same with George W. Bush in 2004 during a cocktail party.
A visit to Canada is usually one of the first foreign trips for a new U.S. president, a tradition upended two years ago by the COVID-19 pandemic. The two leaders were rather content with a virtual meeting.
The virus again interfered with Canada-U.S. relations in 2022, when Mr. Biden tested positive for COVID-19 a second time, forcing the White House to abandon its plan for a summer visit that year.