The Bloc Québécois, revitalized under its new leader Yves-François Blanchet, managed to win 32 seats (up from ten) in the recent Canadian general election, according to provisional results. As no party is likely to have a majority, the Bloc may be able to secure legislation boosting French in return for its support. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals went into the election hoping to add to the 40 they already had in Québec, but they lost seven, helping Trudeau fall 14 seats short of a national majority.
Blanchet has positioned the Bloc as a party that wants to stand up for Québec’s interests and the French language in the federal Parliament in Ottawa rather than actively seeking to break up the country.
The 54-year-old former provincial minister and media personality said the Bloc wanted to make Parliament work and would back any proposed legislation that was good for Québec, but he is linked with Québec’s nationalist Coalition Avenir Québec government, which brought in legislation earlier this year banning some public employees from wearing religious symbols. Trudeau said during a French-language campaign debate that he would be prepared to challenge the law, leading Blanchet to accuse him of not respecting Québec.