In front of more than 500 people in a crowded room in Laval, Jean Charest formally launched his campaign in Quebec on Thursday with a fiery speech presenting himself as the candidate for the Conservative Party and Canada unit.
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“I’m going back because Canada is so deeply divided,” said the former Quebec prime minister, who left politics in 2012 after an electoral defeat.
Mr. Charest, who made his first steps on the federal scene at the end of the 1980s in the government of Brian Mulroney, noted his participation in the “No” campaign during the 1995 referendum and his work as the leader of the “only coalition of federalists”: the Liberal Party of Quebec.
But this time, it’s not Quebecers who are lacking in love, but Albertans, who “suffer”, “feel rejected” and “step aside.”
“I went to Alberta to give them the following message,” he continued. “I want to be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada so that you can return to the Canadian fold with honor and enthusiasm, as has been said before. We can be at the same table.”
The message of unity, punctuated by loud applause, is at the heart of Jean Charest’s “Build to Conquer” campaign.
Despite his ambitions to export more oil and gas to Europe, Jean Charest noted in scrum that he “would not force a pipeline”.
“Projects will be judged first on merit, requirements for environmental assessments, and social acceptance. But as a starting point, it may require a government that says ‘we, it is desirable to have the ability to export our resources to markets other than those of the United States,'” he answered during a meeting after Discussion.
As in Alberta, Mr. Charest praised the work of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, thanks to which “we had a sound economy and sound public finances”.
The former Prime Minister of Quebec presented the Conservative Party as the “Party of the Economy”, and wanted to contrast the platform of Justin Trudeau…who confused him with Pierre Trudeau for a brief moment.
“In the Trudeau family, spending is from father to son,” he quipped.
Mr. Charst was introduced, among other things, by Conservative MP Alan Reese and commentator and chancellor Tasha Khairuddin, who was approached as one of his potential rivals before joining his team.
Thursday night’s event in Laval will be followed by a second rally in Quebec on Friday and a third on Saturday in Sherbrooke, his hometown.
The next leader of the Conservatives will be elected on September 10. At the moment, MP Pierre Boiliver is leading strongly in opinion polls among the Conservative Party’s base.
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