Blanchet seeks to drive values wedge between Quebec and Trudeau government

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is doubling down on efforts to draw a line separating his party’s values from those of the Trudeau Liberals — particularly on the fraught ground of free speech.

Blanchet posted a tweet Sunday suggesting Justin Trudeau’s response to attacks in France that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists did not go far enough, and highlighted what the Bloc leader called a “disturbing gap” in values that he chalked up to possible “weakness” or “ideology” on the prime minister’s part.

The stern words add to Blanchet’s criticism of the prime minister’s reaction to a University of Ottawa professor’s use of a notoriously derogatory word for Black people in class.

Last week, Trudeau said he stands up for free speech and called the attacks in France “heinous” acts of terrorism, but also stressed respect for others.

Three attacks in France over the past two months have come amid a growing furor over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Blanchet is scheduled to speak on freedom of expression in a news conference Monday afternoon ahead of a House vote on his motion demanding an apology from the government for having invoked controversial legislation during the October Crisis in Quebec 50 years ago.

His comments come on the same day Quebec’s highest court begins hearing a legal challenge to Quebec’s secularism law — known as Bill 21 — which bans public school teachers, government lawyers and police officers, among other civil servants, from wearing religious symbols at work.

Blanchet has been a steadfast supporter of the law, while opponents argue it disproportionately targets Muslim women and is therefore unconstitutional.

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