The Bloc Québécois denies the creation of the “Bloc Montréal,” ruling that this new provincial party, founded by former mayoral candidate Balarama Holness, “could create confusion” and mislead voters.
Posted at 5:30 p.m
Henri Ouellette-Vézina La Presse
“We are writing to you today to formally challenge the creation of a new political formation called the Bloc Montreal. A few months before a Quebec general election, the emergence of a political party so named would only cause confusion, as some voters might believe it could be associated with our party,” wrote Bloc Québécois president and former MP Johanne Deschamps des Bloc Québécois, in a letter sent to the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec (DGEQ) in recent days.
Ms Deschamps also notes in her letter that “in recent weeks, several leading media outlets have addressed the similarity between the name of the Bloc Québécois and that of the Bloc Montreal”.
“However, our values are radically opposite, both linguistically and [sur] regional development or our ambitions for Quebec’s future, which makes any similarity between the names of our two political parties all the more unjustified and damaging,” criticized the party leader.
The latter reiterated that on the eve of an election, “it is essential to facilitate voters’ access to information while avoiding any risk of misunderstanding and ambiguity, especially given the numerous competing policies”. “Therefore, for the sake of clarity and consistency, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, we ask that you not authorize the use of that name by this new party,” she concludes.
“No basis,” replies Holness
When asked about the subject, Bloc Montreal leader Balarama Holness assures that he has no intention of changing the name of his party. “The Bloc Québécois has no legal basis for this complaint. It is a federal political party and we are a provincial political party,” he says.
“The central thesis of the Bloc Québécois is that the federal government interferes in provincial affairs. And here, ironically, that’s exactly what they’re doing. It is unimaginably hypocritical,” added Mr. Holness, adding that “according to the logic of the Bloc Québécois,” the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) could not coexist with the Liberal Party of Canada (PLC).
At DGEQ, spokesman Gabriel Sauvé-Lesiège confirms that the Bloc Montreal party has been approved as the political formation for Quebec’s next elections this fall. However, he specifies that the DGEQ only considers “the names of the parties authorized at the provincial and municipal levels” to make a decision, which explains why the Bloc Montreal was approved even though the Bloc Québécois, a federal party, existed for one long time.
More generally, a party name “should not lead voters to misunderstand the party to which they are addressing their contributions,” says Mr Sauvé-Lesiège. “The name of the party must not be the same or similar to the name of any authorized or authorized party or the name of any other group or organization of public prominence. The voter who pays a contribution to a party must be able to do so without any risk of confusion,” he continues.
Also, a party’s name must not contain the word “independent” to avoid confusing the latter with candidates with no political affiliation in Quebec.
A former Alouettes player, Balarama Holness first came to public attention for his involvement at the helm of Montréal en action, an organization that forced the city to hold a public consultation on systemic racism. In the last municipal election, he won just over 7% of the vote when he ran for mayor of Montreal under the banner of the Mouvement Montréal party, which he founded.
As a result, in April he announced the formation of a provincial party, Mouvement Québec, which he then had to rename to Bloc Montreal due to a DGEQ refusal. According to Mr. Holness, Bloc Montreal will primarily aim to take over Liberal-defended ridings. He also specifically targets 10, all represented by Liberals, including those of leader Dominique Anglade, Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne, but also Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, D’Arcy-McGee, Nelligan, Robert- Baldwin, Jacques-Cartier, Mont-Royal-Outremont, Marquette, Saint-Laurent and Westmount-Saint-Louis.