Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the political bogeyman that Quebec sovereignty once was, Justin Trudeau said as he defended himself against allegations he’s sympathetic to separation.

In a French-language interview with Radio-Canada on Sunday, the Liberal MP, whose father Pierre Elliott Trudeau fought sovereigntist sentiment, said he’s enormously sad about where Canada is heading, and that if he ever believed Canada was Prime Minister "Stephen Harper’s Canada," he would think about sovereignty.

"I always say that if ever I believed Canada was really Stephen Harper's Canada — that we were heading against abortion, against gay marriage, that we were going backwards 10,000 different ways — maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country."

"No, absolutely, if I no longer recognized in Canada my values… But I believe deeply in Canada and I know that Quebec in Canada can put it back on the right path," he finished.

In an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CBC's Power & Politics, Trudeau said he didn't make a mistake by raising the issue of an independent Quebec.

Community Reaction

The CBC community had a range of reactions to Trudeau's statement.

  • "Understand your sentiments completely, Justin. Those with common-sense will know your words were not meant literally." - alwaysvote
  • "Mr. Trudeau: It's not, and never has been, your Canada any more than it's my Canada. It's our Canada!! You and yours are no more entitled to set its course than am I and mine." - Shif Ter Brains
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"I did not because, first of all, the separatist option is not the bogeyman it used to be. You ask me what the bogeyman is? It’s the one sitting in our prime minister’s chair right now," Trudeau said Tuesday.

"It’s not going to happen. Modern Quebec is moving in ways where Quebecers are much more anchored toward the world, they’re confident in their abilities, in our abilities, to compete on the world stage. I don’t see it as the big threat, the big scary threat that it used to be."

Trudeau said he used provocative language in an attempt to alert people about Conservative policies to which he's opposed.

Speaking just after question period Tuesday, Trudeau said he loves Canada, and lives and breathes it. He said Canada needs Quebec to balance out Harper's vision.

"I’m not going to stand here and somehow defend that I actually do love Canada because we know that I do love Canada."

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae says Trudeau is a great Canadian and a strong believer in a united Canada.