Montreal

Former Montreal mayoral candidate Balarama Holness pitches new provincial party

Former Montreal mayoral candidate Balarama Holness announced his plan to create a new provincial party called Mouvement Québec on Wednesday.

Mouvement Québec will be ‘continuation’ of municipal party, Holness says

Balarama Holness is switching to provincial politics, months after he lost the race for Montreal mayor in 2021. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

Former Montreal mayoral candidate Balarama Holness wants to take a shot at provincial politics and part of his plan is to create a new provincial party called Mouvement Québec.

"It's a party founded on Quebec values," he told reporters on Wednesday, outside the National Assembly.

"From inclusion, to equality, to diversity, to justice, to le vivre ensemble (social harmony), we're gonna be a party that unites Quebecers."

Holness said his new party is a "continuation" of Mouvement Montréal, the municipal party he led during the 2021 municipal elections. 

He said he is hoping to get the support of the Montreal residents who voted for him in the fall. He said he will offer anglophones and visible minorities a new option and that the Quebec Liberal Party has taken their support for granted.

Plan to tackle 'problematic laws'

Holness said he will work on issues that affect Montreal residents and require the involvement of the province, such as the economy, the environment, and housing.

He also said he wants to overturn some "problematic laws coming from the National Assembly." He notably criticized Bill 21, Quebec's religious symbols law, as well as Bill 96, a plan to bolster the province's French-language charter.

WATCH | Balarama Holness talks about new provincial party for Quebec:

Balarama Holness announces new provincial party

4 months ago
Duration 2:34
Former Montreal mayoral candidate Balarama Holness says Mouvement Québec will embody the Quebec values of inclusion, equality, diversity, and justice.

"It's about a next generation of young people who might tell themselves, 'I don't wanna go to CEGEP in Québec because I don't want to have to take these three French classes, I'm going to the University of Ottawa'," he said.

When asked about Holness's new party at a news conference Wednesday, Quebec Premier François Legault responded by defending Bill 96.

"I want my children and grandchildren to speak in French, so we'll continue to take measures to protect French. It's not against the anglophones."

Quebec Premier François Legault was asked what he thought about Balarama Holness' intention to create a new provincial party during a press conference Wednesday. (Radio-Canada)

Holness is known for the social justice advocacy work he did with his organization Montreal in Action. In 2018, the group collected more than 22,000 petition signatures to force the city to hold public consultations on systemic racism.

His election campaign was marred by controversy about his leadership style. Most of the board and executive team of his non-profit organization resigned in 2020, citing a chaotic and dysfunctional environment.

Holness said he plans to field candidates primarily in the greater Montreal region, but also across the province. He is now waiting for Quebec's Chief Electoral Officer to register the name of his new party.

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