With Trump coming in, time is now for economic nationalism, PQ says

Quebec must be more aggressive in defending its economic interests given the current global surge in protectionism, Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée told party members Sunday.

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée wants to see Quebec version of 'Buy American' legislation

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-Francois Lisée wants the government to do more to protect local jobs from foreign investment. (Clement Allard/Canadian Press)

Quebec must be more aggressive in defending its economic interests given the current global surge in protectionism, Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée told party members, Sunday.

Just days before Donald Trump, a strident free-trade critic, is set to become president of Quebec's largest trade partner, Lisée said it was urgent for the province to adopt a more economic nationalist stance.

"We're not only surrounded by altar boys on this continent," Lisée said, referencing to the incoming U.S. president. "We have to show some muscle, defend our jobs, our market-share in the years ahead."

Lisée has asked the party's finance critic, Nicolas Marceau, to draw up proposals for buy-local legislation. As examples, they pointed to various Buy American provisions passed by the U.S. Congress, which require public funds be spent within the country.

At a news conference following Lisée's speech, Marceau said he wants a greater percentage of government spending in Quebec — at both the provincial and municipal level — reserved for Quebec suppliers.

Marceau said the buy-local legislation in the U.S. provides a model for balancing protectionism with free-trade. 

President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th U.S. president on Friday. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

'Audacious' proposals

The call for greater economic nationalism was framed by Lisée as part his push to make the PQ more "audacious" in its policy proposals. 

His speech on Sunday wrapped up a two-day party conference, the first such gathering since Lisée took over the party's leadership in November 2016. 

As part of his leadership campaign, Lisée promised not to hold a referendum during the first mandate of a PQ government.

And while that proposal appeared to contribute to his victory in the leadership race, it rankled some hard-line sovereigntists. The weekend meeting was a chance for Lisée to consolidate his sovereigntist bona fides.

In a speech to party members on Saturday, he bemoaned the state of French language? in Montreal, claiming it would soon only be spoken in a minority of homes on the island. 

He also said a PQ government would force anglophones to pass a standardized French test in order to graduate from CEGEP. This too he characterized as evidence of the PQ's "audacious" turn.   

"Their home is Quebec, and here French is the official and common language," Lisée said of young Anglos. "To not give them that tool is to fail at the task at hand."