Politics

Justin Trudeau, Gilles Duceppe face spotlight of Tout le monde en parle

With only a week left in the federal election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe both appeared on Radio-Canada's popular talk show Tout le monde en parle, hoping to parlay the airtime into votes.

Popular talk show riffs on Liberal leader's French, legalizing marijuana, the niqab and the Bloc's relevance

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau appears on the popular Quebec television program Tout le monde en parle, Sunday. He was asked about his stance on marijuana legalization, the niqab and the quality of his spoken French. (ICI Radio-Canada)

With only a week left in the federal election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe both appeared on Radio-Canada's popular talk show Tout le monde en parle, hoping to parlay the airtime into votes.

More than a million Quebecers watch the show every Sunday evening and it's considered a prime spot for politicians who want to win over francophone voters. In 2011, then NDP leader Jack Layton was a hit with viewers and his party went on to sweep 59 of 75 seats in the province.

Trudeau was the first of many guests on the Oct. 11 show. He was teased about having slipped and called Duceppe "my love" during one of the French language debates. The show also pulled out some archive footage of one of Trudeau's earlier appearances, when he energetically kissed co-host Dany Turcotte. Trudeau laughed both off with ease.

But he seemed less comfortable when the show rolled a music video featuring a Montreal rap group Yung Liberalz and their song "Stoners for Justin." Still, he reiterated his stand that legalizing marijuana would make it more difficult for underage kids to buy it and would cut income to street gangs while reducing costs to the justice system.

Trudeau was also asked about his French, which some have criticized as inadequate and embarrassing. He explained that while he raises his children in French, and finds it easier to do math in that language, he speaks English to his own mother and to some of his friends.

Twice, Trudeau was given loud rounds of applause by the studio audience. The first was when he argued that an election campaign wasn't the time to discuss the niqab.

"Not while there are important issues, not while we have a government that's diminishing our role in the world, attacking immigrants and using fear and division. We have an opportunity in this election campaign to come up with a more optimistic, generous vision for this country," Trudeau said.

The other round of applause came when he promised to immediately call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, if the Liberals form government.

As each guest wraps up their interview, they are handed a business-sized card with a message from co-host and show "jester" Turcotte and asked to read it aloud. Trudeau's card read: "I'd vote for you for school president, but I'll have to wait a few more years to choose you as prime minister."

Minority best for Quebec — and the Bloc: Duceppe

For his part, Duceppe faced tough questions about the relevance of the Bloc, which currently holds just two seats in Quebec, and his party's strategy of attacking the NDP on the issue of the niqab. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said he would not force women to take off their veils to be sworn in as citizens, as long as they had done so beforehand to identify themselves.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe was asked about the relevance of his party on Radio-Canada's Tout le monde en parle Sunday. (ICI Radio-Canada)

The Bloc leader said the issue is one of equality of the sexes. But when questioned about whether the Bloc hadn't used it opportunistically to attack the NDP, he was on the defensive: "Once we're asked where we stand, we're not going to stay silent on the issue," Duceppe replied. "Our position reflects the way most Quebecers feel about this."

The likelihood of a minority government was also talked about, with Duceppe saying it would be the best scenario for Quebec, in terms of squeezing more out of whichever party needed its support.

"Quebec can make gains as long as the Bloc is there to ask for something," Duceppe said.

As Duceppe's appearance wrapped up, he too was handed a card by Turcotte. His read: "If things keep going the way they are, the only seat you'll have after Oct. 19 is the one in your living room, where you can put your feet up and relax."

This was the last appearance for politicians on Tout le monde en parle. Mulcair was on last Sunday and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper declined the invitation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Wood

Journalist

Nancy Wood is a copy editor at CBC Montreal.

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