Bloc Québécois candidate Charles Mordret comes home

Bloc Québécois candidate Charles Mordret comes home

Main pic: Charles Mordret, Bloc Québécois 2015 Canadian federal election candidate. Photo credit: Ruby Pratka.

During the 1995 referendum on Quebec independence, a poster of an image of the earth from space made the rounds at pro-independence events. Next to the floating earth, the slogan ‘Québec: un nouveau pays pour le monde.’

Bloc Québécois candidate Charles Mordret sees a sovereign Quebec in that light. Mordret is running in the riding of Québec, which includes much of downtown Quebec City. The riding was held by the Bloc for nearly 20 years before NDP candidate Annick Papillon won it in the Orange Wave of 2011.

Before returning to his hometown to run for Parliament, Mordret worked in the multimedia and animation industry in Turkey and Portugal, and also ran an Istanbul art gallery. ‘I went to Istanbul because I had a job opportunity there, and eventually founded my own business,’ he explains. ‘I worked with [Turkish] caricaturists and photographers and people who were defending free expression. I worked with [Charlie Hebdo cartoonist] Georges Wolinski and organized his first show in Turkey.’

‘I came back because it was important for me, at my age, to do something for my country. At some point in life you have to follow your convictions.’

Mordret, who speaks five languages, hopes to represent a newer vision of sovereignty, stripping away the image of the Bloc and Parti Québécois as the parties of ethnic French-Canadian interests.

‘My travels and the opportunities I’ve had to work with people from many different cultures give me a different perspective on Quebec. I see the strengths and weaknesses of my city. I’ve been an immigrant—a well-off immigrant, that’s for sure…but I’m aware of immigration issues, aware of what it is to be a foreigner.’

‘In my vision of an independent Quebec, I see a country that’s tolerant, integrated and open to the rest of the world, a multicultural, modern country which defends free expression.’

He believes this vision could help dissolve the visceral rejection many anglophones have of the idea of a sovereign Quebec.

‘Nothing’s better than the voices of the people who live somewhere to decide what issues are important to them. [Sovereignty] is an issue of democracy for me. I don’t have an old-stock identity-centred vision of independence. My vision of independence is open and tolerant, and that’s the vision that predominates largely among sovereigntists today.’

‘Our values are more progressive and communitarian than the rest of Canada. If people realize that, they’re welcome to join the sovereigntist cause.’

‘I became a sovereigntist when I travelled in English Canada. I realized there really were two solitudes— we were living in the same country without living in the same country. Canada can be our ally, our best friend, but we shouldn’t necessarily decide what happens there any more than they should decide what happens here. We can be better neighbours because we won’t always be arguing over what laws to pass, what tax forms to fill out and who has to pay for what.’

‘Many Quebecers agree on the need to protect the welfare state, but if we’re suffocated by a centralizing federal government with an entirely different agenda, how will we protect our schools and our health system?’

Mordret says he’s comfortable with the alliance between Pierre Karl Péladeau’s Parti Québécois and Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc, which has led to the surprising image of a one-time trade union firebrand and a right-wing media tycoon, pedalling side by side on a provincial bike tour. ‘Mr. Péladeau and Mr. Duceppe share one objective, which is Quebec sovereignty,’ Mordret says. ‘That doesn’t mean they agree on everything.’

He argues that the 2011 elections, which nearly wiped his party off the map, were not a rejection of sovereignty. ‘With two weeks to go before the election, the Bloc was polling at 40 per cent, and how do you reject sovereignty in two weeks? What happened in 2011 was a wave of sympathy for one person, Jack Layton, along with a rejection of the Harper government, which is on a different planet from most Quebecers.’

‘I think the NDP has been one of the worst official oppositions we’ve had in Canada. They’re neglecting the Davie Shipyard, which has unique expertise. The government has awarded $33 billion dollars in shipbuilding contracts and none of it has gone to Davie…and the NDP caucus didn’t comment. They put out a press release saying they weren’t commenting. It’s a scandal. They also didn’t talk about the shortage of unskilled labour [after reforms to the federal temporary foreign worker program]. These are our farm workers, our factory workers, people working in the furniture industry, and particularly people in the restaurant and tourism industry. We’re missing waiters, we’re missing cooks. These are issues that have a huge effect on Quebecers. They have a huge effect on our small businesses, and what are we doing about it?

‘I’m not saying the NDP candidates are bad people, some of them are very good people, but that haven’t done much,’ says Mordret. ‘I hope people will vote for the candidate they feel represents the best interests of Quebec…it’s our capital, and we need to defend it.’

Categories: Politics

About Author

Ruby Pratka

Ruby Pratka grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, studied in Ottawa and took the roundabout way to Quebec City via Russia, Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Belgium and East Africa. In addition to writing for and Life in Québec Magazine, she also contributes to other media outlets in English and French. She enjoys keeping a close eye on international affairs, listening to good music and singing in large groups.

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