QUEBEC — Premier Philippe Couillard says controversial comments about immigrants by Parti Quebecois leadership hopeful Pierre Karl Peladeau are a clear sign the separatist party is sliding towards ethnic nationalism.
On Wednesday, Peladeau said immigration was hurting the sovereignty movement.
Couillard says the comments signal a shift in strategy by the PQ due to a lack of economic arguments in favour of sovereignty.
Peladeau is the perceived front-runner in the race to become leader of the PQ, which will be decided in May.
Some of the other hopefuls were ill-at-ease with Peladeau’s comments and distanced themselves.
But Couillard says the party itself and its leadership should also have distanced themselves from the media mogul’s comments.
On Wednesday night, Peladeau told a PQ leadership debate at Universite de Laval the movement was running out of time.
“We don’t have 25 years ahead of us to achieve it,” Peladeau said. “With demographics, with immigration, we’re definitely losing one riding each year.”
Peladeau said after the debate he wasn’t attacking immigrants but rather demonstrating the importance of reaching out to immigrants in the same way the federal government does.