Quebec election: François Legault cancels campaign events after death of Queen

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Coalition Avenir Québec suspended its campaign activities Thursday following the death of Queen Elizabeth, a few hours after CAQ Leader François Legault said he wasn't personally affected by her declining health.

Legault, who is seeking re-election as premier, offered his condolences to the Royal Family and British people, highlighting the Queen's strength and calm during the difficult times of the 20th century.

"She was a woman who had a sense of public duty, the support of her people in times that were sometimes difficult," Legault said.

Earlier Thursday, before the Queen's death had been announced, Legault said her declining health wasn't something that affected him. He explained later in the day that he was thinking more about the monarchy than the Queen.

"It's important to separate the monarchy from the person," Legault told reporters later on Thursday. "What she did over 70 years, it was exceptional, in moments that were sometimes difficult, and out of respect, we should at least mark the rest of this day."

Legault said the CAQ would resume activities on Friday.

In a statement, the Speaker of the national assembly announced that the flag at the legislature would fly at half-mast beginning Thursday and until the day of her funeral. Legault said flags would also fly at half-mast at all provincial buildings — a decision opposed by Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon.

"Although I also offer my condolences to the family, I object to the Quebec nation lowering its flag," he wrote on Twitter, adding that Legault "should not treat the Queen of (Canada) as head of the Quebec state, nor give credibility to an illegitimate British colonial regime in Quebec."

Québec solidaire, whose members have openly discussed getting rid of the oath to the Queen for elected representatives and had refused to swear allegiance publicly to her when they were sworn in to office in 2018, kept their reaction simple on Thursday.

Co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois wrote on Twitter, "Queen Elizabeth marked her era" in offering condolences to her loved ones.

Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade offered her condolences in a tweet and paid tribute to the Queen's dedication to public service.

"She lived through many of the major events of our time and numerous challenges with grace and dignity," Anglade wrote.

A spokesperson for Élections Québec said in an email that the Queen's death wouldn't affect the election campaign or the Oct. 3 vote. If parties decide to take special measures, that's at their discretion, the agency said.

"The Elections Act does not provide for any special provision in the event of the Queen's death," Jonathan Gaudreault wrote in an email.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2022.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press