QUEBEC â€” The leader of the Parti Quebecois says he would quickly adopt a “Buy Quebecois Act” if he were to become premier.
Jean-Francois Lisee says the act would be inspired by the idea of a Buy American law in the United States and would stimulate Quebec’s economy by encouraging the purchase of local products.
He made the proposal during a speech at the party’s national council meeting in Quebec City.
Later Sunday afternoon Lisee told reporters he doesn’t believe prioritizing local purchases would conflict with free trade agreements.
His vision, laid out in a 75-page platform proposal rolled out Saturday, states that a PQ government would favour Quebec-made products, particularly when it comes to public bids.
The proposals in the document will be debated and amended if needed in the coming months before being adopted as the party’s official program in September.
In a 40-minute closing speech dedicated exclusively to economic nationalism, Lisee said the province would favour “a Quebecois buying policy, of Quebecois content, wherever possible.”
He also promised to be a strong leader willing to “show some muscle” in his dealings with both Ottawa and the United States if he manages to unseat the governing Liberals in the next election.
“(The United States) in the last years — and this is accelerating — is more affirmative in defending its interests, and if we stay with our arms crossed, it’s us who will suffer,” Lisee said when asked if a rising U.S. protectionist sentiment threatens Quebec exports.
President-elect Donald Trump has talked about bringing in Buy American provisions in a proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan _ which could freeze out foreign companies.
As part of his proposed platform, Lisee said a Parti Quebecois government would also re-evaluate the role of the state economic levers placed at its disposal.
That, he said, could include changing the mandate of the province’s pension fund manager to include regional development and working to keep Quebec companies’ head offices in the province.
Lisee also said his government would demand its “fair share” of federal investments across the country, which he calculates would bring an additional $4 billion per year from Ottawa, allowing it to create 35,000 jobs.
Lisee has promised not to hold a referendum on sovereignty in his first mandate as premier.
Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Press