Quebec politician accused of 'interfering' in French elections | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Quebec politician accused of 'interfering' in French elections

A Quebec provincial politician is being accused of engaging in "a form of interference" in French politics by an alternate candidate for the far-right National Rally. Quebec Solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal wears a scarf in solidarity to Palestinian people as she calls on Quebec Premier Francois Legault and the government to close the new Quebec delegation in Israel, during question period, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Original Publication Date July 02, 2024 - 11:46 AM

QUEBEC - A candidate for France's far-right National Rally accused a Quebec provincial politician of engaging in "a form of interference" in French politics ahead of last weekend's first round of voting.

Aurélien Nambride, an alternate candidate for the National Rally in North America, said Québec solidaire member Ruba Ghazal interfered in the election when she called on French voters in Quebec to block the path to power for the extreme right and campaigned in Montreal for a candidate of the left-leaning New Popular Front coalition.

"I don’t really like interference, especially active interference," Nambride said. "The National Rally is patriotism and above all, it is sovereignty."

The French electoral system allows citizens living abroad in 11 different districts to elect members to the National Assembly, which has 577 seats. Quebec is home to some 260,000 French citizens, including about 200,000 residing in Montreal. They belong to the "1st constituency," which includes French nationals living in Canada, the United States, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

Nambride, whose party finished third in the riding, says it is unfortunate that a foreign politician was campaigning in French elections.

National Rally is the new name of the National Front, a party founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972. Described as far-right, the political group has for several years sought to reinvent itself, particularly with the arrival of Marine Le Pen — the daughter of the founder — at its head in 2011.

Nambride refutes the extreme right label, but Québec solidaire members Ghazal, Sol Zanetti and Etienne Grandmont all took to social media last week to call on French voters to block the "far-right" by voting for the left coalition.

In France's 1st constituency, Ghazal threw her support behind Oussama Laraichi, who will now face off against front-runner Roland Lescure, a member of President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance Party, during a second round of voting next weekend.

The National Rally candidate for the constituency, Jennifer Adam, and her deputy, Nambride, came in third place. In the French political system, the alternate candidate is the one who will replace the elected candidate if they can no longer assume his or her functions.

Nationally, during the first round of the French legislative elections on Sunday, the National Rally finished first ahead of the New Popular Front coalition and Macron's party.

Fellow Quebec politicians also raised concerns about Ghazal's support. Coalition Avenir Québec member Christopher Skeete wrote on X last week to Ghazal: “Not sure, dear colleague, that this foreign interference on your part is well advised."

Quebec Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime said he was uncomfortable with a member of the legislature distributing material in a foreign election.

“By definition, this is interference," Duhaime said. "We cannot necessarily compare that to Chinese interference in the federal elections, but it is still a form of interference and it is equally unacceptable."

For its part, Québec solidaire rejected any allegations of interference, calling Ghazal's support a personal initiative, albeit one the party supports.

“What (Ghazal) did by giving her support and distributing leaflets is therefore not foreign interference, since she acted on her own initiative and not at the request of a foreign power … and she did not act to share false or inaccurate information or that harmed fundamental French interests," the party said in a statement.

"The far right is at the gates of power and it is normal and healthy for the French community in Quebec to mobilize (and) so much the better if supportive (members of the legislature) speak alongside them."

Macron took everyone by surprise by launching early legislative elections following disappointing results for his party in the European elections against the National Rally. A party must win 289 to have an absolute majority in France. The second round concludes July 7.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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