MONTREAL — The main federal party leaders spent Monday in Quebec to celebrate the Fete Nationale holiday, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Ontario Premier Doug Ford's cuts to services for francophones.
In his home riding of Papineau, Trudeau was mobbed by enthusiastic supporters — and one loud heckler who criticized his government's policy in Venezuela — as he attended a street celebration in honour of the June 24 holiday.
In a brief statement to reporters, Trudeau said the event was mainly a family celebration, but also a chance to remember the challenges faced by French-speakers across Canada.
"One of the themes this year is recognizing francophones who don't live in Quebec who need support as well, with Conservatives cutting them as well," he said.
The rights of French-speaking minorities are a theme of this year's celebrations, with some 200 Franco-Ontarians being given the place of honour at the head of this year's parade.
Many francophones were outraged with Ford's decision last year to roll back some services to French-speakers and cancel plans for a French-language university.
Trudeau began his day in east-end Montreal, where he attended a local celebration with his wife and children.
He posed for photos and plunked down at picnic tables, and shook hands with Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who was at the same gathering.
The other main federal party leaders were also in Quebec to celebrate Fete Nationale, which is also known as St-Jean-Baptiste Day.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was also in Montreal, where he was expected to attend several neighbourhood celebrations and the main parade.
In a statement, he said the day was a chance to "celebrate the continued vibrancy of Quebec's culture, and pay tribute to its distinctive language, history and traditions."
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said in a video message that he was also spending the weekend in the province. His agenda included stops in Quebec City and Sherbrooke, where he delivered a speech to supporters and announced businessman Dany Sevigny as his party's candidate in the Sherbrooke riding for the fall election.