Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his summer political tour Thursday with a trip to Gaspé, Quebec, where he visited a strawberry and rhubarb farm and toured two industrial facilities.
Trudeau visited the region as part of the summer meet he began in July in other parts of Canada. A light rain fell as the Prime Minister strolled through a field growing strawberries and rhubarb at Ferme Bourdages in St-Siméon, Quebec. He then toured the farm’s retail market and winery facility.
The Premier was guided by owners Pierre and Jean-François Bourdages. He was also accompanied by Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue and MNA for the region. The last time the Prime Minister visited Gaspé was when he was in pre-campaign mode barely a month before calling a federal election.
And his visit on Thursday was weeks away from an election in Quebec where the future of French will certainly play a big role.
On Wednesday, new census data showed Gaspésie was the only region in the province where the proportion of people reporting French as their first language has increased over the past five years.
Lebouthillier said the increase in French in the region is likely a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. More rural parts of Quebec have seen significant inter-provincial migration as Quebecers seek to leave the cities and settle in quieter parts of the province.
“There are more people who have moved to the Gaspé — especially French speakers — so in my opinion, that’s why we have more French speakers here.”
She said the region is also losing its young Anglophones to English-speaking parts of the country, such as Ontario, a population transfer that she says increases the proportion of Francophones in the region.
Trudeau spent the afternoon touring two industrial facilities in New Richmond, Quebec. His first stop was at the headquarters of Fabrication Delta, a company that manufactures wind turbine towers and other large steel structures. Trudeau and company owner Eli Arsenault stopped to speak with staff who were cutting and welding large pieces of heavy steel.
Nearby, the Prime Minister visited GD Rail, a company that repairs and refurbishes railcars. The Prime Minister observed the work carried out on two Via Rail Canada passenger cars. He stopped at various workstations and then posed for a group photo with workers.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 18, 2022.