Yves-François Blanchet became leader of the Bloc Québécois in January 2019. Photo dated 16 October 2009.
Blanchet graduated from the Université de Montréal in 1987, with a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology, and later worked as a teacher. He represented the Parti Québécois (PQ), a sovereigntist and social democratic party, in the riding of Drummond (2008–12). In 2012, Blanchet was re-elected to the Johnson electoral district and served as Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks until 2014. After losing the 2014 Quebec election, he founded the short-lived TAG.média company and became a political pundit for television and print. Blanchet served as president (2003–06) of ADISQ (Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la video), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support Quebec’s independent music industry. Under his tenure, the company and its associated artists received 10 Félix Awards, and the Drummondville Chamber of Commerce named Blanchet “personality of the year.” During this time, he also founded Diffusion YFB, an artist management firm and record label that represents noted francophone rock musician Éric Lapointe.
Blanchet was acclaimed as leader of the Bloc Québécois (BQ) in 2019. Under his leadership, the Bloc emphasized Quebec nationalism and environmental protections. The party also supported Quebec’s secularist and controversial Bill 21, which bans some public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols at work. This includes Muslim hijabs, Sikh turbans and Jewish kippahs. During a French-language debate for the 2019 federal election, Blanchet was criticized for urging Quebeckers to vote for candidates “qui vous ressemblent” (a phrase that can be translated as “who look like you” or “who are like you”).
Under Blanchet’s leadership, the Bloc won 32 seats in the federal election held on 21 October 2019. The BQ reclaimed official party status and finished third overall, displacing the NDP. Blanchet won the riding of Beloeil-Chambly with over 50 percent of the votes.