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Sir George Etienne Cartier.

McCord Museum

Stephen Harper will pay homage to a Father of Confederation George-Étienne Cartier over the weekend, emphasizing how a Conservative from Quebec helped give birth to Canada.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by his Quebec lieutenant, Denis Lebel, and Heritage Minister Shelly Glover as he unveils a plaque in Quebec City in honour of Cartier, who was born 200 years ago on Sept. 6, 1814. Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume will also be among the dignitaries at the event.

Mr. Harper's appearance is part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Quebec City conference that paved the way for Confederation three years later in 1867.

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Quebec Mayor Régis Labeaume and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard will also be attending.

There are currently seven tall ships in Quebec City, but Ottawa is under pressure to fund a month-long tall ships regatta in July, 2017, that would involve 40 vessels as part of the celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday.

The Conservatives are pointing out that Cartier was a "Bleu," hoping to remind Quebeckers that their party is at the heart of the constitutional deal that protected the province's francophone culture.

"He was a key player in the movement towards the Quebec Conference and Confederation. He promoted the rights of French Canadians, championed provincial rights, reformed the legal and public education systems in Canada East (Québec) and encouraged the expansion of the national railway," said Carl Vallée, a spokesman for Mr. Harper.

Emboldened by the defeat of the Parti Québécois in the recent provincial election, the Prime Minister has embarked on a strategy to win back seats in and around Quebec City in the 2015 federal vote. The Tories hold five seats in Quebec, and want to double their tally in a swath of ridings between Lac-St-Jean and the lower St. Lawrence that they call the "blue arrow," party sources said.

In a speech at the Calgary Stampede in June, Mr. Harper praised Cartier for his "Conservative vision of a strong Quebec in a united Canada."

Mr. Harper said his government strives to stay out of provincial jurisdiction, saying that this approach, and the lack of major disputes with the provincial government, led to the downfall of the PQ.

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"The gradual decline in Quebec separatist sentiment throughout the stewardship of our government – a government which has honoured Cartier's principles – is something we should take pride in," Mr. Harper told supporters in Calgary.

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