A look at the parties running in the Quebec election
Troy Media – by Hugo Mathieu
As confusing as the political landscape may seem to the common Québec voter, it is probably more so to the rest of Canada. To understand the dynamics of the upcoming provincial election, to be held Sept. 4, let’s take a look at what differentiates the parties vying to run the province over the next four or five years.
The Liberal Party of Québec:
After nine painful years in government, Premier Jean Charest and his Liberal Party of Québec reek of failure, broken promises and corruption.
From Jean Charest’s promise to reengineer the state, shamefully broken, to his meddling in the nomination of judges to the Cour du Québec, to his failure to resolve the fiscal imbalance, to backtracking on his refusal to hold a public inquiry into a corrupted construction industry, all the way to prominent minister Nathalie Normandeau taking bribes and gifts from engineering firms and handing over her campaign financing to these same firms, to the mismanagement of the student strike and the subsequent protests, the Liberal’s record speaks for itself. Actually, it does more than speak; it screams moral bankruptcy and disappointment.
The Parti Québéçois :
What, then, is the alternative to the Liberals? The Parti Québéçois presents itself as the only possible alternative, and are working hard to convince Quebecois to believe it.
Its leader, Pauline Marois, once Minister of Healthcare, Finance and Education, among her previous 14 ministerial positions, has governing experience. But that experience comes with a load of shortcomings.
Case in point: her educational reform of 1997 has been highly criticized and she tried and failed to reduce wait times in hospitals. OK, so it’s not the end of the world, better people have failed just as bad. None the less it doesn’t inspire confidence.
More recently, Marois has had to deal with a power struggle within her party. MPs left the caucus and went “rogue” (became independent), bringing into question her leadership skills and her soft stance on independence.
That being said, the PQ is not as corrupt or as self-serving as the Liberals and does not seem as dépassé. And to her defence, as Finance Minister Mme Marois continued to keep the budget in balance and even paid down Québec’s public debt. But being a federalist, could I bring myself to vote for a sovereigntist party?
The rest :
What, really, is there to say?
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is a new, wanna-be economically right-wing party. It is led by François Legault (in my humble opinion a clown) who hopes to cash in on the fashionable notion of “the user pays” and a noncommittal stance on sovereignty. The party is seen as a challenger to the Liberals and the PQ and recently released its low-brow campaign slogan: “C’est assez, faut que ça change au Québec“, which roughly translates to “It’s enough, things have to change in Québec”. Ouch, can anyone say non-starter?
Québec Solidaire represents a farther to the left sovereigntist option to the PQ. Unfortunately, the party has been stigmatized and marginalized to the point where it has no real chance of making an impact in the election, outside of splitting the left and sovereigntist vote.
And then there is Option National, a recently formed political party. Option Nationale presents a strongly nationalist platform reminiscent of Jean Lesage’s “Maîtres Chez Nous” (Masters in our own home), with sovereignty at its core. Once again though, this party seems destined to split the vote form the PQ more then anything else.
So what does it all come down to?
As much as Québec’s politics have been dominated by sovereignty and relations with the federal government, this election will hinge on two issues:
1) tuition fees and student protests and
2) the rampant corruption of the Liberals.
To stay in power, the Liberals need to focus on the fear aroused by social disturbances and vandalism caused by the student protests to gain the support of Québec’s majority of ageing voters and the right-wing jambons*.
To win the election, the PQ and the CAQ need to hammer the Liberals on their discreditable mismanagement and corruption.
And I, as a Québécois federalist, need to reconcile myself to the idea that, in order to have an honest and clean government, I have to vote for a sovereigntist party.
- Jambons or Ham voters are ever more present in Québec. They represent a lowest-common-denominator-right-wing political view, based mostly on the refusal to pay taxes for social programs, complaining about leftist, pinkos, etc. and absolute devotion to trash radio hosts.
Hugo Mathieu is a Political Science and Law school graduate, a former Liberal party of Canada riding President and Vice-President for the Association des Étudiants en Droit de l’Université Laval.