By Martin Patriquin - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 0 Comments
Marois has already overplayed her hand and completely misread the population she claims to represent
The Parti Québécois has been in power for 48 days. So far, the sky remains exactly where it was before September 4, the province hasn’t spiraled any closer to hell, no one has spontaneously combusted and, apart from some all-too-predictable parsing of PQ leader Pauline Marois and Stephen Harper meeting in the Congo—rarely have we seen such a high-stakes game of political brinkmanship that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz—the province and the country hum along as though Quebecers had never even elected a cabal of evil separatists into government. So much for bogeymen.
Odder still: through a series of flip-flops and monumental cock-ups, the PQ government has seemingly been working as hard as possible to ensure a quick return of the Liberals to power. By at once overplaying its hand and completely misreading the population it claims to represent, the party of René Lévesque has gone a long way in proving how yawning that gap is between sitting in opposition and actually governing a province. And it has hurt them, to the tune of a 56 per cent disapproval rating in a Léger Marketing poll last week.
To put this in context, the PQ has yet to set foot in parliament (that happens October 30), and has as opposition the Liberals, a party thigh-deep in scandal—three of its former senior cabinet ministers having been caught in the Zambito dragnet—and lacking a permanent leader. And the poll was conducted on October 15 and 16, when the televised proceedings of the so-called Charbonneau Commission looking into municipal and provincial corruption were drawing a serious crowd, upwards of 111,000 viewers a day—”Quite high,” according to a Rad-Can flack I spoke with this morning. And yet for all the tales of their over-indulgences and skullduggery, the Liberals remain within the margin of error with the PQ, exactly the same as on election night.
Here’s why. During the last 48 days, the PQ has had to reverse itself on four major policy issues, including two language-related files, which you’d think would be familiar territory for the party. First off, there was the PQ’s reversal on the so-called $200 health tax instituted by the Liberals during the last budget. This tax, Marois declared last February, was “a veritable injustice to the economic plan” that was the “worst example” of the Charest-era soak-the-middle-class shenanigans. And yet as veritably injudicial as it may have been, Marois couldn’t bring herself to kill it off. It’s now part and parcel of the PQ platform.
What’s more, the PQ will exempt certain lower- and middle-lower class earners from its ”health contribution” (a Liberal talking-point phrase, by the by). These exemptions are nearly identical to those proposed by Raymond Bachand last year, in which 60 per cent of Quebec taxpayers would be exempted from or partially reimbursed for the $200 tax. Translation: Marois has spent a considerable amount of political capital to implement what amounts to a carbon copy of what Charest was proposing.
Second: PQ Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau has totally mishandled the PQ’s tax increases. (If you’re reading the following out loud, take a deep breath now.) Marceau originally wanted to tax those revenues above $130,000 at 28 percent and at 31 per cent above $250,000. He wanted to increase the capital gains tax to 75 per cent from 50. And he wanted to apply all these taxes retroactively to January 01, 2012. He has reversed the first two, and strongly hinted that he’ll renege on the retroactive tax as well. It’s really hard to do, but the PQ has managed to peeve both the left and right.
Third: the PQ announced that it would stop subsidizing those schools with entrance exams, apply Bill 101 to kindergarten and end English intensive courses in Quebec schools. Education minister Marie Malavoy said the first measure would force private schools to take its share of troubled and at-risk students, while the latter two were measures meant to avoid the spread of English—”a foreign language,” as she called it—to the all-too-malleable minds of young Quebecers. Trouble is, Marois has already had to walk back on the private school thing—defunding them is a near-impossibility, as La Presse’s Paul Journet recently pointed out—as well as Malavoy’s Kindergarten Bill 101 initiative. And those intensive English courses happen to be quite popular, even among language hawks; Le Devoir’s Michel David, who doesn’t exactly have a Maple Leaf tattooed on his chest, recently sung their praises.
The Liberals won’t have a permanent leader for another five months. But the PQ is already making life easier for him, whoever he might be.
By Paul Wells - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM - 0 Comments
Marois’s new Harper-opposing policies discourage investment, immigration, resource development and healthy universities
It is a marvellous country that tolerates as many contrasting styles of government as Canada does. In the late 1990s Preston Manning gave a news conference in Ottawa where he argued that, with Mike Harris and Ralph Klein running Ontario and Alberta on the right, Jean Chrétien must somehow be kept from running Ottawa on the left. In the end the only mechanism that could be found to fix the problem, if it was one, was a succession of general elections. It took many years after Manning voiced his complaint, but today Stephen Harper is running the country in a different direction.
Unfortunately for fans of uniformity, the provinces move too. Ontario hasn’t been run the way Mike Harris, or Stephen Harper, would like it run for nearly a decade. British Columbia seems likely to tilt leftward soon too. And in Quebec—well, let’s have a look.
Watching the early moves of Pauline Marois’s Parti Québécois government, I’ve found myself thinking of a speech Harper gave at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. This was Harper the economic manager laying out his long-term vision for Canadian prosperity. Even people who don’t like what he’s done to the long-form census or the long-gun registry might discern some horse sense in what the Prime Minister said at Davos. At the time I noted it was much like a big speech Paul Martin delivered seven years earlier.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 2:18 PM - 0 Comments
Paul Wells on the fundamental changes in the party’s language and identity policies
“Je n’ai jamais lu autant de violence envers nous les Québécois dans la Gazette, j’ai refusé de donner une entrevue à ce journal,” Sophie Stanké wrote on Twitter a few days after the Quebec election. Translation: “I’ve never read so much violence toward us, the Quebecers, in the Gazette, I refused to give this newspaper an interview.”
Stanké, an actress and TV personality, was the Parti Québécois candidate in Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne, one of the prettiest ridings in Montreal. She lost. The Gazette is still publishing.
I wonder who Stanké thinks is working at the Gazette. The paper has been published in Montreal since 1778. The very large majority of its employees grew up in Quebec. I will guarantee that if Sophie Stanké and Don Macpherson, the paper’s Quebec affairs columnist, sat down for a written and oral exam in French, Macpherson would get higher marks. And yet here was a candidate for public office drawing a casual distinction between “la Gazette” and “nous les Québécois.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
William Watson rightfully mocks the “wisdom of the voters” explanation that regularly surfaces in the wake of election results.
If the federalist party couldn’t win — which after nine years in power was unlikely — and if the reformist party was too untried, then a separatist government with only a tiny plurality may have been the best outcome possible. But it wasn’t due to the “wisdom of the Quebec voter.” I was there. The ballot I cast did not actually say “What kind of government would you like?” and then let us fill in the percentages of the popular vote we would like to see each of the parties get. Maybe it should have. Maybe that would be a better system. We now have computers smart enough to count ballots split in that way, even if we may not have a population smart enough to make the different percentages add up to 100.
But in any case, that’s not what the ballot said. What it said was “Vote for one of the following people.” You only got one choice. If you had tried to vote for more than one person, your ballot would have been cast aside as spoiled. So far as we can tell from the ballots cast, each voter wanted the party he or she chose to win 100 per cent of the vote.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 7, 2012 at 4:38 PM - 0 Comments
Jonathan Kay cautions against finding too much political significance in the shooting outside the Parti Quebecois victory rally this week. Michael Den Tandt says you can’t separate politics from the crime. Montreal’s Saint Jean Baptiste Society says the English media is partly to blame.
The Globe editorial board calls the shooting “an attack on the Canadian belief in the primacy of discussion and debate.” The Montreal Gazette quotes a reader.
A letter-writer to The Gazette puts it equally eloquently: “I would propose that all Quebecers become honourary members of the Parti Québécois for a day to show solidarity and respect for the democratic principles upon which our political system functions and, I am sure, are fully espoused by the overwhelming majority of Quebecers. Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased and injured as well as to all PQ supporters, who duly elected their party to govern in Quebec. All Quebecers must denounce such acts and advance the healing process by standing together with the PQ at this critical hour.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM - 0 Comments
Stephen Harper interprets the Quebec election result.
“The people of Quebec voted for change, a pretty strong desire for change…. At the same time, I think it was pretty clear they were denying any kind of a mandate to pursue the separation of Quebec or the division of the country,” he said. ”That’s certainly how we interpret it, and that’s how the government of Quebec will be forced to interpret it, one way or the other.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 7, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberals are reportedly considering a motion on the Clarity Act for the purposes of making trouble for the NDP, which gives Christian Paradis a chance to express his disappointment in both the Liberals and New Democrats.
Industry Minister Christian Paradis, a Conservative MP who represents a Quebec riding, denounced both parties for using sovereignty as a political football. ”It’s deplorable and terribly irresponsible to see the two opposition parties playing petty politics with such an important issue,” Paradis said in a statement. ”Quebecers were clear: they don’t want to revisit old constitutional squabbles and we should all respect their will. Rather, they want us to address the real issues facing their families, such as the economy and job creation.”
The Ontario Liberals apparently turned this Clarity Act debate into a by-election handout in Kitchener-Waterloo yesterday (where the NDP candidate upset both the Liberal and Progressive Conservatives candidates).
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
Stephane Dion considers the Quebec election.
Before the campaign, it was fashionable to say that Quebec had changed, that it had joined the ranks of other democracies and that from then on, a left-right rift would replace the sovereignism-federalism divide which has split Quebec society for the last four decades. That turned out to be an illusion.
True, the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire are more left-leaning than the CAQ and Liberal Party. But this time again, it was the national issue that had the most influence on the vote. Generally, non-francophones remained faithful to the Liberal Party; the obvious reason is that they want to remain in Canada and that the CAQ gave them insufficient guarantees regarding Canadian unity. Only francophones are divided on the issue of Quebec’s political future within Canada.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 5:55 PM - 0 Comments
For a guy who has slogged for nearly three decades through some of the nastiest swamps of Canadian politics, Jean Charest didn’t look or sound so bad as he delivered a restrained, reflective resignation speech this afternoon. As he spoke, anybody who has followed his career with even a bit of sympathy would have been thinking about the number of times he was dealt a miserable hand.
In 1990, Brian Mulroney asked Charest to chair the committee charged with salvaging something, anything, from the smashed Meech Lake constitutional deal. (Fat chance.) In 1993, the Tories turned to Charest, having earlier rejected him as leader in favour of Kim Campbell, to somehow prevent the party from disappearing entirely after Campbell’s disastrous election performance that year. (Gee, thanks.) In 1998, when Quebec’s only home for federalists, the provincial Liberal party, looked in awful shape, he was prevailed upon to tackle that fixer-upper. (Fun times.)
He wasn’t asking anybody to feel sorry for him today, though. After all, he had a pretty improbable run—nearly a decade as premier in a province that isn’t known for the stability of its political landscape. And at just 54, he’s got plenty of time for another act.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
Last night, Jason Kenney wondered via Twitter what the lowest share of the popular vote had ever resulted in a party forming government.
BC Iconoclast has gone through the returns and finds that last night’s win for the PQ—with 31.9% of the vote—is the second smallest mandate in Canadian history, undercut only by the BC Liberals’ win in 1924 with 31.3% of the vote.
A total of 35 mandates have been won with less than 40% of the popular vote. Nine of those were in federal elections, including 2004 (which ranks as the 12th smallest), 2006 (10th), 2008 (19th) and 2011 (32nd).
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 1:18 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP leader says he doesn’t expect another referendum and describes his approach to Quebec thusly.
“The NDP is a very strong federalist voice. We have always understood that you don’t just pay lip service to the differences. You work on them constructively,” Mulcair said, adding the surprising results of the 2011 federal election means there is a “pan-Canadian, federalist” party that holds the majority of seats in Quebec for the first time since the early 1990s.
Mulcair said that approach is recognized in the Sherbrooke Declaration, the policy paper that spells out the NDP position on asymmetrical federalism and what happens after a referendum on sovereignty. “It is a clear expression of the understanding that we can have asymmetrical federalism that takes into account the differences between the regions and the very specific differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada in terms of its civil law, its majority French language, its cultural differences, these are all things that can be worked on,” Mulcair said. “There is nothing divisive about that unless somebody wants to play politics with it and make it divisive. Where the NDP comes in, is we’re all about building bridges. We will let the other parties blow up those bridges,” Mulcair continued.
An anonymous NDP insider explains the situation to the Globe.
As one NDP strategist told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, any defence by the NDP of PQ strategy will allow Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “attack Mr. Mulcair in English Canada for collaborating with separatists, while pointing to his [own] caucus of federalist Quebec MPs.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
The Globe editorial board says the Parti Quebecois’ victory puts the onus on the Prime Minister. A Conservative organizer predicts “great fun and games.” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley makes the first move, addressing employment insurance.
In an interview Wednesday morning, Finley shunned any suggestions of changing the way EI is managed, pointing instead to the ways Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has made the program more flexible to respond to provincial demands.
“Employment insurance has been federal jurisdiction since 1940,” Finley said by phone from Halifax where she unveiled an expansion of her national youth employment strategy. “It’s national programs to help all regions of the country. We’ve made it more flexible so that it does respond more directly to changes in local market conditions. But our focus is quite frankly on helping people get back to work, as evidenced by today’s announcement, so that they don’t need EI. I’m quite happy to work with Marois’s government on common goals.”
Her officials pointed out that Finley has not, however, said a flat No to anything from Quebec.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 10:47 AM - 0 Comments
A statement from the Prime Minister on last night’s shooting in Montreal.
“I was angered and saddened to hear of last night’s horrific shooting at the Parti Quebecois event at Metropolis.
“It is a tragic day where an exercise of democracy is met with an act of violence.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim and wish the person injured a swift and complete recovery.
“This atrocious act will not be tolerated and such violence has no place in Canada. Canadians can rest assured that the perpetrator of last night’s events will face the full force of the law.”
An official statement from NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
“We have all been shaken by the events that occurred last night at the Metropolis.
“What happened last night is both tragic and completely unacceptable.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.”
And an official statement from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.
“I was deeply shocked and disturbed to learn about the shootings that took place during Quebec Premier-elect Pauline Marois’ victory speech.
“We are extremely saddened by these senseless acts of violence, and congratulate the police and security forces for doing their work in the most difficult of circumstances. There is never an excuse or justification for acts of violence in Canadian society.
“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary caucus, I extend my thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.”
By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 2:39 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Any plans to make a push for Quebec independence may have been…
MONTREAL – Any plans to make a push for Quebec independence may have been relegated to the back burner given the Parti Quebecois’ weaker-than-expected score in winning a minority government, political observers say.
The party’s share of seats in the legislature could make it difficult to table referendum plans or even advance less ambitious aspects of its independence agenda.
The PQ’s very first act in the legislature — tabling an inaugural speech — will also have to be designed with the intention of gaining opposition support.
The last time the Parti Quebecois took power in 1994, then-premier Jacques Parizeau’s inaugural address included no less than 15 references to sovereignty and five more to creating a new “country.”
It’s unclear the PQ could muscle that kind of document through the legislature.
With just 32 per cent of the popular vote, and nine seats shy of a majority, the PQ will now be forced to tailor its agenda around the wishes of other parties. It’s an unfamiliar position for the PQ, which had won four elections in its past but never a minority.
“Quebecers made their choice,” premier-designate Pauline Marois said in a tragedy-marred victory speech that was cut short by shootings in the building.
“We will respect their choice by governing with all others elected… We will find the necessary compromises.”
Before the incident during her speech, PQ faithful serenaded Marois with the old independentist chant, “We want a country!” and they also sang, “Gens du pays,” the unofficial anthem of Quebec nationalists.
But a minority government is unlikely to be able to realize such lofty dreams, said one political scientist. He said those limitations extend beyond sovereignty to other parts of the PQ agenda — like, for example, applying language laws to colleges.
“They needed a majority to take the controversial legislation and put it in place and they don’t have that at this stage,” said Bruce Hicks of Concordia University.
She could soldier on on the federal-provincial front.
Marois did say in her speech that she will attempt to “advance Quebec’s aspirations” and seek more power over issues of concern to the province. Her platform called for a transfer of power over Employment Insurance, copyright law and foreign aid, among other things.
The platform also proposed creating a new “Quebec citizenship” that would test newcomers’ French, and gauge whether they could run for political office in the province — a move that could create a showdown with the Supreme Court.
Marois could still fight such battles, Hicks said.
“Either Quebec will gain more autonomy or will be rebuffed and then can go to Quebec voters and say they’re not respected by Canada and that it’s time to leave,” Hicks said.
The Harper government moved swiftly to downplay expectations. In a post-election statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned that he hoped to work with the new government on issues that matter, like the economy, and not get bogged down in old constitutional quarrels.
Over time, Marois could try using federal rejections to push for a stronger mandate and ask voters for a majority that would revive her sovereignty agenda. But, until then, there’s a limit to what she can legally achieve, said a constitutional expert.
Political scientist Ned Franks said she couldn’t even hold a referendum without getting the legislature to approve the question.
“It’s always been done that way before and I can’t imagine initiating a step so fundamental to the democratic process without getting the authority of the legislature,” Franks said.
Franks said Tuesday’s popular vote is most telling — and it reveals that the so-called winning conditions simply aren’t there.
“I don’t consider 32 or 33 per cent of the vote as a winning condition for a referendum,” Franks said. Combined with Quebec solidaire and Option nationale, pro-independence parties received 40 per cent of the vote.
“I’m not saying we can breathe easy about a referendum there but I think the people of Quebec are not indicating in any way that they want a referendum.”
Tuesday’s seat numbers, however, may not be set in stone.
Hicks said the PQ could look to the new Coalition party for potential floor-crossers. The new party includes a number of ex-Pequistes, and lifelong sovereigntists, who could be wooed.
“Being a government you can offer goodies to attract people from other political parties and there are people in the Coalition Avenir Quebec who are former Pequistes,” said Hicks.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 1:31 AM - 0 Comments
One person is dead after a man opened fire at Pauline Marois’ victory rally in Montreal.
Boulversé par les événements violents auprés de la célébration péquiste à Montréal ce soir. C’est épouvantable.
— Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) September 5, 2012
Sending congratulations and sympathies to Pauline Marois, prayers for the injured, and a hope that political violence will never re-occur.
— Elizabeth May MP (@ElizabethMay) September 5, 2012
Nous venons de vivre un attentat politique.L’oeuvre d’un désaxé ou pas,ns devons faire preuve de solidarité pour protéger notre démocratie.
— DenisCoderre (@DenisCoderre) September 5, 2012
— Paul Dewar (@PaulDewar) September 5, 2012
Nous sommes consternés devant cette violence et nos pensées sont avec les victimes et leurs proches. #Qc2012
— Carl Vallée (@carlvallee) September 5, 2012
Réunis à Terre-Neuve, les néo-démocrates sont sous le choc. Crime odieux, inconcevable. Nos pensées vont aux victimes, leurs proches.
— Karl Bélanger (@KarlBelanger) September 5, 2012
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 10:42 PM - 0 Comments
A statement from the Prime Minister.
“The people of Quebec have made the decision to elect a minority government led by the Parti québécois.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate Pauline Marois on her election victory, and the other candidates for taking part in this democratic process.
“We do not believe that Quebecers wish to revisit the old constitutional battles of the past.
“Our Government will remain focused on jobs, economic growth and sound management of the economy.
“We believe that economic issues and jobs are also the priorities of the people of Quebec.
“With this in mind, we will continue to work with the Government of Quebec toward our common goals.
“I would also like to thank outgoing premier Jean Charest for his leadership and for his dedication to the people of Quebec.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
Independent MP Bruce Hyer is unimpressed with the latest Quebec election projections.
— Bruce Hyer (@brucehyer) September 4, 2012
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 5:33 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – An era of tranquility on the national unity front could end today as polls suggest the pro-independence Parti Québécois is favoured to return to office after nine years in opposition.
MONTREAL – An era of tranquility on the national unity front could end today as polls suggest the pro-independence Parti Québécois is favoured to return to office after nine years in opposition.
The sovereigntist party has led in surveys throughout the campaign with its support pegged in the low-30s, leaving open the question of whether a majority government is within reach.
The polls close this evening at 8 p.m. ET.
By Paul Wells - Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 5:39 PM - 0 Comments
Surely the Charest government loses votes every time any Quebecer tries to drive somewhere on the province’s highways. The Inklessmobile spent a half hour parked on the Autoroute des Cantons de l’Est, and I got to St. Jean sur Richelieu quite sure I’d missed Pauline Marois’s lighting visit to the town’s pretty farmer’s market. But I found a crowd of a few dozen people waiting by the side of the street. Maybe all was not lost. I buttonholed a guy wearing a PQ button on his shirt. He turned out to be Dave Turcotte, the PQ incumbent in the National Assembly. Marois’s bus had been stuck in traffic just like my car, he said.
I asked Turcotte how the campaign is going. “You know, this is my third campaign,” he said. “I’ve known defeat, narrow victory, and now it looks like another kind of victory.” Who’s his competition? “The CAQ,” François Legault’s new party. What’s happening to the Liberals? “Melting.”
Marois’s bus showed up and presently she climbed out of it, shoes matching dress, a smile that seemed quite genuine on her face. Like this:
She had four such events on Saturday and will, one suspects, have more of the same on Sunday. I spent nine years covering Jean Chrétien and six covering Stephen Harper; I’m not used to a party leader shaking the hands of any but carefully selected partisans three days before an election. But Marois has little to fear: even though I spotted one CAQ lapel pin in the crowd, she is, my colleagues told me, greeted at least cordially and often with glee wherever she stops. “Is it okay for me to kiss you?” a gentleman of a certain age with a T-shirt that said FIER D’ETRE NORMAND asked her. She nodded; he planted a genteel kiss on each cheek.
My colleagues on the PQ bus told me the real fun of the day came earlier in Châteauguay, when Marois held a longish press conference featuring questions on all the fun topics.
By Nelson Wyatt, The Canadian Press - Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 6:33 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Some observers of the Montreal real estate market say potential home buyers…
MONTREAL – Some observers of the Montreal real estate market say potential home buyers are holding off until they know who wins the Sept. 4 provincial election.
The market traditionally slows in summer and new regulations concerning mortgages have been imposed but some brokers say buyers are also taking a wait-and-see attitude to protect their investment or maybe get a better price after Sept. 4.
It’s the type of news that would rankle the Parti Quebecois, which has had warnings of a flight of economic capital and an exodus of anglophones used against it since the 1970s.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM - 0 Comments
I pointed the Inklessmobile toward Montreal today and two hours later I was at the outskirts of the great city. An hour after that I was downtown, having spent most of the intervening time parked on the Décarie Autoroute. I caught up with François Legault at a cocktail reception for supporters of his upstart Coalition Avenir Québec party. He gave a short speech and leapt into the crowd to shake hands, at which point I took this relatively good Instagram photo:
He was not in fact doing his Fonzie impression. Onward. It’s a peculiar moment for Legault, the former Parti Québécois cabinet minister who’s formed a vaguely centre-right party that hopes to appeal to people who are fed up with the old fights. What’s happening is that he seems to be succeeding — but perhaps not enough. The front-running PQ is stable or dipping slightly, the Liberals are wilting especially among francophone voters, and Legault is gaining — but he’ll need to pick up the pace of those gains if he’s to close the distance that separates him from Pauline Marois’s PQ. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, August 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM - 0 Comments
Uniting the sovereigntists just got a little more difficult for PQ leader Pauline Marois
Former Parti Québécois premier Jacques Parizeau’s has publicly endorsed Jean-Martin Aussant, the Globe and Mail reports. Mr. Aussant is the leader of the Option Nationale, a newly-founded sovereigntist party that is challenging the PQ in a number of “blue” ridings.
A recent poll conducted by Léger Marketing shows the PQ leading in voter intentions with 33 per cent support, ahead of the CAQ at 28 per cent and the Liberals at 27 per cent. Athough a majority government may still be in reach for Pauline Marois, the PQ leader would need to unite the sovereignists, a goal made more difficult following Mr. Parizeau’s endorsement of Mr. Aussant.
Mr. Aussant was elected as a PQ member in 2008 but quit the party in June, 2011, saying that Marois she was too obsessed with achieving a PQ government, rather than political independence for Quebec.
Until now, the Option Nationale has barely registered in the election, attracting only 2 per cent of voters according to recent opinion polls.
By Paul Wells - Monday, August 20, 2012 at 10:59 PM - 0 Comments
If you missed Monday night’s one-on-one debate of Quebec Liberal leader Jean Charest and Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois, here’s a highlight reel:
So yes, elementary decorum was a little lacking. I get called cynical a lot, but I guess sometimes I’m the opposite: I honestly, honestly believe two political leaders who interrupt each other constantly for a solid hour, in a snarling tone and with perfect contempt written on their features, are hurting the case they are trying to make and the public image of public life in general. I was raised to listen in a conversation and wait my turn. I am sure most Quebecers were too. Either of these two would have helped his or her image by leaning back and letting the other bray like a jackass alone. Instead they sang a duet. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM - 0 Comments
The interests of journalists and voters are in fundamental conflict after a televised leaders’ debate, such as the one tonight that kicked off an unprecedented four consecutive nights of confrontations among the party leaders in Quebec. (Monday through Wednesday will feature one-on-one confrontations between pairs of party leaders. Tonight it was a more traditional debate among four leaders.) My lot are always looking for a telling moment, a single line or exchange that captures the novelty, if there was any, in the two-hour exchange. Twenty-eight years after Mulroney-Turner ’84, we’ve almostlearned to stop saying “knockout punch,” but the impulse to find such a thing is still strong.
Voters, on the other hand, are more like motorists road-testing a new car. They’re looking for general impressions, and it isn’t novelty that impresses so much as comfort and confidence. Voters chuckle at a clever line. But they’re looking for a long-term commitment.
Jean Charest’s problem is that they’ve already had one with him. Continue…