By Noelle Bergeron
Those of you who have been buried in the stacks of Schulich since OAP ended may not have noticed the big signs with giant faces on them, but the rest of us have been bombarded with campaigning for Quebec’s recent provincial election – and what an election it was. After months of campaigning, the centre-right Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) swept our province into a majority government, ending a nearly 50 year back-and-forth between Parti Québécois and Liberal governments.
Many Montrealers are asking themselves: how did this happen? The CAQ won just three out of 28 seats in Quebec’s largest city, yet managed to amass 74 seats total across the entire province. As an Ontarian, I can sympathize with unexpected election results, having an out-of-the-blue Conservative majority government back home. Curious to find out if Quebec and Ontario traded out their Liberal governments for similar reasons, I decided to ask those in Quebec’s second largest city, and capitol, what they thought had happened.
The overwhelming response that I received was that no one was happy with any of the options presented as potential governments. Some even chose to go to the voting booth and spoil their ballot, as they couldn’t choose a candidate in good faith. Others began weighing what they described as the least of four evils. Québec Solidaire (QS), another party previously on the outskirts, was the only group to feature an environmental component on their platform. QS made headway in urban areas on the Island and in the National Capitol region, but many people hesitated because of what their policies would cost the economy. As for the PQ and the Liberals, most people gave the same answer. They needed a change. They were no longer confident in the promises that the PQ and Liberals made, and wanted to end the government complacency that comes with being in power on and off since the 1970’s.
So who is the CAQ? François Legault created the Coalition Avenir Québec in 2011, and it has steadily increased its base over the past few years. The CAQ’s policies fall into the centre-right category within Quebec. For those less familiar with politics in the province as a whole, it is generally considered to be social-conservative, and much more left than the other provinces. That being said, two of the most controversial policies campaigned on by the CAQ hardly seem to fit the province’s political profile. Legault’s party plans to use the now-familiar notwithstanding clause to ban religious symbols and apparel from civil servants, while keeping the crucifix in the National Assembly. Furthermore, the party plans to limit immigration, and implement a language and values test for prospective residents.
While those policies are currently at the forefront of the political conversation, I’d like to end this article with some of the incoming majority government’s less polarizing promises, which include government-funded pre-kindergarten classes for tots, and tax cuts for families with school-aged children. If you still don’t think that makes up for the party’s other policies, and you’re an eligible Quebec voter, you’ve got four years to think about who best represents you for the next time around.