Monday, November 21, 2011

Last Week on As Quebec Turns....

The political drama in the province of Quebec these days is probably some of the most complicated in the world, involving prickly voters with nationalist sentiments who are tired of nationalist vs. federalist arguments and will seemingly vote for any party that offers something new, whether left or right of centre, but also depending upon whether or not they have a popular leader at the same time (and old parties still banging the nationalist drum can pick up major support with a popular leader that was just recently handed the worst electoral defeat of his career). All this is in tune with the fact that individual candidates in Quebec, outside of a few key areas, mean absolutely zero, demonstrated by not just one but two waves of political change.

Phew. Anyways, last week saw the official entrance after months of unofficial existence by the Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec, formerly known as the Francois Legault Mystery Party, led by little-known former rightist pequiste cabinet minister Francois Legault. The CAQ (known as caquistes) is the provincial version of the NDP if the NDP came to terms with its sovereigntist association and shifted over to the right. However, the caquiste's appeal is not in its ideology but its mere existence as something other than the Parti libéral or the Parti Québécois.

It's the similar sentiment to what propelled the old Action democratique du Québec and former leader Mario Dumont to near-government heights in 2007 - as well as its amazingly fast downfall a year later.

Speaking of the adequistes, rumour is that they're looking for a merger with their ideological kinsmen in the caquistes. Go figure.

The other big news in la belle province (sort of) is the increasing stature of Option nationale, the small one-man sovereigntist party lead by another former pequiste member named Jean-Martin Aussant, who I seriously doubt will hold on to his seat in Nicolet-Yamaska. I say increasing stature because Lisette Lapointe, the wife of former premier and pequiste elder Jacques Parizeau, took out a membership.

Lapointe, who is a MNA herself, left the PQ a few months back if you'll recall, and Assaunt left just after her. Though Lapointe isn't sitting as an Option member, the fact that she's opted to take out the membership in the small one-man party lends some legitimacy to Assaunt's crusade, and further harms Pauline Marois' standing.

Thrown into this pile is the increasing but still massively under-represented Quebec portion of the NDP membership, who number just over 5,000 within a party membership of over 95,000 - or just 5%. There's a problem there.

Finally, the most recent provincial polling has the caquistes leading the Liberals 35-22, with the pequistes at 21%. That would lead to a majority government of 104 seats for the CAQ, 19 seats for the Liberals, and 2 for Québec solidaire (don't get me started on them). The pequistes, adequistes, and Option nationale are all left out.

And the drama goes on....


  1. You can say a lot about Quebec politics, but It is never ever boring!

  2. I think this poll is premature. Furthermore, I tend to take Leger Marketing's polls with a grain of salt. For one thing, look who they're linked to--Quebecor. For another, they poll online--thoroughly unreliable methodology, as Frank Graves learned with his cell phone polling--those who answer polls on line or by cell, tend to be the least likely to physically get off their duff and actually go to a polling station come election day.

    Next, the real test for both Premier Johnny-Boy and La Marois is that upcoming by-election in Bonaventure--Nathalie Normandeau's old seat. That is coming up in a little less than 2 weeks. Despite the fact that Francois Legault is not running a candidate in this by-election for Gawd knows what reason, it is one to be watched, particularly by political wanks like us.

    Recent Leger Marketing polls (again, to be taken with a grain of salt), show that the veteran mayor of St-Elzear, Damien Arsenault, who is running for the Liberals is ahead, and has somewhat of a comfortable lead over the PQ candidate, former municipal councillor of L'Ecuminac and sociology professor at CEGEP Carleton Sur Mer, Sylvain Roy.

    Bonaventure, as many know has been a Liberal stronghold since 1956, with small 4 year break 1994-1998 when the PQ took it in a protest vote. There is a possibility this could happen again. Remember, in Kamouraska-Temiscouata by-election last year, the Liberals had a lead initially, but then, the PQ, squeaked through, why? protest.

    The ADQ's last minute parachute candidate, Georges Painchaud and QS Patricia Chartier are far off the map. I doubt they will factor.

    Anyway, I suggest you pay attention to this upcoming by-election on December 5, if you do follow Quebec politics.

    Back to the CAQuistes, Francois Legault's honeymoon may end before it starts. Unlike Mario Dumont who was young, considered handsome by many young women, and charismatic, and then, a rookie, Legault has a record to defend. He says he wants to reform health care and education. He describes briefly in his 20 point action plan, but is cagey on the how. Also, while a PQuiste, he was both a minister of health and education and didn't do much with either portfolio. Folks will start asking those questions, I'm sure. The media, like Le Devoir and Radio Canada, will, no doubt. He has yet, to make that all mandatory appearance before Guy A Lepage on Tout le Monde en Parle--A show known to make or break politicians in La Belle province.

    IN his first press conference at the unveiling of his party, most of the answers to the media was "on verra" (we'll see!). Implies a hidden agenda.

    Plus, should the PQ lose in Bonaventure, La Marois, will be pushed out the PQ door sooner, rather than later, I venture, and I'm sure, there will be pressure for Gilles Duceppe to return.

    I say, sooner rather than later, because, I suspect that Premier Johnny-boy Charest will be calling an election as early as this spring.

  3. Thanks for the update Volkov and CK. For people who find regular politics boring, they should try following Quebec politics.

  4. I knew I was forgetting something, CK - thanks. Better I left Bonaventure out for now. Might do a liveblog on it.

    As to Leger's quality - well, I agree with you on the dubious nature of online polling. Issue is though that I crossed Leger and CROP one too many times and got burned. They always put the NDP up so much higher than other pollsters and the Liberals so much lower, and I always went after them for that, yet look where we ended up. And while I'm aware that it was at different points in time before the Orange Wave was even a twinkle in Jack's eye, I have to give Leger the benefit of the doubt these days.

    What I'd like to see is Nanos and co. get into Quebec. People disparage Nanos but he's got a good track record. Same with Ipsos, Harris-Decima, and even Ekos - if they start backing up Leger and CROP, which they very well could, what then?

    Either way, it makes sense, you know - two bad alternatives in the PQ and PLQ, useless third parties in the ADQ and QS, so who's left? The guy that promises the world and no one can hold accountable as of yet. Why not throw your lot in with him? Can't be worse than the two up there right now.

  5. The guy that promises the world and no one can hold accountable as of yet. Why not throw your lot in with him? Can't be worse than the two up there right now.

    I can't speak for my other fellow Quebecers, but I know I won't be voting for Legault and his CAQistes. Many of my friends aren't neither. I'm not sure who I'm voting for yet, but it won't be CAQiste. Honestly, at this time, no one would make a good premier for me. So, my standard has been lowered a tad. I will be voting for the party with the leader who I believe will give Harper the most head-aches and raise his blood pressure, be they separatist or federalist. I think Legault will be too friendly with Harper--they're too ideologically similar--pro-business, privatized health care and don't care about much else.

  6. That seems likely the case. However, I see "most headaches for Harper" and I automatically think "Amir Khadir" - though would he be Premier? I don't know, can Quebec have co-Premiers (with Francoise David as the other)?

    I'm very interested in seeing if the ADQ mergers with the CAQ. I've heard, maybe incorrectly, that Deltell isn't totally keen on the idea but his party is pushing it. I guess the very first sign would be if the two adequiste independents become the first sitting members of the CAQ, eh?