Quebecers will cast their ballots on Oct. 3, with the incumbent Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) dominating in the polls and expected to win another majority government. With less than four weeks left in the election campaign, here’s how the race — and the results — could affect the rest of Canada.
A recent Leger poll puts the CAQ well ahead of its competition, with 42 per cent of respondents saying they’d vote the incumbent party in for another mandate. That’s compared to 17 per cent for the Quebec Liberal Party, 15 per cent for Quebec Solidaire, 14 per cent for the Conservative Party of Quebec, and finally the Parti Quebecois and other parties trailing with nine per cent and three per cent respectively.
Meanwhile the CAQ is running on its record from the last four years, so Quebecers, the federal government, and Canadians can expect more of the same from la belle province under Premier François Legault, according to Daniel Béland, a political science professor and director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada.
Béland told CTVNews.ca when it comes to Legault’s relationship with Primer Minister Justin Trudeau, the CAQ’s resounding win is likely not something the federal Liberals are looking forward to, especially because the premier encouraged Quebecers to vote Conservative in the last federal election.
Legault has also focused on increasing Quebec’s autonomy during his last term, and plans to continue on that path, Béland said.
He added while it’s unlikely there will be any big surprises during this election, he’s watching to see how strong the CAQ’s victory ends up being.
“That could raise some alarms for the Liberals,” Béland said. “It would not be good news for Justin Trudeau to see the CAQ becoming even stronger.”
One point of contention is the difference between Quebec and Canada’s immigration policies. Legault told The Canadian Press he plans to keep the province’s immigration targets the same — around 50,000 per year — to meet Quebec’s “integration capacity,” and protect the French language, while calling Trudeau’s immigration policy “extreme.”
Béland called the difference in federal and provincial targets with Legault as premier a “mismatched vision.”
Another wedge issue is Quebec’s controversial bills 21 and 96. The former is the province’s secularism law, which prohibits public servants from wearing religious symbols on the job, and the latter is its language law, which asserts that French is the official and common language of Quebec, and seeks to increase its use in public and in workplaces.
Pearl Eliadis, a human rights lawyer and associate professor at McGill University, told CTVNews.ca the two pieces of legislation — and the CAQ’s use of the notwithstanding clause to protect them from court challenges — show a “unilateral attempt by the CAQ to change our fundamental Charter and constitutional values,” and a “pushing and pulling at the constitution.”
“I think it’s important to take the long view on this,” she said, explaining this is neither the first nor last time a province has tried to meddle with the Constitution.
“If this becomes the norm, if this becomes the way we do business politically, I think the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms may quickly become far less relevant than it has been since 1982,” Eliadis also said.
At the same time, there’s another election happening: one for a new Conservative Party of Canada leader.
Béland said it’ll be interesting to see how presumed frontrunner Pierre Poilievre responds to the Quebec election’s candidates if he wins the federal Conservative leadership.
On the one hand, Poilievre and Legault both embrace populist views, Béland explained, but he’s more interested to see whether fourth-place Conservative Party of Quebec leader Éric Duhaime wins enough seats to be a well-placed ally for Poilievre, whom he’s known for more than two decades.