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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

A Busy Parliamentary Session

The parliamentary session in Québec is already over! After several months marked by a frenetic pace, Québec's MNAs have left the benches of the National Assembly and headed to their respective constituencies, where they will spend most of the summer. How did this parliamentary session end? Who stood out?


Tabling of the Much-Anticipated Energy Bill

After months of speculation and several postponements, Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon took advantage of the last days of the parliamentary session to table  his much-anticipated energy bill. For all the salient details of this bill, which is likely to be the talk of the season, we invite you to read our full report!


Ongoing Deadlock Between Minister Dubé and Doctors

An agreement allowing doctors to receive a bonus for taking on patients through the Primary Care Access Point (GAP) service officially ended on May 31. Consequently, the number of time slots offered by doctors for patient intake through GAP in  June has drastically dropped. This change has angered Minister Christian Dubé, who accused the doctors of union maneuvers at the expense of the public Although the tone has since softened, and negotiations are ongoing, the parties remain at an impasse.


A Bill to Improve Access to Primary Healthcare

The President of the Treasury Board, Sonia LeBel, has tabled a bill aimed at improving access to primary healthcare in the public health network. The bill proposes  updating the Professional Code, which governs professional orders, and  expanding the powers granted to certain professionals, including pharmacists. Under the  terms of the bill, some healthcare professionals, including nurses, will also be able to diagnose mental health issues. It is apparent that the  government is betting big on health, but it remains to be seen if this bet will pay off.


Liberal Leadership: Contenders Emerge

As the Québec Liberal Party (PLQ) leadership race is set to get underway starting January 15, 2025, the names of several contenders are circulating among liberal members and insiders. Victoriaville Mayor Antoine Tardif, Québec Employers Council CEO Karl Blackburn, Québec Federation of Chambers of Commerce CEO Charles Milliard, and MNA Frédéric Beauchemin are among the potential candidates. Former Montreal Mayor and federal Liberal Minister Denis Coderre is expected to officially enter the race on June 21. This is likely to please many liberals who want to avoid another coronation.


Cabinet Shuffle Avoided... For Now

Several ministers will probably be breathing a sigh of relief as they leave the National Assembly for the summer. Although politics is inherently unpredictable, it seems increasingly certain that a major cabinet shuffle this summer will not materialize, contrary to expectations. In the back rooms, there is concern that such a shuffle could lead to resignations among MNAs, triggering by-elections that the CAQ would be likely to lose given their standing in the  polls. Some insiders are now talking about a shuffle in the fall. This would be surprising, given that it would leave little or no time for new ministers to familiarize themselves with their new roles before the resumption of parliamentary work, but time will tell.


Parliamentary Session Summary – Our Analysis

After a disastrous end to 2023, marked by numerous controversies, difficult negotiations with civil servants, and a sharp drop in support, the CAQ hoped to use the current parliamentary session to finally emerge from the  long period of turbulence. The mission was challenging, especially due to a highly motivated opposition and the precarious state of public finances, which forced Finance Minister Éric Girard to present a budget emphasizing fiscal discipline, in sharp contrast with the generosity of recent years.


Persistent rumors of a summer shuffle likely helped, as CAQ members displayed great discipline and generally managed to avoid missteps and controversial statements. Surprisingly, it was Health Minister Christian Dubé, usually a reliable team player, who faced the most challenges during the last session. Service disruptions on the Côte-Nord due to the end of reliance on private health agencies, and the sharp drop in appointments through the Primary Care Access Point following the expiration of an important agreement with doctors, put him more on the defensive than ever before.

Despite all this, François Legault's team has been able to regaininitiative, highlighting progress in establishing the Québec Health Agency, central to the CAQ's health plan, and submitting a multitude of bills. Parental rights reform, strengthening tenant protections, improving access to primary healthcare, energy demands, establishing an agency for managing road infrastructure projects, and reforming the mining law are just some of the undertakings of the last few months demonstrating that ministers have been very active, shifting the CAQ from defense to offense.


In the short term, it appears  that François Legault's mission is accomplished. The situation has stabilized, the drop in polls has plateaud, and solid foundations have been laid for the second half of his mandate. The summer session generally favors the ruling party, so the CAQ can also expect to regain a few points in the polls by the fall parliamentary session. François Legault's party will then face its most significant challenge: winning back public favor and making a substantial comeback in voting intentions. Will this comeback involve a fall shuffle? Anything is possible, but one thing is for certain: while the CAQ still has plenty of time before the next election, they can no longer afford any missteps.

 

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