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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

A look back at a highly political weekend in Québec

On May 25 and 26, three of Québec's four main political parties held their annual conventions. Here's a look back at a busy political weekend!

 

Coalition Avenir Québec - A convention without excitement, but also without mistakes

Currently eclipsed in the polls, and in the final miles of a parliamentary session that will probably be more difficult than expected, François Legault's team opted for a no-frills meeting. No major announcements were made over the weekend. After Premier François Legault described social networks as virtual pushers and did not rule out banning them for young people under the age of 16, CAQ members did vote in favor of a resolution calling for a parliamentary commission on the issue. Behind the scenes, it is said that the CAQ is now reluctant to proceed with a cabinet reshuffle this summer. The fear is it would generate disappointment among dropped or passed-over MNAs and, soon after, trigger by-elections that the CAQ could lose. This situation, paradoxically, fuels the frustrations of MPs, some of whom have been waiting patiently for their turn at the cabinet table since 2018.

 

Québec Solidaire - Internal rebellion contained, for now

The weekend promised to be a tense one for the Québec Solidaire parliamentary team, as it had been eagerly awaited by the more radical fringe of its activists. At issue: the desire of co-spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois to refocus his political party following the shock resignation of former co-spokesman Émilise Lessard-Therrien. Nadeau-Dubois is hoping to rebrand the party to reach more Quebecers and thus aspire to form, one day, the government. After sometimes stormy debates, the Saguenay Declaration, an offshoot of this desire, was finally adopted by Québec Solidaire militants. The declaration aims to cast Solidaire as a less radical, more pragmatic party that can be trusted to wield power. The party's electoral platform will now be pruned and updated, a complex political operation that will be one to watch over the coming months. Despite the turmoil, this was an important political victory for Nadeau-Dubois, who had put his seat on the line over this issue. 

 

Parti Libéral du Québec - Back to the future for some budgetary rigor?

The Liberals are still struggling in the polls. They don't have a permanent leader, the leadership race hasn't begun, and no aspirant has officially declared his or her candidacy. Nevertheless, they chose to turn their convention into a political and media extravaganza, during which a heartfelt tribute was paid to the last Liberal premiers, Jean Charest and Philippe Couillard. For many observers, this was a way for the Liberals to make peace with the past, before launching themselves into the future. Probably inspired by the moment, interim leader Marc Tanguay chose to position his party as defenders of strict budgetary rigor, a recipe that nonetheless contributed to the Liberal defeat of 2018. This is certainly a positioning that sets them apart from other political parties, especially in a context of major deficits.

 

Parti Québécois - No convention, but on everyone's mind

The PQ was the only one of the main political parties not to hold a meeting of its members on the last weekend of May. Yet ironically, its name was on everyone's lips, thanks to the extent of its lead in the polls. Among CAQ activists, there was a certain incomprehension, if not frustration, about leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon's lead with the electorate, despite his low profile and the fact that he is proposing a referendum in a first mandate. The CAQ proposal to hold a parliamentary commission on screen addiction among young people is also a direct response to the Parti Québécois, which has skilfully put the Caquistes in a difficult position on this issue in recent weeks. The Solidaires were not to be outdone either: their co-spokesman, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, took the liberty of attacking the immigration referendum proposed by the other sovereigntist party. For the moment, the Liberals remain reserved about the rise of their old enemy. After all, the eventual return of a polarized Québec political scene between sovereigntists and federalists could well end up benefiting them, as has long been the case.   

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