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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

Québec government at an impasse

Québec's government, which has been led by François Legault since his Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) party swept to victory in 2018, is going through a tumultuous period, marked by an unprecedented drop in popularity. This drop is mainly attributed to recent hasty decisions which have exacerbated tensions in the province.

Among these contested choices is the subsidy granted to professional field hockey, which was perceived as a questionable expense inthe context of other glaring social needs, as was the hefty 30% salary increase for Members of the National Assembly. The massive addition of amendments to Bill 15 on health also provoked strong discontent, fuelling a feeling of rushed, disorganized decision-making by the CAQ.

This situation represents a previously unseen challenge for the Legault government, faced for the first time with discontent on such a notable scale. At the same time, tense negotiations with public-sector unions are adding further pressure, highlighting the difficulties faced by the executive branch of government in responding to the diverse expectations of Québec society.

This decline in popularity can be interpreted as a natural evolution in the course of a government's term of office. The tendency to wear and tear on power is common, especially when actions and reforms follow one another in rapid succession. The start of 2024 will prove to be a critical moment in safeguarding the government's second term in office. François Legault and his team must consider solutions to revitalize their government and start afresh.

And a number of solutions are emerging that may help Legault clinch support and restore public confidence. A cabinet reshuffle to inject new dynamics and fresh faces to the front bench is among the options on the table. Similarly, proposing a new legislative agenda and focusing on specific, strategic priorities, could help restore coherence to government action and enhance public confidence. To breathe new life into the Legault government, a thoughtful combination of these two approaches is likely. Beyond this, critical reflection is needed when it comes to the management of secondary issues.

The multiplication of initiatives on various fronts has given rise to contradictions and an overall impression of a lack of organization and strategy, contributing to general dissatisfaction. The government needs to re-evaluate its overall objectives and direction to avoid this kind of scattering that may continue to erode its credibility. With three years to go before the next elections, the CAQ must realize that opposition parties are getting organized and that the political dynamic ahead will be more complex.

The honeymoon period of effective pandemic management now seems to be over. The Legault government's political future will depend on its ability to react and restore the public confidence that earned them the popular support in 2018 and again in 2022.

Knowing Premier Legault's political acumen and skill, it will be interesting to see how he intends to bounce back in 2024 to win back the trust and favour of Quebeckers.


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