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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

Québec National Assembly gets back to business

On Nov. 29, newly elected and re-elected members of Québec’s National Assembly convened for the first sitting of the 43rd legislative session. The president of the legislature was named, and the government outlined its major priorities for the brief eight-day sitting before the winter break.

While the four main opposition parties all ended up with between 12.9% and 15.4% of the popular vote by the end of the fall election, they each only managed to win between zero and 21 of the National Assembly’s 125 seats due to the nature of the first-past-the-post voting system. Consequently, a not-so-gentle fight ensued for question privileges and parliamentary budget splitting between all parties, with those with less MNAs threatening to poach members from other parties, and leaking internal discussions to the media. In the end, as always, the rules applied, and the parliamentary budget and question privileges were divided among the parties in proportion with the number of their sitting MNAs.

These seemingly innocent procedural skirmishes will likely continue to flare up and distract from legislative matters as the National Assembly moves forward with its business, as the ruling Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), re-elected with a solid 90 seats, now faces an opposition more divided than ever.

Opposition parties hoping to catch a break

While Québec’s Liberals managed to hang onto their official Opposition status, the party is now struggling to unify disgruntled members inside its own caucus while operating without a formal leader.

Québec Solidaire made gains on the left, but fell well short of their election ambitions.

The Parti Québécois is still alive with three MNAs but will need to take advantage of media opportunities to get exposure, as their speaking time will be limited.

The provincial Conservatives came out of the fall election without a single seat in the National Assembly, and the party is now also struggling to settle some infighting between rank-and-file members.

CAQ government needs to show poise and restraint

Québec’s ruling party, already benefiting from a strengthened numerical majority, now has even more free rein to govern the province. But the CAQ would be wise to take a consensus-building approach and maintain a healthy fear of itself, recognizing that if opposition is less likely to come from outside forces, it is more likely to rise from within.


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