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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

The year 2024 in Québec: major political issues and challenges

At the dawn of 2024, Québec is gearing up for a turbulent period on the political front. Premier Legault’s popularity has plummeted following a year marked by public-sector strikes and a number of unpopular decisions. This and other factors have put the government on delicate ground for the remainder of its mandate.

 

A strategic ministerial reshuffle?

After a first mandate without a major cabinet reshuffle, the possibility of a change in the government team is looming large. Such a reshuffle could be a strategy to reinvigorate the government, present a new action plan and renew its image with the public.

 

Energy reform on the horizon

The Minister of the Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, will play a central role with the introduction of an energy bill planned for this winter. The aim is to modernize Hydro-Québec and the Régie de l'énergie. This project is giving rise to much speculation, including the prospect of private electricity production.  As Québec is facing a potential energy shortage, the Minister is also promoting a reduction in energy use without, however, detailing how this reduction might be brought about.

 

Santé Québec: a major challenge

The reform of the healthcare system, adopted under a debate-limiting gag order at the end of 2023, brings with it a huge challenge for Health Minister Christian Dubé: the establishment of the Santé Québec Agency to manage the entire network. With emergency rooms overflowing and waiting lists for surgery lengthening, this new agency has the onerous task of turning around an ailing healthcare system.

 

Pressing budget constraints

Finance Minister Éric Girard is set to present a spring budget marked by a reversal of fortune – a lack of financial leeway. Downward revisions to forecasts for 2023, the cost of agreements with the public sector and the slowdown in job creation are forcing difficult choices, particularly when it comes to financing major projects. These issues have the potential to exacerbate tensions within a caucus already shaken by the lack of clear political direction on projects such as the controversial third highway link between Québec City and Lévis.

 

Leadership race and rumours of a federal election 

In an already charged political context, attention will also turn to the Québec Liberal Party leadership race. Denis Coderre, former federal Liberal cabinet minister and Mayor of Montreal has confirmed he is considering a bid to lead the Quebec Liberal Party. A colourful character, Denis Coderre could muddy the waters and add some excitement in a leadership race that has so far attracted little attention. This internal election, taking place at a time of reflection and reconstruction for the party, promises to be a key indicator of the future direction of the Liberal movement in Québec.

 

The political landscape is further complicated by persistent rumours of a federal election scheduled for 2024. This eventuality has heightened interest in the positioning of the various Québec parties on the federal scene. In this context, it will be interesting to follow the strategies adopted by these parties, particularly after Premier Legault’s  controversial call to not support the federal Liberals in the 2021 election. 

 

In short, 2024 promises to be a pivotal year for the Québec government, with a multitude of challenges to be met and crucial decisions to be made. There will be less room for wavering and hesitation. The government's ability to navigate these issues will determine not only its political future, but also the province's socio-economic landscape for years to come.

 

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