A few months before the elections, the PLQ is trying to define its priorities

(Montreal) A few months before Quebec’s general election, Liberals are still struggling to define themselves and reestablish relations with Francophones without losing the support of Anglophones and Allophones.

Posted at 11:12am

Jacob Serebrin
The Canadian Press

In the 2018 election, the PLQ won just four seats outside of the greater Montreal area. He lost two of them in by-elections: Roberval and Jean-Talon.

In the last by-election for Marie-Victorin in Montérégie, Liberal candidate Émilie Nollet came fifth with just 6.93% of the votes cast.

“Quebec’s political landscape has changed,” notes Laval University political scientist Valérie-Anne Mahéo. The debate centered on the issue of sovereignty and federalism. He moved into a supposedly more normal political situation, on a left-right axis. Parties compete socially and economically. »

The Liberals are also struggling with voting intentions. A recent poll by Léger found only 17% support, far behind the Coalition Avenir Québec. It’s also down eight percentage points from the 2018 election.

In the Quebec region, they even slipped to fourth place. They are in third place outside of Montreal and Quebec.

Philippe J. Fournier, the creator of the Qc125 results projection page, predicts disaster for the Liberals in October. If the Liberals were second in many ridings in 2018, he believes that will not be the case in October.

There is a Liberal electoral base in several places in the province, but it has completely disappeared in regional polls in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi and the Eastern Townships.

Philippe J. Fournier, creator of the Qc125 results projection page

Among Francophones, the Liberals rank fourth with 11% of voting intentions, behind Québec solidaire and the Conservative Party, a party that has never elected a candidate to the National Assembly. The Conservatives have one member in their ranks, but Claire Samson was elected under the CAQ banner in 2018.

Some Liberals want their party to occupy some of the ground ceded to non-sovereign nationalists to gain support outside of Montreal.

Benoît Pelletier, Jean Charest’s former minister, regrets that the PLQ has neglected identity issues. He wants the band to redefine their relationship with Quebecers, particularly their French-speaking majority.


PHOTO FRANCOIS ROY, LA PRESS ARCHIVE

Former Liberal Minister Benoît Pelletier

He wants liberals to be even more resolute in defending the French language and Quebec culture. He deplores the party’s ambiguous position on the language reform bill.

“This ambiguity, this ambivalence is something negative and damaging to the party,” claims Mr. Pelletier.

A sign of this ambivalence: the Liberals introduced an amendment to Bill 96 aimed at requiring students in English-speaking CEGEPs to take three courses in French – but no French course – in order to obtain a diploma. They withdrew it under pressure from MPs and the party’s English-speaking base.

The episode reflects the tensions within the PLQ over identity issues. It shows the difficulty of broadening the francophone electoral base without alienating the anglophone and allophone base.

Anglophone dissatisfaction

And at the same time, the English-language vote may not even be a matter of course for the Liberals.

Balarama Holness, a former Montreal mayoral candidate, announced Wednesday his intention to form a new party to defend the rights of the province’s ethnic and linguistic minorities. Another group plans to imitate it.


PHOTO DAVID BOILY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Balarama Holness

While he doubts his new parties will win seats, Mr Fournier believes they could allow the CAQ to win some hotly contested seats.

Chef Dominique Anglade doesn’t care. The problem isn’t his party’s message, it’s that people haven’t heard it yet.

“Surveys are surveys. They convey a picture of the current situation. We couldn’t communicate all of our ideas. We weren’t as present as we would have liked. That’s why I’m looking forward to the next campaign. »

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