Defectors, Declarations and Loyalty Tests

The PQ would have a bad way of expressing anger at Bernard Drainville’s transition to the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ). First, because he had purgatory outside of politics for a few years. Then, mainly because the Parti Québécois (PQ) was formed from defectors.

Posted at 6:00 am

René Lévesque left the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ). He was joined by members of the Union Nationale and the PLQ in opposing Bill 63, the first in a series of language bills that would become the focus of debates in the 1970s.

And since it was a new party, people came from all walks of life, from the civil service and universities and, of course, from other parties as well. Jacques Parizeau, Jacques-Yvan Morin, Claude Morin, Camille Laurin and others who formed the heart of the party between its creation and the seizure of power in 1976.

The defectors? That is the fate of all new parties, at least those that were not part of the Confederation, such as the Liberal Party.

Even Québec solidaire was formed of grassroots people, of course, but also of several defectors from the Parti Québécois and the New Democratic Party.

Defectors are part of political life for the simple reason that political life must reflect changes in society.

But the fact remains that defectors have a moral obligation: to explain why they are switching sides. If only to show that their “walk through the hemicycle” isn’t just about opportunism or the promise of having the sedan.

René Levesque published Quebec option Leaving the PLQ. The book has become a classic, it has been reprinted several times and can still be found on the shelves of good bookshops. A sign that it’s still relevant to anyone interested in Quebec politics.

When he left the PQ, François Legault first published a manifesto, then in the fall of 2013 a book entitled Towards a Victorious Quebec which he still sometimes refers to today.

In France, each new stage of political life is almost always accompanied by a work, some of which are genuine literary works. (Edouard Philippe’s recent book after leaving Matignon is absolutely remarkable.)

In the United States, the book is part of the DNA of politics. You can’t run for the presidency, or even for the senate, without writing a book.

In the opening words of the Declaration of Independence it is stated that “the respect due to the opinions of mankind obliges us to explain the causes that lead them to divide”. Although it was written more than 200 years ago, it has become the norm with our neighbors to the south.

So why isn’t “respect for public opinion” on this side of the border a sufficient reason for defectors to declare themselves?

One reason is the superior power of political parties, which not only no longer allow dissent, but also no longer have the right to publicly question themselves.

We saw a Conservative backbench-initiated vote this week in the UK that almost toppled Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is perhaps fatally weakened with 40% defecting MPs.

It doesn’t require major constitutional change, just political will to return power to the backbenchers.

In Quebec and Canada it is the other way around. Political parties are stronger than anything else. And loyalty to the leader is at the forefront of the qualities sought in a candidate.

In Ottawa, the most structuring policy development of the past year is undoubtedly the agreement between Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh to allow the Liberals to continue in government until the end of the normal four-year term.

The agreement was made between the two chiefs. Neither the MPs of the two parties nor the ministers were consulted beforehand. They learned at 4:00 p.m. that there would be a cabinet meeting at 7:00 p.m. and a caucus at 8:30 p.m. No change possible. take it or leave it

In Quebec there are tests of loyalty to the chief. For example, to become a CAQ candidate, you must swear to support the third link, whatever you previously said.

It’s gotten to the point where the two main defectors of the 2022 class, Bernard Drainville and Caroline St-Hilaire, have had to repeat the exact same lie on the matter, that the third link is now acceptable because its second version reserved a route for buses. But that’s only at peak times. While the reserved track was permanent in the first version. It’s not greener, it’s less!

But here it seems that the defectors don’t need to explain themselves.

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