Analysis | Cacophony in the arena | Elections Quebec 2022

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Analysis | Cacophony in the&rsquo ;arene | ÉQuebec 2022 elections

The leaders faced off in the first televised debate of the campaign.

The simultaneous presence of five aspiring prime ministers on the same set – a record – gave the moderator of this first leaders' debate a lot of trouble. Multiplication of subjects and questions, short exchanges quickly interrupted, the discussion often turned into a cacophony.

In this new political configuration, where five parties share the electorate, the attacks came from all over, and all the chefs have gone after each other at one time or another.

After a slow start, François Legault seemed to regain his stature as outgoing prime minister during a close exchange with his conservative counterpart Éric Duhaime on the management of the pandemic. In an excerpt that we are likely to see often over the next few hours, the CAQ leader criticized him for having lacked solidarity, for having fired at the boat.

Weaker on this issue, Éric Duhaime will also have been very effective in reminding each of his opponents of their contradictions, evoking Dominique Anglade's caquist past, the passages of the Québec solidaire program on the disarmament of the police, or even the refocusing to the left of the CAQ, despite being born of a merger with the ADQ, more to the right.

He also distinguished himself by putting forward positions often at contrary to those of its adversaries, whether we think of the place of private health or the exploitation of hydrocarbons.

Sometimes displaying funny facial expressions, François Legault will have spent a good part of the evening on the defensive, in particular on the questions of the third link and the shortage of manpower. He will have at least succeeded in clarifying his thinking somewhat on the subject of immigration.

The leaders of the five parties participated in the first televised debate of the campaign.

The only woman on the set, Dominique Anglade started the debate in force, accusing François Legault, among other things, of Constantly attributing the misfortunes of Quebec to the Liberal Party, while the CAQ leader himself has been in politics for 25 years.

Although she has demonstrated her great mastery of the files, the numerous exchanges on the French language have however placed her in a delicate position. While the Liberal Party collects less than 10% of voting intentions among Francophones, hearing Dominique Anglade forcefully argue against Bill 96 is not likely to reverse the trend.

Clever, and in perfect control of his image, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois has multiplied his attacks against Dominique Anglade, from whom he wants to steal the title of Leader of the Official Opposition, comparing her to Jean Charest and accusing her of having the same ideas than François Legault.

The mere fact that the chief caquiste takes the co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire as his main target, during and after the debate, is not to displease to the latter. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, however, struggled to respond to François Legault, who multiplied the attacks on orange taxes and their repercussions on the middle class.

In the lot, it is undoubtedly the performance of Paul St-Pierre Plamondon which offered the greatest contrast with those of his opponents. True to the style he has adopted so far, the PQ leader remained calm and poised throughout the evening. He even went so far as to congratulate Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois for his plan to combat greenhouse gases!

Insisting on the question of independence, and recalling the limits of the federalism practiced by François Legault, he may have convinced lost PQ members to return home.

The debate may not have produced any big winners or big losers, but it will at least have allowed all the parties to consolidate their base. He will also have highlighted the many differences that exist between the parties, after a slow start to the campaign, where the promises of some often seemed inspired by those of others.

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