Analysis | Conservative Party of Quebec: Time to Choose | Elections Quebec 2022
Beyond organizational issues, the Conservative Party of Quebec and its leader, Éric Duhaime, will first have to clarify their ideological position.
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Not easy to win and lose both. It is undoubtedly this apparent contradiction that is currently causing such a stir within the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ).
The PCQ garnered more than half a million votes last month – nine times more than in previous elections – but failed to elect a single MP.
Consequence: an internal war is brewing, our colleague Alexandre Duval told us earlier this week. Who is responsible for the defeat? Should those who orchestrated the last election campaign keep their jobs or do the mistakes they made deserve a thorough cleaning?
Of course, any political formation that wishes to progress must allocate key positions to the right people. While the Conservatives' campaign was flawed – think of how the unpaid tax episode was handled – campaigners would be wrong to devote too much energy to finding the culprits. The main thing is elsewhere.
Beyond organizational questions, the party will above all have to clarify its ideological position, as has already been abundantly underlined in recent times. It's that the growth of the PCQ, for a year and a half, has been as dazzling as it is disorderly.
At the party's traditional militant base – mobilized around resolutely on the right – a whole group of voters has been added, having above all in common their opposition to health measures. They also often share a certain distrust of the state and its institutions.
During the large rally held at the Videotron Center during the election campaign, the heterogeneity of the crowd was visible. People from all over Quebec proudly displayed posters bearing the image of the candidate in their riding. A few English speakers dotted the audience. Wealthy entrepreneurs rubbed shoulders with the most modest voters, but the eclecticism was not only socioeconomic.
Asked about the failures of the health system, citizens advocated the most complete withdrawal of the State, while others wanted, on the contrary, to abolish subsidies to companies to better finance public services. The ambiguity was the same about identity issues.
The Conservative Party of Quebec held a large mid-campaign rally in the lobby of the Videotron Center on September 16 in Quebec City.
As activist Joanne Marcotte, the left shift of the Liberal Party and the economic interventionism of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) have freed up a place on the right of the economic spectrum where the PCQ can hope to grow. It is obviously this space that the leader of the party tried to occupy during the electoral campaign.
Regarding Quebec identity, on the other hand, the leadership of the PCQ was more ambiguous. When he entered the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Quebec in November 2020, Éric Duhaime declared that he would be very firm in defending and promoting Quebec's identity, our unique culture and our French language.
We know the rest. Behind a placard on which appeared the words Bill 96 marked with a red prohibition sign, the conservative leader instead promised in the campaign to repeal the law supposed to strengthen Law 101.
The party's positions on immigration are also ambiguous. If Éric Duhaime mentioned the construction of a wall at the border to curb the arrival of asylum seekers in Quebec territory, activists wish on the contrary to increase the thresholds in order to eliminate any obstacle to economic development.
Other questions will undoubtedly deserve to be raised in the coming months. Should the party take a stronger stance on the environment? Go further in terms of the privatization of public services? Promising reforms to strengthen the bond of trust between citizens and their institutions?
The results of the last elections will no doubt guide activists in their thinking, but unfortunately nothing is black or white. The PCQ has made gains in disparate constituencies.
Across Quebec, the Conservatives undeniably obtained their best results in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. It was in Beauce-Sud that the score was the highest, candidate Jonathan Poulin having collected 16,187 votes and 43.4% support.
In fact, the PCQ obtained more votes in the 7 ridings of Chaudière-Appalaches than in the 27 on the island of Montreal. The party also distinguished itself in the Capitale-Nationale region, in Mauricie and in Centre-du-Québec.
We must also underline the good scores of the PCQ in a handful of ridings in the west of the island of Montreal. In the liberal bastion of D'Arcy-McGee, the PCQ got 22% support, or 5,677 well-counted votes. None of his Liberal opponents on the island of Montreal, however, were seriously worried as were the candidates of the Coalition avenir Québec in the greater Quebec City region.
The Conservatives have so far wanted to spare the goat and the cabbage, by courting several electoral clienteles at the same time, but sooner or later they will have to make choices. It seems inevitable under the circumstances that this will lead to departures as well as new memberships.