Analysis | PCQ rally: “We are not bad guys” | Elections Quebec 2022

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Analysis | PCQ Rally:“”We're not bad guys” | &Elections Québec 2022

Incursion into the campaign of the Conservative Party of Quebec.

The Conservative Party of Quebec held a large mid-campaign rally in the lobby of the Videotron Center Friday night in Quebec City.

“T'as you look so serious with your notebook,” a woman in the crowd calls out to me as the evening quietly gets underway. This is the start of a long discussion.

France tells me how she joined Éric Duhaime's party in recent months. At 55, this is the very first time in her life that she has been involved in politics.

My father is in residence, it has been extremely difficult for him and for me the pandemic. Besides, I have a nine-month-old granddaughter now… It's not for me that I'm here, it's for my father and then for my granddaughter.

As with many people there, it was the government's handling of the pandemic that led her to take an interest in the Conservative Party.

That's not true that it was all based on science, decisions, she says, referring to the often contradictory instructions of public health.

Gradually, she became interested in other aspects of the Conservative program. Alberta's prosperity inspires him; she believes that Quebec should also exploit its oil and gas resources.

The room is filling up more and more. The party advertised the event extensively, referring in its communications to a mid-campaign mega-rally. The objective is clear: to put on a show of force in the greater Quebec City region, where the party seems to have the best chance of breaking through – with Beauce.

Éric Duhaime was surrounded by some of his candidates during his mid-campaign rally at the Videotron Center.

During the launch of Éric Duhaime's campaign, actress and star candidate Anne Casabonne had also mentioned the idea of ​​filling the Videotron Center. We will have finally settled for the lobby.

Caps, sweaters, buttons… many dressed in conservative colors. I had 50 signs and then I gave them all away in three minutes, a volunteer told me.

Walking through the large crowd, of course you hear a lot about vaccination and curfew.

A health care worker complains that she was forced to get vaccinated. A man blames his daughter's learning problems on school closures and bans on gatherings. Great Reset.

Nathaniel, 26, works as a youth worker. He came to attend the event with his wife and their three young children. As soon as we have children, we think about their future, about inflation. That's what led me to inquire.

Eric Duhaime's promise to give parents $200 a week directly speaks to him.

“The more people know about the party, the more open they are. Perceptions need to be changed. It's not true that it's a party of rabid far-right fascists. »

— Nathaniel, 26, youth worker

The economy, health, education, nothing works anymore, deplores Lise, a little more away.

Then the other parties all think the same, adds his spouse Jacques. At the National Assembly, with the media, it makes passes on the palette to Legault. What does the government do with our money? We want something other than the go-left.

Most of the people we talk to say they voted for the CAQ in 2018. Still others for Québec solidaire or the Parti québécois . In any case, they were disappointed.

Legault, it's outside, said a man, pretending to kick the Prime Minister's behind. No doubt, it is here that we find the militants most hostile to the head of the CAQ.

Nearly 3,000 supporters and activists of the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) met at the Videotron Center.

A few days ago, a candidate was rebuffed by his boss because of the degrading remarks he had made with regard to François Legault. Nothing, however, to temper the enthusiasm of the militants.

We locked up the elderly, we let them die, then all the parties were on their knees in front of Legault, explains Jean, who lives in downtown Quebec.

Alain, a truck driver, joins the discussion. Did you listen to the debate yesterday [Thursday evening]? he asks. There were no questions about curfews, restaurant bankruptcies, family suicides. It's biased.

Elsewhere in the room, many activists frown when it is pointed out that the sanitary measures have been lifted for several months already.

Do you work for TVA? a man asks me, in his late fifties. No, for Radio-Canada, I answer. Damn it, it's even worse, he replies before turning on his heels.

Many feel that their point of view has been completely ignored in recent years, not only by elected officials, but also by journalists. Sideways glances and signs of disapproval: Engaging the discussion isn't always easy when you identify with yourself, even if the conservative leader has a long history in the media himself.

Mathieu, 27, nevertheless comes to me. He traveled from the municipality of Saint-Antonin, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, to be there. I have the impression that I was forgotten in all this and that the government treated me as if I was not a responsible being.

Asking questions is a sign of intelligence and then we were not entitled to a real discussion, argues Nadine. We're not bad guys, adds Daniel at his side.

Des activists capture Éric Duhaime's arrival on stage at the Videotron Center, cellphones at arm's length.

Cellphones at arm's length, activists capture Éric Duhaime's arrival on stage before posting the sequence on their social media. The crowd gets carried away. Eric, Eric, Eric. Here and there, small flags of Quebec are waved.

You are making history, launches their leader, to applause. It's been a long time since we've seen thousands of people packed together like this to hear politics on a Friday night!

If the average age of participants seems to be around 45 or 50 years old, many young people attend the event. Fashionable t-shirts and sneakers, they came in small groups or in pairs.

Feel betrayed by the political class, drop one of them. It's been a long time since I wanted to get involved in politics and then there's nothing that joined me. But there, with Duhaime, something clicked. He now works as a volunteer for the party.

What about the environment? The Conservative Party is the only one that does not have a greenhouse gas reduction target. The environment is important to me. But I think it's first and foremost a question of individual responsibility, Mathieu replies.

According to party data, more than 60,000 people have joined the political party since Éric Duhaime took over as head in the spring of 2021. Will they be able to stay united beyond the health crisis? And what if the results of the poll do not live up to expectations?

Few people venture to comment on these issues at this time. To hear Éric Duhaime, on stage, insist on the importance of going to vote, the subject nevertheless seems to be at the center of his concerns.

It's because the Conservative Party has no not yet passed the vote test. And the outcome of the elections will depend on the party's ability to become a lasting part of the political landscape.

The evening is over. Near the stage, people crowd to shake hands with Anne Casabonne or to photograph her.

Before leaving, France said to me: I don't know not why we want to portray Eric and then the party so negatively. We don't eat children, you know.

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