Analysis | PLQ: the difficult self-criticism | Elections Quebec 2022
In 2018 as today, the balance sheets seem difficult to make for the Quebec Liberal Party.
The exercise is repeated systematically. Every time a party fails voters at the polls, its leaders promise to do some soul-searching and figure out what went wrong during their campaign. This is the case, this year, of the Quebec Liberal Party.
We will have to ask questions [in order to know] how we can both maintain our values and be closer to the concerns of Francophones in the regions, who this time chose the Coalition avenir Québec. Above all, you have to know how to differentiate yourself, analyzed outgoing MP Pierre Arcand.
Except that… This statement was not made during the post-election caucus of the PLQ, held on Wednesday last in Yamachiche, but well after the elections of… October 1, 2018. However, it remains just as relevant today.
Besides, what happened to this soul-searching promised in 2018? And, above all, what concrete actions have been taken to correct the situation? We never really knew.
It's that the sequence is often the same: in the days following the defeat, we take the hit, we make some assumptions about what happened, but we argue in the same breath that it is too early to draw any definitive conclusion. Above all, we promise to carry out great reflections and to make great changes, but the process often never succeeds. Life is gradually resuming its course and we hear no more about it.
As early as 2016, however, a report prepared by the chairman of the PLQ's political commission and unveiled by The Presssounded the alarm about the poor state of militant life within the party. Its author spoke of a militant base in freefall and denounced the little regard that the parliamentary wing made of the work done by party members. The PLQ had promised to take action, but six years later, the results are still pending.
Wednesday in Yamachiche, the Liberal candidates – elected or defeated – seemed to spread the word to blame the party organization.
There is no doubt: the liberal organization has failed on several fronts. The recruitment of candidates was carried out in disaster, at the last minute. This is without taking into account the sometimes erratic route taken by the cheffe's caravan.
Sources describe a climate of tension between some members of the team. Others internally have still not recovered from the fact that the candidate's file in Matane–Matapédia came within a hair's breadth of being rejected.
However, blaming all the members of the party organization would be too easy. We should not forget that it was Dominique Anglade who appointed or confirmed to their position those who orchestrated his party's campaign.
She was also the one who put forward the ECO project and the Charter of Regions, two flagship commitments of the QLP, which however did not allow her to shine.
On the plan for the defense of Quebec identity, the party has often blown hot and cold, claiming to want to defend the French language while backtracking on one of its key proposals: the addition of compulsory French courses in the English CEGEPs.
No matter how much we want to revive liberal activism in the regions, it is not the kind of thing that is improvised on the eve of an election. To mobilize, it is still necessary to arouse interest with concrete projects and strong ideas. This does not seem obvious for the PLQ.
The Liberal Party is not the only one to have difficulty looking in the mirror, however.
Even if the atmosphere was much more festive in the post-election caucus of the CAQ than in that of the PLQ, we nevertheless note the same difficulty in demonstrating self-criticism.
When asked about the low score obtained in Montreal, many elected CAQ have swept all responsibility under the rug. According to them, the many statements made by their team on the issue of immigration did not really have an impact on the score obtained.
We are going to restore things, tried the outgoing Minister for the Metropolis, Chantal Rouleau, before qualifying a few hours later. There are no bridges to restore, it is the discourse that must be restored, she pleaded. Most of his colleagues didn't even dare to say the same.
Chantal Rouleau has promised to “put things right” following comments made by members of her party about immigration.
Yet, even if she obtained a comfortable majority across Quebec, the CAQ would also do well to reflect on the least successful aspects of its election campaign. Indeed, the results could be closer in 2026.
The next elections may seem a long way off, but four years have passed quickly in politics. This also applies to Québec solidaire, the Parti Québécois and the Conservative Party, which have not yet held a caucus since the defeat.
None of the five major political parties in Quebec It is in his interest that his post-election results end up in a fish tail, as is too often the case.