The “orange taxes” divide
In 2022, 34 of the 47 districts where QS lost at least 1 percentage point of the vote were called “rural”. The party has above all failed to convince the regions in 2022 because of its fiscal and environmental proposals, say the MRC prefects surveyed this week by Le Devoir. The latter point to two specific commitments: the 15% surcharge on the purchase of more polluting vehicles and the tax on large fortunes.
“Energy-guzzling vehicles, yes, it’s true: we can imagine that there are people who don’t need them. But there are people, especially in the regions, who need it,” notes the prefect of the MRC of La Mitis, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, Bruno Paradis. “To see an additional tax for people who need it for their work, well, they certainly took it badly. »
This text is published via our Perspectives section.
Marcel Groleau does not hide his admiration for Émilise Lessard-Therrien. This year, during a national solidarity council, the former president of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) produced a short video to salute her work as an MP in front of party activists. “I have a lot of respect for her,” he says in an interview with Le Devoir.
QS did not attract the same respect from the agricultural community in 2022. In the first week of the election campaign, the party proposed that taxpayers with net assets of more than $1 million pay an additional tax by at least 0.1%. In the case of an inheritance, the joint tax model provided that each dollar of net assets above one million would be taxed at 35%.
Given the value of land and agricultural equipment, several independent farms would have been affected, notes Mr. Groleau. “The next generation of farmers is quickly reaching that million,” he analyzes more than a year later. Coupled with the surcharge on gasoline cars, the controversial proposal “hurt” rural people, he said. The subsequent addition of an exemption for farmers did nothing.
During a debate organized in the offices of Devoir during the race for co -spokesperson, in November, Émilise Lessard-Therrien agreed that better consultation of the regions would have allowed Québec solidaire to avoid the pitfalls of what François Legault nicknamed “orange taxes”.
Now that she has received the support of the solidarity delegates, Marcel Groleau gives her some advice. “If a party wants to attract a regional clientele, people, in their daily lives, must not offend them directly,” he analyzes.
“Because we support major projects,” continues this resident of Thetford Mines. The environmental project, everyone understands that we must adhere to it. But taxing cars in the region when we don't have public transport doesn't work. […] You’re done, you’re dead. »
Ms. Lessard-Therrien's co-spokesperson, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, has already confirmed that Québec solidaire's tax proposals will be re-evaluated between now and the 2026 election. Last weekend, solidarity delegates proposed exempt gas-powered vehicles from a proposal to remove the QST on repair costs and used goods. The decision to reject the amendment was praised by “GND” for its “pragmatism”.
Precisely, “people are pragmatic in the region,” notes Claire Bolduc. We saw in the last elections that the Québec Solidaire program could, in some respects, scare us. In this context [Ms. Lessard-Therrien] will have to bridge the gap between what the regions say, what she says and how that translates into the party's positions. »
Even if he presented himself in Estrie in 2022, like Christine Labrie, the mayor of the small municipality of Sainte-Camille, Philippe Pagé, supported Émilise Lessard-Therrien in the race for solidarity co-spokesperson. For this former QS candidate in Richmond, no candidate represented rurality better than the former elected official from Témiscamingue.
At the other end of the phone, Mr. Pagé makes a clear observation: “Our brand, it has to evolve. We have common values, farmers and Quebec solidarity. We have common values with rural people, who work together, who have mutual aid and solidarity. »
“But why does a product fail to reach its market? It’s either marketing, or a question of spokesperson, or a question of message…” he adds. “Then, by refining it with a spokesperson who comes from there, I think we have the opportunity to put our speech in regional style. »
Since its founding in 2006, QS has prided itself on being the party “of the ballot boxes and the streets”. By seizing solidarity leadership, Émilise Lessard-Therrien intends to add two words: “the ranks”.