Marco Bélair-Cirino and François Carabin
November 15, 2023
The presence of a real regional reflex at Québec solidaire (QS) would have allowed it to avoid certain harmful proposals during the 2022 electoral campaign, according to leadership candidate Émilise Lessard-Therrien. Like her opponent Christine Labrie, she is campaigning for the appointment of a co-spokesperson from outside Montreal.
In a debate organized by Le Devoiras part of the race for QS's female co-spokesperson, Tuesday, the former member of Parliament for Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue recognized that the financial proposals made by the party for the 2022 election, described as “taxes orange” by the Coalition Avenir Québec, had caused more than one person living outside major centers to flee.
In its platform, QS proposed, for example, imposing a tax of on average 15 % on the purchase of larger gasoline vehicles. The party also promised to tax net assets when they exceed a million dollars, a proposal which initially provided no exception for farmers.
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“The principle is one of redistribution of wealth. Now, would the threshold have been at a million? Would it have been five million? Maybe we would have had discussions about that. Would farmers have been left out from the start? Probably yes, because we would have raised those flags,” agreed Ms. Lessard-Therrien, who lost her seat in last year’s elections. “On the issue of SUVs, should we have gone firmly [by saying] that it will not apply to people who live in the regions? » she wondered out loud.
Québec solidaire lost votes in 45 rural or suburban ridings in 2022. Ms. Lessard-Therrien notably lost one of the only two ridings in the political formation located outside of Montreal and Quebec.
A diehard elected official still stands tall outside of large urban centers: the member for Sherbrooke, Christine Labrie. Also a candidate for the position of female co-spokesperson, she believes that appointing a regional co-spokesperson would send “a clear signal” that would “remove the Montreal party label that harms [QS] Right now “. “Even though we are good in the regions, people outside of Montreal still need to be attentive to what Québec solidaire is doing. And this symbol, of choosing one of our two co-spokespersons who is not from Montreal, is important,” she said.
According to Ms. Labrie, the training of the left has “a problem” currently: “People [from the regions] don't even pay attention to what Québec solidaire is doing, because they take for granted that we are not interested in them and that we are not do not understand their reality. »
Not a question of “postal code”
MP Ruba Ghazal, third candidate in the solidarity race, defends her candidacy. It's not because she represents the riding of Mercier, which embraces Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, that she should automatically be disqualified, she said.
“It doesn't depend on the code postal. […] The proof of that is that Manon [Massé] and Gabriel [Nadeau-Dubois] were the two spokespersons when we won Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue. That's not the most important thing. »
The 45-year-old elected official, who is of Palestinian origin, also affirms that she is not the only one who can represent diversity. “We have to be careful with magical and symbolic solutions,” she said. There are people who could say that Christine does not put forward the question of independence. If [she] wins, are we going to say that Québec solidaire is not pro-independence? Of course not. »
A “responsibility” for independence
In a debate organized earlier this fall, Ms. Labrie suggested that Quebec’s sovereignty was not the “priority” in her eyes. This time, the speech is completely different. The elected representative from Sherbrooke, who describes herself as a “late-in-life” independentist, today feels imbued with a sense of “responsibility”.
“Support for independence among young people is really low, unfortunately. Then since our voters are among the younger generations, well, there is definitely a correlation,” she argued. “That the young electorate supports the independence project is part of our responsibilities as a political party. »
Ruba Ghazal insists on the preponderant role that immigrants can play in the survival of Quebec culture and in the achievement of independence. “It is not normal today, when we say that we must protect the French language, that it is heard in people's heads as if we do not want people to speak their mother tongue. »
The elected official accuses the right, with its “closed conservative discourse”, of having created gaps between minorities and the majority of Quebec. “When we say that we have to close the doors and then have fewer immigrants, because they are the ones who threaten French, how can a girl like me feel? » she asked.
By proposing immigration thresholds at 35,000 new arrivals per year, the Parti Québécois contributes to this stigmatization, according to Christine Labrie. “And not just when it comes to immigration,” she said. We saw this very recently on issues concerning trans children, for example. There have been major posture changes. »
In the context, even if they say they are “talkable”, the three united candidates find it difficult to imagine a sovereignist alliance with the Parti Québécois. “Right now, there are brakes. Not just in terms of our values, but also in terms of reading about the issues that are experienced in the different regions of Quebec,” indicated Émilise Lessard-Therrien. “Is that a resounding ‘no’? No,” she added, while urging her party not to move away from its left-wing convictions. “We have everything we need at the moment, without needing to refocus, to face the looming crises,” she argued.
The race for co-carrier- QS's female role will end on November 26, with the election of Manon Massé's successor.