Photomontage: The Duty After a difficult year, Prime Minister François Legault has time to get his act together before the next Quebec elections.
Marie-Michèle Sioui and Alexandre Robillard in Quebec
January 6, 2024
The tide turned suddenly for the Caquistes during the year, as François Legault bluntly admitted when concluding the parliamentary work for the adjournment of the Holidays.
The fall of his government in public opinion, confirmed by several polls which now place the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) behind the Parti Québécois, comes a year after its majority re-election, which awarded it 89 of the 125 seats in the Assembly. national.
The loss of Jean-Talon to the Parti Québécois seemed to disorient Mr. Legault, who admitted it with self-deprecation at the beginning of December. He concluded a year full of twists and turns for his government.
This text is published via our Perspectives section.
At the start of the year, the CAQ believed that the headwinds would come mainly from criticism about the government's mega-reforms in health and education, then about negotiations with the public sector. Obstacles finally arose elsewhere: in the SAAQclic saga, after the increase in the salaries of deputies, on the path to the resurrection of the third link and in the wake of the granting of a subsidy for the arrival of the Los Angeles Kings, among others.
Seeing their leader as a reformer, the Caquistes hope to be able to reap the praise they believe they deserve for having dared to straighten out the education and health networks. They recall the words spoken by their leader in 2011, who, in the early days of the CAQ, affirmed that a government must make “major changes without looking at the polls” at the start of its mandate.
Already last fall, within the CAQ troops, some were highlighting the time remaining between now and the next elections, scheduled for 2026. The little book of politics contains a famous phrase from Robert Bourassa: “Six months , in politics, it's an eternity. »
In half a year, the senior leaders of Santé Québec will have been appointed. The new National Institute for Excellence in Education will be on the eve of being launched, since Quebec is aiming for deployment for the start of the school year. The population will then be able to see if the CAQ promises come true.
Pull yourself together
In the immediate future, when the government has settled the matter of collective agreements in the public sector, François Legault will have a little time to collect himself before resuming work in the National Assembly, in February.
The last days of the year seemed to reveal the limits of his ability to convince others by speaking “true” in this matter.
Mr. Legault said in early December that the education strike was “hurting our children,” which was received as “emotional blackmail” by union members. He then candidly confided that things were going to “stir up” with the unions. Then, he boldly moved forward to return to class the following Monday, before being contradicted by reality.
These declarations, and its recurring presence in the negotiations, come at the end of the worst sequence that the CAQ has experienced since it came to power.
With seat projections made from polls which place several CAQ deputies facing defeat if elections were currently held, the Prime Minister's room for maneuver is beginning to shrink if he wants to convince his troops that he is still the right one. general to lead them to victory in the 2026 election.
In the meantime, some CAQ elected officials may have found a reason to hope by listening to the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, himself recently admitting that his party's score in the polls could fluctuate between now and the next vote.