< /p> Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Since coming to power five years ago, François Legault's party has been accustomed to witnessing the slow decline of the two “old parties”, the PQ and the Liberal Party of Quebec. However, if the Liberal results were able to confirm his convictions, in the last general elections, those of the PQ must have turned on a few lights on the CAQ dashboard.
The corridors of the National Assembly are always rich in observations. On politics, obviously, but not only that.
Wednesday morning, 8:15 a.m., the mood is more than relaxed in the ranks of the parliamentary wing of the Parti Québécois (PQ). Descending a staircase towards a press briefing room, under the watchful eye of a few journalists almost awake, the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, surrounded by his staff and a deputy, suddenly intones, all smiles, a song popularized by Roger Whittaker:
Hello, happy day »
Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon does not go any further in his performance. But the rest of the song, recently covered in Quebec by the group 2Frères, would only have confirmed what was already evident:
“ Here is the sun and I am happy [ …]
The world is kind, everything is wonderful. »
The day before, Tuesday, Prime Minister François Legault had for the first time commented on the PQ's tabling of the budget for a sovereign Quebec.
In the more solemn setting of the Salon bleu, Mr. Legault said First presented a calibrated response from the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ). But it was in a corridor, after question period, that the shrapnel flew. The Prime Minister showed how Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon managed to tickle him under the armor with his comments of the last few days.
“Is there anything more insulting than being called Jean Charest? He even said “Jean Chrétien,” all the same,” he said as he walked towards his office.
Over the past two weeks, the CAQ has been confronted for the first time since its election in 2018 with the reappearance of the contours of a sovereign Quebec.
Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon first stated that he is in favor of a Quebec currency and army. To Mr. Legault, who accused him of being far from the concerns of the population, the PQ leader offered his first comparison.
“It’s amazing, I think I hear Jean Charest,” said he said in the House.
Then, Monday, the PQ presented its budget for a sovereign Quebec. By addressing the subject on Tuesday at the Salon Bleu, Mr. Legault returned to the main idea of the party he founded in 2011: his desire to transcend the federalist-sovereignist divide.
“There is a party that wants to fall back into the old chicanery that lasted 50 years, before the CAQ,” he responded to his PQ opponent.
Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon then took the opportunity for a second comparison. “The old quibbles are the expression of Jean Chrétien,” he said.
A few moments earlier, the interim Liberal leader, Marc Tanguay, had for his part called into question Mr. Legault's support for Canadian federalism, which allowed the CAQ Prime Minister to send his adversaries back to back.
“These two parties dream of bringing back this chicanery because, since the CAQ put that aside, well, they are a little erased,” he said.
Since coming to power five years ago, Mr. Legault's party has mainly been accustomed to witnessing the slow decline of the two “old parties”, the PQ and the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ).
During his first mandate marked by the pandemic, François Legault also worked to accentuate the left-right axis. He reserved some of his finest attacks for the co-spokesperson of Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, whom he liked to portray as a woke.
On the eve of the start of the last electoral campaign, the PQ seemed to be sailing painfully towards its last election. And the PLQ got bogged down from the first days of the campaign.
During a leaders' debate, Mr. Legault allowed himself to say that the PLQ no longer had any reason to exist. “The PLQ no longer has the monopoly of being against sovereignty,” he underlined.
If the results of the Liberals were able to confirm his convictions, in the last general elections, those of the PQ must have turned on a few lights on the CAQ dashboard.
The recent PQ victory in Jean-Talon's complementary election, at the beginning of the month, in Quebec, sealed the perception of a rise of the sovereignist formation.
This week, Mr. Legault accused the PQ of having made this gain by hiding its option.
The Prime Minister, however, insisted on saying, after launching the campaign in Jean-Talon, that this fall it would be a question of the cost of living and not of sovereignty.
To clearly highlight the frivolity of the PQ project in the current context, no doubt. But it’s hard not to see it as a wish as well. As if the reappearance of sovereignty could bring back the old fault lines that would weaken the CAQ building.
After all, we must not forget that the 36% support for Quebec sovereignty, measured in June in a Léger poll, is made up of a third of CAQ sympathizers.
In the CAQ ranks, some would undoubtedly like to hear the rest of Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon's song.
“Perhaps I dreamed all this
Maybe all this doesn't exist
Well, too bad in my dream
It was so good »
The limelight being what it is, some CAQ members also believe that the game could get tougher for the PQ leader.
Le Devoir this week collected the impressions of five CAQ deputies, who preferred to remain anonymous to express themselves more freely.
For the first of them, the recent outlines outlined by Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon around an independent Quebec have the potential to fuel debates within the sovereignists themselves. He notes in particular that by advocating the abandonment of the Canadian dollar in favor of a Quebec currency, the PQ leader is breaking with his predecessors.
“He says: I want a Quebec dollar. Where does this come from? » he is surprised.
A second CAQ elected official believes that the image of the “perfect little guy” of the PQ leader will deteriorate over time.
“I see his behavior every day, for me he’s a spoiled baby,” confides this elected official. When that doesn't suit him, he sulks. I have the impression that you, the journalists, will realize this and, by the same token, the population. »
As for the effect of sovereignty on the CAQ, the geopolitical context in Ukraine and Israel militates in favor of stability, according to this same MP.
« Discuss sovereignty in this context is irrelevant, it's not the time, he said. It's not that Canada has become extraordinary, I don't think so at all, but there is still a kind of security. »
A third MP believes the subject of sovereignty will not be a factor in the debate before the next election. According to him, the PQ addressed the issue to put it behind it quickly.
“I understand the strategy of passing all of this right away,” he said. The army and everything. They put the banana peels in the same bag. »
A fourth believes that a reestablishment of the PLQ, with a new leader, would consolidate the framework that serves the CAQ.
“We were already on the nationalist side of the framework, but the PLQ is so much more there that the perspective is different. If the PLQ takes its place, we find the perfect center of the framing. »
A fifth elected official is still worried about a rise of the PQ in the regions and its effect on their voters' appetite for nationalism.
« They often vote with their emotions, their heart. And then, sometimes, the turn can be sharp,” he says.
Hello, happy day”