Quebec Votes

Jean Charest has been around forever. He’s the longest serving Quebec Premier since Maurice Duplesis, and has been PLQ leader for over 14 years. Older Quebecers no doubt remember him from his role on the “Non” campaign in 1995, and his time as a curly haired Cabinet Minister in the Brian Mulroney government. So it’s understandable that Quebecers are looking for a change – especially given the controversies and scandals he’s had to endure.

Still, this man has been the Lazarus of Canadian politics, so it would be foolish to count him out. Especially when you see start-of-the-campaign poll numbers like this:

PQ 33%
PLQ 31%
CAQ 21%
And all the rest 15%

Yes, the electoral map likely favours the PQ, but the Francois Legault’s “we love the future and puppies” party is very much a wild card when calculating the electoral math, and Quebecers have demonstrated a willingness to shift their votes mid-campaign. It’s very much anybody’s game.

And while Jean Charest has proven he can outcampaign Pauline Marois, if the election shifts to Charest versus the protestors, he’s going to win hands down:

Student protesters target Liberals as Quebec election kicks off

A disorderly scene erupted in downtown Montreal at the start of Quebec’s election campaign as a night protest saw injuries, multiple arrests and clashes with police.

The tense atmosphere during this spring’s student unrest was rekindled Wednesday as Jean Charest called an election and cast the tuition hike dispute as a central theme.

Nothing says “strong leader” like standing up to the mob, and most polls have shown there’s minimal sympathy for Quebec students, whose cell phone bills are higher than their tuition rates.

It’s surprising that Charest is even still around to fight this election. The shocking thing is, he might even win.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Quebec Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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8 Responses to Quebec Votes

  1. Jordan

    I guess he won’t be running against Trudeau for the leadership if he wins the election.

  2. kirbycairo

    THough I would not make bets either way, Charest is playing with fire in his attempt to use the demonstrations as his catalyst. Though the demonstrations are not particularly popular at the moment, if they suddenly increased and created havoc the public could put the blame more on Charest than on the protesters, particularly if heavy-handed responses create sympathy for many of the average citizens who are now taking part in the demonstrations. Public uprisings can quickly go (in people’s perceptions) from a bunch of trouble makers to the result of weak leadership on the part of the government.

    • CalgaryGrit

      It’s a risky play, but Charest doesn’t have a lot of else going for him given the corruption scandals and the “time for change” mood.

      I think he had to take a chance on running against the protestors.

  3. Sean C.

    It has to be considered a bit disappointing how comparatively little he’s done in that period, though much of that time wasn’t exactly condusive to visionary thinking, given the recession.

    But in the course of my work as a researcher on a book project last week, I came across a photo of the premiers gathering at Fanningbank in 1973 for PEI’s Centennial, and it’s kind of depressing when you look at the group gathered there (Alex Campbell, Peter Lougheed, Bill Davis, Richard Hatfield, Robert Bourassa, Allan Blakeney, etc.) and compare it to the current crop.

    • Jordan

      Yes, now it’s only Allison Redford, Brad Wall and Kathy Dunderdale. Our crop of great premiers has definitely shrunk.

      • Sean C.

        I would agree that Wall seems a likely candidate for that status. I haven’t yet seen that in Redford or Dunderdale.

  4. Jason Holborn

    I’ve had to vote in elections in which no candidate really, truly appealed to me, yet I’ve never had to choose from among such unappealing candidates as one sees in this slate.

  5. Party of One

    Charest clearly HASN’T handdled the student demonstrations very well at all; his implementation of Bill 78 didn’t outrage the students nearly as much as it motivated the general public to object to the potential of their own civil rights being suspended.

    Quebec voters are clearly more sophisticated than those in Alberta, as they very rarely give more than two consecutive majorities to any one party, and thereby hold their governments’ feet to the fire in terms of accountability.

    They’re also much more likely to give “upstart” parties an opportunity than are electors in Alberta. They gave the ADQ a chance, and I think that they’re going to give the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Quebec) a chance to show what they can do. Yes, that’s right…Quebec voters understand the concept of “coalition”, too!

    Charest is going to be VERY, VERY lucky if he pulls this off.

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