Last Wednesday Jean Charest, the head of the beleaguered Liberal Party government in Québec, called early provincial elections for September 4th amid a series of political crisis sparked by a slow drip of corruption scandals, unprecedented student protests and rising polling numbers for the opposition nationalist Parti Quebecois (PQ) and the centre-right regionalists of the Coalition Avenir Québec or CAQ.
Charest has been the premier of Québec since 2003 with a straight run of election victories for his Liberal Party but he is now neck-and-neck with rival PQ leader Pauline Marois, despite her generally poor political reputation. The latest polls place the Liberals on 31% and PQ on 33%. However the wild-card of the CAQ is also polling strongly at 21% and there remains the possibility of the party under its mercurial leader François Legault entering some form of coalition with one of its rivals. Given his party’s official policy of suspending any independence debate in Québec for at least a decade it is not insignificant that Pauline Marois has dodged the question of when a potential PQ government would stage one. Legault is a former PQ member and despite some animosity with old colleagues (and real differences on economic issues) a PQ-CAQ coalition seems a better fit than one with the Liberals.
Meanwhile the Coalition Avenir Québec has secured a potential coup with the nomination of high profile former Montréal police chief and anti-corruption czar Jacques Duchesneau for election. However, given Duchesneau’s sometimes mixed public record it is a strategy not without its own pitfalls.
- Marois won’t do English debate (cbc.ca)
- Charest charges ‘Quebec’s Eliot Ness’ with political opportunism (theglobeandmail.com)