Quebec elections 2022: opposition parties set the table for a fiery campaign

Elections in Quebec haven’t even been called yet, but the leaders of Quebec’s largest parties have already started campaigning in a race that polls show will likely see the tightest results in second place.

The projections of both 338Canada and Léger put François Legault’s outgoing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) well ahead of the other parties. The projected gap is so large that if the election were held tomorrow, Quebecers would send the CAQ back to Quebec City with a healthy majority of 97 seats, five times ahead of the second Liberals in terms of representation, according to 338.

However, with more than two months until the first ballot, a lot can change.

The head of Quebec solidaire Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois questions the government on education, Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at the Legislative Assembly of Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

“I PLAY TO WIN”

Activists from Québec solidaire (QS) spent Sunday morning in the Ville Emard district of Montreal.

In the last election, the left-leaning Quebec nationalist party came in second place there, and activists hope to make gains in October. A win would be quite an upheaval — Ville Emard is part of the Saint-Henri–Saint-Anne riding, which is owned by Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, at least, for now.

“In sports and politics, I don’t play to participate,” said Solidaire spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau Dubois, whose party serves as the second official opposition, behind the Liberals.

It would be a big leap, but not totally unprecedented. In 2018, QS beat double digits in the National Assembly with 10 seats, tied with the Parti Québécois, which had formed the government six years earlier.

One of these seats previously belonged to the leader of the PQ at the time, Jean-François Lisée.

READ MORE: Indigenous activist Labrecque-Saganash will run for Québec solidaire in Ungava

The usurping candidate, Vincent Marissal, told CTV the night of his victory that he was not focused on Lisee during his campaign. Instead, “I was just trying, which I did, to offer something else to the people of Rosemont.

On Sunday this year, Nadeau Dubois adopted a similar tone.

“If the people give us the mandate to be the official opposition in Quebec. We are ready to deliver,” he said.

“I play to win, I want to win.”

Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade, center, speaks during their general council meeting in Montreal, Saturday, June 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

‘SINCERELY IRRITATED’

For now, the Liberals form the Official Opposition and polls suggest they will stay there. However, in October, Anglade says she is not looking to settle for second place.

Aiming for first place, she targeted Quebec Premier François Legault, accusing him of dividing and conquering.

“They talk about being tired of being divided between Anglophones and Francophones, between immigrants and non-immigrants. This division must end,” she told a Sunday rally of liberal faithful.

“When I hear François Legault say that he is the prime minister of the majority, it really annoys me, as if sincerely irritated.”

READ MORE: Quebec’s liberal youth wing wants Bill 96 CEGEP requirement optional

The Liberals have defended their opposition to Bill 96, Quebec’s language reform law that has been regularly criticized by prominent voices in the English-speaking community.

But while the party has found popularity among this demographic, it faces new competition this year, with several parties vying for English votes.

The leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec, Eric Duhaime, speaks during the unveiling of his electoral platform in Drummondville, Quebec, on Sunday August 14, 2022. Quebecers will go to the polls on October 3. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

“ANGLOPHONES HAVE BEEN HOSTAGES”

The Conservative Party of Quebec may have been the last on the starting line, but it was the first to take the plunge on Sunday, officially launching its campaign under the slogan “Freedom to choose”.

Party leader Eric Duhaime wants to make this freedom of choice clear to English speakers.

“Anglophones have been held hostage by the Liberals,” he said on Sunday.

READ MORE: Conservative Quebec platform heavy on tax cuts, health care – but leaves several issues aside

Some polls already put the Conservatives second, while recent projections of 338 and Leger put them fourth.

“Obviously, for a new party, it’s a challenge. We were at 1% just over a year ago,” Duhaim said. “We have made progress in the polls.

Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon waves to supporters before speaking at the party’s national council meeting in Boucherville, Que., Saturday, May 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

‘FOR REAL’

Quebec’s third opposition party, the Parti Québécois, launched its own campaign on Sunday and unveiled a new slogan.

“The Quebec that assumes itself. For real.

The motto is not easy to translate into English — Quebec taking on, for real, or essentially, a province that has realized its potential. Be that as it may, it will likely be repeated many times during the PQ’s campaign focused on Quebec independence in the face of climate change and language protection.

READ MORE: Despite ‘adversity’ in polls, sovereignty remains key for Parti Québécois

Since losing power in 2012, it is now the third opposition in Quebec. In this latest push to regain some representation in Quebec, the party appears to be sticking to its bread and butter.

“Look our candidates in the eye and ask them the question: why did you choose to get into politics? wrote party leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon in a press release on Sunday.

“All will answer you that it is for their deep conviction that Quebec has no other choice but to become independent.”

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