“We saw what happened in Ontario”: Quebecers invited to vote in the provincial elections

MONTREAL — An incumbent prime minister and his party navigate an election campaign as a fragmented opposition vies for voters’ attention in the absence of a central rallying point or decisive missteps.

MONTREAL — An incumbent prime minister and his party navigate an election campaign as a fragmented opposition vies for voters’ attention in the absence of a central rallying point or decisive missteps.

The scenario playing out in Quebec ahead of next month’s provincial election may seem like deja vu to residents of Ontario, where the Progressive Conservatives won a second majority in June.

Doug Ford’s victory came as voter turnout in that province hit an all-time low — around 43%, according to preliminary results — and some observers blamed the drop in turnout on a lack of competitive racing or a problem. galvanizing.

In Quebec, where the incumbent Avenir Quebec coalition has maintained a dominant lead in the polls throughout the campaign, some political parties have raised concerns that the province could be heading for low voter turnout on October 3. .

Earlier this week, the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Dominique Anglade, pointed the finger at Ontario by calling on voters to mobilize against the CAQ and its leader, François Legault.

“Go vote,” Anglade told reporters. “We saw what happened in Ontario.”

Meanwhile, the organization that oversees elections in Quebec has expanded its urge-to-vote message to social media platform TikTok in a bid to reverse the trend of declining voter turnout, especially among young people. . In the 2018 provincial election, 66.45% of voters voted, a drop of almost five percentage points from 2014. The turnout rate for those 35 and under was 53.41%, or 16 percentage points less than that of voters over the age of 35.

Like many other incumbents, Ford and Legault emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with strong public support, and there doesn’t appear to be a broad appetite for change, according to political experts. The two leaders have also seen once-powerful rivals – provincial Liberal parties – perform poorly and opposition parties fail to establish the agenda or a viable ballot issue, they said.

An election that “feels like a doom” may discourage some from voting because they believe it won’t make a difference, said McMaster University political science professor Peter Graefe.

That could be the case this time for Quebecers who usually support the Liberals since the party is unlikely to form government, he said. Since the last election, Quebec Liberals have struggled to connect with Francophones and have alienated part of their Anglophone base in Montreal by being seen as weak on language issues.

Other voters, however, may be more motivated, including those who support the Conservative Party of Quebec and its opposition to the CAQ’s pandemic measures, Graefe said.

Even if the province doesn’t appear ready for a leadership change, the race for second place could be a draw for some voters, especially as polls suggest the Liberals could lose official opposition status, said said Geneviève Tellier, professor of political science. at the University of Ottawa.

A Leger poll released earlier this week suggests support for the CAQ was 38%, more than double that of its closest runner-up. Three parties — the Liberals, Québec solidaire and the Conservatives — were at 16%, while the Parti Québécois was at 13%.

“It’s still uncertain and so it’s a three-way race with the Conservatives, the Liberals and (Québec solidaire) in popular support,” which could lead to some interesting battles in some ridings, Tellier said.

“There could be surprises” in ridings like Sherbrooke, in Estrie, where the popular incumbent of Quebec solidaire, Christine Labrie, faces the challenge of a candidate CAQ in sight: the former mayor of Longueuil, in Quebec, Caroline St-Hilaire.

The fact that five major parties are going head-to-head for the first time is also “a big novelty” that could spark public interest, Tellier said.

And without the traditional question of sovereignty and federalism on the ballot, people have the flexibility to vote based on other issues that matter to them, she added. “And so people will be interested in different topics and that might dictate their choice in a new way.”

Graefe, however, said having sovereignty off the ballot might instead reduce the incentive to vote if people feel the stakes aren’t as high. “In this case, that kind of existential question has been taken off the table, and so it looks more like an election in any other province,” he said.

Just over a week before the election, Montrealer Patricia Machabee still didn’t know who to vote for — or even if she would vote at all.

Although she believes voting is a civic duty, there’s not much motivation when the CAQ looks set to win, she said in a recent interview. “My vote won’t even really count.”

Moreover, none of the other options are attractive this time around, she said, adding that her husband was also hesitant to vote, for similar reasons.

“I’ve voted Liberal almost my whole life, ever since I was allowed to vote…but no one excites me,” she said. “I’ll have to try to figure out what I’m going to do. do.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 25, 2022.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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