Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Liz Truss resigning as British Prime Minister after only 45 days, a cheating scandal and lawsuit in the chess world and why people might want to avoid the Lakeshore General Hospital.
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss protest and privilege: climate change activists throwing tomato soup at a Van Gogh, the Emergencies Act inquiry, the Jan. 6 Committee subpoenaing former President Trump.
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss US President Joe Biden pardoning all people federally convicted of possessing marijuana, the 2022 Quebec Election results and the Legault Government secretly hiring McKinsey, a private consulting firm, to run its pandemic response.
It’s the aftermath of the 2022 Quebec Election and like many people of colour in Quebec, I am in mourning.
I am in mourning because the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) led by François Legault, whose administration over the past five years has been characterized by a rise in hate crimes, the passing of Bills 21 and 96, legislation meant to alienate hardworking Quebeckers for what they wear, how they live, and what language they speak, won a majority in the National Assembly. I am in mourning because a faulty riding system gave rural Quebeckers terrified of non-white, non-Christian, non-French-speaking Quebecois greater representation than the majority of the province’s population. I pity those same voters for failing to see Legault’s race baiting and the similarities between his administration and that of Quebec’s hated past Premier, Maurice Duplessis.
Like Duplessis, Legault repeatedly covers his mistakes and unfulfilled promises by making false claims that non-French speakers and visible minorities are the real threat to Quebec society. Like Duplessis, Legault’s actions are fervently anti-union, behavior that has driven thousands out of the healthcare and teaching professions. His anti-immigration rhetoric has exacerbated an ongoing labour shortage that has business owners in the service, manufacturing, and import-export industries begging the government to admit more people annually.
I grieve because Legault’s refusal to acknowledge systemic racism has been widely interpreted by the worst members of society as permission to discriminate and engage in acts of violence, and resulted in the deaths of people like Joyce Echequan.
As the hate crimes increase, Legault is actively engaging in indoctrination, forcing schools to teach values and history lessons that ignore the contributions of Jews and other groups that have been in Quebec just as long as the French have, if not longer. He changed the political culture by his blatant use of the Notwithstanding Clause in the Canadian Constitution, when it used to be considered a frowned upon last resort.
All the while, his government has been passively undermining the safety and voting power of people under the age of 60. During the pandemic he actively denied access to the vaccine to chronically ill people under 60 who were just as susceptible to COVID as perfectly healthy baby boomers, shifting gears only when public outrage forced his hand. During the election The Coalition Avenir du Québec made no attempt to court young voters because studies showed that those who vote don’t vote for them.
Though the aftermath has me fearing for my own safety, it is not for myself and other Quebec minorities that I grieve for most. It is for the white Francophone Quebecois who said they would not vote for Legault. The ones from Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Montreal, and small towns in Quebec who refused to buy into the Coalition Avenir du Quebec’s rhetoric, coming forward to say bigotry is not something to be proud of, and backed it up with their votes. Many of these voters have confided in me that they are quietly waiting for the baby boomers to die off, convinced that the electoral system that led to a CAQ majority will not accommodate and respect their needs.
I have always said that a revolution must begin inside and outside the political system. The time to try and make a difference inside the system passed with this election. It is time to fight back from outside of it.
It will not be easy, but there are ways around National Assembly seats and dictatorial leaders out of touch with reality. I’m not just talking about protests and marches. I encourage business leaders hurt by the government’s immigration policies to find a way to sue them for loss of profits.
Social media campaigns to dig up every little harm or illegal dealing by Legault and his government should start immediately so the world can see them for the xenophobes and crooks that they are. Young people should be writing letters, protesting, and demanding changes to a political system that is repeatedly leaving them behind.
Most importantly, we the people need to unite with our French Canadian allies and show the world that the CAQ does not represent the majority of Quebeckers. Diversity is strength, and bigotry brings only shame and economic adversity.
The fight is only over when WE say it is.
No more turning the other cheek.
Well, that was…something. The 2022 Quebec Election is over and the results are in, and, for the most part, have been in since early Tuesday. In was ready for some of them…or was I. Let’s break them down:
Sad But Predictable: CAQ Majority
I was prepared for another Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) Government. I fully expected the evening would end with Premier François Legault winning a second Majority Government, possibly even a larger one.
I wasn’t expecting it at the beginning of the evening, though. Seriously, I had just figured out where to stream the results and the first thing I saw, even before I got the volume turned I knew it was that it was a CAQ Majority.
Another four years of Legault, for many, is a horrific prospect. My colleague Samantha Gold will speak about what it means for those most directly affected in a post to be published later. For me, this result is primarily a sad one.
It’s sad that there are enough people spread out across enough ridings who not only tolerate Legault’s xenophobia, pro-privatization stance and general right-wing bs, but actually support at least one, if not all, of the three. It’s also sad that, once again, Montreal voters don’t seem to count in the big picture.
Once again, all but two ridings on the island went for anyone but the CAQ and yet a CAQ Government we have. Legault can keep passing laws targeted at Montreal without having to answer to the people who live here.
The second-largest city in Canada, the largest city in Quebec and a world-class multicultural and largely progressive metropolis doesn’t have a say in some of the laws that affect it. Instead we are at the whim of people who are so antithetical to progress that they actually find a joke like François Legault electable.
But I digress. I was expecting that outcome. Most people who kept an eye on Quebec politics and the polls did.
Glad we got that out of the way right away, now we can look forward to good news from Montreal…or not.
Unexpected and Disappointing: No Great Change in Montreal Status-Quo
It looked, early on in this campaign, like the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) was in for a bit of a routing. Maybe not a complete one like the Parti Québécois (PQ) suffered last time, but a significant one rooted in Liberal bastions on the Island of Montreal, including Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne, Leader Dominique Anglade’s home riding (and my riding).
It also looked like Québec solidaire (QS) could be positioning itself as a strong primary opposition to the CAQ. This would herald a new dichotomy in Quebec politics with progressive QS policies on one hand and Legault’s right wing (or “centre-right” as he’ claims) on the other.
This would be a welcome change from the old Federalist/Sovereigntist split that had dominated the political scene here for over half a century and really seemed on its way out. Also, if some of the smaller parties like the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ) or even upstart parties like Bloc Montréal made some inroads in PLQ strongholds in Montreal, it would prove that the Libs can’t take our support for granted and not fight for our interests as they try to win votes in CAQ regions.
Unfortunately, while the Liberals lost ten seats since the last election, it was mostly to the CAQ and not in Montreal. They firmly remain the Official Opposition.
QS, meanwhile, did pick up a seat, going from ten to eleven, and it was from the Liberals and on the Island of Montreal, Verdun in particular. This was nice, but it would have been great if the trend continued and especially of QS’s Guillaume Cliche-Rivard had unseated Anglade.
Instead, the Libs hold pretty much the west of the island and QS has, for the most part, the old PQ ridings (from back when the PQ at least pretended to be progressive and not just nationalist). This would be fine if Montreal had the same influence it had when the PQ and PLQ traded victories. Now, though, when you leave the island, you are hit with a sea of CAQ.
Also, the smaller progressive parties barely made a dent. Bloc leader Balarama Holness and Green Leader Alex Tyrrell personally finished fifth and seventh respectively in the same riding (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce).
The best way to beat Legault next time is with a strong, progressive opposition clearly defined this time. And that opposition needs strong roots or at least support in Montreal.
The only way that opposition can be the Liberals is if they actually change their political DNA and stop being the party that sort-of campaigns to the left and then shifts rightward when in power, and that would take a serious loss to progressive ideas, if it’s possible at all. Probably not, to be honest.
For it to be QS, two things would have to happen:
- QS would have to stop trying to appease people in Legault’s base the way co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois did when the PQ leader pressured him during the debate and realize that they won’t vote for them anyways. Instead, they should focus on their own base and growing it and try to appeal more to staunch progressives, Montrealers and Anglos.
- Anglos would have to not be afraid of voting for a party with sovereignty on their platform. It’s not the xenophobic separatism you are used to and it’s not their top priority (plus, remember that at this point, we’re going for a strong opposition)
So there wasn’t a great victory for progressives (and for me) in the race for second. Was there any silver lining in these election results?
Some Good News: Conservatives Don’t Win a Single Seat & PQ Reduced to Three
One thing I was afraid of was that Éric Duhaime’s Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) would somehow squeak through a win or two on the West Island, NDG or Westmount due to the party’s opposition to Bill 96. That didn’t happen.
In fact, Duhaime’s late-in-the-game pivot to trying to woo Anglos didn’t work and neither did his earlier attempt to outflank Legault on the right by playing to the trucker convoy/anti-vax crowd. While performing decently in some ridings, the party didn’t win a single seat in the National Assembly and Duhaime even lost his.
It goes to show that trying to out-Legault Legault doesn’t work. Same thing for the PQ, the once-great, frequently in power PQ has now been reduced to just three seats, including one for its leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who was in a real fight.
While I like the idea of splitting the bigot vote and/or the right-wing vote, as it could damage Legault, the fact that it didn’t work is ultimately a good thing. At least now, the CAQ is isolated, despite being more powerful than ever.
An abundance of parties on the right just moves the progressive ones further from their base. The fewer xenophobic voices in our political sphere the better.
So this was a small victory, but I’ll take it.
About That Electoral System We Have
One thing that could have been said during any broadcast covering this election would have been “These results are brought to you by the First-Past-The-Post-System”, because without it, things could have turned out much differently. Sure, the CAQ still would have won, but not by such a striking majority. Also, Montreal voters like me wouldn’t have felt that we were voting for second place.
Nadeau-Dubois, Duhaime and St-Pierre Plamondon all mentioned our electoral system, how it affected the results and the need for a change in their victory speeches. The latter spent a few minutes on the topic and appealed to Premier Legault to keep his promise of electoral reform from the 2018 campaign.
Now while St-Pierre Plamondon was correct in his assessment of this particular topic, I found it funny and hypocritical that the head of a party that benefited greatly from FPTP pretty much every other election for over 50 years was now railing against the process. The other two leaders, though, were perfectly justified in their opposition.
While it’s, um, unlikely, that Legault will revisit electoral reform this mandate, we really do need change. It seems like the one thing that could give us a result that isn’t as cringe-worthy and disheartening as this one was.
The votes are in and Québec solidaire (QS) has won our 2022 Quebec Election readers’ poll and therefore an endorsement article written on behalf of FTB readers.
Before we get into it, though, I think it’s important to mention that only a handful of people voted in this poll, way down from just about every other FTB election poll. Whether that’s a sign of lack of interest in this election or a feeling of Montreal only being in a position to choose second place or something else, I’m not sure.
Also, the margins were narrower than they usually are. QS won with 29% support followed by (ugh) The Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) at 19%. I’m seriously hoping these people saw their vocal and advertised Bill 96 opposition then stopped reading the rest of their platform, ’cause it’s scary.
Bloc Montréal, Balarama Holness’ new Montreal-focused party tied for third with the Not Legault! option (more on that later), winning 14% each. The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) and the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ) each placed fourth with 10% of the vote.
4% were undecided while the governing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) each got zero votes. One thing I love about small polls is being able to say that no one in our readership supports the current government.
Clearly Not Legault
Yes, we had Not Legault! as an option, sort of an Undecided Plus, as in “I’m not sure who I like, but definitely not him!” And if you crunch the numbers a different way, 96% of respondents confirmed that they will vote for someone other than CAQ Leader and Incumbent Premier François Legault.
Also, if you remove the Conservative number, you get 77% of respondents looking for a progressive (or progressive-sounding) alternative to Legault. Seriously, once you get past the CPQ pledge to eliminate Bill 96, they’re as bad as Legault (privatization of healthcare) and in some cases worse (think trucker convoy, anti-vax and far right, the original reasons the party got traction).
So if not Legault, then who? Well, FTB readers have selected Québec solidaire. While I know that not everyone in our readership, or our editorial team, supports them, I voted for them both in this poll and in reality, last week in advanced polls.
There are things not to like about them, like voting for Bill 96, co-spokesperson and Premier candidate Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois letting PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon bully him into saying teh n-word during a debate and, for some, their pro-sovereignty stance. But there are quite a few positives.
So why vote QS? Why did our readers pick them? I can’t really answer that for you, but I can answer that for me. Here are just a few reasons why I think Québec solidaire is the right choice this time around:
- Environment: QS will ban the transport of hydrocarbons on Quebec territory, pass a law against food waste, financially and technically help farms transition to sustainable agriculture, refuse new road projects and strive to balance car travel with public transit.
- Public Transit: Speaking of public transit, QS has a very ambitious Quebec Rail and Quebec Bus inter-city transit proposal but also wants to improve transit in the Greater Montreal Area which includes extending the Metro’s Orange Line west, the Green Line east and a Purple Line going from Laval East to Downtown.
- Housing: QS plans to fight the housing crisis by stopping abusive rent increases and building 50 000 affordable residences.
- Healthcare: They are promising 24/7 CLSCs, double the homecare for seniors and public dental care.
- Systemic Racism: QS admits it’s real, which, surprisingly in Quebec, is a big thing. They plan to listen to affected communities to fight it, in particular indigenous communities.
- Bill 21: They stood up and voted against Bill 21 and pledge to dismantle it if elected.
- Contraception and the “Pink Tax”: Under a QS Government, contraceptive products will be covered my RAMQ, menstrual products will be free in schools and the “pink tax” that makes products more expensive for women will be a thing of the past.
- French: Despite voting for Bill 96, QS is advocating for the carrot approach, rather than the stick, when it comes to promoting French: New immigrants will be offered free on-the-job French courses and $500 vouchers for French cultural events.
While some of the smaller progressive parties echo these platform points, QS is the only one that has them and also has a good chance of winning several seats. And while the Liberal platform might sound progressive, they have a track record of veering right once elected.
With that in mind, Québec solidaire is both a principled choice and a strategic one. Which is why, I think, it got our readers’ endorsement.
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney welcome Samantha Gold to talk about the 2022 Quebec Election: Legault’s bigotry, youth voter turnout, QS and smaller leftist parties, a relevance for Bloc Pot and more!
Find out where and when you can vote at electionsquebec.qc.ca
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss François Legault’s promise of financial Hurricane Fiona relief and lack of funding for climate change adaptation, Vladimir Putin’s military draft that largely targets minorities and protesters, protests in Iran and more.
With the Quebec Elections coming on October 3rd, this week’s Riding to Watch is one I’ve lived in more or less my whole life: Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG).
NDG is one of the larger ridings in Montreal and has been a Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) stronghold for decades. However, as in many other ridings, the PLQ MNA, Kathleen Weil, has decided not to run again, creating an opening for new blood in the seat.
Why is NDG a riding to watch?
- Location and Boundaries: Notre-Dame-de-Grace is comprised of Montreal West and part of the NDG/Côte-des-Neiges borough of Montreal.
- Population: 72 520 with 46 268 electors
- Language: 48.3% Anglophone, 24.2% Francophone, and 19.5% Allophone
- Age: The two largest groups are the 30-39 (15.6%) and 20-29 (14.6%)
- Average Income: With 17.7 % of the population in the >$9,999 and $19,999 annual household income range, NDG is one of the poorest districts on the Island of Montreal.
This is a borough to watch because it contains 34.2 percent visible minorities, compared to just 13 percent in all of Quebec. It is one to watch as the PLQ’s Kathleen Weil has been in power since 2008 and is choosing not to run again.
The PLQ’s replacement candidate, Désirée McGraw, was former Federal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s senior policy advisor from 2003 to 2006. She also has lots of experience fighting for environmental causes and is clearly one of the more experienced candidates.
In the 2018 provincial election, Québec solidaire (QS) came in second in NDG. While much of Québec solidaire’s platform, such as opposition to Bill 21 and fighting climate change, is ideologically in line with the values of the people of Notre-Dame-de-Grace, their refusal to oppose the aggressive language law, Bill 96, has left a sour note in the mouths of the district’s majority Anglophone population. It is no help to their cause that their candidate, Élisabeth Labelle is fresh out of university and has little to no political experience.
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) candidate is Geneviève Lemay, who has a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. The party clearly chose her for her bilingualism and education in an attempt to mollify the riding’s Anglophone and ethnically diverse population. She unlikely to win because despite the deep-seated cynicism of much of the riding’s population, Notre-Dame-de-Grace embraces ethnic and linguistic diversity and social justice in a way wholly incompatible with CAQ’s assimilationist xenophobic rhetoric.
The Conservative Party of Quebec (CPQ) candidate is Dr. Roy Eappen, an endocrinologist. Much like his party, he believes the solution to Quebec’s ailing public healthcare system is to lean more heavily on privatization, a solution that would likely create two-tier system in which the super-rich get better quality healthcare than most Quebeckers. Though Eappen himself immigrated to Canada from Kerala, India, he seems to take no issue with his party’s determination to slash immigration to Quebec.
There are two party leaders running for a seat in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. The first is the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ) Leader Alex Tyrrell, who has led the party since 2013. In the 2018 elections Green Party candidate Chad Walcott came in fourth after the Coalition Avenir Québec candidate in the riding. As it stands, the Green Party has yet to win a seat in the National Assembly and is unlikely to do so this time around.
Former Canadian Football League player Balarama Holness is the other party leader running in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. His party is one of his own creation, called Bloc Montreal. His party is all about ensuring that Montreal’s interests are properly represented in the National Assembly and their platforms begin with a recognition that Montreal represents fifty percent of the Quebec population and fifty percent of the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The party opposes Bills 21 (the secularism law) and 96 as being harmful to Montrealers. Though much of the party’s platform is meant for all of Quebec, the perception that they stand for Montreal and only Montreal will likely cost the party in this election.
No word on how this could play out locally for Holness, so NDG remains a riding to watch.
Map and stats from Elections Quebec
It’s been a busy few days in Quebec politics, as is to be expected in such a short election season. Let’s start with some observations on the Face a Face leader’s debate Thursday night (it was in French, so all quotes are translated):
- Best line of the night goes to Québec solidaire (QS)’s Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, when speaking to Premier François Legault of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ): “You’re proposing managing the climate crisis a bit like Mr. Duhaime would have managed the pandemic.” A reference to Conservative Party of Quebec (CPQ) Leader Éric Duhaime opposition to pretty much any health restrictions.
- Biggest screwup also goes to Nadeau-Dubois, for when he let Parti Québécois (PQ) Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon goad him into saying a racial slur which is part of the title of a book considered by some to be a seminal part of Quebec literature. While many voters might not care, the QS base who do the door-knocking, phone banking and signage surely do. And there’s no political upside for QS, as the ‘right to racism’ (or ‘anti-woke above all’) crowd won’t vote for a party that opposed Bill 21 (nor the PQ, for that matter, Legault and Duhaime have that vote sown up), regardless of whether Nadeau-Dubois had said the word or refused to.
- Overall, though, Nadeau-Dubois gave a strong performance. He was confident and reserved most of his attacks for Legault. He also clearly articulated the party’s message of changing times with respect for “the generation that built Quebec”. It’s unfortunate that his screwup might detract from that strength and his message.
- Quebec Liberal (PLQ) Leader Dominique Anglade did better than I, or the polling, expected her to. She came across as an earnest underdog and I almost forgot that she was representing one of the
- Duhaime, as opponents jokingly suggested, is looking to win some votes on the West Island. With COVID restrictions and Vaccine Passports now months in the past (for now), railing against them won’t bring the electoral bounty he once thought it would. And he knows he can’t beat Legault on general right-wing issues, so why not try and reach out to right-leaning anglos. His vocal opposition to Bill 96 played like a last-minute switch, albeit a bold one to make in a French debate.
- If St-Pierre Plamondon’s goal was to weaken QS with progressives without taking back the votes they lost to them last time, mission accomplished. If it was to win back relevancy and maybe power, his debate performance was a total failure.
- As for Legault, he came across as, well, Legault, which is all he needed to do, really.
- On systemic racism, Anglade, the only person of colour (and the only woman) on stage, came out strong against the myth, or the spin, that it doesn’t exist. Duhaime and St-Pierre Plamondon towed the “racism is bad, but let’s not say it’s baked into the system, it’s just words, let’s all get along” (not a direct quote) line.
- Legault tried to make the argument that the “problems in Joliette” (where Atikamekw mother Joyce Echaquan recorded racial slurs by hospital staff before dying) were resolved (more on this later) and therefore no systemic racism. Nadeau-Dubois countered that Legault wasn’t Premier of Joliette and the problem still exists across Quebec.
- Anglade attacked Nadeau-Dubois for voting for Bill 96 (something QS has tried to distance themselves from) and Nadeau-Dubois attacked Anglade for waffling on the same bill (first trying to toughen it, then voting against it because it was too tough).
- On protecting the French language, four of the five leaders argued for some variation of the “stick” approach: the stick, or Bill 96 (Legault), a bigger stick, or a tougher Bill 96 (St-Pierre Plamondon), a smaller stick, or Bill 96 lite (Anglade), and a different stick, a law that left the historic anglos out of it and focused on immigrants (Duhaime). Nadeau-Dubois opted for the “carrot” approach, or free on-the-job French courses and a $500 voucher for French music, theatre and cultural production for all new immigrants.
Whether or not this debate swayed any voters has yet to be seen. But the campaigning continued.
Problem Not Solved in Joliette According to Atikamekw Community
Remember how François Legault argued during the debate that changes made at the Joliette hospital where Atikamekw mother Joyce Echaquan died were proof that the problem was solved in Joliette and that there was no systemic racism in Quebec? Well, the Manawan Atikamekw Council, the Atikamekw Nation Council and Joyce Echaquan’s spouse, Carol Dubé, released a statement saying that the situation had not been fixed, even in Joliette.
Dubé also sent a letter, through his lawyer, stating that “if the premier had bothered to meet with Ms. Echaquan’s family over the past two years, or if he had simply taken the time to read the report of coroner Gehane Kamel tabled in September 2021, he would have realized that the systemic problems that led to Ms. Echaquan’s death are not of a nature that can be ‘solved’ by essentially cosmetic changes.”
Legault responded on Saturday, saying that: “They want to come back to the issue of systemic racism…they want to make a debate of words instead of ensuring that we solve the problems on the ground.”
So it’s now not just Nadeau-Dubois and Anglade that the Premier is arguing with about systemic racism, but a victim’s family and community as well.
QS’s Rail and Bus Proposal
On Friday, Québec solidaire unveiled what could be its most ambitious proposal this election season: a $13 billion investment in public inter-city train and bus transit. Here is what it would look like:
- Two new public bodies will be created to administer it: Québec-Rail and Québec-Bus.
- The rail network will be comprised of five lines: Matane-Quebec, Quebec-Montreal, Quebec-Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke-Montreal and Montreal-Gatineau.
- Existing rail lines would be used, three of them are currently under provincial jurisdiction and two are federal. Some tracks would need to be doubled and some passenger cars constructed and a deal worked out with CN.
- The bus network would cover 4000 kilometers not served by the train network.
- The initial investment would be $2 billion a year and there would need to be investment from a different level of government.
One of the things we know QS would cut, even before announcing this project, is the Legault-backed Third Link tunnel project for the Quebec City region. So we have two different transit visions as well as two different takes on systemic racism.
The debate may have ended, but the debating continues, as do the various campaigns. Until next time.
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Premier Legault shooting down a $10 Billion climate fund hours before Montreal is hit with a major downpour, the Quebec Election Debate, QS Rail and Bus proposal and concerts this weekend.
For the 2022 Quebec Election, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some ridings that many of our readers live in and that could play an interesting role in the big picture. I’m going to start it off with the riding I’ve lived in for a little over a year now, Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne.
Yes, the current MNA here is Dominique Anglade, Quebec Liberal (PLQ) Leader and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. So why is the riding represented by the head of a major establishment party one to watch?
Let’s find out:
- Location and Boundaries: It’s pretty much the Sud Ouest Borough of Montreal, encompassing all of St-Henri, Little Burgundy, Pointe-Saint-Charles and Ville Emard and most of Griffintown. Its northern boundary is Saint-Antoine/Autoroute 720 from Montreal West until Guy Street, then it becomes Notre-Dame Ouest. The southern boundary follows the Aqueduc Canal and then Autoroute 15. West-East, it goes from Angrignon Park to Boulevard Robert-Bourassa/Bonaventure Autoroute.
- Population: 73 674 (2006) with 58 171 electors (2016)
- Language: 55.4% Francophone, 24.4% Anglophone, 13.2% Allophone and 6.9% Multiple primary languages
- Age: The two largest age groups are 30-39 (20.4%) and 20-29 (19%)
- Ethnicity: 72.1% do not identify as a member of a visible minority while 27.9% do
- Income: 62.3% of the population falls into the $10 000 – $70 000 annual household income range, with the $10K-20K being the largest group (13.2%) and each next rung up accounting for slightly fewer people. Here’s a graph comparing Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne to the provincial average:
This is a riding in a state of flux, with many parts of it in varying states of gentrification: from the slow crawl class mix of St-Henri and Pointe-St-Charles to the full-on new condos seemingly every week of Griffintown. The population is younger, urban and bilingual (I know this more from living here than the stats). They run the economic gamut from working class to lower middle-class, with some upper middle class and wealthier individuals thrown into the mix.
Politically, this indicates that they are more likely care more about issues like affordable housing than language politics. They are also likely to lean progressive, at least socially, and in also economically in many parts of the riding.
While this isn’t the most ethnically diverse part of the city, it is in no way cut off from the rest of and could be considered at the heart of Montreal, a city that is quite ethnically diverse. Bill 21 and François Legault’s obsession with homogenizing immigrants probably don’t play that well around these parts.
A Liberal Stronghold with Cracks in the Foundation
This really sounds like a place where Québec solidaire (QS) would do well. They voted against Bill 21, have made housing a key issue for them this campaign and are the most progressive of the major parties running.
Then when you factor in the municipal landscape, things look even more promising for QS. The Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne provincial riding almost mirrors the boundaries of the Sud-Ouest Borough which has been a Projet Montréal stronghold since 2013.
Projet and QS have a similar progressive ethos and do pull from a similar base of supporters, so it seems like a logical extension. However, issues are different at the municipal level; people of all political stripes might like, say, bike paths.
Also, this riding has gone Liberal since it was formed in 1992. In recent elections, though, it has been far from the Liberal stronghold that Westmount-Saint-Louis or even NDG are.
In 2018, Anglade (who wasn’t leader at the time) won with 11 837 votes, but QS’s Benoit Racette got 7413. That’s a victory, for sure, but it’s a competitive one.
The same election the CAQ candidate got 5809 votes, the PQ 3568 and the Greens 1009. Now factor in that the CAQ really don’t care about Montreal ridings like they did last time as they don’t need us to win a majority and that the Parti Québécois (PQ) have gone all-in on trying to out-Legault Legault, which probably won’t play well in southwest Montreal and that Green voters might switch to QS if it’s competitive.
But, of course, it may come down to who’s running, so let’s look at that:
- Dominique Anglade (Liberal) Incumbent and Party Leader
- Guillaume Cliche-Rivard (Québec solidaire)
- Julie Daubois (Parti Québécois)
- Jean-Pierre Duford (Green)
- Nicolas Huard-Isabelle (Coalition Avenir Québec)
- Janusz Kaczorowski (Bloc Montreal)
- Mischa White (Conservative)
There are two star candidates running this year in Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne: the PLQ have their leader and QS have Guillaume Cliche-Rivard. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s had his name in the press quite a bit.
Cliche-Rivard is an immigration lawyer who helped bring Edward Snowden’s “guardian angels” to Canada and got Mamadi Camara (the man falsely accused of attacking a Montreal police officer) his permanent residency. He’s also a prominent critic of Legault’s immigration policy and the Liberals’ lack of effective opposition to it.
While I’ve seen some media try and portray this as a three-way race between the Libs, QS and the CAQ, I think that may be, perhaps subconsciously, an attempt to foster fear of a CAQ victory to help the PLQ. Nicolas Huard-Isabelle seems like a glorified poteau (paper) candidate and given Legault’s anti-Montreal rhetoric, I doubt they are actually trying to win Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne.
QS, on the other hand, already knocked out PQ Leader Jean-François Lisée in Rosemont last election and are clearly trying to do the same with the Liberal Leader this time around. QS Co-Spokesperson and Premier Candidate Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called the riding “winnable” and their choice of candidate echoes that belief.
It may be a two-way race, but it’s still a race. Major parties generally pull out all the stops to protect their leader’s riding in order to allow the leader to focus on campaigning everywhere else. Also, the perks for voters generally associated with having a potential Premier as their MNA can usually sway the vote in the leader’s favour.
Of course, when a party feels like they might electorally implode, the leader’s riding might be sacrificed in favour of putting resources in places where they have a better chance of winning, to circle the wagons, so to speal, and to ensure that it isn’t a complete wipeout. Also, if it looks like there’s no chance of the local candidate becoming Premier, that electoral advantage in the minds of some voters evaporates.
Now, I don’t think the Liberals will completely implode like the PQ did last election, but the chances of Anglade becoming Premier are, well, not good to put it kindly. I’d even say her chances of remaining Leader of the Opposition are up in the air.
Her “let’s remove some parts of Bills 21 and 96 to make them less harsh but keep the general framework intact” (not a direct quote) approach may seem like a good way to win some of Legault’s bigoted base back and flip some rural ridings while keeping the Liberals’ Montreal base on board. It won’t work.
No one votes for Legault-lite. Those who support Bill 21 don’t want a watered-down version when they can have the real deal. QS, on the other hand, voiced their opposition to the law when it was enacted without equivocation.
And back in her own riding, Anglade has sent a message that she will compromise with bigotry to maybe get some votes elsewhere rather than stand up for what those who elected her want.
So, yes, Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne, for the first time ever, is a riding to watch.
Featured Image by Jason C. McLean
Quebeckers are heading to the polls on October 3, 2022 and this election is a controversial one. The campaigns have been characterized by a high number of threats of violence against candidates, xenophobic remarks by Quebec’s premier, and missed opportunities.
The incumbent, Premier François Legault of the Coalition Avenir du Québec (CAQ) is facing controversy after controversy as he repeatedly makes xenophobic comments in an attempt to fire up his base, largely consisting of voters outside Montreal. Such remarks include:
- The accusation on Radio-Canada on September 4th that Montrealers look down on the people of Quebec City and Levis, when people who have lived in both cities can confirm that the animosity is often the other way around due to Legault voters’ fear of Montreal’s ethnic diversity.
- In the same Radio-Canada interview, Legault complained about Montreal getting so many bridges when the city’s geography as an island requires them.
- Claims in early September that Quebec needs to curb immigration in order to prevent violent extremism, quickly followed by a half-assed apology on September 7th.
- On September 11, 2022, the anniversary of 9/11, an event that led to a barrage of Islamophobia, Legault said non-French speaking immigrants are a threat to Quebec cohesion.
In addition to the barrage of xenophobia, the Coalition Avenir du Quebec seems determined to undermine the rights of Canada’s First Nations. Their election platform on climate change presents a plan to add new mega-dams for producing clean hydro-electric power, a plan presented without consulting Quebec’s Indigenous leaders who are rightfully concerned about the effect the dams will have on their lands.
Gaining ground against the Coalition Avenir du Québec is the Quebec Conservative Party, led by right-wing columnist Eric Duhaime, whose solutions to the province’s ongoing problems include more privatization of Quebec healthcare, and the elimination of vaccine mandates that have thus far kept province from a new pandemic wave.
Since last year, Duhaime’s Conservatives have been gaining ground in typical CAQ strongholds such as Quebec City.
Though both the Conservatives and the CAQ have tried to present themselves as fiscally responsible, the Conservatives have been plagued by their leader’s unpaid tax bills and that both their and the CAQ’s approaches to immigration are to the detriment of Quebec business owners. For years business owners in Quebec City and Montreal have been demanding increases to immigration to fill labor shortages particularly in the manufacturing and export sectors, in spite of this, here are the two parties’ platforms:
- The Conservatives plan to reduce immigration from the current seventy-thousand a year threshold to thirty-five thousand a year.
- The CAQ plans to reduce immigration from seventy-thousand to fifty-thousand a year
Meanwhile, Québec solidaire (QS) is the only party seemingly committed to global human rights and a carrot and stick approach to climate change:
- QS proposes to increase immigration from seventy thousand to eighty thousand a year.
- On climate change, QS proposes an increase in protected areas, as well as a fifteen percent tax on the purchase of SUVs and other heavily polluting vehicles with exceptions for large families and rural Quebeckers.
- Québec solidaire’s plan is the only one being praised by climate change experts.
Meanwhile, the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is floundering in the polls. Once a political powerhouse that led Quebec on and off for decades, the party under Dominique Anglade is losing ground to other parties.
With sovereignty off the table for the CAQ and Conservatives, the Liberals can no longer present themselves as the federalist party in Quebec, and swearing to protect English speakers is not enough to win an election. This election was a missed opportunity for the Liberals, who could have easily won the votes of the young, ethnic minorities, and the impoverished in Quebec had they shifted their policies further to the left.
Quebec is starved for a non-separatist leftist party and given that the leftist sovereigntist Quebec Solidaire came in second in provincial Liberal strongholds such as NDG and Westmount, this election campaign is a good example of self-sabotage. Here is what we know so far:
- Anglade’s waffling on French language protections and religious freedom and the controversial Bills 96 and 21 since taking leadership of the PLQ has alienated many of its core voters in Montreal.
- On September 5, 2022 the PLQ announced a forty-one billion dollar spending plan which includes twelve billion in income tax cuts.
- The PLQ’s proposal to address the labor shortage includes keeping the current seventy thousand annual immigration quota and encouraging older workers to stay on the job.
- This year the PLQ’s campaign fundraising is falling far behind that of its rivals.
- There are rumors that PLQ leader Dominique Anglade is in danger of losing her seat in the National Assembly.
Whether the PLQ can rise from the ashes remains to be seen, but it looks like Quebec Solidaire will be their primary challenger as the representative of class and minority rights in Quebec.
Featured Image: Drawings by Samantha Gold
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the tributes, the anti-colonial anti-monarchy based criticism and King Charles III. Plus they plug a(n unrelated) project they have been working on.
The Outside World (the project Jason and Dawn plugged)
Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss US President Joe Biden cancelling $10 000 – $20 000 in federal student loan debt and the internet’s reaction to it. Plus updates on the Lisa LaFlamme story, the Quebec Election and Montreal shows
It’s election season in Quebec again and the PQ have just launched their first ad on YouTube and it’s, well, it’s something:
Basically, the ad suggests that another four years of Premier François Legault would mean that Quebec would lose Bill 21 and Bill 96, two laws that Legault created, proposed and passed (with the support of parties like the PQ, not that it was needed, given that he has a Majority Government). Their reasoning? Ottawa will get rid of them unless Quebec becomes its own country.
Okay, first, I have to point out that Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) Government had no problem passing and maintaining these laws within a federal system (Bill 21 was passed early in Legault’s mandate). And while federal politicians like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh clearly and vocally don’t like Bill 21, they aren’t prepared to use federal powers to change a Quebec law.
So while I hate to defend Legault, I think I have to here. He’s more than capable of protecting the bigotry enshrined in Bill 21 and the sheer ignorance of reality baked into Bill 96 on his own.
It’s clear, though, from this ad, what the PQ’s election strategy is: try to outflank the CAQ on the right, mobilize hard nationalists and flip some rural and suburban ridings back to them. They seem to have abandoned all hope of winning back the progressive sovereigntist votes and Montreal island ridings they lost to Québec solidaire (QS).
It’s unfortunate, given the PQ just released one of the better public transit ideas I’ve heard in a long time: A $1/day transit pass valid all over Quebec. If they focused on that and put some similar proposals on the table, they could battle it out with QS over who is the most progressive.
Instead, they’re continuing on the rightward trajectory they’ve been on since René Lévesque left office mixed with the reinvigorated country-or-bust approach they switched back to when Paul St-Pierre Plamondon won their leadership. The only lip service to progressivism in this ad is an attack on fossil fuels, but even that is couched in nationalist language (“Alberta oil”).
This PQ tact is both desperate and a leap of logic, but it’s good news for Québec solidaire. As long as leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois sticks with (and keeps repeating) his promise to dismantle Bill 21 if elected, they will keep most of the progressive votes they won from the PQ and only have to contend with smaller progressive parties, Anglo and allophone (and even some Francophone) progressives upset with their voting for Bill 96 and voters who see the Quebec Liberals (PLQ) as the only way to stop Legault.
As for the PQ, I don’t think their attempt to out-Legault Legault and win xenophobic votes from the CAQ will get them very far. Asking bigots to prioritize their nationalism over their bigotry and social conservatism is a tough sell for anyone, especially a party trying to pull itself out of the dustbin of history.