Quebec's political mood fluctuates - Macleans.ca
When the Quebecers went to the polling station in the October 2018 provincial election, they selected 74 candidates to run for the François Legaultt Coalition, Avenir Quebec (CAQ), created in 2011 and finished third in their first two general elections.
In 2018, the CAQ received just over a million and a half votes, winning the popular vote by more than 12 points for the incumbent Liberal Party of Quebec and more than double the number of votes cast for the Parti Québécois. For the first time in 50 years, neither the Parti in Québecco nor the Liberals of Quebec have been led by the National Assembly.
However, this major paradigm shift did not happen with one eye. There have been significant fluctuations and mood changes in the Quebec constituency over the last decade. Example: In the last three provincial elections in Quebec (2012, 2014 and 2018), three different parties and prime ministers both voted in and out of power.
In these three general elections, at least three party leaders, including two incumbent prime ministers, even failed to win re-election in their constituency. After months of unrest and a massive student strike, Jean Charest Sherbrooke is defeated in 2012; Pauline Marois, who has only been in power for 18 months, lost in Charlevoix in 2014 against an unknown liberal challenger; and in 2018, Jean-François Lisée, the leader of Parti Québécois, lost his re-election bid in Rosemont, which had once been the unshakable PQ castle in the heart of Montreal.
I did a little research in Canada to find similar patterns: Have there ever been three consecutive elections where three different parties in Canada won the full number of candidates in each election? The only other case I found was the Ontario election in 1987, 1990 and 1995, when Ontario moved from David Peterson's liberals to Bob Rae's NDP to Mike Harris's Tories.
In the federal arena, Quebec voters have also been volatile over the past decade. In 2008, Stephen Harper suspended the majority bid for Gilles Duceppe's Bloc in Quebec, which won 38 percent of the vote in the province and won 75 Quebec federal seats. Three years later, 43 percent of Quebec voters broke into Jack Layton's NDP, an orange wave that sent shocking 59 NDP MPs from the provincial lower house. The 2011 federal election gave Bloc Québécois its worst result in history (four seats) and Quebec worst offseason (seven seats) after the 1988 Mulroney win. Finally, four years later, 35 percent of Quebec voters voted for Justin Trudeau's Liberals and sent 40 Liberal MPs to the House of Commons, the highest number for the LPC since Quebec's last victory in 1980.
That was why it was not so surprising when Andrew Scheer launched his campaign in Trois-Rivière, a city of 150,000 in the heart of Quebec's Mauricie region, swept by Legault CAQ last year. Mauricie voters have not elected PQ MNAs or Bloc MPs after the 2012 Quebec elections. It is the small c-area Conservative voters who must flirt with them if they expect to make a profit in Quebec.
In 2015, Harper Conservatives won only 16.7 percent of the votes in Quebec, and as of this writing, the party has polled more than 20 percent in the province, so there is reason to hope for the Conservatives. (See Figures 3 and 4.)
In the early days of the campaign, Jagmeet Singh spent considerable time in Quebec to surprise some observers: he visited Sherbrooke, traveled through eastern cities to the Montérégie area (south Montreal) to visit several of his remaining Quebec MPs. He then traveled all the way to Mauricie for the Western de Saint-Tite Rural Festival. According to current forecasts, Singh is likely to be in Quebec with a high probability; The NDP is interviewed in single digits and is in danger of being expelled from the province. However, Singh knows that Quebec has sent more NDP MPs to Ottawa than any other province in the last decade.
Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau traveled to the Laurentians and Lanaudière, two areas north of Montreal that for years have not been kind to the liberal brand. The Quebec Liberals won the majority in the National Assembly in 2014, winning one of these seats; In the 2015 federal election, Liberal candidate David de Burgh Graham won the Laurentides-Labelle district with a serendipitous split - Graham received only 32 percent of the vote, but that was enough to defeat the incoming NDP and BQ candidate. He was the only Liberal MP elected in the region.
The fact that Justin Trudeau and his team decided to spend a valuable campaign in these neighborhoods is an indication of the Liberal Party's purely provincial defense role.
On the block, Yves-François Blanchet believes that the sovereignty movement is the result of "good news" after several successive elections, where both the PQ and the block are reduced. If recent history suggests, he should know that Quebec voters can turn in a dime and change their mind during the campaign weeks. Politicians with any stripe should never take the Quebec voter for granted.
This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Maclean magazine, entitled "The Most Volatile Voters." Subscribe to our monthly print magazine here.