Quebec Politics Are More Bonkers Than Usual — Here's A Breakdown Of The Wild Sh*t Going On

And the election is still months away... 😬

Deputy Editor
Flag of Quebec on the central tower of the National Assembly building in Quebec City.

Flag of Quebec on the central tower of the National Assembly building in Quebec City.

Quebec's political scene is arguably the most consistently, uh, interesting (?) among Canada's provinces — though Ontarians and Albertans might disagree — but the current state of things may be at its most delightfully bonkers yet.

It's a handful of months away from Quebec's likely October 3 election date, and a few weeks since the passage of the controversial Bill 96, and we've got intense mudslinging amongst politicians and pundits; feverish, sometimes furious discourse in media and on social platforms; relatively new parties that may or may not be game-changers; all framed by wild and seemingly contradictory polls.

The CAQ Is Crushing It

Many Quebecers still love Legault's CAQ party. The most recent projections from show the party with the support of 43% of Quebecers but winning 100 of the 125 seats in Quebec's National Assembly.

This is in spite of polls that show Legault's approval dropping to its lowest level since he was elected. The same poll shows Quebecers are generally pretty unhappy with how the CAQ has managed the province's health care system.

That potential CAQ landslide is possible because of the way the remaining 56% of voters are divided among other parties and regions. The Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) and Québec Solidaire (QS) have many supporters in Montreal, but proportionally fewer in off-island ridings — of which there are many. Qc125's projections show every other party getting effectively crushed.

CAQ Yes, Sovereignty No

The most recent development is a poll by Mainstreet Research, published Thursday in L'Actualité, that shows the appetite for separation in Quebec remains relatively low — at around 33%. The poll is a prime example of the degree of nuance that outsiders sometimes aren't aware of: over half (58%) of CAQ voters and over half (54%) of QS voters polled said they’d vote no in a referendum.

More bonkers: 10% of Parti Québécois (PQ) voters — a party devoted to the idea of sovereignty — said they'd vote no, and 5% of people who support the (usually) resolutely federalist QLP said they would vote yes. What?

The Mainstreet poll came just after the passage of Bill 96, during events around the 100-year anniversary of the birth of René Lévesque (founder of the PQ) and as Quebec government leaders in the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) floated the need for Quebec to take more ownership of immigration and legal matters currently under federal control.

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting

Quebec publications and Quebec Twitter have basically been an MMA free-for-all for the past few months, and that action clearly shows how much more complex Quebec is than simple français vs. English tropes sometimes peddled by traditional media.

The CAQ's success and Legault's efforts to own the "nationalist" banner have seemingly led to an identity crisis among some of Quebec's parties.

The PQ threw shade at their former star MNA Bernard Drainville, who announced he was quitting his radio show to run for the CAQ. The Bloc Québécois' leader, Yves-François Blanchet, was also not amused. The CAQ in turn dug up old footage of QLP MNA Marc Tanguay speaking in favour of independence. Someone also revealed to the media that just-announced QLP candidate Mathieu Gratton had also kicked the tires of the CAQ.

Alice Lévesque, René Lévesque's sister dissed former Quebec premier and PQ leader Lucien Bouchard after he opined about the PQ's current struggles. Current PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was initially not invited to speak at the René Lévesque commemorations. And in various essays written across the broad spectrum of (mostly) francophone Quebec, there have been accusations of bad faith, bad economics and politics defined by failure.

New Parties And Beyond

It's also unclear how some new or relatively new parties will affect everything. The upstart Parti conservateur du Québec (PCQ) has made huge gains in polling, going from literally zero to as high as 24% in one poll. But the Qc125 projection doesn't have them winning a seat.

With that said, an analysis in L'Actualité in April said that the PCQ has gained ground so fast that projections for the Quebec City area (where PCQ leader Éric Duhaime used to be a popular radio host) are "even more uncertain." There's also Balarama Holness' Bloc Montréal and the Canadian Party of Quebec (CaPQ), which is promising a "progressive, rights-centred, federalist" approach.

How much of the CAQ's voting base is attracted to the nascent parties' platforms will, of course, be revealed in October.

John MacFarlane
Deputy Editor