I’ll be live-blogging tonight’s debate — the third and final debate of a series of one-on-one debates — between Pauline Marois, leader of the leftist, sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ) and François Legault, leader of the newly formed, sort-of maybe center-right Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ).
Sunday night featured a four-way debate, Monday night featured a raucous one-on-one between Marois and premier Jean Charest, the leader of the centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ), and Tuesday night featured a debate between Legault and Charest.
Québec’s voters go to polls on September 4 to choose 125 members of Québec’s Assemblée nationale.
Read Suffragio’s prior coverage of the Québécois election here.
So that’s a wrap. Marois is queen of the status quo, Legault is the queen of the caribou. Oy. On to Sept. 4.
What’s striking is that they spent so little time bringing down Charest tonight. I wonder if that was a strategic mistake for both Legault and Marois, especially with today’s Forum poll showing the PLQ with a renewed 35% lead over the PQ (29%) and the CAQ (24%). In any event. Full live blog after the jump.
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21:00. Marois and Legault actually spent more time attacking each other in the Sunday night four-way debate than they did Charest. So there’s really no reason to expect a lighter night tonight than the testy exchanges of the past two nights with Charest.
21:04. A bit calmer tonight so far!
21:09. Debating Nicolas Girard. Hmmm.
21:10. Debating corruption is a lot more boring without Charest to kick around.
21:11. To be fair, Legault scores some easy points when Marois appears to shrug at the difference between $4 million and $11 million. That plays right into his campaign talking points.
21:13. Interesting. Charest tried, like Marois tonight, to attack Jacques Duchesneau. I don’t think it works — he’s the star candidate of the CAQ — a crusader against corruption and a former Montreal police chief.
21:15. SNAP! Legault says he left the PQ because they were only focused on sovereignty! Marois says he left because the PQ was too tough. I think I know which one anglophone Quebeckers will buy. But they’re probably not watching because the debate doesn’t have English translation.
21:16. Speaking of anglophones, I’ve noticed the Twitter feed of tonight’s debate is much more French language than either last night or Monday night. To the extent anglophone Quebeckers aren’t tuned in, it’s definitely tonight, notwithstanding the CAQ’s small gains among anglophones.
21:18. So far, Marois seems like she is in charge, the schoolteacher lecturing her wayward tutor who’s gone astray. Especially as we discuss education.
21:21. Again, there’s no jujitsu on the ideological spectrum like there was between Charest and Legault. Tonight, Legault is clearly the rightist — he’s saying that he wants to cut the budget, while Marois doesn’t even have a plan. I was actually a little surprised when Charest didn’t make more hay over this — the PQ has yet to release its budget plan! Glass houses.
21:23. “Vous vous êtes la reine du statu quo!” says Legault! You are the queen of the status quo! Snap!
21:26. When you negotiate with students, “allez-vous porter votre carré rouge?” says Legault? Referring to the red square in solidarity with the student protesters. She rebuffs: are you going to wear your CFN button, referring to the Confédération des syndicates national (2nd largest union in Quebec).
21:28. Last night was about who was more “fiable.” Tonight is about who represent the “statu quo.”
21:29. Oh, now Legault is lecturing her on leadership.
21:29. I have missed the alliteration of “Madame Marois” from Monday night’s debate!
21:32. I will say this. At least they concede that other countries have precedents worth pondering on healthcare, which is more than we can say about the United States during the Obamacare debate.
21:36. I really wish I were watching Mario Dumont and Andre Boisclair, at some points of this debate. I also wish we could drop Jean Charest right down in the middle, too.
21:37. The CAQ is hoping to win on the basis of being all things to all people. The PQ hasn’t even released its budget plan. Yawn.
21:41. I think the “you’re an accountant who doesn’t know how to count” line from Marois is one we’ll hear again before Sept. 4.
21:43. If you earn less than $100k, Legault says the CAQ will cut your taxes $1,000. Paging Mark Rutte!
21:45. An honest question: does the Ontario premier or the New Brunswick premier actually talk about spending money from the Ontario (or New Brunswick) pension fund to keep businesses in Ontario? I seriously doubt it. An “only in Québec” kind of moment.
21:47. In an alternative universe, Marois and Legault would have colluded to make tonight an hour-long seminar on why Charest and the PLQ must go.
21:48. OK, great. Here come the sovereignty fireworks.
21:50. As long as Marois is shady about whether — and when — she’ll call a referendum on independence, a majority of the electorate will continue to have doubts about voting PQ.
21:51. “Once we have the support of Quebeckers for sovereignty…” Oh, well that clears it up, MADAME MAROIS.
21:53. An audible sigh. I think Legault is quite right to call Marois out on this. Sovereignty is the raison d’être of the PQ. If they won’t say if and when they’ll hold a referendum, why give them a vote? It’s a valid argument, it seems to me.
21:55 LOLz at @InfoAlerteBot: WHAT WILL MAROIS DO IF 15% OF QUEBECOIS PRESENT A PETITION TO HOLD A REFERENDUM ON NOT HAVING ANY MORE REFERENDUMS?
21:56. So if 15% of Quebeckers want a referendum, we’ll have one? The problem here is there’s no process for determining how to determine how to leave Canada.
21:58. I’m calling it. The invocation of caribou in this debate is the most hilarious thing ever.