Tag Archives: parizeau

Québec bids farewell to Parizeau, its would-be founding father


No one in the history of the province of Québec is more responsible for the fact that, for a few fleeting moments in 1995, it seemed like Québec would finally win its independence as a sovereign state. Quebec Flag IconpngCanada Flag Icon

Jacques Parizeau, Québec’s premier at the time, was the leading light of the Parti québécois (PQ), and one of the leaders of the so-called Quiet Revolution that ended the decades of Duplessis-era parochial Catholic paternalism in the province. That revolution, in turn, shook loose pent-up energy for a new Québécois assertiveness that, by the 1970s, took the form social democratic welfare legislation, aggressive laws enshrining the dominance of the French language and, of course, the push for Québec’s independence.

Twice, in 1980 and again in 1995, the Québécois people voted on the question of leaving Canada. Parizeau’s movement lost the 1995 vote by the slimmest of margins, and his party has suffered increasing setbacks in the two ensuing decades. Today, the growing numbers of immigrants to the province speak native languages neither French nor English, and Québec’s youthful, English-speaking Millennials hold a less confrontational stance with respect to English Canada.

Parizeau died late Monday night at the age 84, an avowed sovereigntist until the very end and a would-be founding father of a nation-state that never emerged. Though he’ll be remembered for his sneering referendum-night comments that ‘money and the ethnic vote’ doomed the separatist effort, his career was far more textured than one night’s unfortunate comments. The new PQ leader, Pierre Karl Péladeau, elected just last month, used the occasion of Parizeau’s death to suggest that it will give Quebeckers an opportunity to reconsider — and embrace — the independence movement afresh. Continue reading Québec bids farewell to Parizeau, its would-be founding father

Péladeau candidacy transforms Québec provincial elections


When Québec premier Pauline Marois called a snap election earlier this month, the conventional wisdom was virtually certain on two points: that Marois’s sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ) would win a majority government and that the election would turn on the Marois government’s introduction of the Charte de la laïcité (Quebec Charter of Values). Quebec Flag IconpngCanada Flag Icon

Less than two weeks later, one poll today shows that the PQ is actually trailing the more centrist, federalist Parti libéral du Québec (Liberal Party, or PLQ).  The CROP/La Presse poll finds that the PLQ would win 39% of the vote, the PQ would win 36%, and François Legault’s struggling, center-right, ‘soft’ sovereigntist Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) would win just 13%.  Québec solidaire, the more leftist, sovereigntist alternative, wins 10%.  The PQ still leads among Francophones by a margin of 43% to 30%, though the Liberals win 71% of Anglophones.  Far from winning a majority government, Marois could actually lose her minority government if the Liberals keep gaining strength.

What’s more, the emergence of former Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau (pictured above, left, with Marois) as a PQ candidate fundamentally transformed the election’s focus away from the cultural issues surrounding the religious freedom debate and the Charter of Values — and toward the issue of Québécois independence.  Right now, that’s working to the benefit of Liberals, because a majority of Québec voters today oppose independence.

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RELATEDMarois calls snap election with eye on Québécois separatist majority

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Péladeau, when he announced his candidacy last Sunday for the PQ, surprised everyone by declaring his strong support for Québec’s independence.  That took the focus off Marois’s Charter of Values and put it squarely on whether Marois will call a referendum if the PQ wins a majority government on April 7.  Marois herself spent last week musing about an independent Québec,  including post-succession monetary policy and retaining the Canadian dollar.

That made it look as if Péladeau is more in control of the PQ campaign than Marois, thereby undermining Québec’s sitting premier. This week, with the PQ’s poll numbers declining, Marois is now trying to avoid talking about the sovereignty issue and limit the damage from her star candidate’s outspoken entry into provincial politics.

The idea was that Péladeau, as a well-known businessman, would give the PQ more credibility on economic policy, thereby peeling away some of the more economically conservative voters that previously supported Legault and the CAQ in the last election — and maybe even some Liberals.

Instead, all the talk about sovereignty and independence has given Liberal Party leader Philippe Coulliard an opportunity to frame himself as the candidate talking about ‘real issues,’ including his plans to cut taxes while also cutting spending in order to balance the province’s budget.  Polling data from the past week suggests that former CAQ voters are moving to the Liberals instead of to the PQ.  What’s more, the conservatism of Péladeau as the PQ’s top candidate seems to be pushing some PQ voters toward supporting Québec solidaire instead.  Continue reading Péladeau candidacy transforms Québec provincial elections

Sovereigntist party runs away from sovereignty issue in Québec election

The last time Québec held a referendum on independence in 1995, Jacques Parizeau (pictured above in 1995) was the leader of the sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ).

With just over a week to go until Québec votes on Sept. 4 for a new Assemblée nationale, Parizeau, in a sharp rebuke to PQ leader Pauline Marois, endorsed the smaller, more stridently sovereigntist Option nationale, a party formed in 2011 by former PQ legislator  Jean-Martin Aussant.  His move comes with polls showing the PLQ and the PQ see-sawing in the 30% to 35% range for the lead in the election

Marois took the news gracefully, but the Globe and Mail reports that the Parizeau’s snub could jeopardize Marois’s effort to win power.  Normally, it doesn’t speak well of a party leader when a former party leader endorses a rival.

In this instance, I’m not sure that it harms Marois.  To the contrary, it emphasizes the not-so-subtle secret of Marois’s PQ leadership: she’s more interested in forming a government than pushing sovereignty.  That’s the very compliant Aussant aired when he formed Option nationale.

If she wins the election, which is as much a referendum on Charest and his government than anything else, it will be because she has emphasized any number of issues — corruption, strengthening education and health care, promoting Québec industry — to the relative exclusion of sovereignty. Continue reading Sovereigntist party runs away from sovereignty issue in Québec election