03.31.2014 04:52 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: four reasons why the Parti Quebecois lost their majority

When the Quebec election campaign started, almost one month ago, the governing Parti Quebecois were in the lead, and everyone assumed they were heading towards a majority in the National Assembly.
Well, almost everyone. A certain former Liberal Prime Minister told this writer that there would be no separatist majority after voting day, April 7.  “They’re going to lose ground,” said he.  “Just watch.”
And so they did. In the month that followed, the PQ made four critical errors.  The result has been dramatic: now it is Liberal leader Phillippe Couillard who is in the lead, and Premier Pauline Marois who is in second place.
Mistake One: they alienated their own base.  The PQ are a social democratic party.  They are closer to trade unions than the Liberals are, and they are effectively seen as the equivalent of the New Democrats in the province (which is why Thomas Mulcair has always been unwilling to say much that is critical of the separatists).  
But by trumpeting the recruitment of Pierre Karl Peladeau, the big-business billionaire who had humiliated the PQ’s allies in the CSN (Confédération des syndicats nationaux), Marois left long-time party members angry and confused.  As one of the men who ultimately owns the pro-Canadian, arch-conservative Sun News – and, full disclosure, the avowedly pro-Conservative newspaper you now grasp in your hands – Peladeau’s ideology isn’t the Parti Quebecois’ ideology.  Party members noticed.  The media, too.
Mistake Two: the PQ campaign was all tactics, no strategy.  When their lead in the polls started to slip away, Marois panicked, swinging at everything and anything.  At one point, she suggested – out loud, with a straight face – that democracy in Quebec was in peril because of English-speaking students in Montreal might vote.
When Quebeckers stopped laughing at that one, Marois smeared former Premier Jean Charest and his successor Couillard with innuendo about corruption.  The Liberal leader responded with disclosure of his personal finances – leaving a flustered Marois, married to a businessman whose name has been heard on wiretaps at an anti-corruption inquiry, refusing to do likewise.
Mistake Three: the Parti Quebecois became the party of hate.  Before the campaign got underway, one candidate posted “F**K ISLAM” on Facebook, and Marois didn’t object.  Another PQ candidate promoted the old anti-Semitic canard about a kosher tax, and called Jewish circumcision “rape.”  She apologized, but remained a candidate.  
And, of course, there was the PQ’s so-called “values” Charter, which makes the wearing of religious symbols illegal.  To many, the Charter recalls the policies of the neo-Nazi National Front.  But Marois is undeterred.
Mistake Four: the PQ started talking about separatism again.  Grosse erreur.

When Peladeau declared that he wanted a separate country for his children, the first person to clap – onstage, in front of the cameras – was Pauline Marois.  When the PQ campaign immediately commenced tanking as a result, Marois commenced furiously backpedalling.  Too late: the hapless PQ leader had given Couillard the issue he needed.  Quebec voters may have been in the mood for a PQ majority – but they weren’t in the mood for a separate Quebec nation.  
Can Marois claw her way back in the remaining days? Possibly.  In order to win big, Couillard needs to have a much bigger lead among French-speaking voters.  Meanwhile, Marois has been performing better in debate, and on the hustings.
But her majority seems to have slipped away – and, here at Sun News, we are genuinely looking forward to the return of Pierre Karl Peladeau.


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    Ian Howard says:

    They should have tried independence if necessary, but not necessarily independence.

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    Theresa says:

    I don’t always agree with your assessments of Quebec politics, but this time you nailed it. (Disclosure I voted PQ last election)

    Mistake one: BINGO. As a progressive voter, why would I chose a separatist right wing party, when there are two federalist right-wing parties to chose from?

    Mistake two: Yup. I thought they went bat-shit crazy with the English-speaking student election stealing nonsense. All their other tactics reek of desparation.

    Mistake three: Although initially I understood the motivation for the charter, in their haste to differentiate themselves from the other parties, they’ve doubled down on that strategy losing sight of their message to instead only display hate.

    Mistake four: in all fairness, separation wasn’t an issue in this election for Quebecers until the ROC started bringing it up. However, it was a Grosse erreur indeed to not categorically dismiss the separation issue for this election.

    Unfortunately, having moved to Ontario last year, I don’t have the chance to boot this government out like it deserves.

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    Robin says:

    Haven’t we seen this movie before in Alberta where the Wildrose Party had a seemingly commanding lead in the polls but unseemly public comments by official candidates caused wavering voters to stampede back to the PC fold at the last minute.

    Deja vu! All over again.

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    Coelocanth_Jones says:

    Questions on each point, if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me:

    1) If the PQ lose but Peladeau wins, as seems to be the projected course of events a week to go, what does that mean for the party’s ideological future?

    2) Have we not seen that sort of Anglo baiting before?

    3) Will the PQ move away from being the party of hate after a trouncing, or has the Herouxville mentality become too entrenched?

    4) Next time the PQ look poised to win a majority, what can federalist politicians sea to sea do to deal with it, apart from historonically predicting the death of Canada and lanunching stale innuendos and recriminations against other federal leaders?

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    Curt says:

    Here is how it goes.
    The Quebec born athletes at the recent Olympics were cheered by all Canadians. The citizens of Quebec took notice.

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    Karl Poppinstach says:

    Very solid post. Must give a shout out to Bob Rae – a Quebec civil servant or trade unionist voting for media baron Pierre Karl Péladeau is ‘like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.’ Deep down, the Quebecois know the “have provinces” wouldn’t mind cutting off the transfer payments if Quebec went totally loco with ethnic purity laws. The genital mutilation thing (euphemistically call circumcision) must be in top three increasingly difficult things to spin for Muslims and Jews. It is barbaric. Just no way around it. Pseudo-science is not science. There are limits to religion e.g. JW’s and blood transfusions. The Nordic countries have banned it.

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    Marc L says:

    Excellent analysis Warren. Note that Marois is now pushing the “identity” issue even harder in response to her weakness in the polls, but she has probably juiced that issue as much as she can. Two things that might save her (i.e. allow her to stay in power…forget the majority government): first, she may have managed to convince some voters that a referendum is highly unlikely. Second, Legault’s performance in the second leader’s debate seems to have lifted his fortunes, splitting the anti-PQ vote.

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    Philippe says:

    Ugh, you used “we” and “Sun News” in the same sentence. Just watched a Brian Lilley interview with our PM lobbing cheese sandwiches over instead of real questions- how you can be around those turds is beyond me. At least you’re independent enough to criticize your own – something those lapdogs never do.

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      Warren says:

      I withdraw that pronoun.

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    Marc L says:

    An update to what I posted above. A new poll in this morning’s Gazette shows that in contrast to what I stated, the jump in the CAQ fortunes is occurring at the expense of the PQ. Liberals still in small majority territory.

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      Warren says:

      Got linkage?

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      Kevin T. says:

      But it’s a Forum poll, so that is good news for the PQ. However, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Forum’s numbers are following the trend, but still, it’s Forum.

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        Marc L says:

        True, but the good news is it’s consistent with the internal polling by the CAQ leaked over the weekend which is a CROP poll. I was worried that the increase in CAQ support would be at the expense of the Liberals, but the Liberal vote appears pretty stable. I would not be surprised to see another big leger marketing poll be released over the next couple of days. So we’ll see.

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    Max Roy says:

    The PQ candidate went even farter, stating that baptism was a form of rape. (Link here: http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/elections-quebec-2014/201403/14/01-4747852-le-bapteme-un-viol-marois-ne-condamne-pas-sa-candidate.php)

    As for the poll this morning, it is a Forum. I won’t comment. (Link: http://tvanouvelles.ca/lcn/infos/national/electionsquebec2014/archives/2014/04/20140401-100903.html)

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