Debate no clear winner;Charest holds his own; David makes impression as sovereignist alternative; Legault combatitive but not always convincing; Marois both under and on the attack

The first of four leader debates in the Québec election has taken place. There was no clear winner. Françoise David exceeded expectations and perhaps she will win her seat and perhaps Québec Solidaire will chip away at some of the PQ’s vote . François Legault was an aggressive performer but I am not certain that he will be found convincing. He is clearly a conditional federalist essentially arguing now is not an opportune time for sovereignty . So the debate clearly confirmed that there are three parties in this election who are either sovereignists or will lean that way when conditions permit. Charest performed well but there were times because of the four way participation where he was relegated to the sidelines . He defended himself and his party against the accusation of corruption by going on the offensive citing an earlier judicial report that criticized the PQ  for improper funding. Whether this will be found convincing remains to be seen.

Some of the more interesting portions of the debate focused on health care and the lack of adequate number of family physicians in Quebec. Legault promised to fix the situation in 12 months. Marois dismissed this as unrealistic  and Charest blamed it on bad decisions taken years before by the previous PQ Governments which is undoubtedly partly true. David pointed out that cuts in government budgets pushed by neo-con/neo liberal ideology were at fault, also partly true. Charest had some progressive things to say about the deficit in infrastructure investment and the importance of social accounting and the economic crisis but not enough time was devoted to this topic.

Cultural identity was mentioned briefly with Marois denouncing xenophobia, ironic since it was her insistence on opening up the issue of laicité in the way that she did which led eventually to the xenophobic remarks by the mayor of Saguenay. Bill 101 also came up, but sadly there was a consensus except for Charest that strengthening it and tightening the rules on access to education in English was a good thing. So all in all Charest did fairly well, Marois was less impressive although she scored some points on Legault and Charest on several issues. Legault also scored on both Charest and Marois but beat a retreat on several counter attacks . His net result may be to slightly weaken his attraction for disgruntled Liberals. David benefitted by exceeding expectations and because both Charest and Legault wanted to promote her in order to weaken the PQ vote.The debate was also rather technical which may turn off some potential voters who watched part of it. We shall see if there is movement in the polls.

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About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
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