Quebec election English language debate no clear winner but debate is substantive , some sharp differences emerge.

The party leaders all acquitted themselves reasonably well given the challenge of debating in English the complex problems and challenges that Quebec faces.This was more difficult for Manon Massé,the representative of Quebec Solidaire and perhaps, also at times a bit for Francois Legault.  It was revealing how the parties differed on key issues like assuring that the public sector properly reflects the minority composition of contemporary Quebec. Here the position of Massé and Lisée was notably better than that of Legault or Couillard.

Once again the issue of immigration to Quebec loomed large in a portion of the debate. Here the position of the CAQ despite Legault ’ s attempt to moderate it and explain it still remains offensive and factually impossible to implement creating a hard border between Quebec and the rest of Canada and an inevitable clash in the courts. The CAQ leader and the PQ leader had sharp effective attacks against the Liberal leader for the damaging cuts in spending they  had implemented. Legault scored well when he pointed out cutting services for children with learning difficulties and autism to balance the budget was unacceptable.The Liberal austerity obsession had inflicted damage on many vulnerable people. But Legault had no defence when it was pointed out by Couillard and the other leaders that his proposed tax cuts would undermine comparable health and education programs in the future.

There was also a good subsection of the debate which focused on the environment and climate change and the future role of hydro electricity in the province but no mention of the damage that these projects potentially could have and have had on indigenous peoples. It is difficult to argue that anyone will change their vote but it may well make people think carefully about whom they cast their vote for and which party will do the least damage in government. The CBC  poll tracker still shows the CAQ in the lead by a significant margin,  31.8 % to the Liberals 28.5% with the PQ at 21 % and Quebec Solidaire now at 14.5 % but the gap may narrow further in the coming week as voters begin to pay greater attention after the debates.There is a growing possibility of a minority government in which case the smaller nationalist but progressive parties will be in play perhaps forcing them to co-operate with progressive  federalists in the Liberal camp or reactionaries in the nationalist CAQ camp.

Hopefully anti -immigrant dog whistle politics will not play any role in the final weeks.

(The latest poll tracker numbers as of September 20th show a virtual dead heat between the CAQ at 30.9 % and the Liberals at 30.6 % The PQ are at 20.3 % and Quebec Solidaire at 14.4% with others at 3.8%.In predominantly French speaking areas the CAQ have a much bigger lead  36 % to 18 % for the Liberals with the PQ running second while the Liberals are stronger in multicultural and anglophone areas, particularly in metropolitan Montreal.The left wing nationalist party Quebec Solidaire is very popular among the 25 and under age cohort)




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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