You shouldn’t expect that Francois Legault admit that his call on Quebeckers to vote for the Conservatives was a mistake, or even a blow in the water.
In response to questions from journalists on Tuesday, the Prime Minister went into the mix by delivering his interpretation of the election results. These are “the two blue parties which obtained a majority, as much in percentage of the vote as in number of counties, in Quebec”, he affirmed, putting the Conservative Party of Canada (PCC) and the Bloc Quebecois in the same bag.
When the Caquists speak of a union of the blues, one would have thought that they were nationalists, whether they are on the right or on the left, united under the blue and white fleur-de-lis to defend the interests of Quebec, or even former PQ sympathizers who, believing that the time was not for the promotion of the independence project, resigned themselves out of pragmatism to “making gains” within a wobbly federation. At a pinch, we could have made the link with the Union nationale de Duplessis, as did François Legault, this “blue” leader allying the defense of the interests of the nation. to a conservative ideology, although, on this point, academics have qualified this judgment by seeing in him a promoter of modern liberalism.
But it is pushing the plug a little further to unite the members of the CCP and those of the Bloc under the name of “blues” as if they were part of the same political family.
We did not ask Gilles Duceppe or his son Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, two former trade unionists, what they thought of ending up under a blue banner with former members of the Reform Party, evangelists who want to restrict the right to abortion and climate skeptics who believe in exploiting the tar sands to the limit.
This is obviously not the first time that a Quebec premier has intervened directly in a federal campaign. In 1988, Robert Bourassa, for example, openly supported Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives. Free trade with the United States, which the Conservative Prime Minister had negotiated and rejected by Liberal Leader John Turner, was the issue of the election campaign and Bourassa wanted the deal to be preserved. Another example: in 2004, Prime Minister Jean Charest, with his recognized political skill, subtly underlined the fact that the federal parties had different positions on the fiscal imbalance; Paul Martin denied its existence while Stephen Harper agreed. Bourassa and Charest went in the direction of the hair: the Conservatives Brian Mulroney were re-elected thanks to the massive support of Quebec voters, while Paul Martin lost his majority and bit the dust two years later.
In September 2008, Jean Charest, to the chagrin of Stephen Harper, presented his list of demands, many of which went against conservative aims. In the October federal election, the Conservatives remained in the minority and made no gain in Quebec, with a meager harvest of 10 seats. Subsequently, the Liberal leader savored the fruits of his firmness: in the December 2008 election, his party recovered the majority that had escaped him the previous year.
Despite the fact that the Quebec Future Coalition throne in the polls and that its leader is one of Canada’s highest-rated prime ministers, his thinly disguised slogan has fallen flat. He had little influence, if at all, on the behavior of voters.
If a Quebec premier wants to intervene in federal elections, he can only encourage a trend that is already well established, as Bourassa and Charest have done, and not lead the parade.
What is more, the nationalists, those who, like the CAQ leader, insist that the federal government respect Quebec’s jurisdiction, are not all right-wing; many nationalists are at the center or even on the left of the political spectrum. Many Bloc Québécois are progressive. Moreover, François Legault does not describe himself as a conservative, but as a supporter of the “effective left”, as he repeated on Tuesday.
And then, it’s sad to say, but a good part of Quebecers hardly seem to care about respecting skills: they like to eat at all the racks. Together, the Liberals and New Democrats still won 38% of the vote in Quebec on Monday.
In the National Assembly, the Prime Minister repeated the long list of the gains amassed thanks to the Trudeau government, which was not so bad after all, he makes us understand. Ultimately, if Quebec voters did not follow François Legault, it was because he was difficult to follow.