Supporting O’Toole, a risky bet for Legault

In the aftermath of the disappointing performance of the Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, at the last leaders’ debate in French, François Legault surprised many by rushing to his rescue.

In fact, the clear preference expressed by the Premier of Quebec for a minority victory for Mr. O’Toole calls on “nationalists” to vote conservative.

Deeming them “dangerous” for Quebec, Mr. Legault even urged voters to “beware” of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the NDP and the Green Party. All too “centralizing”. Without saying a word about the Bloc Québécois and its leader, Yves-François Blanchet.

For Prime Minister Legault, such direct interference on federal electoral grounds is a risky bet. To those among the nationalists who are preparing to vote for the Bloc, yet the steadfast ally of Mr. Legault in Ottawa since 2019, such a message is downright shocking.

Another risk of supporting Erin O’Toole is to do so when he promises to deprive Quebec of $ 6 billion by reneging on the Trudeau-Legault agreement on child care.

By turning his guns against Justin Trudeau by name, François Legault even risks undermining the productive relationship that the two heads of government had developed in recent months.

The sky is blue, hell is red

Support for the Conservatives, even involuntarily, also risks ignoring other Quebec consensus values. Including the recognition of women’s right to abortion and the fight against climate change.

Obviously, the exit of Mr. Legault reflects above all his concern at the growing possibility of a minority liberal victory. The Bloc being condemned to the opposition, it therefore calls on “nationalists” to vote blue, but conservative – the only party capable of stealing power from the Liberals.

For Justin Trudeau, only the result of the election will tell how far this coup de Jarnac will have harmed him or not. Unless the Bloc, dropped in turn, is the one to suffer the most in the voting booth. Impossible to know at the moment.

The older ones will surely have heard the echo of a legendary phrase in quiet pre-Revolution politics: “The sky is blue, hell is red”.

This is exactly what the clergy preached to their French-Canadian faithful, urging them to reject the liberal red “hell” for the blue “paradise” of the Union Nationale.

Back to the mirage of 2006?

More recent history, however, teaches us to be wary of post-Mulroney conservative sirens. In 2006, in a hurry like other Canadians to punish the Liberals for the sponsorship scandal – a completely understandable reaction – they had a result that was none the less unfortunate.

There followed a decade of Harper, authoritarian and pro-oil. Quebec had to be content with essentially cosmetic “decentralizing” loves.

In front of Quebecers, Mr. Harper indeed excelled in beautiful empty phrases devoid of any substance capable of truly expanding the powers of Quebec.

In short, isn’t the question many Quebeckers, nationalists or not, asking themselves: even under Erin O’Toole, do they really want to succumb to the Conservative mirage again?

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