Tom Mulcair: There is not much in the platform of the Quebec Conservative Party

While the opposition to Bill 96 is courageous, there are reasons to think twice about supporting leader Éric Duhaime and his party.


Quebec Conservative Party leader Éric Duhaime unveiled his party’s scaled-down platform over the weekend. There is not much there and that is precisely the goal.

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Sure, Duhaime touches on some conservative golden oldies: one level of health care for the rich, another for the poor; tackle the housing crisis by helping homeowners in distress. You know, that kind of thing.

He raises a small number of specific issues knowing that some of the mainstream media will come after him for not talking about “identity” enough. His response to that criticism is swift and forceful: those are the priorities of Prime Minister François Legault and his Avenir Québec Coalition.

Does Legault Say No to Fossil Fuel Extraction Projects? Duhaime would change course!

It’s all good politics. There’s also a tax cut that seems particularly in tune with the salary of the average civil servant in Quebec City, where Duhaime’s numbers are a real threat to Legault.

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I lived in Quebec City for years and worked there for decades. I love the place, but it really is a different world.

The most important difference with the older sister Montreal is diversity: linguistic, cultural, religious. Yes, the demographics are changing too, but as some would say, it’s still a big town. As a result, opinions and stories travel fast.

They say that all politics is local. Montreal had long dominated the airwaves and newscasts in Quebec City. That left a void for iconoclastic (and sometimes brutal) local radio hosts like the recently deceased André Arthur. These impactful radio hosts had free rein to set the agenda and the terms of the debate in the second largest metropolitan area in the province. Rush Limbaugh had nothing to do with these guys, who were plying his trade long before he was.

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Duhaime was a practitioner of this type of radio. Unlike Arthur, he would back down and apologize, like the time without thinking he compared rape to carjacking. As a politician, he openly opposes profeminist policies, and has denigrated women working as political attachéshis old job.

Duhaime was lightning fast on the radio and could now be overwhelming in debates. However, getting him to say something definitive about politics is like trying to nail Jello to the wall. You will not be allowed to be immobilized.

That is why I found part of your exchange with my colleague Yasmine Abdelfadel on Monday so interesting. In fact, she answered a question: would she get rid of Bill 96? Answer: yes.

He immediately branched off to talk about the fact that the Parti Québécois had voted against Bill 96 (oh yeah, because they felt it didn’t go far enough). He spoke at length about freedoms and not wanting to have a fruitless fight with the English-speaking community. Brave.

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Asked by Abdelfadel if his views on freedom extended to religious freedoms, Duhaime started talking about having once worked in Morocco (Abdelfadel’s family is from Morocco). Pointing out that he is gay, he explained that he would not want government services from someone with a religious bent. He was a classic Duhaime non-sequitur. Inscrutable, he managed to avoid the dead air. There will be a whole CQA team taking down every word this guy says during the campaign. Like Trump, he really doesn’t seem to care a bit what people say.

The fact that Duhaime has spent part of his previous political career helping the PQ and the Bloc Québécois try to partition Canada should, of course, worry any Federalist thinking of voting for him.

The last time Quebec’s English-speaking community felt caught in a bind, after Bourassa introduced Bill 22, many voted for Rodrigue Biron’s Union Nationale.

Biron turned out to be a pro-sovereignty and became a minister in the government of René Lévesque. Buyer beware.

Tom Mulcair, former leader of the federal NDP, served as environment minister in the Liberal Quebec government of Jean Charest.

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