Analysis Big Dilemmas Ahead for Quebec Solidaire Quebec

Analysis | Big Dilemmas Ahead for Québec Solidaire | Quebec Elections 2022

Indeed, if QS lost votes across Quebec compared to the previous ballot, in absolute numbers and as a percentage, the overall election result overlaps two very different realities. As mathematician and national election commissioner Julie Dionne well explained, on October 3rd the Québec Solidaire gained votes in a majority of the urban ridings while losing ground in most suburbs and the countryside.

Already in view of the next election meeting, the militants gave the party the mandate to undertake an extensive tour of Quebec in order to better anchor the solidarity project in the reality of all regions. Significant resources will be devoted to this exercise, assured Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, convinced that it will not be a tour of visibility and communication.

But the hardest part is yet to come. The party promises to adjust its program and procedures after the tour is over to better meet the concerns of citizens in the regions, but this will not be without problems.

We are of course thinking of the tax on polluting vehicles that Québec solidaire included in its last electoral platform. Buyers of certain vans would have had to pay an additional 15% tax if the party were elected, giving François Legault valuable ammunition. What will happen with such a commitment in a context where the fight against climate change remains at the top of the party’s list of priorities? This is not the only example.

We’ll never know how frustrated Québec Solidaire’s fighters were over the results of the last election, as journalists were locked out of the room just as delegates were about to address the issue.

In general, activists have noted that promises about public transport or land use planning are not being received in Matane and Montreal in the same way, and that adjustments may need to be made to prioritization.

In a heartfelt speech, former MP Émilise Lessard-Therrien urged members to understand the party’s defeat in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue. What will we learn from this defeat? How will we reposition ourselves? How do we reach the people in the regions? She launched and appealed to the desire of activists to really want to take power.

The task becomes difficult. We mentioned the idea of ​​giving regional constituencies more weight in the bodies, but one activist recalled that the party is already struggling to meet its current commitments in terms of organizing events in the regions.

Émilise Lessard-Therrien hugs her husband.

MP Émilise Lessard-Therrien was defeated on October 3.

Photo: Radio Canada / Guillaume Renaud

Independence Square

Going beyond sectoral issues, the party has accepted a proposal to put the question of independence at the center of the discourse, but that’s a risky proposition.

The two gains QS made in the last election came at the expense of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ). However, promoting independence isn’t necessarily the best calling card for these two Montreal Ridings, at least if we rely on their electoral history.

Other ridings likely to one day switch to the Québec Solidaire camp are showing the same profile, especially with a PLQ in rebuild. That’s especially true for Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne, where a by-election will be held next month, and five other races in Montreal, where QS finished second behind the Liberals last October.

When asked about the place that sovereignty will have in the sub-trial, candidate Guillaume Cliche-Rivard was transparent: the program is what it is and we will respect it, but what I am told about the field is the real crisis ground is the real estate crisis and it is [le problème] for which I want to find solutions.

It will be crucial for the future, depending on the prospects of success, but also on the priorities of the members, to choose which type of constituencies the party wants to conquer first.

A man in a blue scarf speaks to the cameras, surrounded by a man and a woman.

Guillaume Cliche-Rivard will represent Québec solidaire in the March 13 by-election in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne.

Photo: Radio Canada

The thorny question of parity

Adding to these thorny debates is the issue of women’s representation. During the last electoral term, the Quebec solidaire caucus consisted of 10 MNAs, five men and five women. This time the picture is very different, as the 11-strong faction consists of seven men and four women. This is not possible without irritating many activists. The fact that the candidate to wear the party’s colors in the upcoming by-election is a man is not reassuring.

To prevent such a situation from recurring, delegates adopted a proposal that opened the door to the introduction of female candidates in certain constituencies. Even if the idea seems sensible at first glance, it is likely to be difficult to implement.

The thing is, we can never know exactly which candidates the populace will vote for and which candidates will be defeated. This avenue would also limit members’ ability to express their democratic will in a party where we have always been reluctant when the organization imposes its will on activists.

Added to this are the challenges associated with the implementation of such a measure. How to choose the constituencies dedicated to women? Should men who are currently MPs agree to give up their seats in the next election as long as they occupy the safest seats? And most importantly, would such a system offer a real guarantee of parity once voters have decided?

For the time being, Québec solidaire only opens the dialogue. The hard decisions will come later, but they will come.

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