Quebec’s elections aren’t out yet, but that’s the way it is. The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) unveiled another campaign promise on Wednesday, while Caquists, Liberals and Solidarity denounced the Conservatives’ statements.
In the morning, Christian Dubé unveiled a first electoral commitment in the field of health: the creation of a new agency to support the ministry. Resolutely partisan, the announcement did not take place in Parliament and two new CAQ candidates were present. However, Mr. Dubé spoke at the time as “minister”.
This isn’t the first CAQ primary code announcement. Last Friday, François Legault pledged to build 11,000 affordable housing units if re-elected. He then replied to those who pointed out that the campaign hadn’t started yet that “there was always a primary campaign.”
“Perhaps the quality of appointment selections is lacking. We can’t say that governments are taking advantage of the element of surprise, everyone knows that there are elections on October 3rd. […] But indeed, we see it – and it’s not just the CAQ – we’re already in the primaries,” he had argued. Under the electoral law, the Legault government can only launch hostilities between August 25 and 29.
At the end of the last parliamentary session, the Prime Minister had also promised not to make any government announcements before the elections “with a few exceptions”.
Consultation with the senior returning officer: “There is no provision [de loi] which prevents political parties from making electoral commitments before the start of the election campaign”.
Election announcements, on the other hand, have to be paid for by the political parties, not the government. Expenses incurred before the election cannot be reimbursed either.
The Quebec Conservative Party (PCQ) also filed a related complaint with the Ethics Commissioner on Wednesday, arguing that the Quebec government funded election advertising on François Legault’s Facebook page.
The conservatives in the viewfinder
In a sign of the intensity of the so-called “pre-campaign,” the PCQ announced Wednesday that it would hold a large rally “to launch the Freedom 22 campaign” in Quebec on Sunday.
Éric Duhaime’s party has also come under fire from opponents because of the vocabulary of its leader and the previous statements made by one of its candidates.
Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien said the Conservative leader was aggressive when he touted voters last Sunday who want “a balance”. [le] Fall” by Prime Minister François Legault. “To me, at the end of the day, resolving someone’s case is giving them a bad toll,” he said. It’s something that’s actually more aggressive than saying, “We’re going to have good discussions, and we’re going to be able to casually discuss topics.”
Mr Duhaime’s press secretary, Cédric Lapointe, urged the Caquistes to show good faith. “By dreaming up hidden messages in our leader’s speech in such an incredible way, they are more likely to be the ones who help give ideas to unstable people,” he said.
The Conservative leader also found himself in the hot seat over an obvious position taken by his candidate in L’Assomption.
Last May, days after the Robb Elementary School shooting in the Texas city of Uvalde, Ernesto Almeida, the PCQ horseback riding standard-bearer, published a cartoon showing a teacher protecting his students with a gun, and then took it in social media, Radio Canada reported on Wednesday.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge asked Mr Duhaime to clarify the position of his political formation on the issue. “The PCQ and Éric Duhaime who seem wrong to think that arming teachers is a good thing. This is completely unacceptable,” he thundered.
Liberal leader Dominique Anglade accused Mr Duhaime of supporting this publication of his candidate. “We don’t want to see guns in our schools,” she said.
For his part, Quebec Solidaire MP Sol Zanetti drew a parallel between this speech and that of the American firearms lobby, the National Rifle Association. “It’s very worrying. I wouldn’t vote for that anyway,” he said.
The Conservative leader’s press secretary later said that Éric Duhaime and the PCQ were opposed to the carrying of firearms by teachers. “Mr Almeida does not wish to represent his case within the Conservative Group,” he said.