Some interesting political indications came out in the last couple of days.
The first poll with PKP as the head of the PQ
PKP has only been the head of the Parti Québécois since May 15. The next election is not until 2018. A billion things can happen in 3 years.
This week we saw the first provincial political poll since PKP became the head of the Parti Québécois (PQ).
A Léger / Journal / Devoir poll revealed that if an election were held today,
- the PQ (sovereignist, left of centre) would garner 34% of the popular vote,
- the provincial Liberals (federalist, centrist) would garner 32% of the popular vote,
- the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) (autonomist-federal, centre-right) would garner 20% of the vote.
- Québec Solidaire (sovereignist, far-left) would garner 10% of the vote.
- 41% of Francophones support the PQ versus 22% for the Liberals, and 23% for the CAQ (Note, in Québec’s polls, we often see an analysis of the “Francophone” vote. Francophones often constitute a vote-splitting segment of society, versus immigrant allophones, and Anglophones. These two groups often have different voting tendencies).
- The PQ would hold 54 seats,
- The Liberals would hold 53 seats.
- As a party leader, PKP (PQ) is more popular than Philippe Couillard (Liberals).
Compare this to last February, 2015, at which time the PQ had 37% of voter intentions and the Liberals had 33% of voter intentions.
Contrast this with May 2014, at which time the PQ had 19% of intentions (23% among Francophones, and was the last of 4 parties in the eyes of under 45s).
One of PKP’s first interviews as the head of the PQ
This morning, PKP gave an interview to Québec’s Radio X.
The first question he was asked was what he saw as his plan. Would it pertain to a referendum? A new Charter of values?
His response set the tone for all remaining follow-up questions and answers.
PKP intends to found an “Institute for Sovereignty”. It would be a think-tank styled institute of experts and researchers. It’s goal will be to prove to the population of Québec that sovereignty is in their best interest, especially on the economic front.
During the rest of the interview, PKP invoked reasons why Québec would be economically better off as a sovereign country. He talked about economic and financial improvements which could be made in the healthcare sectors, how he would stimulate business, how he would engage in clean transport, how he would financially and socially improve the deliverance of government programs, how he would build and promote public transport, and how he would promote green industries.
But do you want to know what? The things he mentioned he would do, and how he stated how he would do them were not much different (if not identical) to things other Premiers are saying or doing right now in other provinces in Canada (in BC, in Ontario, in Saskatchewan, and in Alberta for example).
The list is long — and involves numerous big-player provinces… be it electrified public transport, green corridors, provincial carbon market initiatives, massive cultural investments in some of our larger cities, cutting of red-tape for entrepreneurs, increased hydro-electification so as to assist in the transformation of raw materials to finished products (we’re seeing this huge push in BC right now with the Clean Energy Site-C project and the new joint Ontario-Québec electrical partnership), decreased healthcare waiting times in some provinces, more efficient rendering of public services, international bilateral province-to-country agreements, international free-trade agreements, reduced green-house gas emissions at the provincial and municipal levels (Vancouver as a city, for example is the world leader in this domain), freezes on post-secondary tuition in some provinces… and the list goes on and on and on.
But because of the Two Solitudes, perhaps PKP believes that ordinary people in Québec will not notice that PKP’s proposals are the same as what is already happening all across Canada (perhaps people will notice, perhaps they won’t – the dynamics of the Two Solitudes can be quite finicky).
The only major difference I saw between the direction PKP wanted to take Québec, and the direction the rest of Canada’s provinces are already taking Canada is that PKP desires to repatriate jurisdiction over various Federal matters from Ottawa.
Strangely enough, matters of Federal jurisdiction are small in comparison to matters which are already of provincial jurisdiction.
In this vein, when questioned, PKP said that he would make up for a $9 billion dollar shortfall in loss of federal equalization/transfer payments by making public and private industry more efficient through vacuum-tight government revenues. He stated he wishes to involve Québec’s government directly in Québec’s supply chain process; from the extraction of Québec’s natural resources, to the end use of them in Québec’s manufacturing industries. But he was short on details regarding how he would involve the government.
One thing which struck me was that he spoke more about “business” and the “economy”, and less about “separation”. Yet he said that separation is the most important thing to speak about.
If you ask me, it sounds like PKP is setting the table to make sovereignty a question of economics.
He is trying to court a whole new segment of the population which, in the past, has traditionally been wary about the economic costs of separation on their personal wallet (even among those who have nationalist sentiments towards Québec’s sovereign future, but who in the past voted “no”).
It appears PKP is trying to play the “Barcelona” and “Scotland” card. Do not forget that PKP has made a few trips to both Scotland and Barcelona to learn from their experiences. Both of these foreign sovereignist movements were as much about economics as nationalism.
A break with the past: If this is the case, this will be a major shift from how past PQ leaders tried to woo the electorate. In the past, the PQ’s argument for sovereignty was all about culture, language, immigrant integration, and history.
How well is this going down with the public? (After all, it is not like PKP is new to the scene, and we have heard his plans for the PQ for over a year). Judging from the polls, the population is very split. It appears PKP’s honeymoon was during the PQ leadership race, and not after PKP’s crowning as the leader of the PQ.
I will say this… In the absence of a honeymoon, PKP will have his work cut out for him. But with this said, there will be much time for people to digest the information fed to them. Depending on how the population receives that information may dictate if opinion may swing — and in which direction.
The next Québec election is in 2018. In politics, three years is a long time, and much can happen in the meantime. There are many unknowns:
- How will 18 to 40 year olds will feel towards the PQ and sovereignty in 2018?
This group is currently the most detached from sovereignist ideals (and who the PQ will be bending over backwards to court). It has been in an “engaged” group in the past, but world dynamics have changed (youth today are much more “globally focused” than “locally focused”).
But with that being said, if this group has been engaged in the past, perhaps they once again will become engaged in the future. Polls over the last few years have showed that Québec’s youth is no more “engaged” or “attached” to Canada any more than they are to the Québec. Thus the table is being set for a tug-of-war to see which side will woo the youth.
We know who is tugging on that rope on the sovereignist side. In fact there are two people tugging on this rope on the overeignist side: PKP as the head of the PQ, and his super star wife, Julie Snyder – the most successful television pop-culture, music and entertainment producer in the history of Canada. Julie’s entire career and life has revolved around making young people feel great about themselves and their environment. Never never never forget that PKP & Julie Snyder come as a political pair. (You can read two previous posts about how Julie Snyder’s star-studded celebrity-life and pop-culture world meets her political aspirations by clicking HERE and HERE).
My question: Who is pulling the tug-of-war rope on the federalist side? (Somebody better step up to the plate – and quick). This is why the 2015 Federal might be a game changer in the sovereignty debate.
There may be grave consequences if the next Federal Prime Minister is perceived by the youth as being detached from Québec’s realities (culturally, linguistically, or with Québec”s values). Read into that what you will. But I will say that the Federal PM contender who doubles as the son of a father who is not well looked upon in Québec might not bode well for that candidate — even if there exist some cultural or linguistic links with Québec.
(Outside Québec, many Anglophone Canadians are not aware of the sensitive historical events within Québec which make it so there is a very large segment of Québec’s population which does not like or respect former PM Pierre Trudeau, or how he related to people. To many, Pierre Trudeau over-zealously involved himself in Québec-specific events in a way which placed him on the “wrong side” of the fence. This same segment of the population is not willing to separate the son from the father… and they view Justin Trudeau as an even greater “outsider” than the father — believing that Justin was sheltered from the common-person by his father. People seem to be more apt to pick apart every move the latest Trudeau makes; thus making him fall more vulnerable to criticism than other federal leaders. At any rate, that’s the feeling I get from people when “Federal Liberals leave the room”, but the rest keep chatting).
Who else does that leave? And how can that be balanced with the rest of what other Canadians outside Québec are looking for in their next Prime Minister (My thoughts? … … sigh + sigh + 1/2 sigh).
A few weeks back, Québécois were polled regarding who they view as their 20 most trusted individuals. Of the few politicians who made it onto this list:
1. Thomas Mulcair ranked 9th,
2. Philippe Couillard ranked 10th,
3. Julie Snyder ranked 15th (yes, I consider her a politician owing to her heavy activism)
4. PKP ranked 16th
5. Stephen Harper ranked 18th
–. Justin Trudeau didn’t rank as one of the top 20 trusted people in Québec.
I wrote a post on why I think each of the above people ranked on the top 20 list. Click on the Julie Snyder link above, and have a look at what Federal politicians will be up against to try to woo the youth vote. It’s quite interesting, to say the least.
The other thing I want to say is that when we are talking about the “youth” vote, we are still dealing with people — with human beings. This is not (nor should it ever be treated as) as chess game. To treat people as chips on a board game is the most inhumane, unjust, and cold thing a politician can do. When someone speaks to the youth… they need to do it with words and thoughts from the heart… not from the wallet.
You can not — you should not — bribe. That’s why I often do not agree with a number of sovereignist or federalist tactics, be it the past or present.
This is also why I believe the current PKP/Julie Snyder strategy is unethical. Will they get away with it? Will the youth see through them? Will the youth jump on the sovereignty-band wagon because they “like”
Julie’s Québec’s version of American Idol? I don’t know… truly I don’t. But I hope not.
- Nobody knows how good or bad the world economy will be in 2018.
- Nobody knows how well or bad the federal government and Canadian economy will be performing in 2018.
- Nobody knows who the PQ’s Federal “adversaries” will be after the 2015 election, and the federal-provincial dynamics which will exist in 2018.
There are too many factors in the air. Nobody can say how popular PKP or any of the parties will be in 2018.
We are in for an interesting three years.