Liberal Party of Québec or Bust?

by Jonathan Brun

What will it take for anglophone Quebecers to vote for a party other than the Liberal Party of Quebec? That will be the question of an upcoming evening of discussion between anglophone, francophone and unidentified Quebecers on May 4th. For over 40 years, Québec has been divided into sovereigntist and federalist parties, with the Liberal Party of Quebec holding power for the vast majority of that time thanks, in part, to a core base of voters who have no other option.

While massive emigration hit the province after the first and second referendums, those that stayed remain stuck in a frustrating situation of having to vote for a party that has been unable to turn our economy around. Despite numerous majority governments, the Liberal Party of Quebec has failed to create substantial economic growth, they have been tainted by corruption and their most recent proposals sound like more of the same. To believe that by electing the same people year over year, tied to the same interest groups, we will have a different outcome smells of insanity.

Yet, who to vote for? The PQ and Quebec Solidaire are proudly sovereigntist at all costs and the CAQ proposed a temporary 10 year moratorium – hardly comforting. Some of us have gotten angry, others stopped voting and most just tune out in frustration. Yet this behaviour of tuning out of Quebec society leads to a reinforcement of the two solitudes and a lack of fresh ideas and new blood into institutions that desperately need different perspective. Michael Sabia, from Ontario, has successfully led the Caisse de Dépot to outperform the markets while investing our pension money in Québec and abroad. Our crown corporations such as the Hydro-Québec, Loto Québec, SAQ and others are in desperate need of fresh takes on their mandate as they stagnate and fail to improve. The same can be said of our government and public institutions. Quebec still receives seven billion dollars a year in transfer payments, has lower economic growth and a lower family income than almost anywhere in Canada.

It is time to change and it is time for the anglophone and allophone communities to seek different electoral options than the Liberal Party. Because the Liberal know they have these votes locked up at every election, they have little incentive to invest in the concerned ridings – mostly on the island of Montreal. Ever wonder why Montreal has so little political power, run-down schools, and poor roads? Simply travel to the swing ridings in the suburbs and you will see where your tax dollars are going. Until anglo and allophones start to have options other than the Liberal Party, the situation is unlikely to change.

There are rumours of an Québec NDP and of a new party tentatively titled ‘Orphelins politiques’. Neither of these are likely to take power soon. The other option for engaged anglophones may be to infiltrate a non-sovereigntist party and attempt reform, the CAQ or PLQ being the only options. There are no easy solutions. Yet, inaction on this critical issue of a viable political party that can rally anglophones, allophones and francophones and that is not called the Liberal Party is likely the only way to change things or force the existing parties to change. Until then, we will remain on our little merry-go-round that takes us nowhere productive.