Opinion: Quebec had an election and you should care

Last week Quebecers went to the polls and made history. For the first time in 60 years, they went into the ballot box and didn’t even get close to thinking about the idea of independence. The federalist Liberal Party of Quebec were smashed at the ballot box by soft nationalist Coalition De Avenue Quebec (CAQ), which is a centre-right party in Quebec that advocates less immigration, a ban on face coverings by people in the public service, a French language and values test for immigrants and balanced budgets.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’m very touched by your confidence. My team and I are very anxious to get to work for you,” tweeted CAQ leader Francois Legault when the election results were announced.

Quebec’s Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard, on the other hand, was far less positive.

“I had the opportunity to speak with Francois Legault to congratulate him,” Couilliard tweeted. “I bequeath to him a Quebec in financial health and ready to face all the challenges. I will contribute to a harmonious transition for the good of the people of Quebec.”

Couillard later resigned as leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec.

This election is historic for a few reasons and will have repercussions across Canada. First, this is historic because Quebec is the second largest province in terms of population and has the second largest economy in the country. This is the first time Quebec has elected a solidly right-wing government since the Quebec revolution in the 1960’s which threw out the Union Nationale under Maurice Duplessis. For the second election in a row independence has been thrown out the window in Quebec, which is likely good news for Canada as a whole.

This election also represents something of a domino effect. Quebec is just one of many provinces which were once a bastion of support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but lately, Trudeau has been losing allies left and right at a rapid pace. It started here in British Columbia with the election of the Green-NDP Alliance which quickly became a stalwart against the federally-endorsed and funded Trans-Mountain pipeline project.

In Ontario, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives heartedly defeated Kathleen Wynne. The Ontario Liberals received their worst loss in the party’s modern history and subsequently another province against the carbon tax.

While even in New Brunswick the Liberals are failing and the Tories and upstart right-wing populist party the ‘Peoples Alliance’ are likely to set an accord against a possible Liberal-Green Coalition. Plus, if polls are to be believed Jason Kenney’s new United Conservative Party is likely to wipe out the Liberals’ NDP allies in Alberta. 

Does this mean Trudeau is going to lose the next election? Likely not given the weakness of the New Democratic Party’s leader and the Tory split which is ongoing. But if you’re a Prime Minister with only a handful of allies in the Maritimes, mainly Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, while all the major provinces are against you, it’s a much more difficult road ahead. 

Good luck Justin, you’re going to need it.