Four years ago, the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) was in power.
Now the party sits on 17 percent of voting intentions — over 20 points behind the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), the same party that ousted the Liberals in 2018.
Despite this, PLQ chief Dominique Anglade is optimistic about October 3rd.
“People are responding really well locally,” she told CTV News Monday. “We still have two weeks ahead of us.”
In an interview with moderator Maya Johnson, Anglade reflected on the ups and downs of her campaign, her party’s identity and the controversial role she played in Quebec-language politics.
Watch the full interview in the video above.
A BUMMY CAMPAIGN?
When campaigning began a few weeks ago, the PLQ was missing up to 16 candidates, some of whom resigned at the last minute.
When asked about the scramble to find representatives, Anglade shifted the focus elsewhere:
“Think of the candidates we have.”
She pointed to liberal candidates with so-called “impressive feuilles de route” – roadmaps – for Quebec’s future, such as Jean-Maurice Matte and Vicky-May Hamm.
“There is definitely a vision of Quebec that we must carry, [a] Vision of Quebec that is modern, where everyone is involved, where everyone feels we are not divided and working in one direction,” she said. “So when I look at the candidates we have, Maya, we can be really proud. “
The Liberals eventually found representatives for all but one of the 125 Ridings of Quebec.
For reasons that are not yet clear, Harley Lounsbury’s candidacy to run for Matane-Matapédia was rejected by the Quebec Chief Electoral Officer.
“We are contesting this in court,” confirmed Anglade.
As a result, the PLQ is the only major provincial party missing a candidate before Election Day.
But not only the topic of candidacy caused a stir in the election campaign.
According to a report by La Presse, the party underestimated the province’s net debt by $16 billion.
The error was confirmed by Carlos Leitao, the former Liberal finance minister in charge of the party’s cost platform.
But like Leitao, Anglade said the revised numbers don’t change the party’s platform or promises.
“The key message here doesn’t change, the main messages that we send,” she said.
“For example, if we think about giving $5,000 per family, if we think about making sure we have a real senior allocation.”
AN IDENTITY CRISIS?
With the creation of the CAQ in 2011, not to mention the growing popularity of Eric Duhaime’s Conservatives, the PLQ is no longer the only option for voters who don’t want Quebec’s secession from Canada.
This new reality has raised questions about the party’s role in Quebec’s political landscape.
For Anglade there are two answers.
“Economy is definitely the hallmark of the Liberal Party. But I also say inclusion is a hallmark of the Liberal Party.”
Her party has pledged to put an extra $5,000 in the pockets of Quebecers every year through tax cuts and hydroelectric tariff freezes.
In addition, the PLQ would increase the immigration threshold to 70,000 per year to curb labor shortages.
In terms of inclusion, Anglade said she has a mission to unite Quebec – the polar opposite of what she says the incumbent prime minister has done.
“Francois Legault has divided Quebecers across the province. Anglophones versus Francophones, immigrants versus non-immigrants. This has to stop – we have to unite, we have to make sure that we unite all Quebecers, 8.6 million of us, and that we work in one direction.”
Anglade’s comments shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with her story.
The Liberal leader was a former CAQ president but left the party in 2015 citing differing views on immigration and diversity.
She herself is a first-generation Canadian of Haitian descent.
BILL 96 REGRETS?
Historically, the PLQ was the party of choice for Anglophones in Quebec and may have severed ties with some constituents after it introduced an amendment to the Bill 96 Languages Act that would require students in English junior colleges (CEGEPs) to take three “core courses.” ‘ in French.
It’s a change that Liberals are now trying to reverse.
“We cannot repeat the past,” Anglade said. “But what I can tell you is that we voted against Bill 96.”
Would she have done things differently by consulting more with CEGEPs, students and parents?
“[We] I probably would have had those conversations sooner rather than later.”
Anglade also noted that her party also voted against the controversial Law 21, which bans government employees from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs.
“I sit down, meet with everyone and we find the solution. That’s what we did with Bill 96,” she concluded. “That’s why we voted against Bill 21. And that’s where we will be on October 4th as a Liberal government.”