Jordan: If there’s one thing you can count on about politics and Quebec that every election will be unique even in recent memory. It was a surge in Quebec that gave the NDP its best Federal showing in history. And then it was the province’s quick turn on the party. Just a few years later the thrust the Liberals back into majority power. So think of Quebec as perhaps Canada’s Swing Vote. You cannot predict their. Parents, you can’t rely on Quebec voters to follow the trends of the rest of the country and when they do make up their mind they tend to do it for their own reasons. They tend to do it quickly. So with less than two weeks to go before election day will Quebec change its mind or will the province’s voters stick with the lip. Can a resurgent Bloc Québécois stand in the way of conservative games? Why won’t anyone even Canada’s most Progressive leaders vow to fight the province’s discriminatory Bill 21.
Oh and what did happen to the NDP in this province less than a decade after they turn to most of Quebec orange. Yes things change quickly.
I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is the big story Giuseppe Valiante covers politics in Quebec for the Canadian press but we caught him chasing the conservative campaign around the country where he was on the streets of Toronto. Hi Giuseppe
Giuseppe: Good morning.
Jordan: I start every one of these by asking the same thing which is how’s democracy going in Quebec these.
Giuseppe: Democracy is Alive and Well in Quebec and it’s quebecers love politics, you love talking about politics and of debating politics. The political shows are very popular and I would also say that journalists and pundits and feel the so-called intellectual class. They hold a very prominent place in society.
Even sometimes you do the politicians the premiers talk about changing policies or being influenced by what he. What he or she don’t reads in the people who hears on television on the radio. So quebecers are very in tune with their politics and it’s almost a national sport here.
Jordan: Well, I was going to say to an outsider, it seems like politics can change so quickly and Quebec. I’m just thinking about the past two Federal elections in the makeup of the MPS that you guys have sent to Ottawa.
Giuseppe: That’s right. Quebecers are known to be very fickle with their vote particularly end up at the federal level and I’ve actually written about this is a few theories, but to the way I think and way I see it is because the federal federal government is not that important to quebecers and I know that that might seem a little shocking to other Canadians being a few as Canadians outside outside Quebec, you know, when they think of governments they think that’s fairly of what do they think of when we think of the you know, the federal government or federal policies?
Their provincial government is very present in their life. And it’s a lot of global education and Healthcare. I understand that it’s a provincial issue across the country. But in Quebec the Quebec government, you know, they call themselves the national government. The parliament is not the legislature.
It’s the National Assembly so they really see themselves as a nation apart. And so. Really do work at the federal government as you know, what can you do for me? They’re not as loyal and they like leaders a lot more. I spoke to a post to the other day. He said quebecers like the fall in love. They let the Fallen leaders fall in love with different leaders.
And that’s why you saw Jack Layton is the NDP do so well in Quebec the so-called orange wave his NPS won the majority of Quebec see for following election. He saw the Liberals get 40 feet. They got the majority of Quebec seats as well. And so quebecers like the voting blocks in order to have the most power and the most influence they voted block and now and those blocks can swing wildly from one election to another whether it’s the block that the progressive conservatives or the liberals or the NDP and every election the majority of seats seem to always go to one specific party and it swings wildly from election to election.
Jordan: Except at least according to the polls in this one, which is really interesting because a lot of Canada seems to have fallen out of love with Justin Trudeau, but when we talk to our pollsters that does not seem to be the case in Quebec.
Giuseppe: Well, let’s be careful what you say that because the election hasn’t happened yet right at the beginning of 2015. It was the NDP. That was it. And then the conservatism of the head and then the Liberals eventually took over so we’ll see right now. You have a lot of the three-way Race Across Quebec. It’s between the Liberals the conservatives and the block. A lot of the ridings around Montreal if the Liberals in the block that are fighting for the window seats.
The MVP vote seems to have really collapsed in Quebec and it’s been going down ever since the election of all those employees with Jackal a DVD ATP by do you do have a point when you say quebecers don’t seem to be particularly in love at the moment they want but I would also say that the Bloc Quebecois.
and their leader Yves Francois Blanchet has certainly impressed people into that these impress people lately. You know, he’s someone from the art scene is very good on television is very good speaking is not just a French speaker. These are very eloquent eriodite speaker and he’s someone who is working very hard to convince quebecers that the block is still relevant that the block is a party that they should vote for.
They should send a large contingent of Block members to Ottawa because he says all do night and day is fight for Quebec’s interests if they vote for liberals or conservatives are NDP. These parties have to be pushed from different directions. They might not be able to keep them excited all the time because they have to appease people in British Columbia and Alberta for instance.
And he says if you vote for block, you know that the people you’re sending the parliament he will only fight for you. And of course the other side is mr. Blanchette was asked this earlier in the week at the debate the French language debat he was asked how many pieces of legislation has the block ever passed in Canada?
And he evaded the question because the answer was zero, right? So Quebec. Is it going to have to ask? Do they want a so-called protest vote who they want to go block and say people don’t other words. I don’t just Hammer home Quebec’s interests? Or do they want to have the so, you know, the so-called seat at the table with the liberals or you conservatives may be that the NDP will really have to see there’s still a couple weeks left in the campaign.
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Well, we’re talking to you right now. And you’re in downtown Toronto walking around because you spent the past week following Andrew Scheer’s plane around Canada. How has he done connecting with Quebecers because that was one of the big questions Quebec is obviously one of the biggest swing provinces in Canada and he needs to make inroads there. Have you seen that this week
Giuseppe: this week he was in Montreal for a couple of days, but it was really debate prep. So we haven’t seen them out on the campaign Trail really connected with Quebecers. I was I haven’t seen that immediately, but I can also tell you. With Scheer is at least ah, the pundit side, be the media in Quebec certainly saw his performance at the debate as less-than-stellar.
It ranges from he didn’t do enough to convince Quebecers the vote conservative to be torpedoed his campaign because he had such a poor poor. Speak about the question about abortion wasn’t able to answer it. He wasn’t able to really in a position himself as as a humanizing way to Quebecers do over the issue now, that’s what journalists say.
That’s what the media says really remains to be seen whether or not he was hurt. We’ll see over the next couple of days with the polls to see if the Conservatives fall back in the polls for second place right now just a few points that depends on the poles are averaging about the same place at the Block and they’re really fighting for the same voters the Block and the conservatives attract more nationalist vote the same people who voted for the so-called nationalist Cohen which is governing Quebec at the moment.
So they’re fighting for the same voters. And Andrew Scheer has his message to Quebec, this is what I had mentioned before he’s saying, you know, we will support the policies of the provincial government. We will be a voice for Quebecers in Ottawa and we’re going to be a federalist voice but the difference between us and the bloc is we will be no, we will fight for the same policies, but you’ll actually have.
A government that can pass laws you’ll actually being you know Quebecers want one tax return right now Quebecers file provincial and federal taxes separately. The Quebec government is asked for Quebec to collect all the taxes and for the province to to you know, send back money to Ottawa. They want to have one tax return now the block wants that the conservatives want that and Andrew Scheer said we’re the only ones who can give it to you.
So he’s trying to hammer that message home and his French is not as excellent. As you know to see the least compared to mr. Trudeau compared to the block leader. Mr. Blanchette. So there’s a lot a little bit of a language barrier there Mr. Scheer seems a little more. I don’t want to use any critical words because when you actually get to know them as I’ve done on the campaign Trail he’s actually quite warm actually quite genuine.
And he comes off as a very decent human being but he doesn’t always be that that doesn’t come across on television and on the radio and I think that that’s probably something he’s gonna have to work a little harder at to just come across as someone who’s more personable with Quebecers because that’s what they like.
Jordan: Well you mentioned the CAQ government in Quebec and. They’re similar to the conservatives and the Block in that they’re they’re after the Nationalist vote and I wanted to ask about obviously the hottest issue for the rest of Canada out of Quebec has been Bill 21 and it’s understandable that the parties campaigning for that vote.
I mentioned wouldn’t want to protest that but I think one of the things people in English Canada were startled about the past week or so is that neither the Liberals nor the NDP nor the green party also stated that they would protest it. What are the politics at play behind that because it’s fascinating to me.
It’s clearly it’s clearly something that goes against their philosophy. But yet they won’t mess with it.
Giuseppe: It’s very simple. It’s politics. The vote and you can see how popular Bill 21 is in Tibet. By the way, the political parties are behaving, you know, those parties who are out, you know, highly coveted Quebec 78 electoral seats Quebec 78 seats second only to Ontario in order to get those seats.
You have to be popular with the people who live in those ridings. And it shows how the parties are reacting the bill 21 and it also shows Canadians how much support this law has in the province and the government is also wrapping this law and Quebec’s identity culture and economy, you know at this point, it’s almost a little less about the concept of secularism or state secularism it almost more about this is Quebecers.
This is a law that was passed in Quebec legislature by Quebecers by a new government that was received a majority and a very sizeable majority at that. So it’s almost more about Quebec’s autonomy Quebec’s jurisdiction and telling the federal government, you know, we are in a federation. These are ten separate provinces and we’ll leave us alone on areas of our competencies.
You know, that being said, you know, the other political parties are certainly. Maybe putting your morals to the side on this issue particularly the ones who claim to fight for minority rights because this law, you know, there’s no two ways about it. If you want to reason the law will know that this law is discriminatory.
This law suspends the charter rights for Muslim women, Sihk men, Jewish men in it’s in it’s very clear and Quebecers know it the government knows that they had to use the Constitution the notwithstanding Clause to force this law through because it would have been challenged in court and it would have been rejected in quotes because because Canadians have the right to freedom of expression freedom of religion and this law suspends those rights for people who wear religious symbols at work .
I guess it’s difficult because these political parties want to win votes, right? They want to gain power to all political parties in my opinion want the same thing, they want to get power. They want to maintain power and if you want to get power in Canada, those, 78 seats look very tempting and if you want those seats.
It’s very difficult to come out strongly against Bill 21, you see that reflected in their rhetoric over all the parties
Jordan: How have the Liberals been treating Quebec knowing that if they want to maintain their majority the poles kind of say they have to really run up the score in Quebec and Ontario in order to make up the seats that they’re going to lose in other places in Canada.
Giuseppe: Liberals are spending a lot of time not just during this election campaign, but in the lead up to it and before they spent a lot of time in Quebec as well. They have high-profile candidates in Quebec. A lot of the administers in Trudeau’s government comes from Quebec and they’re very very very present to see them a lot on television.
You see them to make you make support of also saying that my government has given a big place to commit francophones and to quebecers because this part is very important to us and so in your right. The politics of this going to be losing seats in Ontario and in in the west of the country maybe even in Atlantic Canada, it’s looking to make up those seats in Quebec in those 14 seats that the NDP currently hold looks very juicy to to the Liberal Party.
There’s a few block seats as well that the locals think that they can flip. So again, there’s that there’s that battle between the block between the Liberals between that and trying to get that. NDP vote and you’re right. It seems like you really do have to run up the score but the block is also looking for these seats as well.
So I guess I would imagine in the next two weeks over the course of the campaign the locals are going to be more and more and more in Quebec because they Quebec and Ontario, but I mean that’s nothing new Canadian elections are often about Quebec and Ontario
Jordan: If we’re watching on Election night, and we want to get a sense of. What’s happening in Quebec as a whole what’s happening to the vote there? What ridings are what areas of the province should Canadians from the rest of the country be looking for returns from?
Giuseppe: So the area around Montreal is going to stay liberal or I guess I shouldn’t make predictions like that.
The liberals are very strong in what you know, there’s a handful of seats to the of the NDP in my in Montreal that that the locals in the block or fighting for the conservatives don’t seem to really have that much of a chance in that urban center. So in Montreal is going to be you know, if the Liberals are able to take those NDP seats for of the block is able to take those see.
That’s going to be a really good sign of who’s going to be doing well or who’s going to do well on Election Day around the Quebec city area. The conservatives are very strong. That’s the base. There’s a couple of liberal seat. There’s two seats in the Quebec City area that conservatives are high in those clearly and then we have the areas in between Montreal and Quebec City.
Oh along maybe a bit north of the st lawrence river and a little bit south of the st lawrence river. And that’s where the battle is and because the conservatives and the block are fighting over the same voters. The Liberals could come up and take those seats. So Justin Trudeau iss going to have to avoid getting into any more scandals over.
The next couple of weeks he’s going to need to come back to come back and campaign shows face and have strong debates. And if you look at the last of the first French language TV debate a few days ago. Mr. Trudeau certainly didn’t you know clearly win it wasn’t a fantastic night for him, but he did what he needed to do.
And I think that it was a solid showing on his part and really there’s a lot of rumors going on in the campaign Trail about, you know about certain scandals here and there like every campaign is all kinds of rumors, but we all know that campaigns can certainly influence the voters. There’s another two weeks left.
So I would caution people from thinking that the way the polls are now is the way that the vote is going to end up and to recognize that there are still a lot of campaigning to do and there’s been a couple of pretty big Revelations during the campaign, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more between now and election
Jordan: Giuseppe. Thanks for this.
Giuseppe: Thank you very much.
Jordan: Giuseppe Valiante of the Canadian press. That was The Big Story. We only have three more to go in our lay of the land series. You can find them all at thebigstorypodcast.ca. You can also find us on Twitter. We are always there at @thebigstoryfpn, and we are also in all of your podcast players, and if we’re not in yours tell us and we will put ourselves there.
Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath-Rawlings. We’ll talk tomorrow.
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