The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) suffered the worst defeat in their history a fortnight ago. And, since then, they have only taken refuge in the safety of old affairs to avoid facing reality.
Posted at 6:00 am
For the Liberal Party, this security is known as the Official Opposition. For the Parti Québécois, this security is a symbol of sovereignty. In both cases, this condemns them, in the long run, to marginal status.
PLQ clings like a buoy to its official opposition status. It comes with certain parliamentary powers and a “government-in-waiting” status. It is conveniently forgotten that he owes this position to his strong constituencies west of Montreal.
Based on this position, the PLQ wants to prevent Québec solidaire (QS) and the Parti québécois from becoming recognized parties – which would require a certain flexibility in applying the rules. What did the National Assembly regularly do?
It is smaller because PLQ gets less votes than QS or PQ. To say that all this should be part of wider parliamentary reform is to avoid the debate.
But this assertiveness of the PLQ is a double-edged sword. This allows the PLQ to save the real autopsy of its defeat. In particular, you need a solid base in French-speaking Quebec if you really want a government to wait. What did PLQ lose in the last election?
Above all, the past campaign revealed that the PLQ no longer had a militant base. Apart from the two ridings where contested nomination meetings were held – hence the campaign to sell membership cards – most local associations had only a handful of members left or, worse, no longer obeyed the party’s internal rules. Candidates were surprised to realize that some of the constituencies did not even have a Liberal party president.
But to focus on parliamentary work and avoid the painful tasks of reconstruction on the ground, it is easy to resort to haste.
Not forgetting that the PLQ will not save the debate and vote on Dominic Anglade’s leadership. The leadership that has already contested…
At the Parti Québécois, the refuge lies in symbolism. The PQ survived when many predicted its demise, but we must not forget that Paul St-Pierre Plamondon owes his own election in Camille-Laurin only to stealing a leaflet from a QS candidate’s mailbox.
The campaign against the king’s oath was to please his workers and make people talk about him. But this battle is far from over and the PQ leader has already made a strategic mistake that could prove costly.
Actually, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon put his fate in the hands of François Legault. Indeed, even if he agrees with the abolition of these colonial vestiges – the Prime Minister will decide how.
And why would he favor the PQ when he tried – and largely succeeded – in an election campaign to replace him among nationalist voters? It would be very naive to expect any help from a PQ government.
The PQ leader believes that a simple resolution from the National Assembly would be enough, but nothing less certain: abandoning the oath of allegiance is, in fact, an amendment of the constitution.
Without entering into an expert debate, it can be assumed that the question here is to amend the internal constitution of Quebec. So we don’t need to ask permission from Ottawa or other provinces. But it is a fact that we cannot make constitutional amendments through an ordinary resolution of the National Assembly.
Government leader (outgoing) Simon Jolin-Barrett has already closed the door on this, saying that in the circumstances, legislation is needed in good and proper form.
However, a law cannot be passed in two minutes. It will take time, perhaps a parliamentary committee, and there is no indication that we can do it through steam. Mr. Legault also made it clear: “To make this change, the assistants must be able to sit”, he indicated through his press secretary.
PQ members therefore have to decide whether they want to stay away from the House for weeks, if not months, or if they respect the formalities and step on the paint and sit in their seats as members. They will be in good company as all the PQ members sitting there before them have done so.
And too bad for Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon, who wanted to turn it into a big partisan “smoke show.” He probably had no choice but to swallow his great speeches about the sanctity of oaths and the “scandal” of allegiance to Charles III.