The beautiful Canadian province of Quebec is likely to hold elections in the very near future. With this in mind, I present unto the universe a brief, entirely accurate and in all respects absolutely fair, reasonable and unbiased guide to Quebec’s absolutely charming political parties.
Parti Québécois (PQ) – currently led by Pauline Marois, the PQ is a Québécois Nationalist party and also the province’s social democratic party of record. It has never been terribly good at reconciling these things and since the resignation of the party’s founder René Lévesque in 1985, has tended to heavily emphasise the former. It has an overwhelmingly Francophone and largely working class electorate. Péquiste governments have twice launched independence referendums: one that was heavily defeated in 1980, and one that they tried to rig their way to a narrow victory (but failed) in 1995. A perception exists that it is perhaps a bit of a party of pure laine* Québécois for pure laine Québécois, and that it may be perhaps a tiny bit racist. This may be due to the PQ’s penchant for culture war politics (c.f. Bill 101,** though note that language is also traditional a class issue in Quebec: which is one reason why it’s so poisonous a subject), or perhaps outbursts such as those of then Premier Jacques Parizeau who blamed the defeat of the 1995 referendum on “l’argent puis des votes ethniques” (‘money and the ethnic vote’), by which he pretty obviously meant ‘Jews and Darkies’. It might be worth noting that the signature policy of the Marois government is this. Le sigh.
Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) – currently led by Phillipe Couillard and also known as the Quebec Liberal Party, the PLQ is a Canadian Nationalist (‘Federalist’) party and Quebec’s natural party of government. It doesn’t really stand for a lot else, which is probably why it is fantastically corrupt.*** It has members and voters all over the political map united largely by their dislike for the PQ. The party’s base vote comes from minorities (most of which – wealthy Anglo’s and working class Allo’s both – trust Quebec’s other parties precisely half the distance they can throw them. About the only exception to this are some immigrants from French speaking countries) and its great stronghold is the city of Montreal. The latter fact may also explain why the PLQ is fantastically corrupt. The PLQ has a very high electoral floor (see above) and also a very high electoral ceiling: under the right circumstances, a PLQ candidate can get elected just about everywhere in the province. The PLQ is also prone to leadership cultism, and PLQ electoral platforms and policies when in government mostly tend to reflect the personal views and priorities of whoever happens to be leading it (e.g. the Charest government was basically a Conservative one, because Charest is a Conservative). It must also be pointed out that the PLQ is fantastically corrupt.
Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) – the pointless personalist vehicle of former PQ minister François Legault. The party mostly stands for vacuous platitudes, though the sum total of such platitudes tend to level out as vaguely centre-right. As is usually the case, come to think of it. The CAQ incorporates the remains of the ADQ (a queasy sub-Poujadist outfit headed by noxious motormouth Mario Dumont that became the official opposition before it was ready for prime time and which then proceeded to collapse hilariously) and its voter profile has some similarities: overwhelmingly Francophone, more affluent than average, and mostly suburban. But most of its support is pretty blatantly NOTA.
Québec solidaire – a ridiculous rabble of hard-left jokers (on the whole messy issue of sovereignty they state that they favour ‘Internationalist Independence’, which I think says everything) who have achieved an unexpected degree of electoral credibility due to the comically dysfunctional nature of politics in Quebec (see above). They are, of course, very much centered on Montreal. In Montreal they are, of course, very much centred on trendy areas north (but in Montreal terms east) of the city centre.
And yet why do I suspect that Irish voters would be envious of these choices?
*Literally meaning ‘pure wool’ and actually meaning ‘of basically 100% French Canadian ancestry’. In a piece of glorious trolling, Mordecai Richler founded an ‘Impure Wool Society’ in the mid 90s which awarded the Prix Parizeau to ‘ethnic’ writers from Quebec.
**Which is probably the room that it belongs in.
***As in very-very-probable-indeed-links-with-organised-crime corrupt.