Everyone made history Monday in Quebec.
For the first time in Quebec’s history, the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), led by François Legault, won power taking a commanding 74 seats in the 125-seat national assembly.
The 12-year-old left-leaning separatist Quebec Solidaire hit historic highs in seats won — 10 — and in popular vote — 16 per cent. The party is also no longer confined to downtown Montreal but planted its first flags in Quebec City.
The other two parties made the kind of history one tries to avoid.
The Liberal Party of Quebec, with just under 25 per cent of the popular vote, has never fared worse in a general election since its creation at Confederation. Same thing with the Parti Quebecois: worst showing since its creation in 1970.
Quebec’s history-making election, though, followed a trend: yet another Liberal majority government in a provincial capital finds itself on the outs.
This trend is significant beyond Quebec’s borders and could impair the ability of the Liberal government in Ottawa to get as much done as it might wish on its domestic agenda in the final year of its mandate.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened his first First Ministers’ meeting, he would have looked around the room and seen many allies. Canada’s biggest provinces were all led by Liberals all of whom were leading majority governments: B.C.’s Christy Clark (Liberal in name, at least), Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, Quebec’s Phillippe Couillard. Atlantic Canada’s four premiers were all Liberals and they, too, commanded majorities. If stuff was going to get done and done quickly, then all was in place.
But at his next meeting with the premiers, perhaps his final such meeting before he himself must face the electorate next fall, Trudeau will see quite a different crowd. Clark, of course, was replaced by a New Democrat in British Columbia who is hostile at worst and cool at best to Trudeau’s agenda while Wynne, Couillard and New Brunswick’s Brian Gallant (one assumes) have or will soon be replaced by right-of-centre premiers hostile to some of Trudeau’s core policies.
Two of those new premiers, Ontario’s Doug Ford and, now, Quebec’s Francois Legault’s have solid secure majorities.
From housing to infrastructure to a national climate change plan, Trudeau’s roster of provincial partners now includes a majority — including the leaders of Canada’s two biggest provinces — that will wish him little luck in making much headway in the next year.
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