Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) party faithful are gathering in Trois-Rivières this weekend for their annual convention.
The gathering will determine a large part of the party’s platform. It also marks the 10th anniversary of the CAQ, which has never been so popular.
“Soyez un peu chauvin,” Premier François Legault told a room of 850 CAQ party members in French, which translates to: “Be a little chauvinistic.”
“Together, we have completely changed politics in Quebec,” he continued in French, to applause. “For 50 years, it was always the same two parties.”
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The leader and founder of the CAQ boasted that 10 years after its inception, the party stands above all in the polls, as well as the number of seats it has in the National Assembly.
Speaking to reporters in English, Legault said, “When I compare us to the three other parties, we have enough people to make two cabinets.”
The CAQ is here to stay, the premier added, hinting he knows some of his ministers are already thinking about taking his job.
“Many would be ready to replace me, so I’m happy to see that,” he emphasized, “but I’m here for at least another mandate, so they will have to wait.”
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At its annual convention, party members adopted resolutions to improve economic productivity in Quebec’s regions.
“The CAQ is a party of the regions,” said Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault.
Party members voted in favour of resolutions to create more public sector jobs in rural communities, and support young people wanting to start businesses outside urban centres. This fits with the premier’s economic vision for the province, which includes a push to buy local and promote more made-in-Quebec green alternatives.
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There was little on the agenda for Montreal or anglophone Quebecers. But Christopher Skeete, relations with English-speaking Quebecers parliamentary assistant to the premier, said he’s not convinced the CAQ is unpopular among English speakers.
“I think it would be a little bit of a shortcut to say the English community doesn’t like Bill 9, Bill 21 or Bill 96,” Skeete said, explaining the English community is not monolithic. “I think they’re as dynamic and diverse as any Quebecers.”
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Polls consistently show the majority of non-francophones still support the Quebec Liberal Party. However, Skeete said, the election — in less than a year’s time — will be the true test.
“I’m looking forward to what the turn out’s going to be,” he said.