The Quebec Liberal Party is in a process of redefining itself and its policy ahead of next year’s election.
At a policy convention this weekend in Quebec City, leader Dominique Anglade is talking about massive investments in combatting climate change, but the party also recognizes it needs to do more to win back support from Quebec anglophones.
“We are already on the campaign trail. We have one year,” said Liberal MNA Christine St-Pierre.
The provincial election is set for Oct. 3, 2022, and Quebec’s Liberals are going to use that time to convince voters it is the party of the future by focusing on a new proposal Anglade unveiled Friday night in her speech to 800 party faithful.
She said if the party wins back power, a Liberal government will invest $100 billion into nationalizing the production of green hydrogen, a clean alternative to fossil fuels.
“There’s no question that we had to make a decision about where the party is going, but we’ve been working on this for a while,” Anglade told reporters Saturday morning.
“And I’ve been saying all along that the biggest challenge that we have is the challenge of climate change.”
The party disregards any speculation this sudden focus on the environment has anything to do with Quebec Solidaire (QS) polling higher in some recent polls among francophone voters. MNA Pierre Arcand said there’s no comparison with the left-leaning separatist party.
“These are people who don’t know exactly what accounting means,” he said referring to QS climate targets he deemed not realistic. “We are much more pro-business.”
Anglade says focusing on climate change is a plan that will unite Quebecers from all walks of life. Even so, MNAs admit they also have to get back into the good graces of Quebec anglophones, who have historically supported the party.
“I hear that people feel that we haven’t been there, and that is absolutely something that we need to address … and maybe this is a good turning point for us to do that,” said Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone.
The party’s 27-point plan for protecting and promoting the French language, which Anglade unveiled in April, will not be debated at this weekend’s policy convention. The plan has five main principles including strengthening the use of French in the workplace, and providing citizens with the tools needed to improve their French.
Anglade said debate will instead centre around resolutions brought forward by party members, including one to support anglophones’ calls to protect the independence of English school boards.
The Liberal critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers also wants to reassure anglophones disappointed the party is supporting the government’s French language reform.
“There are parts of Bill 96 that our party recognizes as they stand are deeply problematic,” said David Birnbaum.
He added that he and fellow Liberal MNAs will keep fighting for amendments to ensure anglophones’ rights are protected.
Global News recently covered the Coalition Avenir Quebec convention – details of that convention can be seen in this story from Nov. 14.