Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Review of a chaotic political autumn in Ottawa and Quebec

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The panelists of the « Behind the scenes of power”: Alec Castonguay, Chantal Hébert and Michel C. Auger

  • Rosanna Tiranti (View profile)Rosanna Tiranti
  • Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text .

    The political landscape was eventful this fall with by-elections, about-faces, fluctuating public opinion, diplomatic embarrassments, a crisis of cost of living and a busy international scene.

    What political lesson should we learn? Who did well? Who failed? What gift can we wish for politicians? Responses from the Coulisses du politique panelists, Chantal Hébert, Alec Castonguay and Michel C. Auger.

    The About this show have been edited for brevity and clarity.

    CHANTAL: The decline of François Legault. When we look at the polls at the beginning of the year [compared to] those at the end of the year, François Legault lost many more votes in voting intentions. Mr. Legault has become the least popular of the provincial premiers, which is also unusual…

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    ALEC: The rapid and successive rise in interest rates. The climate is gloomy and this is due to a host of factors, including central banks which are tightening the screws to slow down inflation. These decisions by the Bank of Canada have nothing to do with our governments but have enormous influence on them and their popularity ratings. So, there is an effect in public policies, but also an effect in public opinion polls.

    MICHEL : The rise to power of Pierre Poilievre. He still managed to dominate the scene and impose a certain number of things in the public debate.

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    The panelists from “Coulisses du politique”, Alec Castonguay, Chantal Hébert and Michel C. Auger, with the host Daniel Thibeault (left).

    ALEC : We must prepare our release of a flagship promise as meticulously as when we formulate it. Breaking the promise of the 3rd link is one thing, but the way it was done is another. The Prime Minister did not appear at the press conference. The caucus had not been warned and was in shock.

    This had a ripple effect where we wanted to please the caucus by accelerating the increase in MP salaries. The population was not happy, because they cannot easily increase their salaries. And all this led to Jean-Talon's defeat in the by-election.

    And all this stems from a botched promise that voters perceived as a betrayal. We could have avoided a lot of problems if we had explained it better and if we had taken the time to do things right.

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    The electorate is more sensitive to inconsistencies than politicians want to believe when they are popular, underlines Chantal Hébert.

    CHANTAL : The great political lesson of 2023 is to remember that no politician, even a popular one, can take for granted that he has a blank check from the population.

    The electorate is much more sensitive to inconsistencies than politicians want to believe when they are popular.

    A quote from Chantal Hébert

    MICHEL : I am in the same spirit as Chantal. In politics, we cannot ride on our popularity, even if the wave seems very high and we have just won a super majority in the National Assembly. With what Mr. Legault has made in terms of political mistakes this year, it is clear that he is the one who led his party to this drop in the polls.

    We have the impression that it's surfing on a wave, then the wave brought him back to the beach, then he there was no more water.

    A quote from Michel C. Auger

    MICHEL : The turnovers. The 3rd link was the most spectacular, but there were others.

    Losing the by-election in Jean-Talon, then the next morning saying: I didn't sleep much, but then I decided : we have to make a 3rd highway link in Quebec… That's what people haven't accepted: it's inconsistency.

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    The turnaround regarding the third Quebec-Lévis link was the most spectacular by François Legault, judge Michel C. Auger. We see here the Pierre-Laporte and Quebec bridges.

    When the Prime Minister does not seem like someone who is in control of his files, it is always devastating for his government, because his ministers no longer know where to go. It causes dissension within the Council of Ministers, the caucus of deputies, and, of course, it has repercussions among the population.

    CHANTAL : This story of a hockey game financed with public funds, across the street from a food bank…

    That's the kind of error… It's not major, we're not going to sink Quebec's finances with this, but the fact that the person who is piloting this or the Minister of Finance, a week after talking about austerity… From that moment on, it really became, in the popular image: “They have lost their way. They no longer know what they are doing. »

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    Surrounded by Liberal MPs from the Atlantic provinces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to carbon pricing on October 26, 2023 in Ottawa.

    ALEC: Justin Trudeau's partial retreat on the carbon tax for the Atlantic provinces on fuel oil. This demolishes the entire argument that they have presented for years, namely that the carbon tax brings in more to the population than it costs them. Because we wanted to score points in the short term, we gave Pierre Poilievre what he had been looking for for so long: an admission from the government that the carbon tax is hurting, somewhere…

    Accelerating heat pump subsidies: yes! Suspending the carbon tax, that, honestly, did not fit into the government's narrative for years, and it is paying the price.

    A quote from Alec Castonguay

    ALEC: I chose a character who is nevertheless polarizing: Pierre Fitzgibbon. I know he has had some ethical lapses since he became an MP. But in relation to the mandate he received to develop the sectors of the future in Quebec (battery sector, hydrogen, etc.), we cannot say that he did not deliver the goods .

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    Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon is a polarizing character, but we cannot say that he did not deliver the merchandise, believes Alec Castonguay.

    CHANTAL: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. Two projects that were considered to be long-standing fantasies of the New Democratic Party and which have become realities, that is to say the anti-scab law and the expansion of the Canadian insurance plan illness to include dental care. They will be able to say: We have a reason to be in Parliament.

    10 years ago, this would have been called an NDP fantasy, but because of this pact, it will become reality.

    A quote from Chantal Hébert

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    Jagmeet Singh is taking advantage of the pact with the Liberals to transform NDP dreams into realities, underlines Chantal Hébert.

    MICHEL: Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who brought his party back to the forefront, a party which nevertheless just four deputies in the National Assembly but, above all, who brought the PQ home.

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    Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, here with Pascal Paradis, elected in a partial election in Jean-Talon, in Quebec, was able to bring the PQ back into the fold, says Michel C. Auger.

    MICHEL : Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who failed to advance his party during the elections. He remains relevant in his interventions in the National Assembly, but it seems that this party has reached a ceiling that it is not capable of breaking.

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    Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, here with the new co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Émilise Lessard-Therrien, n failed to advance his party electorally, points out Michel C. Auger.

    CHANTAL: Quebec is the province that is most resistant to the charms of Pierre Poilievre and I am partly responsible for that , his Quebec caucus.

    We have the impression that everyone [at the Conservative Party of Canada caucus in Quebec] has put their ability to analyze or talk about Quebec on ice to let Pierre Poilievre take all the space.A quote from Chantal Hébert

    It's a series of yes-men and yes -women who wait, because they do not want to be excluded from a Council of Ministers… Except that the best way to be a minister is to win a election campaign.

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    The Quebec caucus of the Conservative Party is at least partly responsible for the resistance encountered by its leader Pierre Poilievre in Quebec, believes Chantal Hébert.

    ALEC: France-Hélène Duranceau, the Minister of Housing in Quebec. We didn't feel much empathy from Ms. Duranceau. She has been typecast as the minister of owners and not of tenants. She signed the agreement with Ottawa, which promises 8 billion to Quebec for housing. It's not a total failure, but it can't be said that she's helping her government either.

    CHANTAL : Former Governor General David Johnston, the eminent person who most lacked judgment during the year 2023.

    ALEC : Eric Girard, the Minister of Finance, and his subsidy to the Los Angeles Kings.

    I have rarely seen a minister go from the five best ministers in a government to the five worst in such a short time.

    A quote from Alec Castonguay

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    Bishop's University was the only English-speaking university to be exempt from Quebec's policy on non-resident tuition fees.

    MICHEL: Pascal Déry and Jean-François Roberge who, in this whole story of tuition fees at English-speaking universities for non-Quebec residents, have weakened two Montreal universities. All this with the justification that we hear too much English in the city center. I just didn't understand that one.

    CHANTAL : The election of Wab Kinew, Prime Minister from the First Nations in Louis Riel's homeland in Manitoba… Manitobans seem to have not just voted against the government they wanted to get rid of but have also voted for this new government.

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    Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew is Canada's most popular prime minister, according to the latest Angus Reid poll.

    < strong>MICHEL : Union leaders in Quebec. I have never seen a public sector strike where union leaders have 75% support ratings. They did a job of communicating with their members and with the public which was extremely well done.

    ALEC : Pascal Paradis, the new Parti Québécois MP elected in Jean-Talon. I have rarely seen an MP become so comfortable in his elected clothes so quickly. A lot of poise, a lot of judgment. He did not miss his entry into the National Assembly.

    MICHEL: Inflation. Just because it’s going down doesn’t mean it’s not still a real danger. It is not true to say that once you have passed the summit, the descent will be easy and then constant.

    CHANTAL: The American presidential campaign. The result of this election is likely to have more impact on governance in Canada than the outcome of the federal elections themselves.

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    Christian Dubé passed his bill on reforming the public health system before the holiday break.< /p>

    ALEC: The establishment of Santé Québec. Christian Dubé wants to find his CEO, his board of directors for the month of March… Being able to make all that functional by September, for a big mammoth like health, is very fast.

    ALEC: Everything that will happen with Ukraine. There is a lot of prevarication in the United States about supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia. It gets complicated, and what is complicated for Ukraine becomes complicated for Europe. If the United States dumps Ukraine or, at least, substantially reduces its aid, it could be a difficult year in Eastern Europe.

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    The US presidential election of November 2024, with the potential candidacy of Donald Trump, will be one to watch.

    MICHEL: The American election will definitely be one to watch. Hearing Donald Trump say: I will be dictator for one day is stunning. We will have to watch the United Kingdom, where Rishi Sunak's Labor will probably win the elections. They could act as a counterweight to this conservative wave.

    CHANTAL: The conflict in the Middle East. I have rarely seen an international conflict have so many, quite heartbreaking, echoes on the ground in Canada. This is true even inside Justin Trudeau's caucus and it reflects the reality in Canada.

    CHANTAL: I found some bedside reading, a book called How Not To Be A Politicianby Rory Stewart. This man became an MP, [then] a Conservative minister in Great Britain. He tells you all about how it works. He says that the political function of elected officials has been distorted. You don't have to be British to relate to it. Someone who wants to be a minister or MP would benefit from reading this book first to know exactly what it's about.

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    “How Not To Be A Politician”, by Rory Stewart, is an essential book, according to Chantal Hébert.

    ALEC: For Pierre Poilievre's Christmas stocking, I want answers. There are many major issues in Canada on which the Conservative Party does not comment.

    We seem to be running out of solutions in the Conservative Party […]. For the moment, we have the impression that he [Pierre Poilievre] wants power, but we have no idea what he is going to do with it.

    A quote from Alec Castonguay

    What would a Conservative Party in power do with the national child care program? What would he do with the dental care program that was just passed? The environment, greenhouse gas emissions, do we have anything to offer? The housing crisis is good to hit the nail on the head and he does it very well. What do we do? What are we proposing?

    MICHEL: I'm going to give something to the Quebec Liberal Party: a leadership candidate. Not even a leader: just a candidate.

    There is no longer anyone who wants to be the boss of the shop. It's absolutely astonishing, when you think about it.

    A quote from Michel C. Auger

    MICHEL: More search for consensus and less polarization. That means everyone puts a little water in their wine.

    CHANTAL: For Pierre Poilievre : remember that you should not sell the bear's skin before killing it.

    ALEC: A little patience for François Legault. Do not try to correct the errors of your government as you go.

    With the collaboration of Marie Chabot-Johnson

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