The leaders of the primary political parties were all present in Montreal at the congress of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM), where they each spoke in front of the mayors and prefects in attendance. 11 days before election day, a CROP Cogeco survey put the Liberal party in the lead with 37% of voter intentions. The CAQ followed with 30%, the PQ with 16% and QS with 14%. It is the first survey in several months that has projected that the QLP will win the election. The last debate of party leaders took place on the airwaves of TVA. The discussions focused on three themes: health, family and education, and immigration, finance and the economy.
In front of the FQM, Philippe Couillard promised to increase the Fonds d’appui au rayonnement des regions by 10% to dedicate $10 million to technological innovation in the regions. During a radio interview in Montreal, the current premier embarrassed himself and provoked numerous reactions on social media when he affirmed that it is possible for a family of 3, composed of one adult and two adolescents, to feed themselves with $75 per week. He tried to adjust his remarks, but the damage was done and this statement followed him throughout the day.
During the debate, Mr. Couillard continued to defend his government’s track record. During discussions on immigration, he attacked François Legault several times, testing Mr. Legault on his knowledge of the immigration process in Canada, a subject Mr. Legault has become tangled up in a few times over the past week. Philippe Couillard also defended Bill 62 on the neutrality of the government which calls for having one’s face uncovered to receive or provide government services, as well as the REM project for which the trains will be constructed in India and not in Quebec.
Quotation : “This week, there are families who are buying groceries with that budget ($75). It has to be recognized. Otherwise, it is showing them a lack of sensitivity.”
Last week, while at the summit of the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ), Jean-François Lisée promised to transfer thousands of jobs from certain ministries to the regions. Yesterday morning, he declared in front of the FQM that 5,000 positions from ministries and government organizations would be transferred to the regions over 10 years.
From the beginning of the party leader debate, Mr. Lisée committed what was perceived as a blunder when, during a discussion on health issues, he asked Manon Massé who the real leader of Québec Solidaire was. Mr. Lisée also ignored the moderator, Pierre Bruneau, who asked him to stick to the subject of discussion. This occurred several times during the discussion on health issues,
Citation : “It is true that there are poor families who have to, with $75, do [their grocery shopping], but that was not the question that Mr. Couillard and all of you were asked. It was a normal family. A normal family who according to what you said, it would be $1.19 per meal, while in the CPE, it is $4, in prisons it is $3.43. So it is clear that you do not know how much it costs for a normal family.”
For his part, François Legault used his presence in front of the members of the FQM to declare that he would transfer 5000 government jobs to the regions, which represents 1% of employees. This is the same number of jobs that he promised to cut from public service. The CAQ leader, like the Liberal leader, intends to respond to the FQM’s request that 50% of the cost of services of the Sûreté du Québec be reimbursed for municipalities who use these services.
Mr. Legault was perceived by several analysts to have been the “winner” of this last party leader debate. He notably apologized for his declarations on immigration last week, and imposed himself in front of Philippe Couillard in affirming that the Quebecois were tired of being lectured to by the Liberal Party.
Quotation : “Mr. Couillard, I am not perfect. Sometimes I make errors, when I responded to some questions on immigration. I listen to people and I fix my mistakes. You, what you like to do is lecture. You should lecture less and listen to the population.”
During her remarks in front of the mayors and prefects of the FQM, Manon Massé declared that Québec solidaire wants “to relaunch an economy that serves the people and the territory and to make sure that everyone fights against climate change and not does not just manage the impacts.”
During the party leader debate, Manon Massé reiterated her desire to rely on the CPE instead of preschool at 4 years old. She established herself in the debate more than in the two previous debates and clearly defended the positions of her party.
Quotation : « To be richer for me starts with those who are at the bottom of the ladder. […] Currently, the minimum wage is $12 an hour. So, there are people who try to live with $12 an hour. For us, what we say is that when there is an employment crisis like there is currently […] we say, lets make working conditions better. That is what should be done. »