An Update on Quebec’s End of Spring Parliamentary Session

The Coalition Avenir Québec no longer has the free hand it had in its first mandate. The public expects concrete results, as COVID is now a thing of the past. With a second straight majority government, the party has the leeway to deliver on its campaign promises. The misbehavior of some of its ministers and MNAs has been widely reported in the media. Of all the opposition parties, the Parti Québécois is the only one that benefits. The Quebec Liberal Party and Québec Solidaire are virtually absent from the political and media joust. Here is a brief overview of the political dynamics in Quebec as the parliamentary session had ended.

Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)

The members of the Coalition Avenir Québec met for their convention on May 13 and 14 in Sherbrooke. They notably voted on resolutions on energy and taxation for youth and seniors. Party leader François Legault submitted to a vote of confidence for the first time since 2014, obtaining historic support of 98.61%. All indications are that the CAQ leader will run again in the 2026 election.

The Premier intends to build the economy of tomorrow in Quebec through various measures. The creation of innovation zones, notably in the fields of green hydrogen, batteries, digital technologies, and quantum sciences, is evidence of the province’s economic shift towards niches where it can shine. New hydroelectric dams are under consideration and the government is focusing on energy efficiency to achieve its carbon neutrality target by 2050. The Quebec government is intensifying its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its Plan for a Green Economy – 2030 includes a $3.8 billion investment to accelerate the electrification of transportation and an additional $213 million for climate change adaptation, totalling nearly $861 million.

Party members did not hold the party in contempt of the broken promise of a third highway link between Quebec City and Lévis. A May poll showed the CAQ’s voting intentions dropping from 40% to 26% in the Quebec City area, while the Parti Québécois took the lead at 28%. The PQ has been rising in recent polls at the expense of the CAQ. The CAQ remains in first place in Quebec with 36% of voting intentions, down 4% since February, while the PQ increased by 4% to 22%, in second place. The Quebec Liberal Party and Québec solidaire have stalled since the last election.

Despite their caucus being reduced to three members, the Parti Québécois is more successful than the other opposition parties. That is why François Legault focused his attacks on it during his speech at the convention. Rather than relying on sovereignty to advance Quebec, the CAQ is rallying nationalists and acting now with Quebec’s powers to protect its identity. François Legault’s goal is to ensure that Quebec selects economic immigrants that speak French and then obtain full immigration powers from Ottawa.

In this regard, the Minister of Immigration announced several changes in immigration: she opened the door to an increase to 60,000 new permanent residents per year, rather than the current threshold of 50,000 immigrants. Foreign students will benefit from streamlining to speed up their application for permanent residency. Economic immigrants will be required to have a better knowledge of French to be admitted to the two main channels for this type of immigration. Finally, Quebec will require an integration plan that includes francization courses for family reunification.

The end of the National Assembly’s session is marked by some ministerial missteps. Éric Caire, Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs and MNA for La Peltrie, in the Quebec City region, was criticized for his management of the SAAQ driver’s license crisis. The digital shift of the organization planned for a long time, has failed. Thousands of Quebecers went to their local branch to obtain services instead of doing the procedures online, costing at least 2.6 million dollars in overtime to pay employees during the crisis. Opposition parties are calling ad nauseam for the resignation of the minister, whom the Prime Minister still trusts.

The abandonment of a third link highway between Quebec City and Lévis also made Mr. Caire sweat, but so did the entire Quebec City CAQ caucus. Mr. Caire had pledged to resign if the project was abandoned, but he did not. Deputy Premier and Minister of Transportation Geneviève Guilbault then played a game during the supply process by using unusual words. Opposition parties cried out for the Minister’s lack of respect and professionalism. In their opinion, and shared by political analysts, the government is beginning to show signs of being consumed by power and arrogance.

Finally, Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette is currently under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner for the appointment of a close friend as judge of the Court of Quebec. This follows a complaint by Liberal MNA Monsef Derraji. The Minister had failed to declare that he was his friend at the time of his appointment, even though it wasn’t required by law. The CAQ’s ministers are starting to get into the habit of misbehaving, but not to the point of influencing the electorate’s opinion. The CAQ even slightly increased its voting intentions and satisfaction rate in the most recent pol.

Quebec Liberal Party (QLP)

The Quebec Liberal Party is currently undergoing a period of reconstruction. It has created a committee to reflect and consult on the revival of the QLP, which is traveling across Quebec to prepare a report on the party’s orientations. The party’s deputation is virtually confined to the Montreal area and its support among francophone voters is at an all-time low. It is not taking advantage of its position as official opposition to score points against the government.

Currently without an official leader, a leadership race is expected to begin next year to find new leadership to put the party back on track. MNAs Monsef Derraji, Marc Tanguay and Frédéric Beauchemin are on the starting line, while several supporters want an outside candidate for the leadership. Sophie Brochu, engineer and former CEO of Hydro-Québec, Olga Farman, Lawyer Emeritus and managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Quebec City office, and Karl Blackburn, former QLP MNA and President and CEO of the Conseil du patronat du Québec, have all been part of the discussion, after rejecting the idea of taking the plunge. A new party director general was recently appointed, as was a new president last autumn. The party’s general council on May 27 did not unveil the rules of the future race. Militants mainly debated the place of nationalism within the party, with the aim of reconnecting with the French-speaking electorate.

Québec Solidaire (QS)

Québec Solidaire is not doing well in the parliamentary game. The popular co-spokesperson Manon Massé has just announced that she is leaving her position. This will be an opportunity for the party to connect with the regions, considering it lost voting intentions for the first time in its history in the last election. The election of a new MNA, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne, in a by-election last spring, didn’t give it any momentum. Its MNAs are all elected in urban, student and/or less affluent ridings. However, the party is first in voting intentions among 18-34 year-olds. QS must find a way to thrive, while the QLP will start a leadership race on its identity flank and the PQ is rising in the polls on its economic flank.

The eternal debate on the recentering of the party, which is resolutely left-oriented, will resurface during the race for the female co-spokesperson. The eternal debate over the recentering of the resolutely left-leaning party will resurface in the race for a female co-spokesperson. In the past, militants have shown no appetite for recentering the party. MNAs Christine Labrie of Sherbrooke and Ruba Ghazal of Mercier, Montreal, have entered the race. The race will begin in August to elect the new co-spokesperson at the party’s convention on November 26. Former Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue MNA Émilise Lessard-Therrien has also entered the race.

Parti Québécois (PQ)

The leader of the Parti Québécois Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is pursuing the path he began at the end of the last election campaign. He received 98.51% support in his last confidence vote, despite the party’s biggest electoral defeat in the last election. His speeches are regularly covered in prime-time media and the party’s financing is going well. The PQ’s recent rise in the polls indicates that it is the real official opposition, even though it has a smaller deputation and less financial resources than the QLP and QS. The PQ is playing both the card of a worn-out government that does not respect the intelligence of voters and the card of a government of facade nationalism. It is trying to project an image of trust and respect for democracy and substantial gains for Quebec in its fight against Ottawa.

Nevertheless, 3 years is an eternity in politics: it remains to be seen whether the PQ will be able to continue its charm operation until the next election. If it keeps up its momentum, it could steal ridings from the CAQ and establish itself as the official opposition in the next Quebec election. In second place with the French-speaking electorate and leading in voting intentions in some regions of Quebec, it has everything to gain by the end of this legislature. Will it be able to turn the tide on Quebec independence, its main battle-horse, which it is embracing more than ever before? 38% of voters would vote in favor of Quebec independence, while 51% would vote against, if a referendum were to be held.


Until the session resumes on September 9, 2023, the MNAs will return to their ridings to take the pulse of the population. The CAQ has a strong lead in voting intentions, but will have to watch out for the PQ, which is starting to gain ground, questioning the strength of its nationalism. The Quebec Liberal Party will continue its consultation tour to rebuild its base of volunteers and update its platform, whereas the pro-independence/federalist axis is no longer as important to voters. Québec Solidaire will be busy with its race to find a new female co-spokesperson. The Parti Québécois will be building support in regions that are more favorable to it, such as Eastern Quebec. The opposition parties must find a crack in the CAQ’s armor, while the party still has substantial support. The CAQ has everything to lose between now and the next election, and it will be an uphill battle to maintain such a high level of support among the population. But thanks to its excellent communication strategies and formidable field organization, François Legault’s party is far from having said its last word.

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