Québec Provincial Election 2022: Rhetoric in full swing

September 27, 2022

By Emma Fontayne, Catherine Buteau & Chloé Lebouc

On October 3, 2022, Quebecers will go to the polls to elect their new Premier, which will be the conclusion of what has been a turbulent electoral cycle. The campaigns began on August 29, and several major themes have since arisen. We hear keywords like “inflation”, “labour shortage”, “work“, “francisation” and “health” on a daily basis. All these themes are very important to Quebecers, and behind the ideas and programs we are also witnessing a colourful battle of rhetoric.

To understand all the issues and major debates before the election, we have summarized the candidates’ proposals and positions on issues such as the economy and francisation – themes that are on track to polarize the competition and which are also key for organizations wishing to operate (and communicate) in the province. As good public relations professionals, we know that words carry value.

Same pain, different words

Although the polls point to the current Premier, François Legault, and the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), as the big favorites in these elections, he and his four opponents will each have to face their share of challenges:  the party that forms the opposition is just as important, and the seats remain up for grabs.

Inflation quickly became one of the most heated issues of this campaign, and taxes used as a weapon, whether candidates offer “savings”, “gains”, “aid” or more social “justice”.

  • For the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), the electoral rhetoric focuses on the problem of the rampant labor shortage which would they claim has been “ignored” by the current administration, as well as on the ways to fill the pockets of taxpayers in the face of inflation. As part of her “Portfolio Plan“, Dominique Anglade is proposing a reduction of one and a half percentage points on the first two tax brackets to grant relief to taxpayers, an improvement in the tax credit for the lowest income residents, a freeze on Hydro-Quebec rates and the lifting of the Quebec sales tax (QST) on basic necessities; we must “act”, says Anglade.
  • François Legault, if re-elected, proposes to set up an “anti-inflation shield” through financial assistance of $400 to $600 for households earning less than $100,000. Compared to his Liberal opponent, he is instead promising a drop of one percentage point in the first two tax brackets from 2023, a “limited” economy, using the term “prudence” to explain this economic slowdown and to avoid “liberal austerity”.
  • Québec solidaire (QS) with Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois also wants to lift the QST on basic necessities in order to help all; not just the wealthiest taxpayers. The self-proclaimed “portfolio party of Quebecers” would plan to maintain these measures until inflation returns to its normal level of 3 per cent.
  • This solidarity program is criticized by the Parti Québécois (PQ), with Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon accusing the latter of benefiting “millionaires”. The Parti Québécois offers targeted and temporary support for a transition to a so-called “just” economy, while avoiding the risk of austerity. They would take the form of a “purchasing power allowance” of $1,200 for people earning less than $50,000 and $750 for those earning between $50-80,000, delivered by December 31. The PQ also proposes to double the solidarity credit, in turn accusing the two leading parties of favoring the “haves”.
  • As for Éric Duhaime and the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ), they want to lower the tax “burden”, even welcoming the initiative of the QS in passing, while accusing the CAQ of copy-catting. To do this, the PCQ proposes the most substantial reduction in the first two levels (two percentage points), in addition to lowering the basic personal amount, or even eliminating the tax on the resale of second-hand consumer goods, like cars

French rhetoric

Bill 96, adopted by the CAQ on the francisation of Quebec businesses, is also causing a lot of ink to flow. The last Statistics Canada census, published three weeks ago, announced that the number of inhabitants of the province speaking French at home has declined from 77.1% in 2016 to 74.8% in 2021. A piece of Bill 96 recently came into force, now making it illegal for notaries to publish deeds in English in the land register and the register of personal and movable real rights.

What about party positioning? Supporting this desire to “promote” the French language, but not satisfied by Bill 96, the PQ promises to adopt Bill 101, advocating in particular for 100 per cent Francophone economic immigration to “reverse the decline” of French in Québec.

Dominique Anglade’s PLQ, traditionally close to the English-speaking community, has still not commented on this subject within the framework of the campaign. They have, however, announced their opposition to the obligation to take three courses in French for non-French-speaking students from English-speaking colleges, but criticized the leader of Couche-Tard for not having kept his “commitment” to learn French, which causes confusion in its ranks. QS, for their part, is taking advantage of this campaign to denounce the « arrogance » of the Anglophone unilingualism from leaders of Quebec companies and want to put  “energy” into the francisation of the workplace, starting with the “head of the companies”. The party also intends to amend Bill 96 to force senior leaders to speak French. Finally, the PCQ is more in seduction mode with the English-speaking community, pointing out that they are currently being used as “punching bags”, and therefore proposes to abolish the law.

Obviously, voting is an extremely personal decision that must be taken seriously: in order to allow you to access all the information necessary to go to the ballot box, we invite you to explore in detail the political proposals in the program of each party.

See you at the polls on October 3 – and until then, we leave you with the slogans of the election. Can you guess who they belong to?

  • « Continuons »1
  • « Votez vrai. Vrais enjeux. Vraies solutions. »2
  • « Changer d’ère »3
  • « Le Québec qui s’assume. Pour vrai »4
  • « Libres chez nous »5

1 – Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) ; 2 – Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) ; 3 – Québec solidaire (QS) ; 4 – Parti Québécois (PQ) ; 5 – Parti conservateur du Québec (PCQ)

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