Liberalism in Quebec is at a crossroads as Quebec liberals are at stake

In the last state election, Quebec’s Liberal Party suffered its worst defeat in its 151-year history. Even the most optimistic projections suggest the party will do worse once the votes are tallied on Monday.

A recent poll puts the Liberal Party at 15-20%, with three other parties vying for second place. Prior to 2018, never had a liberal received less than 30% of the vote for her.

Thanks to remaining headquarters on the island of Montreal, the party has a good chance of retaining official opposition status.

But with little prospect of making inroads into the French-speaking majority, this will be a cold consolation for the parties that have dominated Quebec’s modern political history.

It is possible to rattle off a long list of factors that have contributed to its decline, but memories of corruption, the unpopularity of austerity governments, a political spectrum crowded with newcomers, etc. Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) keep pace with the conservative nationalism of

Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader François Legault arrives at a rally in Drummondville, Quebec on September 11 to react to supporters. (Jacques Boisinotto/Canadian Press)

Since the Union, liberals have been the main defenders of liberal values ​​in Quebec and have reflected their belief in the importance of private property and individual rights in government policy.

The liberal government backed a more secular education system in the early 20th century, gave women the right to vote during World War II, and introduced the state’s Human Rights Charter in 1975.

The decline of political parties means liberal values ​​face an uncertain future in the state.

Not only does CAQ appear to consolidate its grip on government, liberals (and liberals) must contend with an ideologically diverse opposition that seeks to drive them into the dustbin of history.

The Rise of Liberalism in Quebec

After the Union, there were effectively two political parties in the state, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.

Liberals represented a more moderate version of radical anti-clericalism Rouge Pre-Union political party.But it was the Conservative Party and the successor to the pro-Catholic Church blue tradition, ruled for most of the late 19th century.

Bolstered by the popularity of Wilfrid Laurier, the French-Canadian liberal prime minister, Quebec’s Liberal Party won the elections of 1897, beginning a nearly 40-year reign in power.

Historians often attribute this success to the party’s embrace of economic development and material progress.

The Conservatives supported the agricultural tradition, while the Liberals encouraged industrialization by incentivizing foreign companies to set up factories in the state.

The liberals of Lomer Gouin and Louis-Alexandre Taschereau also sought to modernize the education system. However, they were careful not to extend the state’s powers too much. Society was still considered the domain of the church.

The Liberal Party finally lost power in 1936 to the Union National, a staunch Conservative party led by Maurice Duplessis.

During the opposition, the party overhauled its platform to include interventionist ideas put forward by British economist John Maynard Keynes.

Since its nationalization in 1962 by Minister of Natural Resources René Levesque (center) and Prime Minister Jean Lesage (left), Hydro-Québec has been considered a symbol of provincial pride. (Hydro Quebec)

It has come to recognize the province as a powerful tool for promoting the modernization of Quebec and addressing social inequalities. Chief among them is the marginal role that the Francophone community has played in Quebec’s business community.

The Duplessis era came to an end in 1960, when Jean Lesage came to power with an unruly coalition of liberals and moderate nationalists, giving impetus to what became known as the “Silent Revolution.” I was.

under the slogan Maître Ché Noux (“Masters of Our Own Homes”), the Lesage government ends the role of the church in the education system, nationalizes nearly a dozen power companies, includes legal protections for unionized workers embarked on a dizzying series of reforms.

But the crowning achievement of Quebec liberalism did not come until 1975, when the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms was unanimously passed by the Liberal government of Robert Brassa.

The result of a 12-year effort, the Charter protects a wide range of political, economic and social rights. Both the Quebec Party and the Liberal Party saw it as a necessary set of restrictions on the power of the nation, which had just expanded in size dramatically.

The Collapse of Liberalism in Quebec

In the 1980s, liberalism shed its nationalist tendencies as the state faced another economic crisis. In his second term as prime minister, Brassa privatized several state institutions established during the Quiet Revolution.

This pro-enterprise, more managerial approach to liberalism was a central feature of the party’s defense against the separatist sentiments that rose after the failure of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords.

Sound economic management contrasted with the adventure of independence from Canada. It proved a winning argument. Apart from an 18-month period, the Liberal Party remained in power from his 2003 to 2018.

However, even if neoliberalism proved to be an effective strategy for sovereignty, it did not alleviate the concerns about identity and immigration that surfaced in the mid-2000s and have since become entrenched in Quebec politics. continue.

A revived conservative nationalist movement led by François Legault and CAQ argues that liberalism exacerbates identity anxiety by prioritizing the rights of individuals and minorities over the collective rights of the French-speaking majority is doing.

Quebec Prime Minister Robert Brassa addresses parliament after the failure of the Lake Meech Accord on June 22, 1990. (Canadian Press)

This is how his government justifies the use of the Despite Clause to protect the Licity Act, also known as Bill 21, which prohibits many civil servants from wearing religious symbols. .

Remarkably, Lego invokes exception clauses not only in the federal Charter of Rights, but also in the provincial charter, marking a clear break with Quebec’s liberal tradition.

At last week’s debate, the current Liberal Party leader, Dominic Anglade, vehemently defended his opposition to Lego’s two flagship bills, which are popular with voters.

“We were the only people who voted against Bill 96 and Bill 21 because of values,” she said.

A poll released Tuesday suggested she lost the debate, with just 6% of voters picking her as the winner.

Throughout its history, the Quebec Liberal Party has been able to adapt its brand of liberalism to whoever happens to be its main rival, whether conservative nationalist or social democratic sovereign.

But now liberalism is no longer one of the two options on the menu.

On Monday, Quebec voters can choose between Quebec Solidaire’s progressive sovereignist politics, PQ’s mix of conservative identity politics and left-wing economic policies, and Eric Duheim’s Conservative conspiracy-minded libertarianism.

The future of Quebec’s liberal politics will depend on Engloud to highlight a long-familiar ideology in a field crowded with newcomers.

Liberalism in Quebec is at a crossroads as Quebec liberals are at stake

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