Minor provincial party leaders sound alarm over CAQ electoral-reform plans

The leaders of Quebec's provincial Green, Conservative and New Democratic parties say they are growing concerned about the CAQ government's approach to reforming the way MNAs are elected.

During last year's election campaign, the CAQ promised to implement electoral reform at the provincial level, to make the number of MNAs each party elects more proportionate to the number of votes it receives at an election.  Both Quebec Solidaire and the Parti Quebecois have pledged their support for the move, and the Ministry of Justice plans to introduce a bill to change the electoral system by the fall.

Right now, the system the government is tentatively planning on implementing will keep the number of MNAs at 125.  75 of them will be elected from single-member ridings, just like all 125 are now.  Their boundaries will mostly line-up with Quebec's 78 federal ridings. The remaining 50 will be elected from a number of regional lists across the province, based on how many votes each party wins in that region.

But the leaders of the three largest provincial parties to hold no seats in the National Assembly say the result won't be quite as proportional as some would hope: a party could hypothetically win as much as 10% of the vote across the province, but still end up with no seats if it doesn't post a particularly strong performance in any one region.

In a letter, the PVQ's Alex Tyrrell, the PCQ's Adrien Pouliot and the NPDQ's Raphaël Fortin have asked provincial Justice Minister Sonia LeBel to guarantee a seat in the National Assembly to the leader of any political party that wins at least 2% of the vote provincewide, even if it fails to send any other MNAs to Quebec City.

This could potentially mean that the number of MNAs in the National Assembly could fluctuate somewhat from one term to the next, but in the letter the leaders say "it is unlikely the total number will exceed 127 or 128."

In the 2018 provincial election, the provincial Greens won 1.68% of the vote across the province, while the provincial Conservatives won 1.46% and the provincial NDP won 0.57%.

The three leaders say in their letter that any electoral reform that "does not increase the diversity of [parties in the legislature] would not be well-received by civil society."

In an interview with Le Devoir, Tyrrell said, "Quebec democracy would be healthier if the leader of the provincial Conservative Party and I were in the National Assembly."  He told the paper that he's convinced political debate could be enriched by a new right-wing voice (from the PCQ) and a leftist, federalist voice from his party.

"Voters would have everything to gain," he added.