RAND: Did the CAQ win the election, or did the Liberals lose it?
For the first time in 50 years, a political party other than the Liberals or the PQ will govern Quebec. The Coalition Avenir Quebec, also knows as the CAQ, won yesterday's election in a breeze. It took less than 10 minutes from the time polls closed for CTV to call it a CAQ victory. But did the CAQ so much win the election as the Liberals lost it? Here’s why I think the latter might be more accurate.
First - Phillipe Couillard parachuted Enrico Ciccone into Marquette - a slap in the face to Francois Ouimet, who had held the riding for more than twenty years. The reason? Nobody really knows, and it was never really explained. What we do know is that Ouimet was publicly moved to tears when he found out. It made Couillard look like a bully. And nobody likes a bully. Just ask Jean Francois Lisée. Strike 1.
Second - Strategically, the Liberals decided to make Francois Legault’s vague and divisive anti-immigration plan their main attack point through the campaign, but then they DIDN’T attack. Instead of forcing him to explain what was clearly a half-0baked policy that hadn’t been thought through, Philippe Couillard let him off the ropes, and allowed him to change the narrative; even after he was exposed as not even understanding how actual immigration policy worked. Strike 2.
Third - Phillippe Couillard never recognized the need to admit he was wrong about (or apologize for) anything. Not only would he never acknowledge that his government’s austerity budget hurt education and health care, he wouldn't even use the word austerity, as if it was some kind of poison. Then, instead of dumping health minister Gaetan Barrette, possibly the most universally hated member of his cabinet, he re-assigned him to head up the Treasury Board, where he’d have control of the budgets for every government department. Foul ball.
Finally, on the day of the final French debate, Premier Couillard gave a French radio interview, where he casually agreed with a comment that a family of three could get by on $75 worth of groceries a week. Then, when given the chance to walk that back, hopefully after realizing how ridiculously out of touch it made him seem, he chose instead to explain how it could be done, and what items you could shop for. Strike 3. You’re out.
Oh wait, there is one other thing.
This Liberal government registered an an all time low in support from francophones in Quebec. There is that.