Dominique Anglade's Liberals: greener and more left-wing than ever

The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is emerging from its 34th convention greener and more left-wing than ever.

Traditionally, the Liberal party presents voters with an image of a party located on the centre-right of the political spectrum, close to the business community and a great defender of individual freedoms, while being sensitive to social concerns.

Leader Dominique Anglade and the several hundred activists gathered all weekend at the Quebec City Convention Centre have clearly pulled the party to the left.

Between now and the October 2022 elections, the main Liberal priorities will be to protect the environment and fight climate change, objectives centred around the ECO project, Anglade's flagship promise and described as a "social project" aimed at nationalizing the production of green hydrogen, the new Liberal El Dorado.

They also aim to increase the greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030, now optimistically set at 45 per cent, compared to the 1990 threshold. The Liberals also aim to increase the fees charged to large consumers of drinking water by a factor of six.

After debate, however, the Liberals did not go so far as to call for a penalty on sport utility vehicles (SUVs) customers, which are major producers of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

At a news conference, Anglade reaffirmed that her party was the only one "that truly combines the economy and the environment" and she said that the public was ready to make the required changes.

However, she said she was aware that "education" would have to be done to ensure that the public would really adhere to the high GHG targets.

Liberal members submitted some 120 regional resolutions for consideration. Not all of them were adopted because of time constraints, but they all had a clear focus on a strong and generous welfare state: reclaiming free nationalized inter-regional transportation, free feminine hygiene products, more accessible legal aid, and controlling housing costs for seniors.

The party also wants to create 200,000 social housing units.

HEALTH EMERGENCY?

The Young Liberals passed a resolution to de-politicize the management of the health-care system by creating an agency independent of the Ministry of Health.

This idea had already been raised by former premier Philippe Couillard, who, in the end, never followed through.

PLQ youth wing president Gabriel Ahman said there must be "a distance" between politics and administration.

Earlier, former health minister Gaétan Barrette also distanced himself from this "Hydro-Québec de la santé", saying he understood the objective, but judging that the proposal would not change anything in reality because it would be the politicians who would continue to manage the financing of the network.

In her closing speech, the Liberal leader fired a few arrows at Premier François Legault, questioning his respect for democracy, which she said has been flouted since the adoption of the health emergency decree in March 2020 and is still in effect.

"François Legault has chosen to govern without debate and the price of his mistakes is beginning to reveal itself," she said in front of her supporters.

"The CAQ says it needs a state of emergency to govern well, but this is not true. If there had been debates and questions, the CHSLDs might not have remained in the government's blind spot."

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 28, 2021. 

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